Harley Sportster Buyer's Guide


  • In 1986, the "Evolution" (Evo) engine was introduced in 883cc and 1100cc displacements. In 1988, 1200cc replaced the 1100cc. All '86-'90 models are four speeds.
  • In 1991, the four speed "Evolution" (Evo) engines were replaced with five speeds, and belt drive replaced the chain on 883 Deluxe and all 1200 models. In 1993, belt drive was made standard on all Sportsters. 2003 was the last year for the frame mounted Evo engine.
  • In 2004, a new frame and rubber-mounted engine to decrease vibration were introduced. In 2007, Sportsters became fuel injected.

Since it's introduction in 1957, the Sportster has become one of the longest continuously produced motorcycles in history and a platform for countless model series and custom builds. It's predecessor, the K model, was made lighter and received numerous engine upgrades to compete with British imports of the '50s, but it's side-valve design fell short. The Sportster gained a boost in horsepower upon arrival with it's traditional 883cc engine featuring overhead valves, bigger bore, and shorter stroke.

Over the years, the Sportster has received numerous revisions and upgrades. In 1986, the "Evolution" (Evo) engine was introduced in 883cc and 1100cc sizes, with 5 speeds replacing 4 in 1991. In 2004, an all new frame and rubber mounted engine was implemented to reduce vibration. Fuel injection became standard in 2007. Many notable models have been developed from the factory, including the XR1200 dirt-track style bike and the Cafe Racer which was sold in 1977 and 1978 as the XLCR.

New or used, the Sportster is the cheapest Harley on the market, making it a popular choice for new riders and custom applications. The classic V-twin is a blank canvas for the home builder, with a vast array of available aftermarket parts including exhausts, seats, bars, and foot controls. It is a solid, simple, and affordable bike that has been re-discovered in recent years as an American legend with infinite possibilities for customization.

1977 Harley Davidson XLCR

Harley Davidson XR1200

Sportster Cafe Racer

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