The Sport(ster)ing Life

JAORE

Premier Member
#1
My first Iron Butt ride on a Sporty

(pending approval by the IBA - yada, yada, yada) - OOOpppps. Just got word the ride was approved (Yea me.)

I've had a few IBA rides over the years. But each has been on a big, touring Harley. I'm 68 now and the bulk of my touring bike, a 2016 Road Glide Ultra, has become daunting. In fact I have begun to leave the Road Glide in the garage unless the ride is a long one.

So this spring I began looking for a light bike. “Light” being a relative term, I categorized a Sportster as light. Believe me, hop off the Road Glide and the Sportster is light. I found a 2014 Sportster Custom for a good price with only 2070 miles. A few years ago I had an bare bones 883 Sportster in my "fleet" of three bikes. Lots of fun, but I never considered it for LD riding. The new one was different in several key ways. It came with a removable windshield and sissy bar plus hard saddlebags. It also has the 1200cc engine and the larger, 4.5 gallon, tank.

I rode it a bit over 200 miles to get home. A nice little shake down cruise. And it told me the bike would do well on highways. I'd forgotten how easy and how much fun a lighter bike was to toss around in the curves.

So I had my lighter, fun little bike for around town and day trips.... plus....

Easy to see where this is going, right? I started prioritizing upgrades to make the Sportster better equipped for long distance, solo rides. First up replace the concrete block of a seat with a Mustang wide touring seat. Heaven. even during the break in period it was a huge difference.

Next up see and be seen. The oil lamp held at arm length light quality of the stock headlight would NOT work for me at night. I added an LED headlight (HogWorks) and LED turn indicators (Custom Dynamics). Yee haw! Night and day difference <blush>.

More to come as budget allows (of COURSE!). But she had cleared the minimum equipment bar I'd set for a bike I'd take on a SS1000.

So the planning began. I developed an out and back path that was all Interstate save the few miles by my home. Up I-65 from (near) Montgomery, Alabama to Birmingham. Get on I-20 and head for western Louisiana then return. Easy peasy.

I like a more challenging route. But for the first SS1000 attempt on a new bike I wanted simple. Plus I don't even have a mount for my cell phone yet, so no GPS for me. I did do an old school routing method. I had three strips of painters tape on my tank where I used a Sharpy and noted key exit points.

Weather looks good, only a small chance of rain. So I go to bed a bit early. Thunderstorms woke me four times between 10:30 pm and 4 am. “It's not your night, kid”. That's OK, I was never a contender (old guy reference) and tomorrows weather forecast is even better.

I hopped on the already loaded and prepped bike a little after 1 am on August 23. Clear skies and a ready bike. Life is good.

First stop the gas station I always use. Hmmmm. The pump screen says credit down. Since the store was closed I regrouped. Fortunately there was a place only a mile and a half away. Just after 1:30am and I'm off.

Now the Sportster vibrates more than the Road Glide. It's noisier, though I wear ear plugs. Plus my helmet is buffeted a bit more. None of these were severe. None of these negatives add up to a deal breaker.

I'm humming along when a light rain starts. I've gone only about 60 miles north. I ride in the rain. We all do. But I did pull off to see if I've jumped into a storm like the surprise one that stopped me last night. My Radar app showed just a light green rain area and I was almost already through it. Clear sailing ahead. Until another 10 miles and I hit rain again. Phhht. No pulling over, just keep riding. I hit three more of these light rains, pretty good weather luck over a thousand miles or so.

So cool and reasonably clear weather on I roll. First gas stop is Hoover, Alabama. Under 90 miles, but it anchors a corner. Snafu one. The gas station I've chosen is a single interchange north of the exit I've taken a hundred times to go to the home of our oldest son. The auto pilot that sometimes substitutes for my brain apparently engaged. I took the exit that used to go to the kid's home. Dang. Only a couple of minutes, fortunately the only ones laughing were me and my wife closely following on Bubbler-Spotwalla.

Fueled again I'm soon on I-459 and shortly after I-20 west. So much for worrying about corners, the rest of the ride out is all on I-20.

Soon though I discover another difference with the Sportster. Harley says they worked long and hard on the vents on the touring bikes to eliminate the 'dreaded beard lift”. I don't have a beard, dreaded or otherwise. But the effect caused a minor issue. When I ride at night I wear a florescent yellow vest with reflective stripes. I wasn't faced with beard lift. But vest lift was abundant. In fact the wind rolled the vest up to my armpit level. Another chance to laugh at myself. I'm sure I looked like a manatee with a brightly colored kid's inner tube around me.

The Sporty hummed along at the pace of traffic, or just a weeeee bit more. I stretched miles between stops to just over 160 miles one time. It made me nervous, but the fill up still took under four gallons.

But the shocks. Oh my Lord the shocks. There were a few hits that had me contemplating applying to be placed on the kidney donor list. That must be the next priority.

Time was about 18:05 including a sit down meal and no rush fuel stops. Miles were 1,069.

I really think the lightness of the bike contributed to my lack of fatigue.

Fun around town. Easy to ride. Capable of LD rides. I think this one will stay in the garage for a long time.
 
#2
Sportsters are surprising many others out there. One of mine has done 5 S.S.1,000's without a whimper. My hero, "Parrothead", Chris has been a finisher in the last 3 IBR's among many other I.B.A. certified rides. You may get some funny looks from others but it just adds to the satifaction. Keep it safe!
 
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cacomly

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#3
My first Iron Butt ride on a Sporty

(pending approval by the IBA - yada, yada, yada) - OOOpppps. Just got word the ride was approved (Yea me.)

I've had a few IBA rides over the years. But each has been on a big, touring Harley. I'm 68 now and the bulk of my touring bike, a 2016 Road Glide Ultra, has become daunting. In fact I have begun to leave the Road Glide in the garage unless the ride is a long one.

So this spring I began looking for a light bike. “Light” being a relative term, I categorized a Sportster as light. Believe me, hop off the Road Glide and the Sportster is light. I found a 2014 Sportster Custom for a good price with only 2070 miles. A few years ago I had an bare bones 883 Sportster in my "fleet" of three bikes. Lots of fun, but I never considered it for LD riding. The new one was different in several key ways. It came with a removable windshield and sissy bar plus hard saddlebags. It also has the 1200cc engine and the larger, 4.5 gallon, tank.

I rode it a bit over 200 miles to get home. A nice little shake down cruise. And it told me the bike would do well on highways. I'd forgotten how easy and how much fun a lighter bike was to toss around in the curves.

So I had my lighter, fun little bike for around town and day trips.... plus....

Easy to see where this is going, right? I started prioritizing upgrades to make the Sportster better equipped for long distance, solo rides. First up replace the concrete block of a seat with a Mustang wide touring seat. Heaven. even during the break in period it was a huge difference.

Next up see and be seen. The oil lamp held at arm length light quality of the stock headlight would NOT work for me at night. I added an LED headlight (HogWorks) and LED turn indicators (Custom Dynamics). Yee haw! Night and day difference <blush>.

More to come as budget allows (of COURSE!). But she had cleared the minimum equipment bar I'd set for a bike I'd take on a SS1000.

So the planning began. I developed an out and back path that was all Interstate save the few miles by my home. Up I-65 from (near) Montgomery, Alabama to Birmingham. Get on I-20 and head for western Louisiana then return. Easy peasy.

I like a more challenging route. But for the first SS1000 attempt on a new bike I wanted simple. Plus I don't even have a mount for my cell phone yet, so no GPS for me. I did do an old school routing method. I had three strips of painters tape on my tank where I used a Sharpy and noted key exit points.

Weather looks good, only a small chance of rain. So I go to bed a bit early. Thunderstorms woke me four times between 10:30 pm and 4 am. “It's not your night, kid”. That's OK, I was never a contender (old guy reference) and tomorrows weather forecast is even better.

I hopped on the already loaded and prepped bike a little after 1 am on August 23. Clear skies and a ready bike. Life is good.

First stop the gas station I always use. Hmmmm. The pump screen says credit down. Since the store was closed I regrouped. Fortunately there was a place only a mile and a half away. Just after 1:30am and I'm off.

Now the Sportster vibrates more than the Road Glide. It's noisier, though I wear ear plugs. Plus my helmet is buffeted a bit more. None of these were severe. None of these negatives add up to a deal breaker.

I'm humming along when a light rain starts. I've gone only about 60 miles north. I ride in the rain. We all do. But I did pull off to see if I've jumped into a storm like the surprise one that stopped me last night. My Radar app showed just a light green rain area and I was almost already through it. Clear sailing ahead. Until another 10 miles and I hit rain again. Phhht. No pulling over, just keep riding. I hit three more of these light rains, pretty good weather luck over a thousand miles or so.

So cool and reasonably clear weather on I roll. First gas stop is Hoover, Alabama. Under 90 miles, but it anchors a corner. Snafu one. The gas station I've chosen is a single interchange north of the exit I've taken a hundred times to go to the home of our oldest son. The auto pilot that sometimes substitutes for my brain apparently engaged. I took the exit that used to go to the kid's home. Dang. Only a couple of minutes, fortunately the only ones laughing were me and my wife closely following on Bubbler-Spotwalla.

Fueled again I'm soon on I-459 and shortly after I-20 west. So much for worrying about corners, the rest of the ride out is all on I-20.

Soon though I discover another difference with the Sportster. Harley says they worked long and hard on the vents on the touring bikes to eliminate the 'dreaded beard lift”. I don't have a beard, dreaded or otherwise. But the effect caused a minor issue. When I ride at night I wear a florescent yellow vest with reflective stripes. I wasn't faced with beard lift. But vest lift was abundant. In fact the wind rolled the vest up to my armpit level. Another chance to laugh at myself. I'm sure I looked like a manatee with a brightly colored kid's inner tube around me.

The Sporty hummed along at the pace of traffic, or just a weeeee bit more. I stretched miles between stops to just over 160 miles one time. It made me nervous, but the fill up still took under four gallons.

But the shocks. Oh my Lord the shocks. There were a few hits that had me contemplating applying to be placed on the kidney donor list. That must be the next priority.

Time was about 18:05 including a sit down meal and no rush fuel stops. Miles were 1,069.

I really think the lightness of the bike contributed to my lack of fatigue.

Fun around town. Easy to ride. Capable of LD rides. I think this one will stay in the garage for a long time.
Congrats on the ride, no argument from me that the Sporty can do LD rides.

I have 286,000 miles on my 2006 Sporty and have replaced the rear shocks with air shocks from a touring bike. Pretty simple install, just have to decide if you want to put a Schrader valve in each shock (easiest install) or mount one on the bike and connect the two shocks with it (better at ensuring equal air in each) Lots of information on installing them on XLforum.net
 

SteveAikens

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#5
I'd been giving a buddy grief for years over his Harley's - because I could... :p

Then I had to have wrist surgery a few years ago and simply couldn't handle the weight of my BMW's. He and I were talking about my not being able to ride for a while and he offered me his wife's 883 Sporty [so she could move to a 1200] for a good price.

Being a low, lightweight scooter I figured it was worth a shot to at least get some miles in. Worked out as well as could be expected and I got some pretty good miles in on it before I could handle bigger bikes. Super fun little bike.

Sold it to another buddy for his Dad for exactly what I paid for it and he still rides it around town on weekends.


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Avi Azrieli

Premier Member
#6
Thanks for taking the time to write and share -- and make us laugh out loud ("I looked like a manatee with a brightly colored kid's inner tube around me." "There were a few hits that had me contemplating applying to be placed on the kidney donor list." :))))