Sportster "High Mileage" ?

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Murphy Slaw, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. Murphy Slaw

    Murphy Slaw Long timer

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    Lotta Sportster talk lately. :D

    Made me wonder......

    How many miles will a well cared for Sporty run? You never read about 150,000+ on stock engines like you do the Suzuki (water cooled) V twins.

    Is 50,000 considered "high miles" on the air cooled V?

    I've never really paid much attention and was curious.
    #1
  2. kruzuki

    kruzuki Gear in the Machine

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    The thing about Sportsters (and HD in general) is that engine rebuilds are fairly easy. I had 3 Sportsters in a row, all had over 30k on them when I sold them and they were going strong.
    www.XLforum.net should answer your questions
    #2
  3. 131unlimited

    131unlimited Been here awhile

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    All 4 cams are gear driven with hydraulic valves, which is a good design. Any Evo Sporster motor that is properly maintained and not beat on will live many miles and years, there will be the occasional rocker box leak to address, but they are out there running in excess of 50 k without requireing full rebuilds or needing the top ends redone. They are not touring bikes, so the amount of feedback you would get from guys who are racking up huge miles with them will be limited.

    I got 60k out of my ironhead sporty motor ( rebuilt it from the ground up when I bought it as a basket case way back when ). It was running great when sold, hope the next owner treated her as good as I did...
    #3
  4. grandelatte

    grandelatte Consistently Inconsistent

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    +1 on xlforum. Cindy Dietz from that forum has well over 100,000 miles on her Sportster.
    #4
  5. BadKarma

    BadKarma Long timer

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    I'd consider 100K high miles if it's been maintained at recommended intervals and not beat on too badly. Evo Sportsters have a solid reputation outside of the rumor mills.
    #5
  6. Phineas

    Phineas Joe Lunchbox

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    I was at the bike shop not long ago when a Sportster pulled in with 150K. It's ridden by a teacher from Pasadena to Moorpark Ca every day. It looked stock (or was not obnoxiously loud at least). The mechanic introduced us because of our respective mileages. He said that the motor had never been apart.
    #6
  7. rudolf35

    rudolf35 Warped & Twisted Mind

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    As most have noted, a maintained Sportster is as dependable as they get. Making trips on them is also no issue. Took my XR on a extended run (after the ergonomics where addressed) and it performed flawlessly. In one year of ownership I put 16k on it (09 purchased late 10).

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=727865

    :clap
    #7
  8. Badge320

    Badge320 Wild Hog No. 3

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    I worked part time for 2 Harley dealers for several years. I saw quite a few high mileage Sportsters. I had one customer with over 60k on his Sportster....with only routine maintenance.
    #8
  9. natez1

    natez1 Adventurer

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    Guy I work with had 70,000 on his 04 sporty custom, ran as good the day he gave it to his son, as the day he got it! One day he thought the motor was coming apart till I told him he should adjust his primary chain once in a while. Tires, brakes and one belt that's it. Great bikes and low maintenance most problems I have seen is when people mess them up themselves otherwise anything under 50,000 is probably ok to buy, one with 100.000 probably needs the top-end done.
    #9
  10. pmelby

    pmelby Home Brew Adventurer

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    I agree that the H-D motors are well made with quality components, but....

    It is painful for me to watch the motor vibrating in its mounts while the bike is stationary. The Sportster that I tested (2009 XR1200) rattled my eyeballs in their sockets if I gripped the bars too tight when stopped. Granted the vibrations are not an operational issue when the bike is actually in motion, but the fact that the vibration is part of the mistique of the brand, just doesn't sit right with me. As a maintenance technician dealing with rotating equipment, I cannot reconcile that the inherent unbalance of the H-D v-twin motor is a good thing.

    cheap
    reliable
    fast

    It has been pointed out on these forums that a bike can be built to any two of the three adjectives noted above. The H-Ds appear to use the first two. I realize that I'm not by any means an expert, but when I see the how the various components of the H-D engines are assembled (pressed together crank, hydraulic valves, etc.), and note the performance available from the stock bikes, the only two adjectives that I can apply to the sportster are CHEAP & RELIABLE.

    I don't have any first hand experiance on how this relates to "High Mileage" ("?") but my gut feeling is that if a motor is trying to shake itself apart when idling, that things aren't much better when it is at a higher RPM and under load.

    I'll more than likely get castigated regarding my comments above as a harley hater. But I'm not a hater. I cannot stand the open pipe crowd, and I do feel that H-D promotes noise above performance, but other than that I do have an open mind regarding H-D products.

    cheers,
    melby
    #10
  11. wmax351

    wmax351 Been here awhile

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    They seem to be great bikes. Especially the evo-engined ones. The ironheads sound like they were sometimes pieces of shit, but still the most fun you can have on two wheels, and actually fairly reliable by '50s standards. Taken care of, they seem like they last a while.

    I think one of the biggest issues with the evo-sportys (and most bikes in general) is that no-one leaves them alone. They are built under-stressed, and if you try to get more power out, without building it from the ground up, you lose longevity. Most buells are built sportster engines. They are built from the ground up to have 100hp, and be dead reliable. You put 100 hp through an otherwise stock sporty engine (IE: turbocharging), you have a very expensive grenade.

    The other issue is starting them up, and then blasting off with high revs on a cold engine. Not good at all, especially on a hot running air cooled engine.


    The other thing to remember, is that they are easily worked on, and inexpensively rebuilt, much like BMW airheads. There isn't all that much that will ever need replaced. Freshening up the top end really isn't a big deal.

    If a sporty is what you want, get one and ride the snot out of it. Make sure the guy or girl you buy it from is on top of things, though. The bikes are pretty flake proof, but you don't want to mess with it. Buy a good one, and set it up how you like.
    #11
  12. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    I thought it was fair enough. :dunno

    Fortunately your gut has been proven wrong for over 25 years now. :D

    A quick and easy rebuild should be planned at or around 100k miles IMO
    #12
  13. Fireball

    Fireball Robot Doc

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    My FXDX has over 160K and full compression. The only major work I've done is added gear-driven cams because of the tensioner issue. I'm riding it from NJ to NM and back this year, no worries.
    #13
  14. Fireball

    Fireball Robot Doc

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    I'm a maintenance technician in the candy manufacturing industry. We have shaker tables and slipstick conveyors that are low maintenance and stone-reliable. They make HD engines look like sewing machines
    #14
  15. Murphy Slaw

    Murphy Slaw Long timer

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    I HAVE to ask.......

    Do you make Atomic Fireballs?
    #15
  16. spezjag

    spezjag Long timer

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    And if so, do you have enough to share with everyone here?

    :dg
    #16
  17. BadKarma

    BadKarma Long timer

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    That was fair... we used to expect to rebuild ironheads and shovels in general, at least the top end, at around 40,000 depending on use. Evo and twin cams seem to be just warming up... Transmissions, especially on the rigid sportsters and big twins are absolutely reliable. (I don't know enough about rubber mount sportster transmissions to comment). Where guys seem to run into trouble is when they hot rod the motors and ask them to visit high rpms frequently. 7500+ in the case of sportsters and 6000+ for Evo or Twin Cams is just asking for trouble... It's fun, but gets expensive really quick! :deal
    #17
  18. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    Running a Sporty on tour is a good way to make one last, imo.
    The ones that sit in rally traffic doin' the creep (aaaah...) tend to have more problems with engine wear. Just in my narrow experience.
    I saw one with an alleged 140k on it that I felt was pretty true, judging from the suspension wear and whatnot. Aircooled motors like the wind, not traffic.
    #18
  19. BadKarma

    BadKarma Long timer

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    Great point, don't buy a used shriner bike... :rofl
    #19
  20. Fireball

    Fireball Robot Doc

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    No, sorry....M&Ms...
    #20