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XL1200S - Great


Brand appeal, good suspension, low seat

Low tank range, vibration, no fairing

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:





Fuel consumption

Purchase Price7400

Customer serviceExcellent



3 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
very helpful by (92%):
  1. gard
  2. DarkDave
  3. Coxecal
and 8 other members
helpful by (8%):
  1. harleysporty

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I've had an XL1200S Sportster now for just under 3 months, now that it's well past the 1000m run-in period I can enjoy what it's all about.

Taking the step from a 600 sports bike, to a 1200 custom was quite a change. The seating position is a welcome break, with all the strain removed from the wrists at low speed. The seating position is quite comfortable, making you feel that you're 'on' not 'in' the bike. With the foot controls being positioned in the conventional place is great for carving through bends, as opposed to forward controls, which is more suited for cruising or serious mile munching.

The pillion seat is pretty comfortable, with a sissy bar being a must if you're thinking of carrying a pillion on a regular basis. The rear peg positions provide a comfortable seating position, and are a great way to relax your legs if you're out on your own by making your body lean forward slightly.

The lack of fairing is one of the 2 factors which would impact on long distance touring, as you are subjected to buffeting from around 55mph upwards, and even though it's easy to achieve 100mph, you need to hang on!! The wind seems to push you backwards and down into the seat which leads me to...

The second problem, vibration!! The 1200 V-twin is bolted directly into the frame, and hasn't any insulation by means of rubber, so vibes are transferred directly from the engine to the rest of the bike. At around 3500 the vibes begin, and become increasingly evident as you push it further, mirrors are excellent when you're stationary, and useless otherwise! 65 is a comfortable cruising speed, with the engine totally unstressed, and enough torque to just overtake with a roll of the throttle.

I investigated into having a 55 tooth rear sprocket fitted after about a week on the bike due to the vibes, but the garage said to wait a while for the bike to run in some more, and sure enough they subsided considerably, but didn't go away totally and is still noticed by pillions straight away. If you're going to have a test drive, and the bike has a low mileage, take the running-in into consideration with regards to how much vibration your bike will suffer, it should be considerably lower.

The bike has a claimed weight of around 250K, but this all disappears once you've lifted it off the side stand, and you feel totally in control.

The 1200 engine has plenty of pull, with performance cams, and a high compression head, and fully adjustable suspension front and rear as standard. The isn't going to give you sportsbike performance, but that's not what this bike is about, the 1200S give you the opportunity to actually enjoy twisty roads, and nip through traffic, problems associated with the bigger Harleys in many reviews.

With the Screaming Eagle air filter kit, Dynojet, and exhausts fitted the bike started to sound like a Harley should, and brought out a grin when pulling away and opening it up to overtake, I actually began to will the traffic lights to turn red so as to be able to enjoy the sound of the engine.

The 1200 is pretty much the same dimensions as the 883s, but with a substantial increase in available power and should be considered if trying out an 883, don't be overwhelmed with the thought of a 1200 engine, it's not big at all if you look at Harleys past and present.

The tank will give you around 150 mile range, and that's including reserve, the way you ride, and where you're riding will affect this figure considerably

If you're deciding on a bike I hope this helps!

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Comments about this review »

DarkDave 17.11.2003 19:48

Hey, good op! Just replaced the Screamin' Eagle mufflers on mine for some Zodiac mufflers - practically no baffle!! Also got twin headlamps up front which look the biz, and am soon to be fitting a large-capacity twin bob tank which should help on those long journeys! Off to the HOG rally in portugal next year which promises to be a good do - I work in a HD dealership so enjoy a good relationship with the HOG chapters... Ride Safe..Dave

cheung 15.04.2003 19:35

I'm not decsding on a bike, but it was a interesting op to read, and I learned one or two things here about bikes!

SueMagee 15.04.2003 19:33

That was a good first opinion - I look forward to reading morefrom you!

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Product Information »

Product details

Long Name Davidson Sportster XL1200S
Bike Type Custom; Cruiser
Type Motorbike
Manufacturer Harley Davidson
Displacement (ccm) 1199.61
Stroke 4
Engine Type V-twin

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Review Ratings »

This review of Harley Davidson Sportster XL1200S has been rated:

"very helpful" by (92%):

  1. gard
  2. DarkDave
  3. Coxecal

and 8 other members

"helpful" by (8%):

  1. harleysporty

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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