Thursday, October 21, 2021
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2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 883 (bike review)

AS one door closes, another one opens. Never a truer word can be spoken as we prepare to wave goodbye to Harley-Davidson’s beloved Iron 883 and 1200 range and usher in the new generation Sportster S.

With Harley-Davidson recently announcing the upcoming arrival of the new Sportster S to the Australian market, we took a little time out to enjoy the outgoing Iron 883 and appreciate its simple and fun nature.

The Sportster first appeared in Harley Davidson’s line-up way back in 1957 and has been a staple of its model range ever since. Originally launched as the XL, the original Sportster was powered by a 55 cubic inch OHV V-Twin.

These days, the current iteration of the Sportster range is known simply as the Iron 883, and is powered by an 883cc V-Twin that produces 33.5kW of power. Matched to a 5-speed gearbox, it has a unique character, not only in its styling, but in its ride characteristics.

Unlike some of its bigger V-Twin siblings, the smaller capacity motor and gearbox is not as effortless as you would expect. What it does deliver is a raw riding experience, and the more your willing to put in, the more you are going to get out of it.

The gearbox takes a little getting used to, as you need to rev the bike a little harder and push out the revs to get a little more performance out of the Iron 883. Once you have adjusted to that though, it’s all good.

Although the Iron 883 will sit at the speed limit with a minimum of fuss, if you’re keen for a little more enthusiastic riding, you’ll notice the extra effort that is required in working the gearbox and motor.

2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 883

Physically, the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 is the runt of the brand’s full-sized bike litter. But there’s an upside. Being 2.185mm long, with a seat height of 760mm and a wet weight of 256kg, it’s nimbler, which makes it fun to throw into corners and really adds to its charm.

With flat bars, mid mount controls and an upright seating position, the rider gains maximum control and confidence when piloting the Iron 883, either through the urban jungle or out on lonely twisty country roads.

That size and seating position is likely what has endeared the Iron 883 to many new Harley-Davidson riders, as well as those returning to two wheels. It’s an easy bike to live with, a great commuter and deals well with the hustle and bustle of the city.

With its smaller and more narrow stature, the Iron 883 is perfect for lane splitting and easing through traffic, while still maintaining all of its Harley-Davidson styling and attitude.

That said, the Iron 883 is also great for cruising in regional areas. The power is good without being overwhelming, and it’s a lot lighter through the corners than some of the larger bikes in the Harley-Davidson range. Overall, it is just a whole lot of fun.

Fuel capacity on the Iron 883 has always been a little bit of an in-joke among the Harley crowd too, with its retro-modern peanut fuel tank only holding 12.5-litres of go-go juice.

To be fair, we still managed to make it from the bottom of the Central Coast to Cessnock quite comfortably, getting just over 200km from a tank of fuel.

2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 883

Suspension on the Iron 883 is supportive. Steering is reasonably direct too, and there’s 30-degrees of rake on the front. The 39mm Showa forks do a good job as well. Twin shocks on the rear allow 41mm of travel, which is pretty reasonable.

Braking works well, with dual piston fixed callipers and a floating front rotor up front, while the rear has a solid rotor. That back end setup feels a little spongy.

Available with blacked out finishes, the 2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 883 comes in four colour choices, including Black Denim (as tested), River Rock Grey Denim, Deadwood Green and Snake Bite Venom.

The Iron 883 represents the entry level into Harley-Davidson’s mainstream bike offerings, with pricing starting from $18,250 ride away. That creates a conundrum, when you consider the entry point for the Softail range is $21,495 ride away.

In case you missed it, Harley-Davidson is set to replace the Iron 883 and Iron 1200 that make up the current Sportster range. The brand will switch to the new Sportster S at the end of this year.

For us this marks a fond farewell, as the 2021 Iron 883 is an easy bike to live with, and it’s been a good starting point for many riders. So if you want to grab one of the last remaining Iron 883’s out there, be quick to visit your local Harley-Davidson dealer.

Our test bike was supplied by Harley-Davidson Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 883, contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer.

2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 883

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Riding experience
7.75
Style and comfort
8
Braking and handling
7.5
Technology and connectivity
7
Overall bike performance
7.5
Value for money
7

SUMMARY

Pros - old school charm; raw riding experience; a whole lot of fun.
Cons - older technology; limited fuel gauge; priced too close to entry level Softail.
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is a motoring enthusiast, with a passion for two and four wheels. It's pretty much a given there'll be at least two motorbikes in his garage and he needs no excuses to hit the open road. Andrew grew up reading magazines like Street Machine and Heavy Duty and has a love for all things performance.

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