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2009 Harley-Davidson 883 Iron First Impressions


by Marc Cantin ,

It's unanimous - we like the little thing!

In the case of this bike, familiarity does not breed contempt, as the latest Sportster variation from The Motor Company, dubbed 883 Iron, turned out to be more bike than I expected when I rode it over Daytona Bike week.

You wanted an entry-level, really low cruiser from The Motor Cpmpany? Here it is!

With a low-low rear, the Iron takes aims at two parallel segments, the all-black slammed cruiser crowd looking for a reasonably priced toy with the magic brand name, and shorter riders looking for a machine they can manage easily at low speed and at rest.

Around Daytona, it proved to be a delightful city runabout, even with my full figure and excessive girth (Try 115kg). Despite having to work hard to get all of this mass moving, the agility of the smallish, very compact bike actually made it a viable urban mover, as well as a fun partner for half-day bursts around the countryside. And I limit my touring to that shorter period, as stopping every hour-and-a-half or so to top up the minuscule fuel tank will annoy any rider used to going 350 - 400 km between refills.

The humble 883cc air-cooled and happily injected engine delivers more than adequate acceleration and low-end torque for running around town, but seem to fall into oxygen debt just about when you reach 100km/h. For the more demanding, that motor can be built up to 1200cc and power kicked up to 90 hp, as we can find in the nicely nervous XR1200 or in any one of the more powerful Buell machines that share the motor.

The five speed gearbox and low-effort clutch make short work of the 55 lb-f. of torque (At a friendly 3500 rpm), as expected given the work by The Motor Company to build user-friendly machines for new as well as lighter riders.

Speaking of light and low, the inevitable bugaboo of low bikes did not miss a chance to remind me of my excessive weight, with the rear suspension bottoming on every serious bump. And to add to this unfortunate habit, the front suspension was also hitting bottoms when braking hard on a bumpy road. Put up with this or buy a higher bike, as adding suspension travel and keeping the bike low are mutually exclusive.

Yes, you can adjust preload at the back, giving some form of protection against bottomming for the heavier users.
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