With some shapely Iron to manhandle, wheelworldreviews Editor DAVID HOOPER gets to grips with one of Harley-Davidson’s latest machines.
WHEN it comes to iconic brands, Harley-Davidson has to be up there with the best of them. Mention the word Harley to any biker, and you will immediately have their undivided attention.
Even people who don’t know much about bikes, will know of the brand from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My 16-year-old son, for example, knew that it was a Harley-Davidson that Arnie rode in the Terminator films.
The distinctive sound of their engines is unmistakable, but for many bikers who buy a Harley-Davidson, it’s not just about owning a motorcycle with a history rooted deep in American culture, it’s about buying into a lifestyle.
Harley riders are a committed bunch. There is a strong owner’s club known as HOG (Harley Owners Group) and very active Chapters, or regional clubs, in Lincolnshire and all over the UK, whose mission is to “To Ride and have fun”. Many owners take great pride in their machines and often spend small fortunes customising their bikes to the enth degree.
So when I was invited to try one of the latest models, I had to give it a whirl. Just the mention of the bike’s name, the 883 Iron, conjures up images of America’s industrial heartland – steel foundries with smoke rising from chimney stacks – but I was impressed with how refined this stylish Sportster model was to ride.
Still being relatively new to bikes, I didn’t want anything too heavy, or daunting to ride, and for me, the Iron was the perfect introduction to the brand.
My first impressions were of a great looking bike, with twin chrome exhausts gleaming in the sunshine. When the guy who delivered it for me started it up, it sounded fantastic, and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
The 883 Iron is available in two colours, the black denim finish on the bike I’ve been testing, or brilliant silver denim. Its black 13-spoke cast aluminium wheels give it a distinctive look and I couldn’t wait for my first ride.
You see many a Harley rider in jeans, T-shirt, and a pair of sun glasses, but still being relatively new to bikes, I’m not that brave, so suitably clad with my waterproof Bone Dry jacket, and my Arai helmet, I was ready for off, but couldn’t help thinking that the Union Flags on my smart new helmet, should have been swopped for the American Stars and Stripes!
I set off fairly gingerly, the bike feels heavy to manoeuvre at low speeds, but as soon as it’s on the move, its weight seems to disappear and I found it very easy to get on with and quickly felt at home.
Driven by a belt, rather than a chain, the riding position is comfortable, even after a couple of hours, and I loved the sound of its V-twin engine, which had bags of low-end torque which means the bike pulls in almost any gear, from any speed. There are five gears to choose from, and once up to fifth, it cruises effortlessly, but at motorway speeds, the lack of any fairing makes you feel a bit like a sail.
The instrumentation was about as simple as it gets – just the speedometer, but it included two trip meters and a low fuel warning indicator, which is always handy.
The rear lights and indicators were built into the same light unit, and I loved the self-cancelling feature on the indicators which has obvious safety benefits should the rider forget to turn them off.
The bike comes with an alarm and a proximity sensor, so that if anyone approaches it without the key, the alarm will sound.
When it was time to hand back the keys, I was sorry to see it go. Although it was a new bike, it had lots of character and although I only rode it for a few days, I now “get” the Harley thing and am already looking forward to trying another bike from this iconic manufacturer from the US of A.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Model: Harley-Davidson 883 Iron.
Engine: 883cc air-cooled, Evolution.
Seat height: 735mm.
Fuel tank: 12.5 litres.
Price: From £5,990 on the road.
Warranty: 24 months unlimited mileage.