cruiser motorcycles

Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200: Detailed Specs, Background, Performance, and More

Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 Detailed Specs, Background, Performance, and More

Every motorcyclist rides have a different riding style and ride for a purpose. Harley-Davidson swore to meet all types of riding by producing various motorcycle ranges like Dyna, Street, and Softail for cruising around the blocks and Touring range for the admirers who love to ride on scenic motorcycle roads and highways or to go on a motorcycle camping trip. Harley Sportster, therefore, is very famous among motorcycle enthusiasts who adore riding comfortably while punching the air on the mini-ape handlebars. 

Fortunately, Harley-Davidson continues to make motorcycles that are a part of our life, rather than just a highly efficient adrenaline extractor—not that there is anything wrong with that. This brings us to the Harley-Davidson Sportster line of motorcycles.

Thank heavens, Harley-Davidson does not overlook inexperienced riders. But the lightest Harley like Street 750 isn’t always a novice’s first choice. That is why Harley decided to expand the Sportster Range and introduced two variants, the Iron 883 and 1200. The Harley Sportster 883 Iron was not really liked by the riders, though it doesn’t have enough power to satisfy their desire. Sportster Iron 1200 whereas, which is the latest addition to the popular Sportster family. It builds on the Iron 883 but has a bigger engine that produces 30% more power. 

If you are a beginner and want to possess Sportster Iron 1200 as your first bike, you can advance by getting to know all about it by reading this article. 

1. A Brief History of the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200

The predecessors to the Sportster, the Model K Sport and Sport Solo motorcycles, was debuted in 1952, and the Harley Sportster's history began with the XL series. The side valve (flathead) engine was used in these models K, KK, KH, and KHK from 1952 to 1956, although the subsequent XL Sportster versions used an overhead valve engine. The frame, fenders, huge petrol tank, and front suspension were all shared by the first Sportster, which debuted in 1957.

Although, for the past 65 years, Sportster has been the subject of continual product development and improvement. Indeed, it is one of the world's oldest continuously produced motorcycle models.

In the year 1958, the standard XL models were increased to the range by the XLH, XLC, and XLCH models with a high compression ratio-the XLC model was produced as the racing version, and the XLCH was intended to fill the drag racing motorcycle place. Therefore, by the year 1959, the XLCH drag racer became the fully equipped street-legal hot-rod and the XLH was upgraded with high lift intake cams.

Following the success of the previous year's models, manufacturing climbed by 40% from the previous year, reaching 2,765 units in 1960. After seven years, output had risen to 4,500 vehicles, second only to the Electra Glide at the top of the line.

By 1970, the Sportster had surpassed the Electra Glide as Harley-most Davidson's most popular model, with 8,560 units produced. Later the same year, Harley-Davidson introduced the XR750, a Sportster-based vehicle designed for AMA Class C racing.

After the displacement was raised from 883cc to 1000cc in 1972, Sportster fever peaked in 1974, with manufacturing increasing to 23, 830 units. 

The Sportster line included the XLCR, a factory café racer adaptation of the original Sportster, and the XLT touring bike, which came with Electra-Glide saddlebags, touring windshield and handlebars, thickly padded seat, taller gear ratios, and a larger (by Sportster Standards) 3.5-gallon fuel tank between 1977 and 1988. By 1979, both of these had been dropped from the line-up.

By 1979, Harley-Davidson had discontinued all of its smaller bikes, with the Sportster remaining the lowest displacement Harley in the line-up at 1000cc.

The Sportster had a facelift in 1986, with the return of the 883cc engine and the introduction of the 1100cc engine, both based on the new Evolution engine and still using four-speed transmissions. In 1988, the Sportster line-up expanded to include three 883cc models with Keihin carburetors, a 1100cc model with a 1200cc engine, and a low-seat height Hugger.

On the 883 Deluxe, Sportsters finally gained a five-speed transmission, rubber-mounted footpegs, and belt final drive in 1991. By the year 1993, belt drive was standard on all 883 ranges.

As the Sportster progressed into the twenty-first century, a slew of advancements, some unseen by the untrained eye, continued to push the bike up the technological ladder. Engine and transmission internals, as well as front brake calipers, crankshaft, and wheel bearings, received significant changes in 2000, and enhanced intake and exhaust flow resulted in increased power.

The Sportster family has continued to expand and flourish during the 2000s, with greater elegance and edgy design, such as 2007 XR1200. Many sub-models emerged, allowing the bike to appeal to a wider audience.

2. Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 at First Glance

Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200 at First Glance

With the 2022 Sportster Iron 1200, you sit lower with your fists punching into the wind. It suit many motorcycle riders, especially given the skinny tank and seat which allow even the shortest riders to get the flats of their shoes comfortably on the ground.

The riding position is a bit of a windsock and not conducive to long bouts in the saddle, but then the 12.5-liter tank won’t take you too far anyway. Because they go over the tops of vehicle mirrors, those mini-ape bars are useful for lane filtering, but keep an eye out for SUVs and UTEs with higher mirrors.

The mid-mount footpegs limit lean angle in turns and may strangle some riders with lengthy legs. It also forces me to ride with my knees akimbo; otherwise, the right knee rests on the air filter, which protrudes very far.

However, it feels grounded and steady in turns, with a slow and assured steering feel. The Iron 1200 weighs the same as the Iron 883 at 248kg, so it still only gets the single disk front brake. It is, however, sturdy enough for this relatively light cruiser, and the ABS operates nicely. Maybe for the next model, they'll replace the brakes and add an adjustable front brake lever.

The single-pod instruments are simple but functional, with an analog speedometer and a digital screen that displays an odometer, two trip meters, a clock, and a rev counter/gear indication that you can cycle through with a button on the left switchgear. 

3. Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200: Buyer’s Guide

3.1. Is the Sportster Iron Powerful?

The Harley Iron 1200 is a thrilling and conspicuous motorcycle. It has a 1,202cc air-cooled, fuel-injected V-twin engine with a classic design. It has a total torque of 96 Nm, which is 24.6 Nm more than the Iron 883. The bike has more power, allowing for a more furious ride.

3.2. How Much Horsepower is the Harley Sportster Iron 1200?

The Iron 1200 adds power and a retro vibe to the Harley-Davidson Sportster line-up. You sit low straddled over the blacked-out 1200cc Evolution Engine, gripping the mini-ape bars. The Iron 1200 produces a broad torque curve that moves the basic bobber with authority and a traditional American-made tone, producing 60 horsepower and 73 lb-ft of torque.

3.3. How Much Does a Harley Sportster 1200 Cost?

The base price of the 2021 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 remains in the nine-figure range, at $9999 for the Vivid Black model. Expect to pay an additional $350 for either Black Denim or Stone Washed White Pearl. At $795, ABS is a rather expensive alternative. 

3.4. Is the Sportster Iron 1200 a Good Beginner Bike?

It might be difficult to pick your first motorcycle from a large number of Harley-Davidson motorcycle models. But if you have picked a Harley Sportster 1200, it is an excellent choice. Multiple reasons make the Sportster Iron 1200 a good beginner bike include:

  • Lots of used Sportster motorcycles are easily available on online marketplaces and motorcycle auction places. 
  • Parts availability is not an issue at all even you can get the required parts from the Harley-Davidson dealerships near you. 
  • These babies are really easy to work on. Giving the Sportsters a customized look by adding aftermarket parts like sissy bars and luggage bags is just a few minutes' games. 
  • The low seat height and easily customizable ergonomics allow all riders to mount on it easily and enjoy the ride of Iron 1200.

Following all these significant features would help you to make your choice easily. 

3.5. What are the Pros and Cons of Harley-Davidson Iron 1200?


  • Comfortable until you are riding on long scenic highways
  • Attractive price and affordable for a beginner as well 
  • Interesting beginner bike for Harley-Davidson lovers


  • The frame doesn’t like aggressive riding style 
  • Modest front brake
  • Vibrations on continuous rides 

4. Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200: Detailed Specifications

4.1 Dimensions


86.6 in.

Ground Clearance

4.3 in.

Seat Height, Laden

25.7 in.




4.6 in.


59.6 in.

Front Tire Specification

100/90B19 57H

Rear Tire Specification

150/80B16 77H

Fuel Capacity

3.3 gal.

Oil Capacity (W/Filter)

2.8 qt.

Weight, As Shipped

547 lb.

Weight, In Running Order

564 lb.

4.2 Engine


Air-cooled, Evolution


3.5 in.


3.8 in.


73.4 cu in

Compression Ratio


Fuel System

Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)


Black, staggered exhaust and headers with black slash-cut mufflers 

4.3 Performance

Engine Torque

73 ft-lb

Engine Torque (RPM)


Engine Torque Testing Method


Lean Angle, Right (DEG.)


Lean Angle, Left (DEG.)


Fuel Economy Testing Method

Estimated City/Hwy

Fuel Economy

48 mpg

4.4. Drive Train

Primary Drive

Chain, 38/57 ratio

Gear Ratios (Overall) 1 st


Gear Ratios (Overall) 2 nd


Gear Ratios (Overall) 3 rd


Gear Ratios (Overall) 4 th


Gear Ratios (Overall) 5 th


4.5. Chassis

Wheels, Front Type

Black, 9-spoke

Wheels, Rear Type

Black, 9-spoke

Brakes, Caliper Type

Dual-piston front, Dual-piston rear 

4.6. Electric


Handlebar-mounted electronic speedometer with odometer, time-of-day clock, dual tripmeter, low fuel warning light, low oil pressure light, engine diagnostics readout, LED indicator lights

Lights (As Per Country Regulation), Indicator Lamps

High beam, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning, low battery, security system (if equipped), ABS (if equipped)

5. Aftermarket Luggage and Modification Options for Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 1200

The looks of the Sportster Iron 1200 are appealing not only to beginners who have just adopted the craze of motorcycle riding. Professional riders, on the other hand, can't help but admire this bike's vintage design.

To satisfy your inner artist, you may always try some customizing on your Sportster Iron 1200. Adding some high-quality saddlebags can go a long way not only for excursions but also for storing any necessary stuff while riding around town.

If you need to transport additional luggage, you can install sissy bars for carrying backpacks .

Some people also complain that the seats on Harley Sportster motorcycles are not sufficiently padded and become stiff after a while. Don't worry, you can always upgrade to some high-quality, super-comfortable Sportster Iron 1200 seats

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