10,000 Mile Harley Davidson Iron 883 Update

Check out my initial review of the Harley Davidson Iron 883 here and here!

I’ve had this motorcycle since November of 2016 and I’ve racked up 10,000 miles in about 7 months. I have a lot to say about the Iron, which I think y’all newbies or those interested in the Iron might find interesting, so lets get started on another review.

For a quick breakdown, here’s what’s been done on the bike so far:

Performance

My biggest issue with the Iron, other than the 3.3 gallon tank that I’ll talk about later, is the performance. I’m still running the stock exhaust and air intake, so even though I CAN go 80mph+ on the highway, it doesn’t feel so great. I’m typically going between 3900-4400 rpm’s on the highway trying to keep up with my friends, with the bike screaming under me. I’m not too sure where my redline is, but I can’t imagine it’s more than 5k rpms because it sounds horrible over 4500. I haven’t experienced the speed wobble though (I’m definitely not about to try anyway).

I still think it could use a 6th gear to have more power on the highway, but again, should I be going 85-90mph? No. So that’s why I’ve held off on upgrading the exhaust and intake (aside from being broke lol). If anything, the fact that my exhaust is so quiet makes me want to upgrade, not necessarily for the horsepower I’d get by doing the modification.

Suspension

“I told you so” is the common reply I get when I tell anyone I hate my suspension and brakes (I think I even mention it in my initial review!). These shitty components, that were upgraded from the 2015 models, were in the back of my mind when making my purchase. I didn’t really care or think too much of how bad they were. Until I started riding around the mountains after the California rain storms destroyed the roads. With every little bump, pothole and groove, I’m launched off my seat. Now, I’m considering replacing the suspension as my next big modification – it’s THAT bad.

Ergonomics

I’m still happy with my handlebars and recommend them to anyone even remotely interested in them. They keep my back more upright than the stock bars, and allow me to ride for a long time without getting exhausted. The wind is brutal with these bars though, especially since I don’t have a fairing/windshield, so my neck/upper back gets really stiff and sore when riding against the wind.

I will say though, when I’m riding the twisties in Skyline and La Honda, I tend to duck back down to what the stock handlebar position would be, especially on some tighter turns. Had I not committed to riding long distances and motocamping, the stock (or even drag) bars would actually make riding this thing a little more fun. Food for thought.

I’m glad I’ve been able to manage the weight and height of the bike. I still have to give it an extra oomph getting it off the kick stand, and learned the hard way not to park it face first in a downhill incline, but it’s not bad to manage for someone who is 5’2″. Since I have come close to dropping it a few times, by slipping on gravel or in parking lots, I bought the Bung King crash bar to protect the bike (mainly the engine and handle bars) if I ever do drop it (and I have!). Other than the handlebars, the crash bar is the best investment I’ve made on the bike so far.

I would advise against lowering it though. I scrape my pegs and frame in twisties up in the Santa Cruz and Berkeley mountains all the time, and even on speed bumps in the grocery store. Lowering it would just make my ride worse. If anything, I’d want to lift it up so that I’m able to take it on different terrains (or at least be comfortable when I’m camping).

Speaking of pegs, if you’re remotely interested in touring on a sportster, and you’re taller than 5’4″, I’d get a highway bar or forward controls. After a long 300+ mile day of riding, my knees are on fire. I invested in the Bung King crash bar to kill two birds with one stone, but I still can’t reach the bar. I’m actually short enough to rest the bottom of my calves on my pegs and my feet don’t touch the ground!

Travel/Touring

Ahh the gas tank. I can go about 105 miles before my gas light comes on, and have gone about 120 miles before I stop and refuel. I love the look of the small peanut tank (even though it’s bigger than the Forty-Eight’s tank), but 3.3 gallons isn’t enough for me. I need at least a 4-4.5 gallon tank to tour comfortably. So I’m always the one planning gas stops, and extra gas stops, just in case. I’ve considered doing a tank lift for aesthetic purposes, but I know I’ll decrease my mileage even more by doing so, unless I move the petcock even lower (which I don’t have time/money to do).

Technical Difficulties

At about 8k miles, I noticed the vibrations start to take their toll on some of the parts on the Iron, which I think is typical with any Harley Davidson motorcycle. My mirrors needed to be tightened, my clutch lever was loose, my license plate bolts vibrated off, my left and right brake lights burnt out, and now my speedometer light needs a good punch every 5-10 minutes to turn on when riding at night. All common with motorcycles, but I was just so shocked everything started falling apart at once. Zip ties and duct tape are now in my swing arm bag for unexpected emergencies like these.

The only other thing I’ve noticed is my high beam light will turn on when I’m riding in 100+ degree temps. So on my trips to Volcano, Yosemite, and Sonora, where I was riding for over an hour straight in the dry heat, the high beam light kept turning off and on. Nothing was wrong with my actual headlight, but I think the aftermarket LED light doesn’t do to well in high temps. I’m keeping my eye on it though, because I don’t want to blow up the light or cause any actual damage to the bike.

The Future of my Iron

I bought the Iron 883 knowing that I was going to WANT to upgrade eventually to something bigger, but needed the 883cc’s to get me started. I would have liked to start on a 1200cc sportster, but coming off of my Rebel 250 and dealing with the weight, I was too nervous/inexperienced. If I was taller, stronger, rode dirt bikes all my life, etc., I would have been fine. I also know I’m not the most skilled/technical rider, so I’m taking it slow. If you have prior experience, even on a 600cc bike, the 1200cc sportster might be the better option for you.

I’m planning on doing a coil & ignition key relocation and wire tuck at the end of July to change up the look of the front end, and have decided to tackle the suspension towards the end of the year. It still feels new to me, and it basically still is, so I don’t want to upgrade everything all at once. I want to take my time with this bike and modify it as I go.

Next summer, I’m investing in a V&H Fuel Pack, 2 into 1 exhaust, and air cleaner to upgrade the performance at the cost of eating up some of my fuel range. I figure that should hold me off from wanting a Dyna for another few years.

One thing that I’ve learned by owning this motorcycle is that I don’t ONLY want a Harley. I eventually want something like a Ducati Scrambler (the Urban Enduro model) or a Yamaha FZ-07 that will give me a little more play on uneven roads. I’m still sure I don’t want a sport bike though, no matter how much my friends dare me to test ride their Ninja’s.


I love my Iron and the many, many places it has led me to explore, but because I modified it to get what I wanted from it. Would I do it again? Probably. How was I supposed to know I’d love the feeling of being self sufficient with my hiking gear strapped to my bike? Or that I’d be able to go from SF to Las Vegas in a day? So I figure I’ll keep learning on this bike and run it to the ground.

-Kim

(pssst! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter & Instagram for live updates and more photo’s of my trips @ kimmarieherrera)

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