Fraser says the iconic American brand's 'smaller' V-twin Sportsters are the perfect entry-level way in to the wonderful world of Harley-Davidson
I will confess straightaway that I have a bit of a soft spot for Harley-Davidson’s Sportsters and, in particular, the Iron 883.
Harley’s Sportsters have been around and in in continuous production since 1957, when they were known as the XL range.
For most of that time, this was the smallest-capacity machine produced by the iconic American brand, although that position is now taken by the Street 750.
Nevertheless, the bike is still regarded as an entry-level model and has been the way into the world of owning a Harley for many riders.
Some old-school Harley riders may give the Iron short shrift, but this bike is undeniably cool.
It is part of the company’s Dark Custom range, so looks mean and moody with the frame, engine casings, exhausts and most other parts blacked out.
The only colour on my silver test bike was on the rather groovy peanut tank and the two fenders.
It may be a smallish version of it, but that V-twin motor is unmistakable and completes the look, showing this bike means business.
With a seat height of 760mm or just under 30in, the Iron is low.
I see this as a big advantage and one of the reasons it is popular for newish riders and women.
The biggest Harleys can seem somewhat daunting in terms of size and weight.
At 256kg (564lb) the Iron is not light, but with both boots firmly planted flat on the tarmac on either side, the bike feels perfectly manageable and the rider in complete control.
The ride position is upright and comfortable, with wide, nicely angled bars.
The cockpit is a simple but elegant affair – a single round clock with analogue speedo and small digital screen which displays the usual information, including gear selected and revs.
These are flicked through via a button on the left-hand switch-gear.
Spec wise, ABS comes as standard, but there’s not much else – no ride modes, traction control or any other electronic wizardry.
With the key fob safely in your pocket – no key involved – hit the start button and the V-twin thuds into life.
What can I say about the ride?
Well, it’s not particularly powerful, the gearbox is a bit clunky, the handling is lethargic and the footpegs can be scraped pretty easily.
The suspension is comfortable enough, but not adjustable, that tank looks cool, but is good for only about 100 miles worth of fuel, and the brakes aren’t the sharpest in the world.
So, overall, a bit of a dud right?
Far from it. I still love the Iron.
It may be basic and it may have, by Harley standards, a small engine, but this is pure, simple, unadulterated motorcycling at it’s best.
This bike looks cool and it feels cool, and it just makes you want to ride off into an Arizona sunset.
The Facts: Harley-Davidson Iron 883
Engine: 883cc V-twin
Power: 52bhp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 54 lb ft @ 3,750rpm
Colours: Black; silver; grey; orange/silver
Price: From £8,895
Rivs jacket by Tucano Urbano
The jacket I am wearing here is the rather excellent Rivs from Italian maker Tucano Urbano.
I like it because, style-wise, it reminds me of simple, straightforward leather jackets from back in the day – minimalist we’d probably call it in modern parlance.
The difference, of course, is that it packs a host of up-to-the-minute features.
First off, it is made from super supple, super soft goatskin leather.
Stretch panels on either side at the back create a perfect fit whatever your ride position and there is a detachable quilted thermal vest liner for colder days.
The shoulders and elbows have CE-approved armour and there is a pocket for an optional back protector.
The central zip has a scratch-proof tank protector flap at the bottom (nice touch) and there’s a zip to attach to trousers.
Collar, cuffs and hem are all adjustable for optimal fit.
Simple, stylish, safe – and all yours for a RRP of £299.