Suzuki Burgman USA Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,936 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
For some strange reason, I've become attracted to H-D Ironhead Sportsters of 1971 to 1985 vintage.

I've spent hours and hours reading about them on Xlforum.net

I once had a 1977 Moto Guzzi 850 T3 California, worn out in all departments, so I'm quite familiar with old constructions that need attention.

The Sportster would not be a replacement, but a supplement to the Burgman, as they are opposites in most ways with the only common thing being the lack of effective suspension.

Just to be different I'd get an XLH touring version with a 4 gallon tank and a real dual seat with some actual padding, some full-length rear shocks and, finally, a 2 into one exhaust system with an actual silencer.

Now tell me some bad things you've personally experienced with a Sportster.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,787 Posts
I had a '74 XLCH, purchased new (I traded a '71 Norton 750) and it was absolutely the worst motorcycle I have ever owned--keep in mind this was when AMF owned Harley. The night I picked it up, a Friday night, I drove it to the first traffic light and the front brake would not release. The brake line had been crimped when it was bent and while you could get fluid through it the pressure would not release. The dealer's "prep" people knew this as they had driven the bike from the rear of the shop out to the front where they even had it pointed in the right direction for me.

I went back and was told that nothing could be done until Monday, to which I replied "Nonesense! Here's what we can do, you can give me the keys to my Commando back." Well they found someone to replace the brake line and I was on my way. Over the next six months I went through four starters, all under warranty but what happens when that runs out? After they replaced the third starter I sold it and bought a 1974 Honda 750--never looked back, except at my Norton.

That story over; they are easy to wrench, certainly classic, but slow as snot and butt-ugly tall yet stubby things (57" wheelbase, 5.6" less than a Burgman 400)...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,564 Posts
Although I personally have not owned a Sportster during the era you are considering, I knew some that did and none had good results. Unless you just like throwing good money after bad, then go for it. Reliability was poor. Constant oil leaks. Parts availability is probably NOT good. I owned a 1200CC 1992 model with an evo and it was a decent bar hopper but I would not recommend it for longer rides. Mine came with a 2.2 gal peanut tank that would give just over 100 miles between fuel stops. That was almost too long without a butt break.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,787 Posts
Back in my cruising days we rode "poker runs" (a full Saturday poker run down here can be 250 to 350 miles) and one of the fellows had a '92 1200 Sporty. He got ticked off when after a couple runs and we told him we weren't stopping for him anymore--he could not do a round trip down to the Cabbage Patch and back to Saint Augustine without stopping for gas...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
ErikDK said:
For some strange reason, I've become attracted to H-D Ironhead Sportsters of 1971 to 1985 vintage.
oped!)
I've spent hours and hours reading about them on Xlforum.net

Now tell me some bad things you've personally experienced with a Sportster.
I have a Burgman 650 and was attracted to the HD Sportster and considered buying one. I ride with a HOG (Harley owners group) and other riders were always making unkind remarks regarding my 650. (until they saw the capabilities of my scoot). So I asked my mechanic friend what he thought of the idea. He said you will be very unhappy if you traded your bike in on a Sportster. This mechanic is unbiased and works on all kinds of bikes. The things he mentioned: They leak,they vibrate,There is no room for storage on them,They are not too reliable, the seat is uncomfortable. They are a lot of fun to ride for a 1/2 hour. their range is only about 110 miles. They are great for flashing around the city (so is a moped). He said look what you're giving up. Carrying capacity. I can put 5 bags of groceries in the top box without even opening the seat. I got a large seat with a gel cushion and a Utopia backrest, highway capable at high speed for hours on end.
Adjustable windshield, better wind protection, cheaper insurance, ABS brakes. ETC, ETC.

Bottom line. He talked me out of it. As you can tell I love my Burgman 650.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
One of the first bikes i got at age 12 or so was a KR Sportster. It came in several boxes , that's why my folks let me buy it.
(The first was a Whizzer sportsman)
They thought I would never get it running.
Took about two weeks. :D

Since it had lived a hard life on the track it was a push start only, then i added a kicker ( could not afford the electric kit).

Problem was, I weighed about 80 lbs soaking wet, so if i could not start it in 4 kicks, I had to go get the fat kid down the block to start it for me. :lol:
He ended up buying it and i moved on to some of the finer British pieces.

Still have a soft spot for a well tuned Sportster.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,936 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
The Sportster would be scratching quite different itches than the Burgman.

But like any other disease, I think the fever has peaked, and it will drop back to normal again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
158 Posts
I owned a '72 Sportster in 1975 and the best two days were when I bought it and the day somebody stole it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,787 Posts
candoman said:
I owned a '72 Sportster in 1975 and the best two days were when I bought it and the day somebody stole it.
You are lucky they didn't bring it back.

My '74 wasn't stolen, however the day I sold it away was my second best day with it...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,936 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
What made you buy one in the first place?

We can all read the original magazine articles and ads from back then, but what about word of mouth?

In 72 they had been around for 15 years, so lots of people would have had first or second hand knowledge about them.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,122 Posts
ErikDK said:
What made you buy one in the first place?

We can all read the original magazine articles and ads from back then, but what about word of mouth?

In 72 they had been around for 15 years, so lots of people would have had first or second hand knowledge about them.
same reason people get married, they hear, and they see, but they can't believe until they've done it themselves, even then , gotta try another, there's gotta be a reason so many people do it
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,933 Posts
I too love the older bike styles but will not go back to a carburetor-ed bike again!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
My last HD was a 2004 Road King Custom, the main reason i bought it was because it had a carburetor, plus the motor and exhaust were unmolested.
Fine machine until the cam chain started acting up and it would have cost about $1700.00 to fix it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,936 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
DandyDoug said:
My last HD was a 2004 Road King Custom, the main reason i bought it was because it had a carburetor, plus the motor and exhaust were unmolested.
Fine machine until the cam chain started acting up and it would have cost about $1700.00 to fix it.
So it was with the twin-cam engine?

A used Road King costs from $35.000 up in my country, due to huge sales tax if you want to actually ride it.
They are not as rare as you'd think, because when real estate values boomed, a lot of middle-aged men took out mortgages to buy expensive motorcycles.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
18,332 Posts
I had a Sportster that my uncle built for me when I was 14. He took a highly used 50's dirt tracker XR750 engine and put it in a bent but usable 883 frame. I had it for a few years.

Back in 1984 I bought a 71 883 Sportster for $65. Spent $70 in small parts and a carb rebuild kit. In the three months I had it I spent more money on OIL leak fixes than anything else. I sold it for $750 and had the biggest grin for days.

The early ones had the shifter on the right and rear brake on the left.

Run Forest Run. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,936 Posts
Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
http://www.xlforum.net/vbportal/forums/ ... p?t=352787

The original Australian owner of a 1977 Sportster pulled it out of the shed after 30 years, spent a year and 4000 Australian dollars rebuilding it and went on a trouble free 6000 miles ride from north to south Australia and back.

He had no oil leaks and used just over a quart of oil riding in tropical climate.

[attachment=1:1dp8bxdn]PB210149.jpg[/attachment:1dp8bxdn]
[attachment=0:1dp8bxdn]packedup003.jpg[/attachment:1dp8bxdn]
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
18,332 Posts
Erik, not all of them drip oil, but it is a very high percent that do. Just like old VW bugs, most of them mark their parking spot.

In the case of my 71 Sportster, I replaced all gaskets and seals. I could pull that engine out and have it all apart, back together and back in place in just a few hours. It still had a small leak. I thought it was seeping through the aluminum case.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,936 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
My Guzzi also leaked through the casing, but Castrol RS Racing Syntec 10W-60 cured both that and oil usage.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top