Harley-Davidson Iron 883: still worth buying in 2022?

Harley-Davidson Iron 883

Harley-Davidson Iron 883: still worth buying in 2022?

The Harley-Davidson Iron 883 has been pulled from the European market from quite a while now but it is still available in the United States and, by the way, nobody said that Europeans cannot purchase a used one. So, let’s see if it is worth buying one in 2022.

Ride quality

Milwaukee, 2015, the entire Sportster platform was put through ‘Project Rushmore’. There were a few good outcomes but the biggest for the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 were brand new suspension and better brakes.

Funny part is that the parts are not labeled but come from proper named brands: the suspension comes from Showa and the brakes are from Brembo. The result is a much-improved ride all round. The forks are progressive and no longer crash over bumps, although dispose of a fairly short travel of 92mm.

At the back the preload is now adjustable through a 50mm range, instead of the three options the model used to have but, again, the travel is short (just 41mm) so rough roads are a no-fun experience. Rivals, like the Indian Scout, handle this much better.

The new dual piston calipers front and rear have a decent bite and feel good at the lever, but still require a bit of effort to pull up in a hurry. ABS, which was an an option until 2017, works just like it should.


The engine in the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 is both its biggest asset and its biggest weakness. It is a proper H-D motor, no doubts about that: it’s a 45-degree air-cooled, pushrod operated, V-twin – just like most other Harleys have been since 1912. That means it sounds nice and rumbles around just like it should, definitely different from the water cooled Street 750 and Street Rod.

On the downside, it doesn’t create a great deal of power or torque: a modest 51.2bhp and 50.2ftlb. To be absolutely honest, it has got a fairly low first few gears, however it’s also only got a five-speed gearbox and a clunky one at that. Five Speed also make the bike feel a little revvy and breathless on the motorway. Air-cooling looks good but, in slow traffic and on hot days things can get a little warm. It is a problem of all air-cooled engines that do not have rear cylinder deactivation, so I would not focus too much on it.


The air cooled Evolution motor in the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 range has been around so long now that all the major kinks have been ironed out. The only potential problem that riders might experience is the spring plate in the clutch, which is known to fail and can be very expensive to fix.

A known fix, that appear to be much cheaper is to just swap in a couple of extra clutch plates beforehand to stop it going wrong. Oil weeps from the rockerboxes aren’t unheard of, but it’s a cheap and easy fix. Apart from that it’s just a case of changing the oil every 5000 miles.

The engine has hydraulic valve lifters, so they never need a valve adjustment, and the final drive runs on a belt. Keep it adjusted properly and you can do over 60,000 miles without replacement.

The overall build quality is good, however there are a few famous issues: the front and back mudguards are prone to rust, while the area below the fork seals corrode. A liberal coating of XCP or ACF-50 should keep the worst of the problems away but, like all bikes, if you ride them in crap weather and don’t take care of them, they won’t respond well.


Rider aids? What rider aids? The Harley-Davidson Iron 883 is a basic entry level cruiser, be thankful for getting twin channel ABS. However there’s a lot more going on underneath.

For a start the ABS runs off the wheel bearings, so there’s no ugly sensor ring bolted to the wheels. Then there’s a fully-keyless ignition with a fob, that requires one button to turn it on and go. The keyless ignition also includes a movement alarm and immobiliser.

The instruments show speed, digital RPM, gear indicator, two trips plus an odometer and that’s all controlled from a rocker switch on the bars. The only thing its missing is a fuel gauge but, it is available as an extra… They should have equipped one stock given the small tank (fuel light comes on around 110 miles). Last but not least, the Iron also has self-cancelling indicators.

All things considered; the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 is a great entry level cruiser. It is hard  to explain but the Iron 883 has something that makes it more than the sum of its parts. It must be Harley-Davidson brilliant way to market everything they do but, even if it is not cheap, and it is underpowered and overweight, it also is a really brilliant hunks of metal too.

The Harley-Davidson Iron 883 has a heavy clutch, its brakes are not outstanding, and the engine is comparatively clunky (as is the gearbox) but it does look and feel like a genuine Harley-Davidson and that should not be underestimated.

And that is what it is all about: the experience! The 883 has clean lines:  there is the iconic ‘peanut’ tank, twin exhausts, classic cut-down rear ‘fender’ and ‘drag’ style bars. If you removed the H-D badge from this motorcycle you would still be in no doubt who made it.

Riding the 883 feels good – and that’s what matters most. It doesn’t feel like riding something that wants to be a Harley – it feels like the real deal.

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The Harley-Davidson Iron 883 is one of the most customizable motorcycle in the world. It is almost impossible to find one on the road, that still is like the day it left the production line.

We love the Sportster platform, therefore we decided to create a complete line of leather saddlebags for Harley-Davidson Sportster models.

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