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Harley Engine Lifespan

Sportster Models

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Old Dec 24th, 2008, 04:35 PM     #1
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Harley Engine Lifespan

How many miles are on your Sporty? I am specifically interested in the 883. I'm looking to buy a bike this summer but I am torn between a sportster and the jap cruisers. I'm not trying to stir up trouble here, I seriously want to know how long these bikes run.

With Harleys, it seems everyone either loves them or hates them. I really like them but I want to know of they really are better bikes or just an image. I am really hung up on the air-cooled engines. Why can't they just put a radiator on the bikes? It seems you would get a more reliable engine if it is properly cooled. my 250cc Honda scooter that I own now is even liquid cooled.

So c'mon guys, sell me on Harley!

Last edited by Hobbit; Dec 25th, 2008 at 02:13 PM.
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Old Dec 24th, 2008, 04:47 PM     #2
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Re: Harley Engine Lifespan

Water-cooled is just something else to go wrong. If Sporty's & big twins did 10K+ rpm's, I might be more inclined to say--yeah, they might need it. HD's have been made air-cooled for 106 yrs now--haven't died yet.

More than one owner here with 100k on theirs. Take care of it, proper maint, and ride it til you die. Tracy
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Old Dec 24th, 2008, 05:32 PM     #3
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Re: Harley Engine Lifespan

Nothing wrong with air cooled !

Briggs and stratton among others
How many of you grew up on an old air colled Honda, beat the crap out of em motors caked with mud and still ran for years.

With proper maint. and some common sense these engines will last well over 100K
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Old Dec 26th, 2008, 09:48 AM     #4
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Re: Harley Engine Lifespan

Ride with a friend who has an 85 1200 with over 80k on it.He leaves the darn thing in a snowbank all winter and it still fires right up with a quick jump every spring.He was actualy upset at having to replace his belt last season.You cant kill the thing.
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Old Dec 26th, 2008, 12:13 PM     #5
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Re: Harley Engine Lifespan

Radar;

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

Asking for the life span of Harley is almost like asking "how long does a stick of gum last" If you are looking for what is going to last the longest - get a steam engine. We have many here in the Midwest that are generations old.

My experience is that Harley V-Twin motors that are keep relatively stock will run for years if you take care of them. However, keep in mind that the basic design for these motors dates back to the early 1900's, and when you start increasing the duration of the valves, increasing compression ratio and run at high rpm's, the reliability starts to go south. (I know this will get the mail goin!)

In short, if you want to go really fast - buy a V-Max.

I own several motorcycles and only one is a Harley. The one I have the most fun with is the Harley. I like knowing that if I keep my little Nighster for 20 years, I will still be able to get parts from the Dealer...in most cases right off the shelf.

Right now, I and think well into 2010, there are some real deals on Japanese Motorcycles. Yes these have proven to be very reliable, but when you want accessories, be prepared to wait - because the dealers cannot afford to keep accessories for every different model in stock. The same is true for many "normal maintenance" items as well.

My better half and I regularly ride my Honda Shadow 1100 with our circle of friends, and I must say I'm the only non Harley in the group, yes I put up with some ribbing, but we all enjoy riding, and when the better half can't make the ride, out comes the Nightster.

We can't make the decision for you. We can only let you in on why we ride what we do. But I can tell you that the Harley "Family" in any state, or country is one heck of a family, that can be counted on regardless.

I hope you find a ride that suits you.

Jake

Last edited by hjacobson1; Dec 26th, 2008 at 12:16 PM. Reason: Include Name
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Old Dec 26th, 2008, 02:23 PM     #6
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Re: Harley Engine Lifespan

Quote: Originally Posted by hjacobson1 View Post
Radar;



My experience is that Harley V-Twin motors that are keep relatively stock will run for years if you take care of them. However, keep in mind that the basic design for these motors dates back to the early 1900's, and when you start increasing the duration of the valves, increasing compression ratio and run at high rpm's, the reliability starts to go south. (I know this will get the mail goin!)


Jake
Jake, we must be related

I agree with you 100%. If you want the engine to last leave it stock (Inside) and add some fuel. Stage 1 is OK too but when you open any engine up after it leaves the factory and add cams, heads etc, there goes the reliability as well as a long engine lifespan.
It's like the wear factor increases once the engine isn't stock mainly because of the way it's ridden. Who is going to invest in engine work and not utilize the extra power?

Nothing like a stock engine for a good long life!
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Old Dec 31st, 2008, 10:29 AM     #7
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Re: Harley Engine Lifespan

Quote: Originally Posted by Gary12850 View Post
Why I don't buy Japanese vehicles...IMO
1. I stood on the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, 1300 names on the wall, most of whom are still there some 30 below in a watery grave.
2. Ever see a flatbed truck going down the road with a load of squashed cars, it's going to a chipper to be shredded into 1" cubes to be shipped to Japan amongst other places, where it is re-smelted to make parts for many things but predominently vehicles. 2 words...metal fatigue, how many times can a bar of iron be melted down before it's simply dust. You may say so what if my gas tank is made from an old Dodge or that computer I threw out last year is hanging off my right quarter panel. And those gears in your transmission...
3. As an Ironworker in Cleveland Ohio I made alot of money doing maintenance at any one of the steel mills. In 2000 when the steel mills of Cleveland went under 200 of us lost their jobs and had to rely on the Union Hall (as a hiring agent) for work, with the economy the way it was, not alot of building happening. The steel mills went under because the U.S. manufacturers could not compete with the foriegn steel producers, cars, MC's washing machines...etc...are all using re-smelted steel.
4. I am an American and as such I believe that I'd rather see an American working than a foriegner.
It's your money, spend it as you will...JMHO...
Next time your out of work and hungry, go take a bite out of your Goldwing...
Gary I agree with you 100% with the exception of one thing .I honestly don't think that it matters if you buy canadian or American so long as you are buying one or the other.Our economies are so intertwined that we may as well be one country (with the exception of Quebec they already think that they are a country)
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Old Dec 31st, 2008, 12:22 PM     #8
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Re: Harley Engine Lifespan

Quote: Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
Sorry Bro....no one can "sell you" on Harley.

If you do the research, (no matter what you say Smit, and I respect the heck outta ya Bro), you'll find that metrics have had advanced technology as compared to HD for many years.

The technology isn't why we ride Harley's, Radar. I know you've heard the old adage, "If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand",, but Bro, it's TRUE.

I don't knock ANYBODY'S ride, and I'll ride with anybody, whether they have a metric or a Harley, and in fact, one of the toughest bikers I know rides a metric, and I'd dare anybody to give him a hard time about it at great risk to their limbs. (He has a bit of an anger-management problem, as the correctional officers in his last vacation home knew all too well. He got an added 2 years on top of the 7 he was already serving for punching a CO for "looking at him like he was trash", whatever THAT means.

Anyway, I digress.

Ride whatever you like, and you're still a biker brother to me. Honest to God.

But don't ask me to "sell" you on Harley. You either "get it", or you do NOT get it.
'nuf said.
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Old Dec 31st, 2008, 12:50 PM     #9
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Re: Harley Engine Lifespan

I wouldn't think of dishonoring any one that has served for our country but until the American car manufacturers can build a car as good as what I drive, there will be no American cars in my future.
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Old Dec 31st, 2008, 02:10 PM     #10
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Re: Harley Engine Lifespan

well said gary
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