Harley Engine Lifespan

Discussion in 'Sportster Models' started by Radar, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. Radar

    Radar Member

    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 a moderator: Dec 25, 2008
  2. tsp45acp

    tsp45acp Active Member

    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
  3. jkelley

    jkelley Member

    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
  4. whatyardwork

    whatyardwork Banned

    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.
  5. hjacobson1

    hjacobson1 Active Member


    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.

    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008
  6. glider

    glider Veteran Member

    Jake, we must be related :D

    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!
  7. STEVE07

    STEVE07 Well-Known Member Staff Member Super Moderators

    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)
  8. threesteps

    threesteps Junior Member

    'nuf said.
  9. glider

    glider Veteran Member

    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.
  10. softailsteve

    softailsteve Active Member

    well said gary