Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster Common Problems

The most common Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster problems include but are not limited to electrical problems, battery charging issues, unresponsive brakes, loss of power, and sometimes discomfort when riding a long distance. 

Since 1200 Sportster Production in 1957, it has been a fine choice for all classic cruiser lovers. However, sometimes you need to deal with these common issues. We have described strategies and tips. Keep reading to learn more! 

Troubleshooting And Fix For Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster Common Problems

The Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster doesn’t show any vital issues as we have inspected. But some of the recurring issues may bother the riders. Some of them can be dealt with on your own.

1- Electrical Issues 

Harley Davidson 1200 often runs into electrical issues. Electrical issues may appear in internal components like lights, fuses, batteries, wiring, rectifiers, regulators, harnesses, stators, indicators, and even the engine itself. 

Common electrical issues seen in the 1200 Sportster are battery drainage, not charging, malfunctioning lights and signals, and brake failure. 

Mainly, electrical issues occur due to wiring problems. If any wire is worn out or there are connection problems, that may cause additional issues. Also, there can be corroded grounding which will make your electrical issues show up. 

To solve electrical issues, the first thing to do is to check all the interconnections and wirings. 

Then, you need to fix the tear or damage if you notice any. Serious wear in the engine area may require mechanical fixation. 

For simple repairments like small wire burns or disconnections, it costs around $100-$300 and an additional service charge. 

However, for vast electrical repair in the engine area or brakes, it may cost $100-$1000 to repair. 

2- Battery Issues 

Battery issues
Battery issues

When your vehicle has turned old, it may automatically show some battery issues. 

Some owners complained about battery issues like quick drainage and charging failure, even in newly bought ones. 

Battery issues may be somehow connected to the electrical connections. Also, certain components may sometimes drain the battery even when you are not using the vehicle. 

When the battery’s not up to par, first, you need to check the connections. If everything’s all right there, notice whether or not your battery has ample charge. 

You can try charging it fully to see if that solves the issue. If nothing works, you might need to replace the battery when it has been years since you bought it. 

The cost will vary depending on the type of problem. If you ought to replace the battery, the charge will be around $100 to $300. 

However, other fixations may cost less than this, depending on the labor type.

Read Also: 4 Major Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems & Solutions

3- Unresponsive Brakes

The brake issues in the Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster have been quite the talk. 

We discovered that the majority of the riders frequently experienced the problem of being unresponsive while on the ride. Sometimes, the brakes even feel mushy to hold tight. 

Brake issues may arise from several issues like worn brake pads, and contaminated brake fluid. 

Besides, malfunctioning brake calipers or any air stuck in the brake lines may also contribute to the problem. There can even be a size mismatch of the front, and rear discs to cause brake issues. 

In the case of brake issues, you need to keep your eyes on the damages inside the components. 

Changing the brake pads when you notice any significant wear may solve the problem. Alongside that, you need to check the brake fluid level and the condition. 

If you notice any leaks in the brake calipers, replacing them will be ideal. Besides, when air is in the brake lines, you need to remove the air to regain the brake performance. 

Replacing the brake pads or system requires a low cost. It should be done within $50-$15. But if you need to replace other parts, that may cost between $100 and $500.

4- Leakage And Excessive Smoke 

Leakage and excessive smoke have been reported by many users of the Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster. 

The problem they face is all of a sudden the vehicle starts leaking oil out of the seals. Moreover, sometimes the engine overheats and causes excessive smoke during the rides. 

The main reason we found behind the leakage is damaged gaskets or seals. It can also be due to underlying engine issues that you haven’t noticed. 

Mainly, the smoke production is caused by damaged hoses, radiators, or water pumps in the 1200 Sportster. Sometimes, the coolant leakage can cause the engine to overheat and create excessive smoke. 

Moreover, any mismatch in your fuel mixture may also cause black smoke emissions. First, you need to inspect for visible leaks in the coolant area. 

Also, try checking underneath your motorcycle and the engine, gaskets, and seals, including hoses. There might be loose connections causing the leakage. 

If you notice any disrupted components, you need to fix them. But if the components are beyond repairable conditions, you need to replace those to prevent the issue. 

If the repair is minor, the gaskets and seals may cost around $100 to $500. But vital issues, like any major leak, will cost around $500 to $1500 or more.

Read Also: Solving Harley Milwaukee 8 Problems: An Ultimate Guide!

5- Gears Malfunction 

After starting the engine, gears may not engage properly a few times. This leads to gear-shifting problems and insufficient engagement while controlling the bike. 

The problem can be dangerous as it might take a toll on your overall safety. We figured the issue might arise from a faulty clutch or transmission. 

The gears can also wear out if any such issues occur. Thus, problems with the clutch plates or cable can also lead to gears malfunctioning. 

The first thing to do here is to check for wear or tear within the clutch. Any signs of damaged components need to be fixed immediately. Besides, when the transmission oil is low, you must fill it up properly. 

Small repair works that don’t require much labor may cost you around $100. But for significant repairs or replacements, you might need to spend around $100-$1000.

6- Rough Start 

The Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 may show some issues while you are trying to start it. This issue appears commonly when you have used the vehicle for a long time. 

Moreover, it may even misfire sometimes. Once this happens, riders face low performance from the bike. 

We noticed problems like ignition, suspension, and fuel system issues act behind the rough start of your vehicle. Also, there might be mechanical issues, including a poor spark plug. 

The first thing to solve this problem is to check the fuel. Usually, if you clean the fuel tank and use contamination-free oil, this problem goes away. 

After that, you need to check the spark plugs for possible damage. If they are dirty, make sure to clean them. Replace the plugs if they need a replacement. 

You need to inspect the whole fuel system, including lines, pump, and injectors, for signs of damage or clogs.

If you find nothing, move forward to the ignition system and inspect thoroughly for signs of malfunction. 

Depending on the underlying issue, the cost may vary from around $50 to $100. However, the cost may be over a thousand dollars if your vehicle needs some component replacement.

Read Also: Harley Davidson 5 Speed Transmission Problems: Tips & Fixes!

Tips To Prevent Harley 1200 Sportster Problems

The issues that riders complain about the Harley 1200 Sportster are not major. Here are a few things you can do to prevent them:

  • Provide regular maintenance, timely oil changes, and filter replacements. Inspect all the components and thoroughly clean the accessible areas for optimal performance.
  • Don’t settle for less costly contaminated fuel. Use high-quality fuel to keep the engine content. 
  • If you notice any corroded electrical connections, repair them immediately. 
  • The air filter needs to be cooperative to ensure proper flow. If it’s clogged, you need to clean it thoroughly. Check for any stuck dirt or debris to make it operate flawlessly. 
  • Before starting the vehicle, adequately charge your battery. Don’t keep the battery low on charge for a long time, this might affect the battery’s longevity and performance.

Read Also: Harley Davidson Rocker Problems with Troubleshooting!

Should You Buy Used 1200 Sportster?

Our expertise says that getting a used 1200 Sportster is worth the deal due to the functionality it provides. There are some strong reasons why we suggest getting a used 1200 Sportster. 

  • You can save a lot of money. The purchase will be a cost-friendly decision while you get everything in one place. 
  • New bikes, even the old ones, are rarely available at such a low cost. So, it will be a total win-win situation if you look at the specifications. 
  • Beginners who know how to ride can benefit from purchasing a used 1200 Sportster due to the extensive possibilities for upgrades.
  • You will have the advantage of choosing from different generations with ample customization options. 
  • Due to its widespread presence, it’s easier to deal with the issues you might face from the vehicle. 
  • You can modify the parts as you like, as this vehicle is especially suitable to apply your preferences. 


Now that you know almost everything, we have some other things to share. Let’s see what people are curious to know! 

Is A Sportster 1200 Appropriate For A Beginner?

No, a Sportster 1200 won’t be a good choice for beginners due to the motorcycle’s weight. The controls might seem difficult to handle as well. 

Are Sportsters Reliable?

Yes, these bikes are super reliable and provide extensive control over the roads. The classic appearance and outstanding performance will keep you ahead on any road. 

Is A Sportster 1200 A Girl’s Bike?

It’s a common misconception that this motorcycle is meant for ladies. But this is unisex, which means both men and women can ride this. 

Final Words 

Now that we are putting closure to sharing the Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster common problems, you can carry on with faith that there will be no major issues. 

If you think any components require replacement, go to the service center or talk to a professional mechanic to get the best help.

Read Also: Solving Harley Freewheeler Problems: An Ultimate Guide!

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