Harley Sportster 883 Vs 1200 – Which Reigns Supreme?

The key differences between Harley Sportster 883 and 1200 are their distinct fuel efficiency. From power output to engine size, or handlebar options to pricing, both bikes are different from each other. 

Due to the tiny engine sizing, the 883 is easier to handle and more nimble. Apart from these, you’ll find the Sportster 1200’s engine compression ratio much bigger than the 883. 

Still, a few factors like mentioned above can make a difference in your riding journey! We want you to see such things even before going for the final purchase. So, read this article along to know more! 

Harley Davidson Sportster 883 Specs

Engine883CC air-cooled evolution engine
Engine StarterElectric
Fuel Capacity3.3 gallon tank
Max Power51.6 PS at 6000 rpm
Max Torque68 Nm at 4750 rpm
Bore x Stroke3’’ x 3.811’’
Fuel SystemESPFI- Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection 

Harley Davidson launched this Sportster 883 a while ago when the actual design was much smaller than today’s version. 

Beginners find this model a great spot for them while female riders also got inspired to buy it. 

Throughout the years, this model has been brought out with new features and adapted to the latest technology. 

This stylish classic-looking bike utilizes the 883CC air-cooled evolution engine which is rubber-mounted as well. And, 49 horsepower is the maximum engine power it can generate. 

Along with these, you’ll have black exhaust headers with mufflers here. Moreover, three different variants are available for this model: White Sand Pearl, Black Denim, and Gunship Gray.

Harley Davidson 1200 Specs

EngineAir-cooled V-Twin evolution engine
Fuel Capacity12.5 liters
Max Power61 HP at 5200 rpm
Max Torque87 Nm at 3900 rpm
Bore x Stroke88.8 mm x 96.8 mm
ABS SystemDual Channel

Coming with some real-impactful specs has made this classic bike quite famous and trendy since it entered the modern sportbike market back in 2008. 

No doubt that you get a rejuvenating riding experience through this sportster! Its tubular frame containing mild steel robust structure brings out an amazing outlook.

The Harley Davidson 1200 employs an air-cooled evolution engine. Having a 45-degree angle V-Twin engine with 2 valves/cylinder in this 1202 CC engine is the key dissimilarity compared to 883.

This bike model also has a tiny fuel tank containing 12.5 liters. Having a buckhorn handlebar is a nice treat for users along with a tachometer and a speedometer.

Read Also: Harley Davidson Ultra Classic Vs Ultra Limited: The Ultimate Showdown

What Are The Similarities Between Harley Sportster 883 And 1200? 

Not necessarily we only need to dig out their differences! 

The iconic Harley Davidson brand offers almost the same classic cruiser outlook in both the models. 

Their conventional suspension system, 5-speed manual transmission system are also indifferent.

  • Brand: Hope, you’ve already caught the fact that both models are from the same brand- Harley Davidson since a while.
  • Braking System: You get a solo disc front and end brake on both of them. Harley Davidson provides the same high-quality biking suspensions there to improve this system.
  • Customization: Both Sportsters allow customization all by your preference! 
  • Transmission: Sportsters gained the five-speed transmission back in 1991. And gradually, we can see both models have the same manual transmission now. 
  • Outlook: As both models have been providing service for a while, you’ll find a retro and classic look on them.

Read Also: Harley Mid Controls vs Forward Controls: [Full Comparison]

Harley Davidson Sportster 883 Vs 1200: Quick Comparison Table

Historically, both models are quite popular and useful. But one of them provides you with more value. 

To identify that specific one, let’s have a quick glimpse of the differentiating factors! 

Differentiating FactorsHarley Davidson Sportster 883Harley Davidson Sportster 1200
EngineAir-cooled evolution engineAir-cooled V-Twin evolution engine
Handlebar TypeStockClassic Mini-ape
FlexibilityQuite handy and lightweightA bit weighty and bike acrobatics is risky
Fuel Economy (per gallon)45 to 55 miles49 miles
Front Wheel Sizing406.4 mm 482.6 mm
Engine Compression Ratio9:110:1
Ground Clearance140 mm105 mm

Read Also: Harley Davidson Road King Vs Street Glide: Which One Is Better?

What Are The Differences Between Harley Sportster 883 And 1200?

You got some hints as to what factors make them different even though they belong to the same brand. 

The more we dig out these factors, the more info you can compare between them before going out to buy! Let’s do this!

Engine Performance

Harley Sportster 883 comes with an engine compression ratio of 9:1 while 10:1 is from the 1200 model. 

The higher the ratio, the better the power output will be generated from your bike’s engine. 

Relevantly, Harley 1200 can generate more power and better performance for a longer period. 

Handling & Flexibility

The Sportster 883 comes as lightweight so that you can take proper control over it. Having a lower seat adds a more suitable layer to this model’s specification. 

Meanwhile, Sportster 1200 weighs around 554 lbs which is quite heavier than the 883’s 536 lbs. So, handling such heavier bikes can make your task a bit difficult.


Even if you go ignorant of all other specs, design or outlook is the thing you can’t miss out! 

If you look at the handlebar positions, the 883 model provides classical stock handlebars. 

Meanwhile, coming with a mini-ape handlebars adds a stylish look to the Harley 1200. So, the 1200 model is more suitable for long rides.

Read Also: Harley Davidson Road King Vs Road Glide: Which On is Better?

Fuel Economy

You’ll surely target bikes consuming minimum fuel, right? More or less different Sportster models can go up to 59 miles at each gallon. 

Usually, the stylish Harley Sportster 883 can accelerate the running between 45 to 55 miles per gallon if you leave the tank full. 

In the meantime, the Harley 1200 can’t exceed more than 49 miles per gallon. Moreover, both models are quite renowned for their fuel utility.

Ground Clearance

Such clearance indicates the space between the tire and the lowest end of your bike. You’ll get the internal space bigger in Harley 883 (140 mm) compared to 1200 Sportster (105 mm). 

As a result, the 883 makes your riding more flexible in bumpy terrains and uneven tracks. On the other hand, the Harley 1200 model enables more stability on straight roads.

Read Also: Harley Davidson Street Bob Vs Fat Bob: The Ultimate Comparison!

Harley Sportster 883 Or 1200: Which One To Choose? 

Already you’ve seen the key differences where the Harley 883 stays in front than the 1200. The 883 provides better flexibility, comes lighter. Also, you can comfortably balance the riding on uneven tracks. 

Along with that, the fuel consumption is lesser here which allows you to go more miles than the 1200 model. But the plus point of the Harley 1200 is its increased power output.

Overall, we’d suggest you go for Harley Sportster 883.


We’ve come a long way! If you’re still confused about which one you should buy, then exploring popular questions on this issue can be a great help!

Is The Harley Sportster 883 A Beginner Bike?

Yes, beginners get Harley Sportster 883 quite flexible and safer due its non-robust attire. Relevantly, facing troubles in braking is not a thing here!

Can You Ride 2 Up On A Sportster 883?

Not really! Harley Davidson 883 comes with one seat which makes 2 people sitting at a time almost impossible. However, a pillion seat and rear leg pegs can be attached if you reach out to the dealer for this customization.

Is The Sportster 883 A Cruiser?

Yes, it’s an entry-level cruiser bike of Harley Davidson! While ruling the market for the last 13 years, this Sportster 883 has been delivering an energetic cruiser experience. Along with that, this model allows a cozy riding posture.

Is A 1200CC Motorcycle Too Much For A Beginner?

Yes! A 1200CC bike weighs around 500 to 600 pounds which is quite high. Meanwhile, bikes less than 500 pounds (or 500 to 600CC) are recommended for beginners. As a result, they can suitably control the riding and face less struggle.

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