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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone, I currently have a ninja 500r (first bike) and i love it, but I want to expand into cruisers, and I was considering a fee different bikes. I was curious if there is a large quality or performance difference between say a sportster 883 and a Honda magna or Kawasaki vulcan of similar displacement. Obviously there's a element of personal preference and buying domestic but I want to consider all the angles.
 

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Gone.
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The Vulcan will always beat the stock Harley every time you race. It also probably costs less then the Harley. They are great bikes, especially if you're budget conscious, but they are not as solidly built as the HD.

The Harley can still be around 50 years from now and you'll still be able to get parts for it. You can ride the crappola out of it and still hand it down to your grandchildren. The other two will have been thrown away long before that. It also has more dealer and aftermarket support then any other motorcycle in the USA.
 

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American Legion Rider
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^^^^ what he said. Fact is some jap bikes could go longer but they refuse to support them after a certain amount. I think Honda is down to 10 year now and they drop support. It's a shame because bikes like Goldwings can easily go 300,000+ miles. But that's why there are bike specific sites. To help you find those parts you might need that they no longer have available. The bike could still be going if not for that.
 

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Your best bet is to actually RIDE the bikes you are considering, if at all possible!

Hey everyone, I currently have a ninja 500r (first bike) and i love it, but I want to expand into cruisers, and I was considering a fee different bikes. I was curious if there is a large quality or performance difference between say a sportster 883 and a Honda magna or Kawasaki vulcan of similar displacement. Obviously there's a element of personal preference and buying domestic but I want to consider all the angles.
 

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^^^^ what he said. Fact is some jap bikes could go longer but they refuse to support them after a certain amount. I think Honda is down to 10 year now and they drop support.
I think part of that is because the Japanese brands put out so many forgettable bikes, and often poor sellers. Few people are hanging onto something like a Yamaha Radian 600, hoping it will be a collectible bike some day. I know of only one in my area, and it is rotting away in a Quonset hut. So there's little point in making parts for them after a certain point. There are plenty of exceptions, of course. My first generation CB750, I can find parts all over the place for it, both from Honda and from the aftermarket.

But a Harley, with the exception of some of the rare AMF small bore Italian imports, parts can be had for nearly every model made.

For the OP, if you're just looking to ride something and don't care about any of that, then you'll need to try as many as you can. Most bikes on the market are good bikes. It's going to come down to personal preference. Also keep in mind resale value, if you don't plan to keep it for a long time. The imports generally do not hold value as well.
 

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I've had an XR1200 Sportster(they stopped making it in 2013) for almost six years now. Some parts won't be just sitting around at the dealers, but that is true for most bikes anyway. Harleys shake at idle and mine vibrates going down the road, some of the Japanese will probably be smoother to ride. The truth is you will have to ride some of the bikes you are interested in and make the choice of which one moves YOU.
 

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The 43rd Poser
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Sportsters aren't really on an apples playing field....

Look more toward a Heritage, THEN you're talking similars, and the Heritage will win out.
 

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I've got a xs1100 standard so I don't know if it qualifies as a cruiser since it is not the special edition. I would say that Harley's aren't exactly big on horsepower looking at the specs(no offense ever toward Harley Davidson) but they will beat the little bikes off the line.
 

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Swamp Rat Rider
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I like Sportsters and the EVO Engine now on them unless buy a pre 1986 is the best design HD did IMHO in far of terms of reliability anyway .. Sportsters can be made scary fast if want to spend that kind of foolish coin .. But it is without question the Longest running model of any Motorcycle Bar None .. 1957 to Present ..
 

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For once I am going to sort of agree with Eye on HD. I owned a couple of Harleys and they are indeed solid and will last for 50 years of rusting in a garage without rusting through. The engines on these bikes have 50 year old technology in them and that makes them easier to work on for most of us. We all know how engines worked 50 years ago.
The Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki have more modern technology, as does even the domestic Victory and Indian lines. That more modern design does mean a bit less tinkering is practical on the more modern bikes but it also means they perform just fine with zero tinkering. I was sort of happy with the about 68 HP I got from my 103 twin-cam HD engine at the rear wheel but my 106/6 on my Victory is giving me 98HP and 112 ft-lb at the rear wheel while the bike weighs in within about 10 pounds of my 2011 Road Glide Ultra.
For many of those alternate bikes the maintenance is easier for a typical DIY mechanic. As an example my Victory has a single oil system compared to the HD with 3 separate oils approach. My oil filter is on the bottom of the engine so I get a nice clean drain of engine oil compared to the spill and clean up more common when changing the filter on the front of a Harley. If I need to change a drive belt I simply remove mine off the right side while an HD has one that requires a partial drive train disassembly to get at the front pulley on the left side belt. I have to admit I would need to remove some pipes to get at my drive belt but it beats removing the entire clutch and related parts to get at it.
HD boasts of having a robust dealer network, and they do. It seems like there is an HD dealer on every corner. I can walk to the one nearest me while I must ride 50 miles to get to my Victory dealer. I used to make that walk a few times each year while having warranty work done. In 3 years of Victory ownership I have had exactly one warranty claim for a failed starter clutch. The list of upgraded and modern electronics on an HD is impressive but I spent most of my monthly HD warranty visits getting electrical failures taken care of so what is that list of goodies really worth?
 

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Swamp Rat Rider
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Actually wish Victory would leave the Engine Oil Separate rather all Three Combined .. Don't mind sharing the Primary and Tranny like the Sportster does .. But Rather have the Oil that used for Lubrication Between Cylinder Walls during Piston Combustion and Cooling the Main bearings as well stay Separate and change it more often .. Not totally sure that was the greatest of ideas .. Only thing I really feel HD is totally behind the times on is the Primary Drive needing a Chain ..
 

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The engines on these bikes have 50 year old technology in them and that makes them easier to work on for most of us. We all know how engines worked 50 years ago.
Please do tell us about this 50 year old technology! :biggrin:

Apparently you don't know much about working on 50 year old simple tech engines if you had to take it to the dealership for the long litany of repairs and problems you encountered.
 

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Aging & Worn
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I personally wouldn't expend a whole lot of energy looking over the 883 as a serious purchase, unless you don't think you will grow out of it.

Not that it's a bad bike, but that it is fairly small, and most of the folks that I've talked to who owned one, traded up eventually.

If you are going to spend big money like Harley demands, you might as well buy a tad bigger from the get-go.

As for metric bikes -vs- Harley, I agree with a lot of what has already been said.

-soupy
 

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I would say that Eye and Hogcowboy and others have this topic pretty well covered, :).....Not a lot I can add. I own a Vintage Jap bike in addition to my Harley, when I need replacement parts for my '75 Kaw Z1-B 900, they are much more difficult to find ( Typically) and certainly Expensive. I have actually been pleasantly surprised at cost of "Maintenance" items for my Heritage, not cheap, but not terribly expensive ,IMO.............. as others have noted, I watch ocassionally to see what the "value" on my 2003 Heritage is, it holds its value ,especially compared to other brands of same age, again,thats just IMO.
I also agree with Soupy, having owned Sportsters myself, they are good bikes, but I think a larger HD would probably serve the potential owner better,I am a "Seasoned" Rider ( Old, with typical pains of aging as well as some Service connected health issues) and in my younger years I did ride a Sportster quite a bit, they were/are just not as comfortable as the Larger HD models especially for extended riding ( IMO )
This is always an interesting topic, with many folks holding differing views.
To each their own and good Luck to OP in finding the bike they Love!
Ed
 

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It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye
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Please do tell us about this 50 year old technology! :biggrin:

Apparently you don't know much about working on 50 year old simple tech engines if you had to take it to the dealership for the long litany of repairs and problems you encountered.
This kinda stuff always makes me laugh, because I know they're talking OHC vs. OHV.

FYI Oldman, OHC technology is just a smidgen newer than OHV, with the first traceable patent coming almost 100 years ago.;)

https://occhiolungo.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/patents-3-ohc-2/
 
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