My love of Sportsters is well documented and quite frankly will never die. I will profess my love of the Evo Sportster until my dying day but I feel like the Sportsters epic run may be over. I specifically profess my love for the Evo Sportster (if you want the sorted details click here ) because since the birth of the rubber mount Sporty in 2004 I have been underwhelmed. Other than the slight redesign of the “XB” style cylinder head there haven't been any real significant changes. In fact, I would argue that the current version of the Sportster is worse than my beloved Evo Sportster.

One of the many (and my favorite) uses of a Sportster is hooligan racing.

The rubber mounting of the engine in 2004 didn’t offer any advantage to the non-rubber mounted frame. Contrarily, it added unnecessary weight and made the chassis feel wobbly. To be perfectly honest there have been no real improvements to the XL lineup since 2003. The current models are 70 lbs heavier and basically make the same horsepower as the 17-year-old model. I’ve had my hands on plenty of late model Sportsters and each year it seems like they add a few more widgets that don’t add much, if any value, and clutter up what should be a simple machine. Case in point - the keyless system on the new Sportster models is ridiculous. If you don’t have the fob you can’t start the bike or even move it across the garage without the lights blinking incessantly. Meanwhile, the wiring harness is bulging out from under the tank and bursting at the seams like a Milwaukee bratwurst. One of the beautiful things about a Sportster is its simplicity. Overloading it with useless electronics that add no real value is pointless. The power output hasn’t been improved upon even with the addition of fuel injection, so why waste the wiring and ECU space? You can cheaply build an Evo Sportster engine in your garage that will spank a late model FI Sportster by 30 horsepower. I mean, they haven’t even added LED lighting as a standard component….but went with keyless starting? So why would anyone spend $9k  and up on a brand new Sportster when you can scoop up an Evo Sportster on any Facebook marketplace for $3,500, throw another $2-3K at it, and have a bitchen' customized ride that's tailored to your style and will outperform the ones on the showroom floor.

If you’re walking into the H-D dealership as a potential new buyer The Motor Company's lineup doesn’t exactly make the Sportster the most sensible choice. It can’t really be positioned as the entry level starter bike anymore with the 750 Street coming in $1,500 under the cheapest XL model. I’m not saying the Street 750’s are the better choice, they aren’t in my opinion, but they are cheaper and is H-D’s attempt at garnering first time buyers, albeit a lame one. On the other end of the Sportster spectrum is the Roadster at $11,500, but if you're cruising the showroom looking at overpriced Sportsters you'll probably take a hard gander at the Softail Standard.  For $13,600, per-dollar-spent it’s a better buy.

But it's not as simple as comparing just Milwaukee-made models because if I’m a possible purchaser of a shiny brand new Sportster, I’m going to be looking at other brands, too. And I think that applies more to the possible Sportster customer than any other H-D buyer. The Sportster consumer is more likely to either be a first time buyer who has yet to develop loyalty for the orange or someone like myself that enjoys the versatility and fun factor of the (modified) bike. Unfortunately for H-D it opens the door to a boatload of competition that by the spec sheets and the seat-of-the-pants it just can’t stack up to. Heritage brands like Ducati and Triumph offer bikes  like the Triumph Street Twin, Triumph Street Scrambler and Ducati’s line of Scramblers that provide much better performance and tech while still having the company history to make you feel special at your local coffee spot.

So why pull the trigger on a brand new Sporty when you could either spend way less money on a used Evo and take your large wad of cash you saved and customize it or spend the $10,000+ you have burning a hole in your pocket on a superior motorcycle ? The answer is I can’t honestly see myself purchasing a new Sportster with the previous two options available to me. And I can imagine the braintrust in Milwaukee isn’t blind to those scenarios, which begs the question- what’s going to happen to the Sportster? It doesn’t seem to have a place in the H-D lineup and is clearly out classed by its competition. The Motor Company’s economic woes were outlined by my Revzilla compadre Lance Oliver a few weeks ago after H-D reported a 92 million dollar loss.  Harley’s new CEO Jochen Zietz has made no bones about “streamlining the Harley models by 30%,” again leaving me to surmise that the end is near for the beloved Sportster. It's had more than a good run and currently is, in my humble opinion, the best Harley ever made. And it will be a bummer to see it go, but it's also sad to see it age out and not get the updates it so badly needs. But never fear, the market is flush with used Sporty’s to be had for a few shekels. But take my word for it and snag one while you can. If the Sportster goes the way of the Dodo I’m sure it will send hipsters scurrying to Craigslist in search of the extinct quad cam model in hopes to secure what will indeed be a legendary motorcycle. Get yours now and tell your grandkids about it later.