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Manufacturer: Harley-Davidson
Model: XLH883 Sportster, XLH 883 Hugger, XL 883R Sportster, XL 53C Sportster Custom 53.
Years Made: You want years: 1988-2003+
Style: Standard Cruiser
Engine Type:
883cc V-Twin EVO2
27.6″/ 700mm
Weight: 489lb HP: 52
Torque: 50
Top Speed: mph MPG: 53
New Cost: $7,999 (1988) – $ 8,250 (1990) – $ 9,495 (1992) – $11,495 (1994) $11,495 (1996) – $ 11,750 (1998) – $ 11,500 (2000) – $ 11,495 (2002)
Average Used Costs:
Low $3,250 Medium $5,073 High $6,369


XLH883 SportsterXLH883 Sportster: This is the Sportster 883. Raw, basic and agile. No nonsense. Just stripped-down simple. It’s quite possibly the purest way to experience road, wind and engine. And it’s one of the easiest ways to get your name in permanent ink on the title to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. To those who dream of that moment, we offer this to get the wheels going: 883cc of spirited Evolution engine tucked into a narrow, lean frame. The 883 is styled with enduring Sportster looks. Classic tank, staggered shorty dual exhaust, solo seat, low-rise handlebar and bullet-style signals. Then there’s the finish that’s just as astounding as the machine itself. The only question is, what are you going to do now?

XLH 883 HuggerXLH 883 Hugger: For those wishing to aim low, we offer up the Sportster 883 Hugger. With a seat height that puts your hindquarters a mere 27” from earth, the 2003 Hugger is a fine machine for getting down there. And once a leg is swung over, it’s easy to see that’s a good place to be. Courtesy of a narrow frame providing the agility, specifically designed spring and damping rates for smooth riding, and tried-and-true Evolution engine kicking out the horses. There is little not to like. Buckhorn handlebar. Low-profile solo seat. Bullet-style signals. New mirrors. And take a look at the new lustrous Gunmetal paint with silver cloisonné emblem on the fuel tank. Being down to earth has never been better.

XL 883R SportsterXL 883R Sportster: The Sportster 883R caught a few by surprise last year when it came barreling down the pavement. A quick glance might have made you think a Harley Grand National dirt track bike was doing a victory lap around the block. With its orange and black racing paint scheme. Wide, dirt track-inspired bars. Curved chrome 2-into-1 exhaust. Components cloaked in a black satin finish. Anniversary fender decal. There’s plenty to pump a fist in the air about. The power of a Harley 883cc Evolution V-Twin engine, black powder-coated and 100TH Anniversary stamped. Race-style seat. Short-stem mirrors and bullet-style turn signals. Dual front disc brakes. Turns out it was a victory lap after all.

XL 53C Sportster Custom 53XL 53C Sportster Custom 53: Beginning in the year 1957, the motorcycles of the Sportster family quickly became a permanent part of the landscape. Today’s 883 Custom certainly continues that tradition, only it makes the scenery sweeter than ever. The view begins with the paint. We gave this one liquid-metal glorious Sterling Silver and Vivid Black two-tone, and did it up from there. Two-piece tank emblem with gold cloisonné. 100TH Anniversary derby, air cleaner and timing covers. Seat emblem. And everything that made it great to begin with. A reliable Evolution engine for power. This one is 883cc strong. There are forward foot controls, new mirrors, a 21” laced wheel, drag bar, lowered rear suspension. And a whole world that awaits you.

Notes: 1984 was the first year of the Evolution 1 (EVO) motor. The Evolution Motor (EVO2) was made from 1988+ made the 883 Sportster a much more reliable and overall better machine. 1997+ increased the tank size to 12.3L.

MBG Says: (Rating 6/10) The Sportsters (especially the 883’s) are now, by their flagrant lack of functionality, the only really deceiving Harley models. The rest of the lineup may be more expensive, but at least in return one can expect a pleasant ride. If the rediculous vibration problem was solved and if they had slightly more power, the situation would be different. These are two aspects of the Sportster mechanics which a certain Erik Buell masters rather well, which proves that is can be done. Once these problems are solved, and not before, we can talk about real bargains.

IGM Says Sportster 883: Being Harley’s price leader, this bike has fewer frills and extras than any other bike you can buy, but it’s still a Harley. For a lot of people, that’s enough.

IGM Says Sportster 883 Hugger: By using suspension components with less travel, Harley got the seat height down to about knee level, making the bike rougher riding in return. For this, along with a couple of chrome dodads and a pair of buckhorn handlebars, you’ll pay a premium over a standard 883.