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Sportster Stuff

Home of the 32 Tooth Sportster Pulley

How To Cruise Your Sportster

 Following is an annotated list of goodies that will allow you to ride for hours with the only required stop being for gas! And, how you can increase the time required and miles between for even that stop!

 

Enhancement items in my order of importance; or how to get more bang for your Harley Davidson Sportster buck!

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 Watch out for the bees!

Alias, get a "full face" for the Interstate!

Around Town: A ½ helmet is okay, as long as you don't land on your face, the sand  & gravel truck doesn't drop anything, it doesn't rain, and all the bugs are already dead...

Interstate: Get a full face with a flip-up chin guard and flip-up face shield. The swarm of bees that broke my headlamp and were hard to wash off my face shield, well enough said. This is an expense you'll thank yourself for over and over and...

Ladies: Some say a scar gives a guy "character"; I'm sorry, but it is not the same for ladies...

The "flip-up" chin guard is just easier to put on and take off. The "flip-up" face shield allows you to be understood when you talk to someone, will allow air in when you ride on hot days to cool you, and let your breath out on cold days so it doesn't fog up on the inside.

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Get your feet on the ground!

Alias, get your boots on & maybe lower your bike!

When you are stopped, you must be able to put both feet firmly on the ground. If you can't, you are going to have trouble; not a question of "if", only a question of "when". This is even more critical if you have a passenger. Reach the ground no mater what it takes! The Sportster center of gravity is higher than other bikes; if it leans too much you might not be able to stop it from going down. The total weight of the Sportster is ~550 lbs, 150 - 200 lbs heavier than Sport bikes. Don't let riders of those bikes convince you that you don't need to plant two feet solidly when you're stopped!

 

 Boots: I rode for years in tennis shoes. I didn't know what I was missing! The first time I rode with my Harley boots, was the last time soft shoes would ever see my foot pegs again! Boots not only protect you, they are cooler when it's hot, warmer when it's cold, more comfortable (unless you're walking), shift better, and stay on the pegs easier. They don't grab the pavement, have laces to get stuck on the foot pegs, and they make you taller. Yes, I am height challenged. If you get laced boots, be certain to tuck them into the boot. I bought "Engineer" boots, I should have purchased "Motorcycle" boots. For guys, Motorcycle boots are the ones with the ring on the side and the heel is ¼" taller than mine. For Ladies there is much more to choose from (and they're all kinda sexy!). I like "mid-calf" height. They keep the rain out, protect you from hot pipes and "road rocks".

Negative: Boots are uncomfortable to walk in (very); so make certain you won't have too; walk that is...

 

Lower seat height: You can get "short shocks". If you do, make certain they still have full travel. The short shocks I bought reduced the travel and I would bottom out the shocks on bumps and driveways, bang! I took them off and put on a "Lowering Kit". These are plates that bolt to the frame, into the original shock holes and mount the lower shock bolt more towards the rear causing a greater angle. The increased shock angle actually improves the ride. The increased shock angle allows more swing arm travel with less shock travel; alias a smoother ride. Lowering Plates are way less expensive than shocks. These are available in the "Products" section.

Negative: Lowering the bike leaves you with less ground clearance. Especially with two-up riding a lowered Sportster can drag on cornering. Take it really easy until you find your "new" cornering ability!

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 Don't stop for gas (as often)! 

Alias, add a tube to your tank!
 
 For less than $1.00 you can increase the capacity of your gas tank by almost ¼ gallon! Yep, add a ¼" gas line 1" long to the overfill tube in the tank filler ring. Poof! You can get almost an extra ¼ gallon (15 miles?) per tank!
The metal tube you see sticking up from the filler area is a "breather", it is connected to a small charcoal canister to capture fuel fumes, and then open to atmosphere. The breather is necessary to allow fuel to get to the engine and not create a vacuum inside the tank which can stop fuel flow to the engine. If you fill your tank above this line, it will spill onto the ground.
So, if you put a 1" piece of 1/4" fuel line onto the end of this breather, no clamp required, you can fill your tank above the small nozzle hole and into the breather tube area; Poof! about an extra quart of fuel, 12-15 miles worth! You just need to be certain the hose you add is not "crushed" by the gas cap when installed.

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Pay Your Tax!

Alias, make your engine "run right"!

 

 It really doesn't matter who you blame it on, but as Harley Davidson sells the Sportster, the carburetor models just don't work quite as well as they should, or can. They don't breathe right, exhaust right, or run right when they're cold. Perform the following tasks and you'll really love your bike (no, really!)

Carburetion: "Carb Farts" are backfires through the carb because the engine is too lean. You can fix this by increasing the "slow" jet to a (on my 883) #48 from a #42. "Surging" at speed is because the main jet is too small. You can fix this by increasing the "main" jet to a (on my 883) #170 from a #150. These happen to be what the 1200's come with so a 1200 with these issues will need larger jets than listed here. Just know that these issues are caused by not enough gas into the engine. The original air filter housing is quite restrictive. Installing the "Screaming Eagle" or something "Like" will noticeably improve driveability. And, these modifications make the engine run so much better they improve gas mileage! Go figure. 

The following link goes to XL Forum concerning Trouble Shooting & Adjusting Sportster Carbs. We don't endorse any comments or suggestions, but this is an excellant read!

Carb Troubleshooting

Exhaust: The stock pipes are quiet and poor performing. You can put on almost anything, except straight pipes or "Drag Pipes" and it will run better. It sounds better too! I have run both the screaming Eagle mufflers and the two-into-one Rhinehart. I like the 2:1 best. It "seems" to smooth out low rpm's quicker, and I just like the look.

Ignition: There is an RPM Limiter inside the ignition module, non-adjustable. It is set about 5800. If you make these changes you'll have power up to about 6500, but you can't get there because the Limiter craps you out! Aftermarket modules offer quicker curves with more advance. The 883 has less compression than the 1200. This is why we can use regular gas instead of premium. Anyway, lower compression allows a "quicker" more aggressive advance curve compared to 1200's. This change will increase your bottom end power and help with gas mileage. Both exhaust & ignition will help you rpm quicker and higher. My 883 will buzz to 7500, but it really isn't doing much after 6500. Also, some modules allow you to change the speedometer output. This is nice as you can correct for tire and pulley changes. The 883 "needs" a pulley change, the 1200 can benefit, just not as greatly. Pulley discussion is coming up below under "Get Better Gas Mileage"!

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Night Rider!

Alias, get more lights to the rear!

Why Harley Davidson went to the trouble of putting running lights on the front and not on the back is absolutely beyond me! They definitely look cool in the front, but they serve no real purpose, you've got a headlight! In the back you have a lone bulb! When it burns out, not "if" but "when", you have nothing! You have only rear turn signals (winkers to some) that are "dark" unless they are "blinking"!

Riders used to adapt dual bulb bases from the front to the rear so they could have three rear running lights, much better. But what an expensive and time consuming hassle! There are several companies that offer "modules" that enhance the operation of the existing rear signal bulbs to operate as running lights and turn signals. Some have the bulbs operate as turn signals, running and brake lights. I use the "Triple Light", which we offer. This is a turn signal and running light operation. I run these with the amber lenses, more noticeable than red, even in the daylight. If you choose the brake light models you must change the lenses to red, all brake lights must be red. Some areas want all rear lights red, so the rear ambers may need to be changed out in your area. These modules are available in the "Products" section.

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Don't get a sore butt!

Alias, upgrade your saddle!

The stock HD seat is thinly padded and pretty narrow. If you're looking to be riding all day long you really need a thick, wide seat. There are plenty to choose from. Don't skimp, this is money well spent! I have a wide Mustang, and I really appreciate it. 

Negative: If you are "Inseam Challenged" the wide seat makes it worse because it kicks your legs forward a bit, effectively making you "shorter". Boots with heels and/or lowering plates can get you where you need to be.

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Stop your wrists, back and neck from hurting!

Alias, get handlebars that fit you!

 

 If you've got the low rise wide bars you'll want to upgrade. This riding position causes you to stop every hour or so because you hurt. The stock bars cause you to lean forward which puts weight onto your wrists, and to hold your head at an odd angle. This is okay for around town, or playing racer on the interstate, but for distance riding they are terrible!

The medium rise style bars are the best for cruising. They let you sit with your back straight, no weight on your wrists and allow your neck and arms to relax. Be certain the pullback is appropriate for your height. The style we offer will comfortably adjust for riders 5'5" to 5'10". These bars do not require changing cables, brake hoses, or wires. We show you how to adapt all your existing stuff, and adjust the bars for you too! Except for Roadsters and any dual front disc. The brake line on these models must either be lengthened or replaced with a 6" longer unit.

Negative: Sitting straight gives you a "taller" profile. This means you'll catch more wind. These bars are better with a windshield...next!!!

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Don't sit in a 70 mph windstorm!

Alias, get a windshield and allow your arms to relax!

I never wanted a windshield. Those big clunky things reminded me of 50's police bikes. I wanted to be "sporty" so I got a Sportster! Well, things have changed. There are some pretty nice windshields available now that don't look too bad! I put one on and I love it! I can ride and not be buffeted all over by road speed wind. The windshield allows my arms to relax. The top of the shield should not be more than 2" below the top of your head. This will allow you to look over the windshield instead of through it. If your windshield is too short the road wind will beat your head around which is very tiring. Mine is 15" tall, the minimum. Shorter hits you in the face and causes your neck to be tense.

Negative: You don't look as "cool" with a windshield, you have to wash off the bugs periodically and you have to take it off to polish things up.

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Possibly get better gas mileage!

Alias, for interstate cruising change your pulley!

Both 883 & 1200 models may get better mileage and cruise range by increasing the final drive ratio. The easiest and least expensive method is to change the transmission pulley for one with more teeth. For those that want "more gear" or don't want to modify the pulley cover and engine case we also have an overdrive rear pulley. The rear pulley is a smaller, 66 tooth, pulley. The pulley or pulley combination you choose is based on your style of driving and your normal interstate cruise speed. Pulley change outs are not needed if you only ride around town. Visit the "Documents" section for the statistics on all the pulley options by year and engine size.

883's, 1991-2003: All years the 883's are geared too low to make good road bikes. Also, the pre-2004 Sportster engine is mounted directly to the frame, and you live with engine vibration in your feet and hands and arms. A gearing change will reduce the vibration you live with by reducing your normal cruise RPM below the major "vibration range". You can gear them the same as a 1200 without any issues; same belt and you've got plenty of power to handle the change, even for two-up riding. Between 1991-2003 change your original 27 tooth transmission pulley to at least a 29 tooth, a 30 tooth if you cruise solo above 70 mph. The 30 is not recommended on 883's for two-up, more than 50% around town or hilly riding. Two benefits for the price of one!

883's, 2004-Up: These need a 32 tooth to be the same final gearing as a 1200. HD changed 2004-Up primary gearing, engine to transmission, and we are really low! The 32 tooth does require some pulley cover and case standoff modification. This is explained in "Documents". If you don't want to modify, get the 30 tooth. You'll still be lower geared than the 1200's, but much happier! You can also replace your 68 tooth pulley with a 66 tooth rear pulley.

1200's converted from 883, 2004-Up: The 32 tooth will get you to stock 1200 gearing. If you want "more gear" we have a rear 66 tooth pulley. This will lower "at speed" rpm about 120 rpm. These are only available for 1" belt so 2004-2006 bikes need to change out their 1-1/8" belt for a 1", like 2007-up. See the "Products" section. Email us with your questions.

1200's, 1991-Up: These are just fine with the original 29 tooth unless you are more than 50% above 70 mph on the interstate.  If this is you, you'll benefit from a 30 tooth. The 1200 has plenty of power to handle two-up with a 30 tooth. All 1200's can handle a 32 tooth, but it is not much fun in traffic.

Rear Overdrive Pulley, 2004-2013: This is a 66 tooth to replace the original 68 tooth. This pulley may be combined with a 30 tooth front to get almost the same final gearing as a 32 tooth. The benefit is no modifications are required to the pulley cover and engine case. For 883er's, the 66 tooth may be combined with the 32 front for taller gearing. This also works for XR1200 riders; combining the special 30 tooth front pulley and a 66 tooth rear.

Negative: Gearing taller may not allow you to do "burnouts" or raise the front wheel any more. Also, you may need to downshift to pass, climb a grade or fight a strong head wind.

Following are more suggestions on how to deal with vibration:

  Sportsters & Taller Gearing

 The XL Forum is a great place for "Sportster People" to find information. The following elaborates on a 32 tooth pulley installation by a member:

32 Tooth Install, 2011 Nightster

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Watch Your Speed!

Alias, correct the Speedometer & Odometer!

 

Changing either the transmission pulley, rear pulley or rear tire size changes the speedometer. Increasing the pulley size causes the speedometer to read slower than road speed. This can get you a ticket! The installation instructions have charts showing how much change to expect so you can compensate, in your head, when driving. It also reduces the odometer reading. If you have an 883 and install a 32 tooth pulley the difference is 14.3%. So, when your speedometer reads 50 mph, you?re traveling 57.2 mph. When the odometer says 100 miles, you've actually traveled 114.3 miles! This means you've got to adjust when to buy gas or you may run out! Your gas mileage will increase with a larger pulley, but only on the interstate. Your around town mileage will be pretty close to your original. You'll have to learn how to drive all over again. In the beginning you will be "short-shifting", shifting at too low an engine rpm. This will reduce your around town gas mileage. You can tell if you are short-shifting this way: down shift without changing the throttle position. If the bike maintains the same road speed or increases road speed then you are shifting too soon, you just need to wind it out a little more before up shifting.

 "The Corrector" corrects the signal to the computer and makes the speedometer and odometer correct. See "Products" for the model for your bike!

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 Loose the leg cramps!

Alias, Road Bars so you can move your feet!

Mid-Foot Peg's

 Now that you've "fixed" your bike so you can ride for hours, there are two items left to consider; your legs! Just like you can't sit in a chair in the same position for hours, your bike is no different. Your legs can cramp on you, and that's a scary, not to mention painful, experience. But there is a solution! Road bars. These offer a place to move your feet from "centered" to "forward", it is all that's necessary. A set of fold up forward foot pegs will allow you to change position and eliminate that cramp, without having to stop and walk around.

Get a More Comfortable Foot Position

Forward Controls

This suggestion & photos were provided by a customer that found the changes made to be a more comfortable ride for his 2000 Custom!

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Add highway pegs ?  Kuryakyn mini floorboards with Harley 360 Degree Adjustable Highway Peg Mounting Kit-50832-07A and homemade heel rests with Drag Specialties Extended Soft-Ride Shifter Peg 3 1/4 in. - DS-253743 (see attached photos).


 Carry water, a snack, pick up the milk, secure your helmet!

Alias, saddle bags, a rack or a collapsible "trunk"!

 For solo riders a rear fender "rack" is ideal. Many refer to this as a "luggage" rack. With a couple of bungee cords (auto parts stores) and a cloth bag you can carry enough to make your day okay, even if you wind up later than planned. I always carry a long sleeved shirt, good for too much sun or a cooler than expected ride, a bottle of water, some jerky (I prefer a Snickers but they melt), a pair of gloves, LED flashlight and Pocket Kit (see "Tools" in the Web Store). All these come in handy.

Negative: A rack takes the place of a pillon seat. If you ride two-up invest in some saddle bags. There are several that still look "Sporty"!

Ride Easy...                                                                                                        Ride Long...                                                                                                       Ride Safe...

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