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Difference Between 883 and 1200 Sportster

The Harley Davidson Sportster is a popular choice among Harley Davidson fans. You can get an 883 Sportster or a 1200 Sportster. The only difference between the 883 and 1200 Sportster is their emblems that indicate which model they are. The 883 and 1200 Sportster are actually built with the same exact parts and there is no way you can tell just by looking if a model is an 883 or a 1200 aside from the emblem.

The only difference between the 883 and 1200 Sportster is the displacement of the engine. As we all know, a higher displacement engine produces more power as it imparts larger amounts of torque to the crankshaft via the pistons with each combustion cycle. The engines of the 883 and 1200 Sportster are no different in size if you looked at it outside. It simply has larger bores; approximately 3.5 inches to the approximate 3 inch bore of the 883. Simply put, the 1200 Sportster engine has a bit more material and weighs slightly more than the 883 engine; the difference in weight is too small though to make a significant effect on performance.

If you have an 883 Sportster and you want to turn it into a 1200 Sportster, some shops are able to do it for a price. The process is quite intensive and requires the disassembly of the engine. It is then re-bored to increase the displacement and the pistons are then replaced to match the new bores. Other aspects and parts of the engine are then tuned to match the modifications of to the bore, and the end result is an engine that is very similar to a 1200 Sportster with a matching performance increase.

Although you can upgrade an 883 to match the 1200 Sportster, it involves a lot of work and the end result greatly depends on the work quality of the one who did the work. Needless to say, it also voids any warranty you have with your Sportster.


The emblems are the only telling difference between the 883  Sportster and the 1200 Sportster

The 1200 Sportster has greater displacement than the 883 Sportster

The 1200 Sportster has a greater bore than the 883 Sportster

The 1200 Sportster engine is slightly lighter than the 883 Sportster engine

The 883 Sportster can be upgraded to equal a 1200 Sportster

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  1. No discernible difference. They’re both shiny tractors. Pieces of polished poo.

    • Tim, maybe you can tell me why some put down the sportster? Is it just the size of the bike that makes some harley owners speak poorly of them, or is there a real issue with sportsters and how they’re made?

      • I used to wonder why people put down sportsters,, call the 883 a girls bike….. Before I got my Iron Head I had a Suzuki ,, 750.. Nice quiet ,, 6 gears ,, light,, all I heard about Harleys is that they sucked….. For starters my Iron Head was a 1000, the guy I got it from put in a 1989 evo, 4 gears,, and had the step one conversion done… I litterly fell off the back of my Harley,,, I did knot expect the raw power….The only people who diss Harleys are the ones that don’t have one…. Honda, Duc, Triumph, you name it, maybe the exception of Victory…. Every one of my friends who have a non Harley, are always looking to get the newest of the current model they have…. A Harley , you never ride it factory, you personalize your Harley… Its a relationship… and for all of those who say they are slow, a tricked to the max 883,, pref 86 to 89, all aluminum ,,, 4 gears,, will take almost anything in a quarter mile. I live in nyc, Some dude on his jigzer ,, a bike that can hit 170. Revd me into going light to light… I thought he was playing around ,, waiting for the launch… it never happened.. I took him by 2 to 3 car lenths about 5 blocks in a row….now on the open road sure ,, im done… At the same time when on the open road , I have my legs stretched out,, and do what my bike was made to do cruze,, enjoy the ride…. long story longer , if I wanted to beast her out,, stage 2 and 3,, your looking at a bike with 160 hp.. Also the evo, now being put back on Harleys replacing the twin… and I hear they are going back to chain driven… I admit after 40,000 miles or so I have been told by many old school riders the pan head,, iron head,,and so on,, you would have to do some engine work…. People love to diss the evo,,,,, it may be the best engine design not just by Harley but all around….. Dependable ,, they love the long trip,,, and they can be turned into a contender to any bike,,, yet will own forever light to light,,, and at the same time looking good doing it…..James

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