After 110 years of building motorcycles, the Sportster is arguably the most versatile platform the Motor Company has ever produced. Whether in 883 or 1200cc versions, the Sporty is so many things to so many people, from an excellent beginner bike to a cool-as-hell barhopper to an effective commuter. Is there nothing the Sportster can’t do? David Zemla of Burly Brand says no.
“Sportsters are my favorite, and not for what they are but for what they can be,” Zemla told us from the climate-controlled comfort of a cross-country flight to the inaugural AIMExpo. “It’s a virtually unkillable platform, right at home as a chopper, dirt-tracker, cafe, bobber or scrambler and does each with minimal spend and maximum fun.” Okay, that sounds a bit like the hyperbole of a zealot. But it’s hard to argue with Dave’s logic.
“Not many other bikes are that versatile, inexpensive, reliable or plentiful and absolutely none provide the ideal balance of old/new, wrong/right or fast/slow that is the venerable Sportster,” Zemla continues. “Maybe it’s the cabin pressure at 30,000 feet, but I look at the XL and cannot help but smile.”
Renowned motorcycle photographer Brian J. Nelson took the XL position a step further, giving his “all-time fave” nod to the café-inspired XLCR, a late 70s Sportster Harley might be wise to relaunch today. “I love the XLCR,” Nelson says. “It was cool before its time.”