This is a lightly modified Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R, a model closely related to the Sportster but with a raft of upgrades to improve its performance.

The Sportster is famously the longest running model family in the Harley-Davidson family tree and one of the longest uninterrupted production motorcycle series in the world. It offers both a lighter weight curb weight and usually better performance (by Harley standards), and the Roadster was developed to build on that further.

Fast Facts – The Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R

  • The Harley-Davidson Sportster was first released in 1957, however the model family actually began five years earlier in 1952 with the release of the Harley-Davidson Model K Sport and Model K Solo. With significant updates over the decades, the model family has now been in uninterrupted production for 71 years and counting.
  • The Sportster family was developed by Harley-Davidson as an answer to the wildly popular sports motorcycles coming out of Britain at the time. Britain dominated the high-performance motorcycle world, and Americans simply couldn’t get enough of them.
  • The fundamental recipe of the Sportster remained largely unchanged for decades. It was built with an air-cooled V-twin fitted to a tubular steel frame, it was lighter than most other Harleys but still heavy by global standards.
  • The Roadster was a special version of the Sportster that was developed and sold over a number of generations. The variant typically included twin front disc brakes (as opposed to the single disc on the standard Sportster), a higher performance engine, a tachometer, and a series of other minor tweaks. Today they sell for a premium over standard Sportsters.

The Harley-Davidson Roadster: A History Speedrun

The Harley-Davidson Sportster, and the Roadster that grew from the model family, has its roots in the early 1950s. Officially launched in 1957 on the Model K platform from 1952, the Sportster was built to counter the lighter, sporty motorcycles coming out of Europe, Britain in particular. Over the decades, it became one of the most popular Harley-Davidson models, known for its affordable sticker price, simplicity, and its adaptability to customization.

Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 2

Image DescriptionThis Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R has been lightly modified over stock but it retains all the important parts that make the Roadster a better bike than the stock Sportster, including the dual front disc brakes and engine performance mods.

Initially, the Sportster featured the Ironhead engine, which persisted until 1986 in various forms when the Evolution engine took its place. This change marked a significant improvement in the reliability and performance of the Sportster line. Another notable modification was the introduction of rubber-mounted engines in 2004, addressing one of the long-standing criticisms about the Sportster’s heavy vibration.

Throughout its history, the Sportster has seen various sub-models, like the Roadster, Custom, Forty-Eight, Nightster, and Iron, each offering its own style and specifications. While some models leaned more towards a racing aesthetic, others were targeted more at cruising.

The Sportster’s design evolved over the years, adopting new technologies while retaining its quintessential look and feel. The Sportster’s adaptability made it a favorite among custom bike builders, and it played a significant role in the rise of the chopper and bobber cultures.

Even today the air-cooled Sportsters remain a favorite with custom bike builder across North America, Europe, and Australia due to the fact that it’s mechanically simple and easy to source parts for.

The Roadster variant of the Sportster was one of the most sports-oriented versions ever offered. It came with dual front disc brakes instead of the single disc on the original bike, which many believe to be insufficient given the weight of the bike. The Roadster also came with a modified engine producing more power, a tachometer as standard, and a number of other performance-oriented changes.

Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 17

Image DescriptionThe gauge cluster has been simplified with a Dakota Digital combination speedometer and tachometer as well as indicator lights mounted with an RSD gauge and headlight relocation kit. It also has RSD clip-on handlebars carry bar-end mirrors.

In 2021 Harley unveiled an all-new Sportster. It featured a liquid-cooled engine with double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, a modern chassis and suspension, and much improved brakes. It has proven popular with buyers, however there is still a large contingent of Harley purists who will only ever have eyes for the original air-cooled, pushrod models.

The Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R Shown Here

The motorcycle you see here is a 2005 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R, the higher-performance version of the Sportster model family. The bike has been subjected to a series of discrete modifications including LED lighting, lowered suspension, a slightly extended swingarm, twisted-spoke wire wheels, aftermarket hand and foot controls, and a slew of parts from Joker Machine and Roland Sands Design (RSD).

The bike is finished in Vivid Black with ivory accents and red pinstripes, it has black fork lowers and fender struts, a flat gray chin spoiler, and a two-into-one RSD Tracker exhaust system with a chrome tip and perforated heat shields.

Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 18

Image DescriptionThe Roadster uses a high-performance version of the Harley-Davidson XL Evolution V-twin, in stock condition it produces 70 bhp and 79 lb ft of torque. These V-twins produce most of their torque very low in the rev-range compared to regular sports bikes, and it’s caught more than a few new Harley riders out over the years.

The original belt drive remains, a feature beloved by most Harley owners due to its exceedingly low maintenance when compared with a more traditional chain drive. In stock condition this bike would have been producing 70 bhp and 70 lb ft of torque, however these numbers are likely now slightly higher given the freer-flowing exhaust and re-jetted carburetor.

The chrome twisted-spoked wire wheels measure in at 19″ up front and 18″ in the rear and they were fitted with Metzeler M888 Marathon Ultra tires in December of 2021. The lowered suspension consists of a custom-valved fork with an RSD fork brace as well as dual Worx Billet Tracker shocks mounted to the extended swingarm.

The bike is now being offered for sale out of North Salem, New York on Bring a Trailer, if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 16 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 15 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 14 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 13 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 12 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 11 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 10 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 9 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 8 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 7 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 6 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 5 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 4 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200R 3

Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer

Published by Ben Branch -