My bike is XL1200R 2007.

I wrote this page because I got sick and tired setting people straight on various motorcycle forums. It is said fools form the majority. And as usual, those the dumbest speak the loudest. I stopped participating in all discussions after I was told I have no clue how H-D transmission works, a poster argued there is no need to use clutch when switching gears because H-D gearbox is constant mesh. Sic!

Why Roadster?

Brakes. Dual rotor brakes will provide you with stopping power when you need it most. You think you do not need good brakes because you do not ride fast? Think again. You'll never know what can happen right in front of you. I believe majority of motorcycle accidents would not happen if the bikes involved had good brakes (by brakes I mean front brakes) and if operators of those bikes knew how to use them.

Leaning angle. You can lean over on a Roadster if you are out there having fun and leave all heavy equipment (and other Sportsters) in dust.

Things you may want to look at

You can ride a Sportster stock, no problem with that. However, there are a few things you may want to adjust to make your ride even more enjoyable.

Front suspension sag. I found adding 3/4" spacers for increased front spring preload improved my ride significantly - this is considering my weight and my riding style. This was before I installed Ricor Intimidators, spacers were not needed with these.

Rear suspension. My stock shocks started bottoming out even when riding solo after two years. I weigh around 200 lbs. Fortunately almost new 13" Road King air shocks can be purchased for around $50 and they will fit your XL1200R almost perfectly (they are ¼" shorter). There is no better spring than compressed air and the pressure is easy to adjust should you go for a two up ride. Then some time later I "upgraded" to correct length Progressive air shocks and I have to say there is no difference in ride comfort.

Fueling. Stock ECM is programmed to meet EPA requirements. Unfortunately, this means no power and fuel efficiency is not the best, either. To unleash the power of your engine it needs to be tuned. There are a few solutions to do it.
● XiED and the family - very popular among newbies and clueless bike owners but complete nonsense for technically minded people. As a matter of fact I'm surprised there is no class action lawsuit yet, the whole *iED series (considering what they claim this device will do) is a scam and absolutely not worth the money.
(● Piggyback devices and tuners (lots of different ones out there). These devices will not have any feedback from your bike, you rely on downloaded maps. As a rule these devices waste fuel while not unleashing the full power of your engine. As a result you will get suboptimal power increase and loss in MPG. Not a good bang for a buck. Power Vision is an exception, it actually works. This information is not up to date, written several years ago.)
● Dyno tune. Will work as long as you do not change your setup and stay in the same altitude and temperature/humidity range.
● Replacement ECM with wide-band O2 sensors. The beauty of this kind of system is it will always adjust the AFR for actual riding conditions, considering air temperature, ambient air pressure, humidity, engine temperature, throttle position, RPM, engine load, etc. ThunderMax used to be the king.
* Please note, the above is valid for bikes without catalytic converters. I have no knowledge of HD bikes fueling which come with catalytic converters (because I do not own such a bike).

Things you should never buy from an H-D dealership

Oil. So called H-D oil is an unknown substance. Presumably it is a low-cost oil re-branded and marked up by H-D. It will work in your bike without causing serious damage, alright. For longevity of your engine choose something better. My personal choice for engine (both holes) is Amsoil, but I'm sure any top oil manufacturer as Mobil 1 will do.

Tires. Stock Dunlop is horrible. This is the only tire that gives you wobble on steel bridges, for instance! This Woodlop, err wooden Dunlop has no grip even in dry conditions, leave alone wet. I used to lock up my front frequently, and despite that the damn thing still lasted 15,000 miles! I'd recommend Avon and Metzeler.

Battery. So called "H-D Battery" is a re-branded and marked up Deka battery. You can buy the exact same battery from batterymart.com for half a price. They are branded Big Crank. (The only difference is more universal terminals.)

Brake pads. Buy Lyndall. You will get better braking power and no dust on your rims. Will last longer, too. Lyndall pads do not have the same initial bite as stock pads when the brake is applied and will allow for more precise braking.

Clutch. Stock clutch has a spring plate which is known to fail sooner or later. Solution: replace the spring plate with two steel plates and one friction plate or get a better clutch altogether - I'm using Energy One myself. You can get the three plates from an internet store for $20.

Charging System. Stock generator (stator+shunt) is a joke. It works at full capacity at all times, excess energy goes into shunt. As a result the stator runs much hotter than necessary, no wonder its lifespan is around 25-30 thousand miles. Your luck may vary, depending on your riding habits. Solution: Cycle Electric charging system has contemporary design, free of all problems the stock system has.

Ball Bearings. All Balls Racing ball bearings is what you want.

Starter. All Balls Racing makes better starters.

Screaming Eagle. All Screaming Eagle parts are overpriced and underperform compared to real performance parts. You want performance upgrades? Do your homework first.


Myth 1: H-D and Screaming Eagle parts and consumables are best for my bike because they are made by H-D.
Wrong. H-D does not make batteries, oil, tires, whatnot. Even their performance cams are designed and manufactured by Andrews. Got the picture?

Myth 2: Oil cooler is a good thing because cooler oil is always better for engine.
Wrong. There is rather narrow temperature window where the oil lubricates as designed. Dropping below 190 °F will increase wear and tear. If you need an oil cooler get one with thermostat.


There are claims Red Shift gear oil may damage the insulation of Sportster stator. Cannot tell whether it is true or not. I did use Red Shift once and my stock stator did fail afterwards. This may be a coincidence, these stators are prone to fail after 20k miles.


Download the free gearing calculator here: Sportster Gearing vs. Speed Calculator.
Works in Libreoffice (preferred) and Openoffice. (Not tested with Microsoft Office - who cares about Microsoft anyway?) Below is a screenshot of my XL1200R gearing with 30T front pulley. All calculators I found on the net require measuring the circumference of your rear tire. So I made my own, just measure the distance between the rear axle and ground instead.