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I'm trying to sell my Explorer, the money from which is gonna (most likely) fund another AWD Talon, and the motorcycle I've always wanted... I'm not really into sport bikes, and have been lookin' at Harleys. Now, I've never ridden before (other than dirt bikes) and have been considering an early 70's iron head Sportster, for several reasons:

1. I like the looks; I'm not a "big" guy (6" tall, but I only weigh maybe 135-140) and have sat on my friends' late model EVO Sportsters and liked the fit. I know Sportsters aren't the most manly Harleys, but with my size a bigass bike would be hard for me to get around.

2. There seem to be lots of these Sportys available out there in my price bracket (<$5000).

3. I like to wrench, and want something that will have some future potential once I get more comfortable on it. (Plus kick starters are COOL!)

Any opinions on the early 70's Sportys as a starter bike? Too much bike or no? I know this was the AMF generation, but workin' on it is something I don't fear, plus like our cars how many factory bugs could be left in the thing after 30 years. Any advice for a newbie?

Thanks guys!
 

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Full size Harleys are very easy to ride, low center of gravity, easy handling and hard to stall when starting. I never realy cared for the early Sportsters, the frames were flexy, and the were very slow (stock). The newer ones may be better.
I would consider a full size harley a starter bike, my wife learned to ride on one. I would strongly reccomend a motorcycle safety course before you buy anything!!!!!
Sportster weight 501 lbs, Dyna Glide 600 lbs...
 

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Save yourself some grief and buy an '84 or newer; trust me.
 
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hey jason,
i have both styles of harleys. a '72 XLCH sportster bone stock and a '78 shovel custom.
either bike is great. the sportster is great for running around town, but i prefer the big bike for road trips. 5 years ago, my buddy rode his sportster and i rode my shovel to sturgis. about 1200 miles each way. the shovel seemed to handle the trip better. larger gas tank, more torque across the board.
i like the '72 sportster because it is one of the last years for shifting on the right side and it's the first year for 1,000cc motor. get the XLCH instead of the XLH. while the XLH has electric start, the styling just isn't as "cool".
either way, if you drop a 500 or 600 pound bike on it's side, it's going to be a bear to pickup. even when you're 200 lbs, like me.
and definitely take the safely class......when i got my permit, the instructor had one last parting thought for me. he said, "bob, when out enjoying a ride, remember at all times someone in a car is trying to kill you." you have to be super defensive and look for escape routes as you ride. and as a buddy told me....there are two types of bikers....those that have been down and those that are going down.
take care and email me if you have any specific questions.
bob
 

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Just some guy
67 coupe, 69 Sportsroof, 86 hatchback
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I've been riding a '74 since about 1987. Well, actually it spent the first year in the shop getting the drivetrain redone. Since then it's done very well. I'm a mechanic and don't mind that it needs regular attention. It's never let me down to speak of, but there have been lots of problems. The old sportys may not be the best HD's ever made, but lots of people like em just fine. Me included. Any older bike needs attention and the older it is the more upkeep it needs.
My advice has been the same for years. Buy a bike you like and make sure it's one that makes you happy every time you look at it. Every time I pull my tank and seat off for something I have to step back and just stare at mine for a while. After 15 years I still love the look of the frame and the way the bike sits. It's NOT for sale, probably never will be. It gives me fits sometimes but I think it's worth a little trouble.
If you find and old Sporty you like for cheap, expect to be sinking money into it pretty much immediately. Rare is the old bike that isn't doing (or about to do) something expensive.
Nothing wrong with the later model bikes, they just don't do anything for me. Mine does what I want, hope you can find one too.
Me+mine:
http://a8.cpimg.com/image/B0/CB/8958128-47c2-00800055-.jpg
 

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You can always find really good deals on Sportsters because many first time Harley owners buy one and keep it a very short time (yes, I'm guilty) and go to a bigger bike. Another thing to keep in mind: the advent of the TC-88 (in 99 on Dynas and baggers 00 on softails) dropped the value of the Evo machines. You could probably pick up a decent deal an Evo (84-98).

One thing you are wrong about, kick starters are not cool on a Harley - in fact you have to go back alot of years just to find one, plus they'll break your leg.

I also stongly recommend taking a riding course, if you ever think you can't learn something new about safety on a bike, you shouldn't ride. Dying might be cool for James Dean or Elvis, but not the rest of us.

http://www.bluestang.com/users/timbeam/pics/hd0004s.jpg
This was my H-D - it started out as '96 Dyna Wide Glide, I restyled it to look like a '59 Duo Glide - I sold it and my '69 Fastback to get my '66 'vert
 
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My $0.02

I have been ridding for 0ver 20 years. Do not start with a Harley, why? Harley’s are not that easy to ride, I have had mine for over 8 years, have driven to Sturgis, SD from Cal. And other places, over 4,000 miles in three weeks. I was lucky no problems. Harleys are heavy mine weighs 575Lb, if you dump it and you will, we all have, can you up-right it by your self? I still have cages, (that’s what biker’s call them) try to run me off the road, turn in front of me, and just plan don’t see me. Think about this, your first bike, little training, on the road by your self. I am not trying to be mean, or flame anyone, I just get scared when someone jumps into, a full size bike. I am stationed at an Air Force base, we had a young Lt. 22 killed, he was going 80-90 around a curve and lost control, I am not saying that you will do this, just more information. We did not start life walking, it took us time. Get a junk bike, take a riders course, and get some saddle time.

Thanks for listing

Jeff
 

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I have been riding for 30yrs and can tell you the one thing you dont want is a 70's vintage Harley.Unless want you want is something to keep at home and wax and tinker with. Notoriously bad, they leak, they flex, kick start s--ks.They rattle all the fastners loose.
You want a Sportster Buy a New One You can get a new 883 for $6500.00. Great bike and an excellent beginners choice,Ride it for a year and and when you are ready to step up sell it for what you paid for it.
You wont regret it
 
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