Home / Harley 883 Vs. 1200: Learn the Difference

Any avid motorcyclist probably knows or loves Harley-Davidson. It’s a legendary motorcycle brand with a rich history and strong industry presence today. The iconic style and bike durability are among the things that have made the motorcycle manufacturer stand the test of time and make it a great idea to own a Harley.

This renowned brand has created various bikes over the years, each having unique specs and an unmatched riding experience. One popular line is the Sportster, featuring the best-selling models: 883 and 1200. Let’s dive into all things Harley 883 versus 1200 to find you the motorcycle of your dreams.

Harley 1200

The Design

When comparing the Harley 883 vs 1200, you can’t overlook the basic design. One of the most notable differences is the handlebar positions, which are imperative to your comfort during rides. The 883 features stock handlebars that aren’t as styled as the mini-ape handlebars on the 1200 motorcycle.

Besides their visual aesthetics, there’s so much more to the handlebars. The stock handlebars on the 883 can make long drives uncomfortable, since they force you to lean forward when riding. Conversely, the classy mini-ape handlebars ensure that you stay comfortable throughout rides, as you can slant back to a preferred position when riding, making the Harley 1200 ideal for long-distance rides.

Another notable design difference is in the exhaust system. The 833 has black exhaust headers and black mufflers, which are quite distinct from the slash-cut exhaust that gives the Harley 1200 an aggressive and elegant look.

Wheel Type and Size

Another discerning feature between the two models is their wheels. While the 883 Sportster has spoke wheels, the Harley 1200 has alloy wheels. Spoke wheels have a slight advantage over alloy wheels because they have shock-absorbing properties that make it possible to utilize the 883 on bumpy off-road expeditions. And even though alloy wheels don’t fare well on rugged terrain due to their lightweight properties, they’re great during high-speed racing.

Regarding size, the front and rear wheels of the Harley 883 motorcycle are 406.4 millimeters. However, the 1200 motorcycle has different-sized front and rear wheels that give it a backward leaning posture. The front wheel is 482.6 millimeters, while the rear wheel has a dimension of 406.4 millimeters.

Fuel Economy

While the Harley 883 and 1200 motorcycles each have a fuel capacity of 3.3 gallons, their fuel efficiency during operation differs. The 883 has a better fuel economy of 51 mpg than the 48 mpg utilized by the Harley 1200.

The difference in fuel economy arises due to the size of the engines, where the 1200 model’s big engine necessitates more fuel utility. Harley 883 is more fuel-efficient by 6%, meaning you’ll get to ride more before refueling.

Engine of Harley-Davidson 1200


The Engine Performance

There’s a considerable difference in engine performance when comparing the Harley 883 vs 1200. The 883 generates a torque of 54ft-lb at 3750 revolutions per minute (rpm), and the 1200 Sportster produces a higher 73ft-lb of torque at 3500 rpm. Also, the 883 has an engine compression ratio of 9:1, while the Harley 1200 has a compression ratio of 10:1.

You can tell that the Harley 1200 has a more powerful engine than the 883. It generates more power and hence offers better performance. However, remember that you might have to forego a bit of fuel efficiency by consuming more fuel than the 883 to achieve this top-end performance.

The Engine Displacement

One of the main differences between the 883 and the 1200 Sportster is the engine’s displacement. The 1200 Sportster engine is bigger, with bores of 3.5 inches compared to the 3-inch bores of the 883. Therefore, the Harley 1200 will have a higher volume displacement at 73.4 cubic inches than that of the 883 at 53.9 cubic inches.

The 1200 Sportster also has larger pistons in the air cold Evolution® V-Twin engine. A higher displacement and larger pistons will produce more power since it imparts a higher torque to the crankshaft after fuel combustion cycles. That makes the Harley 1200 engine more powerful, with more effortless acceleration than the 883 Sportster.

Ground Clearance

The ground clearance or ride height is another way to tell the 883 and the 1200 trims apart. It’s the space between the tire and the lowest point of the motorcycle. The Harley 883 has a higher ride height of 140 millimeters, while the 1200 Sportster has a lower ground clearance of 105 millimeters.

In simple terms, the higher clearance of the 883 makes it ideal for riding on bumpy terrain and roads filled with potholes. However, the 1200 trim will have more stability and better handling at higher speeds while cornering or when driving in a straight line.

2022 Harley Davidson Iron 883

The Suspension

The front suspension of the 883 and 1200 motorcycle trims is quite similar since both Harleys feature the typical 39-millimeter forks without the possibility of adjustments. However, the 883 has telescopic forks that offer more stability on bumpy roads. Besides that slight difference, there are more variations in the rear suspension.

The Weights

While the weight difference between Harley 833 and 1200 doesn’t vary considerably, it’s still important. The 883 motorcycle is lighter than the 1200 model by 12 kilograms. It weighs 256 kilograms, while Harley 1200 weighs 268 kilograms.

The weight difference is crucial in defining the general operation and handling of the motorcycles. Newbie motorcyclists will find Harley 883 easier to operate and handle compared to its 1200 counterpart, which has extra weight.

A close up of the Iron 883 shows that the bike is great for starters.


Contact Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands

Now that you know the difference between Harley 883 and 1200, nothing can stop you from selecting the perfect model for your travels. Contact us or visit us at Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands for further inquiries. We’ll help you with all your motorcycle needs, from general information to financing options, purchases, and service requests.

Harley Davidson of The Woodlands

Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands has been serving Southeast Texas for more than 20 years. We provide the Greater Houston area with new and pre-owned motorcycles, riding apparel, parts, maintenance service, and more at our state-of-the-art dealership. Whether you’re a new rider or a seasoned Harley vet, our friendly team of Harley-Davidson experts is ready to help you find the perfect bike today. Stop by and visit the Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands Showroom off of I-45 North in The Woodlands, TX.