The XL Sportster is the smallest motorcycle in Harley-Davidson’s range of motorcycles and is available in several variations with either an 883 or 1,200 cc V-twin Evolution engine. Unlike its larger Big Twin-engined brethren, the Sportster’s smaller frame is a perfect match for smaller-framed riders. Of course, larger riders who prefer the sportier look and feel of the XL series may feel cramped on the smaller bike. Harley-Davidson and other aftermarket companies have a wealth of parts, as well as a few free and easy-to-do modifications, that can help tailor the Sportster to individual needs.
1. Park the Sportster on a flat, level surface, using the side stand. Sit on the motorcycle with both feet on the foot pegs and hands on the handlebar as if you were riding down the road. Take a mental note of where you are feeling the most discomfort. Larger riders tend to feel cramped, especially between the placement of the foot pegs and the handlebar, while smaller riders must reach uncomfortably forward to grasp the handlebar.
2. Loosen the handlebar riser caps — the clamps that attach the handlebar to the front fork — using an Allen wrench. Pull the handlebar toward you if you must reach forward to grasp the handlebar, or push it forward if the handlebar is too close. Move the handlebar until the reach is comfortable, then tighten the handlebar riser caps.
3. Loosen the clutch and brake lever perch bolts using a Torx driver. Rotate the perches up or down until you can comfortable operate the levers. Tighten the perch bolts.
4. Replace the stock handlebar risers with an aftermarket set of pull-back risers if the reach to the handlebar still is too long. Pull-back risers move the handlebar away from the front fork and nearer to the rider, reducing the reach to the hand grips.
5. Install forward foot controls, which relocate the rear brake pedal and the shift lever from the middle of the motorcycle to the front of the engine. Mid-mounted foot controls can make taller riders feel cramped by placing their feet directly below them. Forward controls allow the rider to stretch out and sit in a less-confined riding position.
6. Replace the seat with an aftermarket seat with either a thinner or a thicker seat cushion. A taller seat allows taller riders to place their feet on the ground without feeling like they are squatting. Likewise, a thinner seat lets smaller riders firmly plant both feet on the ground at a standstill without having to balance the motorcycle on one foot.