Our 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 883C Project bike continues to look cooler every month. Now, with a new exhaust, air cleaner and a few select hard-parts in place it’s starting to feel sporty too.
It’s been a long time in the works but we finally got our latest shipment of goodies from the Harley-Davidson Accessory Catalog for our 2005 Sportster XL 883 Custom. In Part 1 we merely installed some simple cosmetic upgrades to the bike, but this time we addressed the bikes biggest flaw: It’s stock! Well, not any more.
We dropped off our fairly stock Sportster at our local H-D shop, D&S Harley-Davidson, along with a big box of hard-parts so they could put this beast together for us. Twenty-four hours later and the bike was on the road again.
The first and, according to D&S, most common upgrade to any of their recently purchased machines is an exhaust/air-cleaner combo. This is where the Screamin’ Eagle catalog comes in handy. After sifting through the exhaust section we made the choice that is best for us. Our Sporty received a set of chrome Screamin’ Eagle Baloney Cut ($219.95) slip-ons and a matching Screamin’ Eagle Air Cleaner ($109.95).
As any gearhead knows, you need the two components installed together in order to maximize any performance gain available from a less-restrictive exhaust. D&S installed a #48 Slow jet and a XL1200 California-spec Main jet in order to get the best out of our Sporty. We didn’t stop there, though. Our Sportster is now equipped with a Screamin’ Eagle Street Legal Ignition System ($119.95) as well.
Combined, these motor enhancements made the Sportster run and sound much better, plus it looks quite a bit cooler.
On the dyno, performed at D&S Harley-Davidson, the Sporty cranked out 47.3 hp, 5 ponies up on the stocker. That might not sound like much, but it’s a significant 10.5% boost. Peak torque stays about the same, increasing only slightly from 41.5 lb-ft to 41.8 lb-ft with the Screamin’ Eagle system installed.
On the street, the uncorked Sportster feels more-sporty than it did initially. The increase in power is noticeable primarily because it’s not that powerful to begin with. The bike now accelerates better during roll-ons and it feels less restricted all the way across the board. A new exhaust and intake system is the no-brainer performance mod.
The Screamin’ Eagle Fork Brace and stainless steel braided brake line both look good and in this case they are functional as well.
Steel braided brake lines are always an improvement on any motorcycle and the Sportster is no different. The front brakes are now more responsive and less spongy, and the steel lines add to the clean and sporty new look of the bike.
A Screamin’ Eagle Fork Brace ($184.95) was bolted onto the front end in the hope of reducing fork flex during spirited riding. During the time since the brace was installed, the Sporty has been on a lot of twisty roads and it is hanging tough. It feels a bit more stable on the brakes and on the gas, and is not so much of a lag time when making transitions as there was without the brace, so we give this addition a thumbs-up as well.
Of course we couldn’t resist the opportunity to doll it up a little more, so we had D&S throw on a Chrome Rear Sprocket ($349.95) while it was in the shop. As it is the same size as stock, it’s merely an expensive cosmetic enhancement. It received positive input from other Sportster owners we’ve crossed paths with, all of whom have made suggestions that they’ve found made their bikes better, so we have a growing to-do list.
Wear & Tear
Overall the Project Sportster has performed flawlessly through this long hot summer. We’ve experienced the trials and tribulations of bolting on our own accessories as well as having a certified H-D technician make changes for us and this is what we have found.
First of all, we must recommend having a Harley-Davidson dealer make any necessary changes to the bike’s powertrain and chassis. Installing an exhaust and re-jetting is a pain in the butt, and if you don’t have a dyno you are looking at a few hours of fiddling to get the bike dialed in. Our bike came back from D&S running like a champ and our knuckles were no worse for wear.
The 2005 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 883C is looking good from all angles. Check out the new Baloney Cut Slip-ons and Air Cleaner directly out of the Screamin’ Eagle catalog.
We have a complaint about the first batch of bolt-on goodies that have reared their head over the past few months. The stick-on Sportster gas cap logo eventually came off. It may have been the ultra-hot summer temperatures, but whatever the reason that cap medallion is no longer on the bike.
Other than that the bike has needed nothing other than fuel throughout the riding season. Even with the jetting change and the performance upgrades our 2005 XL 883C averaged 45mpg through commuting and sight-seeing duties during the last few months. What started out as a fun but somewhat dull stock Sportster at the start of the summer has slowly but surely progressed into a bike that is more exciting to ride and to look at, and it is often being used on the weekends by our core group of test riders. As it sits now our XL 883C is a little bit less-docile than it was out of the box, and that’s always a good thing, isn’t it?
Sportster Project – Part 2 – Parts List:
Screamin’ Eagle Street Legal Ignition System ($119.95)
Stainless Steel Brake Line Kit ($61.95)
Screamin’ Eagle Air Cleaner ($109.95)
Chrome Thunderstar Rear Sprocket ($251.95)
Screamin’ Eagle Baloney Cut Exhaust ($259.95)
Screamin’ Eagle Fork Brace ($184.95)
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