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Thread: Long distance touring on a sporty

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    Long distance touring on a sporty

    Hi all, I've done four trips now to Spain and back on my stock 1200 Nightster, three of which with my son on the back plus camping gear.
    Whilst not the most comfortable bike to tour on, I'm not convinced that moving up to a dyna (I'm running out of time to get one without loads of miles on it) is going to make a lot of difference.
    Please prove me wrong then I can justify the purchase.
    I recently was taken on the back of a friends softail and was appalled by the suspension on it.
    Your thoughts please?

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    Re: Long distance touring on a sporty

    The obvious advantage I see is the tank volume - much less frequent fuel stops. I've done some long trips on my Heritage which I find pretty comfortable but if you want a long distance touring bike then ... wait for it ... look at one of the Touring range. The Glides, Road Kings etc have wider seats, bigger tanks, infinitely more luggage carrying capacity, weather protection etc etc. I personally wouldn't consider a Dyna for touring. Many do and they manage well but for me the foot boards instead of pegs are much better on those 500 mile days ...

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    Re: Long distance touring on a sporty

    It's pretty clear to me, after thirty years (on and off) riding Harley's.

    The best tourers are the FL bikes (with one exception, a full dress 1989 FXRT Sport Glide).

    Depending on your budget, an Electra Glide (or similar) will carry two people, plus the necessary light camping gear.

    Just decide how much you want to spend, from about £5k for an Evo or early TC, and up to five times that for a new one...

    I have an FLHS that cost me £6k, and it does everything I need. And that's a lot less than a new Sportster!

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    Last edited by David Nimrod; 12-08-2019 at 08:28 PM.
    1989 FXST Softail Standard

    1988 FLHS Electra Glide Sport

    Living well is the best Revenge...

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    Re: Long distance touring on a sporty

    I had your exact dielemma back in 2011.

    Had a Sporster Iron and we toured around Europe without any bother 2 up and with lugguage, but just wanted a bit more space.

    I tried the Tourers on various demo rides over the last 8 years, but just can't live with the permanent screen, even though they are fantastic bikes for long haul rides and offer great comfort. Even now I am still torn as really like the Street Glide. Maybe one day. The Road Glide has a detachable screen so may be worth a look.

    I opted for a 2012 Fat Bob, fitted it with sissy bar, rack, quick release screen and a Sundowner seat. It was fantastic. We now had a decent tank range, more room in the saddle 2 up and lots of room for holiday stuff. We toured all over Spain, France, Belgium, Holland etc and covered some 35,000 miles in a fairly short period.

    We both really loved the bike even though the Sportster has the handling thats hard to beat (for a Harley anyway), the Dyna brought so much more and the extra cc's helped to make overtaking a breeze.

    The screen can be removed on arrival at destination in seconds, so you can cruize around with or without it. The seat was a game changer as the standard one was hopeless after 100 miles, whereas the Sundowner (£100 off EBay) was an all day comfort seat and still wanted more when the sun went down.

    Incidentally I now own a Twin Cam Softail and yes the rear suspension is dire, although air suspension replacements fix it I am told, but it's a hefty price so on the want list. The M8's are better in this department and adjustment for preload is easy, rather than a potential skin removing excercise.
    Last edited by Dazzlin; 12-08-2019 at 09:23 PM.
    Darren Thomas
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    Re: Long distance touring on a sporty

    Have RK and a 1200. I have been riding both bikes for 8yrs RK for 9 and touring the UK for the last 3 yrs with a m8t on his 883. Camping and B/B for 8 days. 1400 ish mls.
    This year i took the Sporty instead of the RK.
    Both do the job fine imo. Obviously the RK dose the MWay sections and fast A road sections easier but the sporty makes up for it on ALL other roads and every traffic condition and ofc we try and stay off the Mways as much as possible cause there boring.
    2005 sporty with standard saddle and forwards was no probs for all day riding for me so both comfortable. Solo riding here so no problem taking all camping gear inc cooking and clothes for 8 days towels washing stuff tent mats even a stool etc.
    missed the 96ci engine but not her immense weight.

    My conclusion is for the type of holiday i like the Sporty was best. country back roads small villages basically as much off the beaten track as poss touring.
    if i was going continental or hammering Mways to Scotland and back id take the RK. Any thing other then that this country's to small for the big tourers imo
    Never tried a Dyna so maybe that would be a perfect compromise between the two?
    Last edited by howo; 13-08-2019 at 11:53 AM.
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    Re: Long distance touring on a sporty

    Many thanks for the replies chaps.
    I too don't like the motorways, and defo my style of riding is local back roads, however, getting down to spain requires some heavy duty riding and of course, the odd motorway/dual carriageway.

    We particularly like the Pyrenees with its constant switchbacks, and on meeting a Dyna rider on one of the mountains he wished that he had a sporty.

    Seat-wise I think I have the sundowner (it's the widest, most comfortable seat that I could get for it from dealership) and tbh it looks a little ridiculous on the Nightster being quite wide, I even have lifted the cover and inserted a gel pad under where I sit. This has made it for me, the rider, reasonably comfortable.

    With regards to the tank, we found that an hour and a bit's riding was enough before we had to get off anyway, so filling up at eighty odd miles was actually a break.

    I do have a screen and that's a double edged sword as I hate the looks of it, and the wind rushes over to pillion, but on the longer stretches it helped a lot once I was up to my max cruising speed of 70mph (the bike does go faster only I don't find it enjoyable).

    To complete the non-sporty look, I have two sets of short floorboards that fit and have made both my ride and pillon's enjoyable over pegs (one of the better mods I made for touring).

    Regarding the luggage I'd be hard pressed to get much more on a Dyna (I'll try and link a post I did a while back with a photo of my current setup)

    The only functional problem is the Progressive 440 shocks on the back which are the heavy duty versions, and with me, 90kg, my son, 70kg and maybe 20kg of accesories I find that sometimes they bottom out, so maybe some Hagon air ones would help there.

    I was just thinking perhaps that a Dyna would smooth out some of the riding, especially the motorway sections but don't know till I ride one how much.

    A Road King would be unnacceptably big for me as I've always been on smaller bikes and thought that the 1200cc of the Nightster would help on the longer distances.

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    Re: Long distance touring on a sporty

    Get down to a dealer and try a Dyna on on a test ride.

    This is exactly what I did (although they were still being manufactured back in 2012 so demo rides were easy to come by) and while I did miss the Sporty, a quick ride on one a little while after buying the Fay Bob soon made me realise I had made the right choice and I've never looked back.
    Darren Thomas
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