All Duels – Iron 883 ABS Vs XV950R: the Bolt versus the Sportster benchmark – An icon. Several lines …

Iron 883 ABS Vs XV950R: the Bolt against the Sportster benchmark

All Duels - Iron 883 ABS Vs XV950R: the Bolt versus the Sportster benchmark - An icon. Several lines ...

Faced with the success of Harley-Davidson, manufacturers regularly draw inspiration from its most iconic motorcycles to give them a response. With the XV950R, Yamaha takes on the Iron 883: does the Bolt shake the entry-level Sportster ? Duel.

An icon. Several replicas

On paper, the recent one is a credible and inspired alternative to the iconic. Nothing less than a "Bobber" possessing "the character and personality of old urban creations", the whole"revisited in a neo-retro Japanese look", even assures the manufacturer with three tuning forks.

In short, a replica a priori endowed with its own identity and not yet another copy mimicking the original with more or less success. "well then…", sigh fans of customs, recalling that this kind of speech is almost as old as the category itself … And that as" neo-retro "as it can be, the" Japanese look "has almost always American emphasis on this type of motorcycles.

We must admit that at first glance, no need to be "tattooed" Harley-Davidson to prove the skeptics right … By visually opposing the novelty to the more accessible Milwaukee model – while waiting for the -, the stylistic and technical similarities literally jump in the eyes.

Video of the Iron / Bolt duel

In addition to this duel between the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Sportster and the Yamaha XV950R, also discover !

Same compact and minimalist silhouette, almost identical general dimensions (2255 mm long and 745 mm wide for the HD, 2290 and 775 for the Yam ‘), a similar engine architecture and a cycle part (V-twin and double cradle in steel) … The XV950R, called "Bolt" on the other side of the Atlantic, certainly makes you forget the Midnight Star XVS950 from which it comes (engine and chassis), but its general appearance undoubtedly refers to the "small" Sportster !

This obvious resemblance grows even more when the motorcycles are compared in more detail. From the domed rear fender to the round headlight through the tiny water drop-shaped tank (12 liters on the Japanese, 12.5 on the American), the final belt drive and the prominent air filter on the which the right knee bangs unpleasantly (even more on the Yam ‘than on the Harley), the XV950R "takes" inspiration "from the Iron 883 in a particularly ostensible way !

Up to the tire dimensions used to fit the black spoke rims (100/90/19 at the front and 150/80/16 at the rear) and the diameter of the single brake discs, similar to the front and the rear on each of the motorcycles: 300 mm on the Iron, 298 on the XV950R.

The Yamaha tries to differentiate itself through the use of attractive aesthetic artifices (polished engine fins, stitched suede saddle, chrome LED light, perforated muffler cover), or even "sporty" such as petal discs or combined shock absorbers topped with golden carboys (specific shock absorbers for the "R" version, just like the saddle cover and the black stripe on the tank).

But in the end, the whole is not daring enough to stand out from the Iron 883, which also gives off an impression of perfectly studied visual harmony. It must also be said that the American manufacturer has been working on the issue since 1957, when the first Sportster was born (read in particular our) !

When stationary, the Iron 883 retains the advantage

Each part and the smallest elements of perfectly fitting trim underscore the attention to detail on the Harley, such as the indicators inside which very visible red LEDs perform the functions of brake light and position light, the tank " Peanuts "with rounded bottom edges to hide welds, polished rim sticks and brake calipers, or the ubiquitous" Harley-Davidson "branding.

Impossible in fact to install parts of the Iron 883 on a motorcycle of another brand: the logo or the inscription "Harley-Davidson" is found throughout the American custom, on the sides of its Michelin Scorcher tires (Bridgestone Exedra on the Yamaha) to its fork gaiters and its brake calipers controlled by braided hoses (rubber on the XV950R).

This braking system also sees its improved efficiency on the 2014 model thanks to a new "discs, calipers, master cylinder" assembly, but also through an optional ABS (standard on the rest of the Sportster range) . Note in passing that this anti-lock is practically undetectable at first glance, since the wheel rotation speed sensor is installed inside the hubs..

Statically, the XV950R can therefore only bow to the Iron 883: the copy does not outclass the original and even turns out to be a slight notch below in terms of finish. Not that the Yamaha suffers from sloppy details (quite the contrary), but the American opposes a generally superior quality to the level of materials used and surface treatments..

In addition, it is unfortunate that at an extremely close price (€ 9290 with the ABS option for the Iron, € 9499 for the XV950R only imported in France with the ABS), the Japanese is less well equipped.

Its chrome-rimmed instrumentation contains only two trips and a clock, where that of the Iron 883 also accommodates – thanks to the multiplexing technology adopted this year – a gear indicator engaged and a tachometer. Certainly, this information is moderately readable while riding (hardly better on the Yamaha digital unit), but the intention is there.

Harley-Davidson drives home the point with its keyless start system, which comes standard with an alarm. Too bad this practical device does not include an automatic steering lock, as on certain Ducatis. Here, the operation requires taking out the key to manually lock the handlebars via a lock installed on the column. Old fashioned, what !

Same story on the XV950R, which also requires reaching down on the steering column to switch the ignition on or off. Some will see in this positioning a welcome note of traditionalism, others will mock its archaic and impractical nature….

On the practical side, precisely, the Yamaha scores valuable points by including a lock on its fuel cap as well as a rather well-supplied tool kit stashed on its left side, behind a small lockable fairing. In the absence of a trunk under the two-seater saddle, that’s always what it takes !

On the Harley, nothing prevents you from siphoning gasoline out of lust or spoiling it by vice, since the fuel cap does not lock. A detail as annoying as the deployment of its side stand, the end of which – poorly drawn – is frankly "boot-breaker" to handle.

Finally, not the slightest storage space is offered on the Iron 883, also delivered as a single-seater motorcycle. To enjoy it as a duo, count "around 200 euros extra"when signing the order form according to Harley-Davidson France for the installation of a saddle and passenger footpegs. And if the transformation is carried out after the purchase, it will be necessary to add the registration fees. because the motorcycle changes category.

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