The Sportster may be the smallest bike on Harley’s roster, but when it comes to value, performance, history, and all around appeal, few bikes can compete. This 2009 Sportster 1200 Nightster takes that already desirable package and adds a healthy dose of rat-rod styling, creating one of the most sinister-looking bikes in its price range. This example has seen just 2,631 miles of asphalt over the last four years and presents as new in every way. Regardless if you’re a seasoned rider looking for a solid city bike, a builder looking for a killer project, or a freshly minted enthusiast looking for a great way to join the Harley Davidson family, this ’09 Nightster is well worth a closer look.
The Nightster commanded nearly $1,000 over its other Sportster siblings and, from the looks of it, most of that money went toward the bike’s signature style. The first thing that stands out is its low profile. From the low-rise handlebars to the 25.3-inch seat height, Harley definitely had an aesthetic in mind. It’s not just an illusion either – ground clearance measures in at just under 4-inches. The look is topped off by a two-tone matte paint scheme that blends black and silver with a range of textures including satin aluminum, anodized black chrome, and matte gray powder coating. There are some notable updates to the sheet metal and hardware as well. Out back, the rear fender has been chopped and redressed for a cleaner look continued by the addition of a folding side-mount license plate bracket and a small light bar that replaces the standard taillight. The 19-inch front and 16-inch rear feature black hubs and rims while the front fender mounts and rear belt guard carry some old-school bobber charm thanks to drilled bullet holes.
Retro charm aside, the bike still has to function so, under those cosmetic updates, you’ll find many of the same time-tested pieces that the modern Sportster built its reputation on. The frame is dressed in black and essentially the same as any other XL but, with the low seat height and flat drag-style bars, it feels like a different bike altogether. The front sports rubber fork gaiters that continue the distinctly old-school look but pieces like dual piston front brakes ensure this is an all-modern bike underneath. The rear half is supported by short dual shocks and reined in by single piston brakes. Riding position is low but upright, supported by a firm solo seat. The hand controls, bar, and bar-mounted front brake reservoir were treated to the black-out treatment as were the turn signals and headlight cowl. Aside from looking great, these pieces come with the added benefit of glare reduction. Instrumentation follows the bare-knuckles theme of the bike with only a single instrument housing mounted to the center of the bars. The primary view is an analog speedometer but Harley also incorporated a digital odometer and a few warning lights into the space.
One of the biggest additions to the XL came in 1986 when the Evolution engine replaced the Ironhead. Two years later, displacement was up to 73 cubic inches (1200cc) and has remained there ever since. It’s a familiar setup with 3.5-inch bore, 3.812-inch stroke, and two push-rod activated overhead valves per cylinder with self-adjusting hydraulic lifters. Fuel is provided by electronic sequential port fuel injection that raises the bar on reliability without changing the basic character of the bike. Good for 79lb-ft of torque, the 1200 provides plenty of power to motivate the 592lb bike with ease. The most notable improvement comes from frame-mounted rubber engine mounts. While the bike still feels like a Harley at idle, the mounts smooth out vibrations at speed, making for a more comfortable riding experience overall. To match the Nightster theme, the engine is powder coated in medium gray and topped with a mix of polished and gray covers. This 1200 benefits from a full Rinehart exhaust system, a Screaming Eagle breather, and a matching tune. The engine mates to a five-speed transmission with a wet clutch, a chain-driven primary, and a belt driven final drive.
The sale includes the original owner’s manual so you can learn all the highlights of your new bike translated through Harley Davidson marketing speak. There’s also a spare key.
Throughout their diverse history, Sportsters have almost always provided more thrills per dollar than anything else in the Harley catalog. With its rat-rod looks, 1200cc engine, slick-shifting five-speed, and attractive price tag, this Nightster is a home run no matter how you look at it. If you’re ready to hit the city streets on a practically new XL, get your motor running and get this low-mileage 2009 Nightster in your garage today!