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Here’s What A $4,000 Harley Sportster 1200 And Elbow Grease Looks Like

Cycle World Logo By Gaz Boulanger of Cycle World | Slide 1 of 5: Ryan Racine bought a 2000 Harley Sportster 1200 with 50,000 miles for $3,200, and $800 later had a custom bike that fits his DIY personality and elicits conversation at every stop.

Harley-Davidson has been serving several masters for more than a century, and the publicly traded American juggernaut just hit the reset button with its extensive Softail line. Initial response was positive, but in an age where everyone’s opinion gets aired on social media, the haters came out in full force: “Not affordable,” “Not stylish enough,” “Not inspirational,” “Outdated,” “Doesn’t speak to younger riders…”

My dad always said that if everyone liked ’57 Chevys the world would be a boring place. But we’re talking about Harley, still one of the most recognizable brands on the planet, so I sought out someone who’s chosen to take a hog by the bars and create something to fit his life and riding style without breaking the bank or making a bike without pizzazz. Canadian native Ryan Racine has lived in San Jose, California, since April 2016, and the 42-year-old former health care professional left behind a house he remodeled and workshop full of tools.

Here’s how he acquired his 2000 Harley Sportster 1200 a little over a year ago, based on the interview we did in Mountain View this past Sunday: “When I moved to San Jose from Ottawa, I wasn’t working and I needed something to do. I figured, ‘Let’s find a motorcycle. I’m in America now, so let’s buy an American bike.’ I had already tried an 883, and knew it was an underpowered toy for me. The 1200 was the cheapest of the Harleys I could find after several days of surfing Craigslist.

Every time I’d find one for $5,000 or so they’d get snatched up quickly. I found a 2000 Sportster 1200 with 50,000 miles in Lodi for $4,200, and spoke with the owner to meet somewhere near a Caltrain station, like Stockton. He was selling the 1200 to buy a custom bike. I didn’t know anything about that area, and planned to ride the bike home if all worked out. Little did I know about the high crime rate in Stockton (three times that of any city in California), so here I was on a train bound for a notoriously dangerous city with $4,000 in my pocket! My wife Trish was a bit worried, but it all worked out.

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© Chris James

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