Harley-Davidson Owners Manual Close Window Print

Controls and Indicators

General: Controls and Indicators


en Warning

Read the CONTROLS AND INDICATORS section before riding your motorcycle. Failure to understand the operation of the motorcycle could result in death or serious injury. (00043a)

Some features explained are unique to certain models. These features may be available as accessories for your Harley-Davidson motorcycle. See a Harley-Davidson dealer for a complete list of accessories that will fit your specific motorcycle.

Sportster XL 1200N Model


See Sportster XL 1200N Model. Unlike all other Sportster models, the XL 1200N is equipped with a convertible side-mounted license plate assembly, which includes an LED-illuminated license plate lamp module. See a Harley-Davidson dealer for LED replacement.

The license plate assembly must be in the extended position during operation. Due to local regulations, this feature may not be found in all destinations.

The standard rear fender-mounted tail lamp assembly common to all other Sportster models is not present on the XL 1200N. Instead, the rear turn signals also function as tail lamps and brake lamps.

Sportster XL 1200N Model
  1. Convertible side-mount license plate assembly
  2. Rear turn signal lamp (also functions as tail/brake lamp)

Sportster XL 1200N Model

Ignition/Headlamp Key Switch: Sportster Models


en Warning

The automatic-on headlamp feature provides increased visibility of the rider to other motorists. Be sure headlamp is on at all times. Poor visibility of rider to other motorists can result in death or serious injury. (00030b)

See Ignition/Headlamp Key Switch: Sportster Models. The ignition/headlamp key switch controls electrical functions of the motorcycle.

See the YOUR OWNER'S MANUAL section at the front of this book. Be sure to record all your key numbers in the space provided.

en Caution

Protect your vehicle against theft. After parking your motorcycle, lock the steering head and remove ignition key from switch. Failure to lock your motorcycle may result in theft and/or equipment damage. (00151a)

en Warning

Do not operate vehicle with forks locked. Locking the forks restricts the vehicle's turning ability, which could result in death or serious injury. (00035a)

en Caution

Do not lubricate barrel locks with petroleum based lubricants or graphite. Inoperative locks may result. (00152a)

Turn key counterclockwise to remove from the ignition. Refer to Ignition/Headlamp Switch Positions: 2008 Sportster Models for all key switch functions.

NOTES:
  • ACC-Accessories and hazard warning flasher can be turned on. Instrument lamps are on. Brake lamp and horn can be activated. Key may not be removed.
  • The lamps work when the switch is in the IGNITION position, as required by law in some localities.
Ignition/Headlamp Key Switch: Sportster Models
  1. Ignition off
  2. Accessory ON (ACC.)
  3. Ignition ON

Ignition/Headlamp Key Switch: Sportster Models

Ignition/Headlamp Switch Positions: 2008 Sportster Models

LOCATION AND OPERATION

SWITCH POSITION

FUNCTION

Switch is on right side of steering neck.

Push in and turn key to operate.

OFF

Ignition and lamps are off. Key may be removed.

ACC*

Accessories and hazard warning flasher can be turned on. Instrument lamps are on. Brake lamp and horn can be activated. Key may be removed except for international models.

IGNITION*

Ignition and lamps are on.

*International models have an additional function - position lamp and tail lamp are also on.



Hand Controls: Basic Operation


Electric Starter Switch


NOTE:

Off/Run switch MUST be in RUN position to operate engine.

See Handlebar Controls. The electric starter switch is located on the right handlebar control group. See Starting the Engine: Sportster Models for detailed operation procedures.

  1. Put the engine off/run switch in the RUN position and the transmission in neutral. Neutral (green) indicator lamp should be illuminated.

  2. See Ignition/Headlamp Key Switch: Sportster Models. Turn ignition/headlamp key switch to IGNITION and push the START switch to operate starter motor.

Engine OFF/RUN Switch


See Handlebar Controls. The engine off/run switch (7) turns the ignition power ON or OFF. The engine off/run switch is located on the right handlebar control. Push the top portion of the engine off/run switch to turn off ignition power and shut the engine off. Push the bottom portion of the engine off/run switch to turn on ignition power.

NOTES:
  • The engine off/run switch must be in the RUN position to start or operate the engine.
  • The engine off/run switch should be used to shut the engine off.
  1. To shut the engine off, push the top of the off/run switch to the ignition OFF position.

  2. See Ignition/Headlamp Key Switch: Sportster Models. Turn the ignition key to the OFF position to turn the ignition power completely OFF.

Throttle Control Grip


See Handlebar Controls. The throttle control grip (9) is located on the right handlebar control and is operated with the right hand.

To reduce rider fatigue on long trips, a spring loaded throttle friction adjustment screw (10) is located at the bottom of the throttle grip clamp on non-cruise equipped models.

  1. Slowly turn throttle control grip clockwise (toward the front of the bike) to close the throttle (decelerate).

  2. Slowly turn throttle control grip counterclockwise (toward rear of bike) to open the throttle (accelerate).

  3. en Warning

    Do not tighten throttle friction adjustment screw to the point where the engine will not return to idle automatically. Over-tightening can lead to loss of vehicle control, which could result in death or serious injury. (00031b)

  4. Unscrew the throttle friction adjustment screw so the throttle returns to the idle position when the hand is removed from the grip.

  5. Screw the throttle adjustment screw in to increase friction on grip. This provides a damping effect on throttle motion.

NOTE:

The throttle friction adjustment screw should not be used under normal stop and go operating conditions.

Clutch Hand Lever


en Warning

Do not position fingers between hand control lever and handlebar grip. Improper hand positioning can impair control lever operation and cause loss of vehicle control, which could result in death or serious injury. (00032a)

See Handlebar Controls. The clutch hand lever (1) is located on the left handlebar and is operated with the fingers of the left hand.

  1. Slowly pull clutch hand lever in against handlebar grip to fully disengage clutch.

  2. Shift to first gear using the gear shifter lever. See Shifting Gears.

  3. Slowly release the clutch hand lever to engage clutch.

A clutch switch is incorporated into the left handlebar switch assembly. It enables the rider to start the vehicle in any gear (or in neutral) as long as the clutch lever is pulled in. If the clutch is not disengaged, the vehicle will not start.

Horn Switch


See Handlebar Controls. The horn is operated by pushing on the horn switch (2) located on the left handlebar control group.

Headlamp Dimmer Switch


See Handlebar Controls. The headlamp dimmer switch (3) is located on the left handlebar. The switch has two positions to activate the headlamps high or low beams.

  • Press the top of the headlamp dimmer beam switch to activate the high beam.
  • Press the bottom of the headlamp dimmer switch to return to the low beam.

See Indicator Lamps. The (blue) high beam indicator lamp will illuminate when the high beam is on.

Turn Signal Switches


See Handlebar Controls. Each handlebar control group contains a turn signal switch.

  • The right turn signal switch (11) operates the right front and right rear flashing lamps.
  • The left turn signal switch (4) operates the left front and left rear flashing lamps.
NOTE:

Front turn signal lamps also function as running lamps (except International models).

Handlebar Controls
  1. Clutch hand lever
  2. Horn switch
  3. Headlamp dimmer switch
  4. Left turn signal switch
  5. Master cylinder reservoir
  6. Electric starter switch
  7. Engine off/run switch
  8. Brake hand lever
  9. Throttle control grip
  10. Throttle friction adjusting screw
  11. Right turn signal switch

Handlebar Controls

Turn Signal Switch Operation


The turn signal switches are used by the turn signal module to control turn signal operation based on vehicle speed, vehicle acceleration and turn completion.

Momentarily depress the desired turn signal switch. The turn signal lamps will begin and continue flashing until they are manually or automatically cancelled. As long as the motorcycle is stationary, the signals will flash.

NOTES:
  • If you are signaling to turn in one direction and you depress the switch for the opposite turn signal, the first signal is cancelled and the opposite side begins flashing.
  • If you want to stop the lamps from flashing, briefly depress the turn signal switch a second time. The turn signal lamps will stop flashing.

Hazard Warning 4-Way Flasher


Use the following method to activate the four-way flashers.

  1. With the ignition key ON and security system disarmed (if equipped), press the left and right turn signal switches at the same time.

  2. Turn the ignition key OFF and arm the security system if present and desired. The four-way flashers will continue for two hours.

  3. To cancel four-way flashing, disarm the security system if necessary, turn the ignition key ON and press the left and right turn signal switches at the same time.

This system allows a stranded vehicle to be left in the four-way flashing mode and secured until help is found.

Indicator Lamps


See Indicator Lamps. Five indicator lamps are provided.

  • The green TURN indicators will flash when turn signals are activated; therefore, flashing indicates the chosen turn direction. When the 4-way hazard flashers are operating, both turn indicators will flash simultaneously.
  • The blue BEAM indicator lamp, when lit, signals high beam headlamp operation.
  • The green NEUTRAL lamp, when lit, signals the transmission is in neutral gear.
  • The red OIL indicator lamp, when lit, signals that oil is not circulating through the engine.
NOTE:

The OIL indicator lamp will glow when the ignition is turned on prior to starting engine. With engine running, lamp should be off when engine speed is above idle.

Several other circumstances that could cause the red oil indicator lamp to signal, include the following:

  • If the oil pressure indicator lamp does not go off at speeds above idling, it is usually because of an empty oil tank or diluted oil.
  • In freezing weather the oil feed may clog with ice and sludge, preventing oil circulation.
  • A grounded oil signal switch wire.
  • A faulty signal switch.
  • A damaged or improperly installed check valve.
  • Trouble with the pump.
en Caution

If the oil pressure indicator lamp remains lit, always check the oil supply first. If the oil supply is normal and the lamp is still lit, stop the engine at once and do not ride further until the trouble is located and the necessary repairs are made. Failure to do so may result in engine damage. (00157a)

Indicator Lamps
  1. Left turn
  2. High beam
  3. Neutral
  4. Oil
  5. Right turn

Indicator Lamps

Instruments: Sportster Models


Speedometer


en Warning

Travel at speeds appropriate for road and conditions and never travel faster than posted speed limit. Excessive speed can cause loss of vehicle control, which could result in death or serious injury. (00008a)

See Speedometer/Odometer: XL 1200C Sportster 1200 Custom, Speedometer/Odometer and Tachometer: XL 1200R Sportster 1200 Roadster, and Speedometer/Odometer and Tachometer: XR 1200 Model. The speedometer registers miles per hour (U.S. models) or kilometers per hour (international models) of forward speed. The speedometer also provides the following selectable functions:

  • Odometer
  • Trip odometers A and B
  • 12 or 24 hour clock

The speedometer has a single display window for the above functions.

  1. See Speedometer/Odometer: XL 1200C Sportster 1200 Custom, Speedometer/Odometer and Tachometer: XL 1200R Sportster 1200 Roadster, and Speedometer/Odometer and Tachometer: XR 1200 Model. Pressing the function switch (on back of speedometer) with the ignition switch in any position will activate the odometer reading and time. Time and mileage or kilometers may be checked without unlocking ignition switch. Press and release function switch (on back of speedometer) once to view odometer. Press and release button again to display time.

  2. To check mileage on trip odometers, the ignition switch must be in the ACC or IGNITION position. Press and release the function switch (on back of speedometer) until the desired trip odometer reading is displayed. An A or B in the upper left of the display window identifies trip odometers.

  3. To reset or zero trip odometers, have desired (A or B) odometer in display window. Press function switch (on back of speedometer) and hold button for 2-3 seconds. The trip odometer will be reset to zero.

  4. Repeat the previous step if you wish to zero both trip odometers.

Setting Clock


  1. Turn the ignition switch to ACC or IGNITION.

  2. See Speedometer/Odometer: XL 1200C Sportster 1200 Custom, Speedometer/Odometer and Tachometer: XL 1200R Sportster 1200 Roadster, and Speedometer/Odometer and Tachometer: XR 1200 Model. Press and release function switch (on back of speedometer) until time (hour and minutes) is displayed. Press and hold the function switch for five seconds or until 12HR begins to blink in the speedometer display window. Release the button.

  3. Press and release the function switch (on back of speedometer) once to advance to a blinking 24HR military style time display. Each time you press and release the button, the display will switch between 12HR and 24HR.

  4. When the desired time style is displayed, press and hold the function switch (on back of speedometer) for five seconds. The display will switch to the time display with the hours blinking.

  5. Press and release the button repeatedly to advance the hours. Each time you press and release the button, the display will advance one hour.

  6. NOTE:

    No AM or PM time setting is required. When the correct hour is reached, press and hold function switch to advance to minute setting.

  7. When the correct hour is displayed, press and hold the button for five seconds. The minutes display will start blinking.

  8. Press and release the button repeatedly to advance the minutes display. Each time you press and release the button, the display will advance one minute.

  9. When the correct minutes are displayed, press and hold the button for five seconds. The minutes display will stop blinking, indicating that the clock has been set.

  10. Turn the ignition switch OFF.

Tachometer


en Caution

See OPERATING RECOMMENDATIONS section. Do not operate the engine above maximum safe RPM as shown under OPERATION (red zone on tachometer). Lower the RPM by upshifting to a higher gear or reducing the amount of throttle. Failure to lower RPM may cause equipment damage. (00159a)

The tachometer (if applicable) registers the engine speed in revolutions per minute (RPM).

Tip Indicator Lamp


en Warning

If tip occurs, check all controls for proper operation. Restricted control movement can adversely affect the performance of the brakes, clutch or ability to shift, which could result in loss of vehicle control and death or serious injury. (00350a)

Should motorcycle be tipped over, the word "tip" will appear in the odometer window. Engine will not start until reset. To reset, cycle ignition/headlamp key switch ON-OFF-ON.

Speedometer/Odometer: XL 1200C Sportster 1200 Custom
  1. Speedometer
  2. Function switch (back of gauge)
  3. Security system lamp
  4. Odometer/trip odometer
  5. Battery lamp
  6. Low fuel indicator
  7. Check engine lamp

Speedometer/Odometer: XL 1200C Sportster 1200 Custom

Speedometer/Odometer and Tachometer: XL 1200R Sportster 1200
    Roadster
  1. Speedometer
  2. Function switch (back of gauge)
  3. Tachometer
  4. Security system lamp
  5. Odometer/trip odometer
  6. Battery lamp
  7. Low fuel indicator
  8. Check engine lamp

Speedometer/Odometer and Tachometer: XL 1200R Sportster 1200 Roadster

Speedometer/Odometer and Tachometer: XR 1200 Model
  1. Speedometer
  2. Function switch (back of gauge)
  3. Tachometer
  4. Check engine lamp
  5. Low fuel indicator
  6. Battery lamp
  7. Odometer/trip odometer
  8. Security system lamp

Speedometer/Odometer and Tachometer: XR 1200 Model

Gear Shift Lever


en Caution

The clutch must be fully disengaged before attempting a gear shift. Failure to fully disengage the clutch can result in equipment damage. (00182a)

See Shift Pattern: Sportster Models. The gear shift lever is located on the left side of the motorcycle and is operated with the left foot. The transmission is a five speed sequential gear box.

  1. Push the gear shift lever all the way down (full stroke) to shift the transmission to the next lower gear.

  2. Lift the gear shift lever all the way up (full stroke) to shift the transmission to the next higher gear.

  3. NOTES:
    • Release the gear shift lever after each gear change.
    • The lever must return to its central position before another gear change can be made.

First gear is the last gear position that can be found by pushing the gear shift lever full stroke downward.

Neutral is located between first and second gear. The green neutral indicator lamp on the dash will illuminate when the transmission is in neutral.

To shift from first gear to neutral, lift the gear shift lever 1/2 of its full stroke.

When the motorcycle is standing still and the engine is not running, shifting gears requires a different technique. Before shifting in this condition, move the motorcycle backward and forward with the clutch fully disengaged (clutch lever pulled in). While maintaining slight pressure on the shift lever, shift from one gear to another.

Even with the engine running and the motorcycle standing still, difficulty may be experienced in shifting gears. This difficulty occurs because transmission gears are not turning and shifting parts are not lined up to permit engagement.

en Caution

When difficulty of shifting gears is experienced, do not under any circumstances, attempt to force the shift. The results of such abuse will be a damaged or broken shifter mechanism. (00161a)

See Shifting Gears for more information.

Shift Pattern: Sportster Models

Shift Pattern: Sportster Models

Brake System


en Warning

Do not apply brake strongly enough to lock the wheel. A locked wheel will skid and can cause loss of vehicle control, which could result in death or serious injury. (00053a)

The rear brake pedal controls the rear wheel brake and is located on the motorcycle's right side. Operate the rear brake pedal with the right foot.

The front brake hand lever controls the front wheel brake and is located on the right handlebar. Operate the hand lever with the fingers of the right hand.

en Warning

Do not position fingers between hand control lever and handlebar grip. Improper hand positioning can impair control lever operation and cause loss of vehicle control, which could result in death or serious injury. (00032a)

Brakes should be applied uniformly and evenly to prevent wheels from locking up. A balance between rear and front braking is generally best.

Jiffy Stand


en Warning

Always park motorcycle on a level, firm surface. An unbalanced motorcycle can fall over, which could result in death or serious injury. (00039a)

The jiffy stand is located on the left side of the motorcycle and swings outward to support the motorcycle for parking.

en Warning

The jiffy stand locks when placed in the full forward (down) position with vehicle weight on it. If the jiffy stand is not in the full forward (down) position with vehicle weight on it, the vehicle can fall over which could result in death or serious injury. (00006a)

en Warning

Be sure jiffy stand is fully retracted before riding. If jiffy stand is not fully retracted, it can contact the road surface causing a loss of vehicle control, which could result in death or serious injury. (00007a)

Rear View Mirrors


en Warning

Objects in mirrors are closer than they appear. Use caution when judging distance of objects in mirrors. Failure to judge correct distances could result in death or serious injury. (00033a)

Your vehicle is equipped with two convex rear view mirrors.

This type of mirror is designed to give a much wider view to the rear than a flat mirror. However, cars and other objects seen in this type of mirror will look smaller and farther away than they actually are.

  • Use caution when judging the size or relative distance of objects seen in rear view mirrors.
  • Always adjust the rear view mirrors to clearly reflect the area behind the motorcycle before riding.
NOTE:

Adjust mirrors so you can see a small portion of your shoulders in each mirror. This will help you establish the relative distance of vehicles to the rear of your motorcycle.

Fuel Filler Cap: Sportster Models


General


See SAFE OPERATING RULES section and review safety procedures listed below.

en Caution

Do not spill fuel onto the motorcycle while refueling. Immediately wipe up fuel spills on your motorcycle. Fuel can cause damage to cosmetic surfaces. (00147b)

en Caution

Use only unleaded fuel in catalytic converter-equipped motorcycles. Using leaded fuel will damage the emission control system. (00150b)

en Warning

Do not store motorcycle with gasoline in tank within the home or garage where open flames, pilot lights, sparks or electric motors are present. Gasoline is extremely flammable and highly explosive, which could result in death or serious injury. (00003a)

en Warning

Avoid spills. Slowly remove filler cap. Do not fill above bottom of filler neck insert, leaving air space for fuel expansion. Secure filler cap after refueling. Gasoline is extremely flammable and highly explosive, which could result in death or serious injury. (00028a)

en Warning

Do not use aftermarket fuel caps. Aftermarket fuel caps may fit improperly and leak, which could lead to death or serious injury. See a Harley-Davidson dealer for approved fuel caps. (00034a)

XL Models


See Fuel Filler Cap: Sportster XL Models. To open, turn fuel filler cap counterclockwise and lift up. To close, turn fuel filler cap clockwise until it clicks. The ratchet action of the cap prevents overtightening.

NOTE:

Fuel filler cap turns approximately a 3/4 turn before it starts unscrewing.

XR 1200 Model


See Fuel Filler Cap: XR 1200 Model. To open fuel filler cap, pull metal tab up, turn tab counterclockwise and remove cap. To close, insert fuel filler cap, turn tab clockwise and push tab down.

Fuel Filler Cap: Sportster XL Models

Fuel Filler Cap: Sportster XL Models

Fuel Filler Cap: XR 1200 Model

Fuel Filler Cap: XR 1200 Model

Fork Lock: Sportster Models


en Caution

Protect your vehicle against theft. After parking your motorcycle, lock the steering head and remove ignition key from switch. Failure to lock your motorcycle may result in theft and/or equipment damage. (00151a)

See Fork Lock Location: Sportster Models. Sportster models have the fork lock located on the steering head just above the ignition/headlamp key switch. Using the fork lock immediately after parking your motorcycle will discourage unauthorized use or theft when parking your motorcycle.

en Warning

Do not operate vehicle with forks locked. Locking the forks restricts the vehicle's turning ability, which could result in death or serious injury. (00035a)

To lock fork, see Fork Lock Positions: Sportster Models.

  1. Turn fork to full left position.

  2. Insert ignition key into fork lock.

  3. Turn to right position (clockwise).

  4. Remove ignition key.

Fork Lock Location: Sportster Models

Fork Lock Location: Sportster Models

Fork Lock Positions: Sportster Models
  1. Fork locked
  2. Fork unlocked

Fork Lock Positions: Sportster Models

Shock Absorber Preload Adjustment: Sportster Models


See Rear Shock Absorber Adjustment: Sportster Models. The rear shock absorber spring preload can be adjusted for the weight the motorcycle is to carry. Increase preload to accommodate additional weight of rider, passenger and/or luggage. Reduce preload if carrying less weight.

NOTE:

See Preload Adjustment: Sportster Models. The shock absorber has either three or five different preload positions, depending on the motorcycle model.

en Warning

Be sure both shock absorbers are adjusted to same preload position. Improper adjustment can adversely affect stability and handling, which could result in death or serious injury. (00036a)

See Spanner Wrench. To adjust the rear shock spring preload, turn spring adjusting cam to the desired position with a SPANNER WRENCH HD-94820-75A . When reducing preload, cam should be rotated in opposite direction.

See Right Side Preload Adjustment: XR 1200 Model. On the XR 1200 model, use SPANNER WRENCH HD-48645 with a 3/8-inch ratchet and extension to adjust the preload on the right side of the motorcycle.

en Caution

The 883 Low and 1200N are designed for solo operation. If you choose to add an adult passenger and/or cargo to the vehicle, the ride quality will be compromised. See a Harley-Davidson dealer for high capacity rear suspension options. (00487e)

Rear Shock Absorber Adjustment: Sportster Models
  1. Rear shock absorber
  2. Adjusting cam preload

Rear Shock Absorber Adjustment: Sportster Models

Spanner Wrench

Spanner Wrench

Right Side Preload Adjustment: XR 1200 Model
  1. Spanner wrench (HD-48645)
  2. 3/8-in. extension

Right Side Preload Adjustment: XR 1200 Model

Preload Adjustment: Sportster Models
  1. Minimum preload adjustment
  2. Maximum preload adjustment

Preload Adjustment: Sportster Models