Should I change the drive ratio on my Harley for highway use?
My ’02 Sportster 1200 is my commuter, 90% of the time above 60mph on highways (although no need to go past 85 max when passing) and at 75mph it runs about 3200rpm which seems fast… the engine seems like it would be happier around 2500rpm for cruising. I was thinking about putting a smaller rear wheel pulley on, to get better efficiency and run my engine at lower RPMs to be easier on it. Of course this would change all the ratios, but I don’t need as much acceleration as this bike is currently geared to offer.
What is a good RPM for a Harley to cruise at 70mph? I mean if the engine is happy running 3500rpm with very little load… that’s fine, but i figure you want a lower rpm with low/modest load. I drive a manual car and it seems to have a much lower cruising RPM, making me think my harley is just overall geared too low.
How much for a plain rear sprocket that is smaller? Can the stock belt be tightened enough, or does it need to be replaced? It has 12k miles so i doubt it is anywhere near worn out, and i don’t road trip with it so if it fails i’m not far from home.
6-speed conversion seems like at least 10 times the cost for only the advantage of not losing any acceleration.
My 1200 was about where yours is when it was on the highway. It’s a great RPM for that engine. It’s producing enough horsepower that it isn’t lugging, and when mine was stock, it was giving me about 57 mpg. That’s a sign of a happy engine running at an RPM that’s comfortable for it. If you manage to drop the engine out of its comfort zone, you will just be causing it to work harder than it should. There isn’t any benefit to reducing RPM just for the sake of dropping it. Plus, you will lose the ability to launch as hard as it should. You will have to downshift to pass or go up hills. That will be will be making your clutch work harder and more often.
If you want my $.02 based on years of riding, then I would tell you to just leave it alone. You will spend a good chunk of change and have less of a bike when you are done.
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