2007 Harley-Davidson Turbo Sportster XL1200R
A Sportster with an attitude!
by Kirk Johnson
2007 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200R
73.2 ci or 1200 cc Evolution with Turbo*
122.4 @ 6,500 RPM*
113.5 @ 4,300 RPM*
Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection
The New Carbon Fiber Belt
Front - 2 dual-piston
Back - single piston
Tire Size Front
Tire Size Rear
installed and tuned by Nick from Trask Performance
Click here for Dyno Chart
More info on the
Sportster Turbo Kit
The 2007 Turbo Sportster, my choice of
Oct 2008 I installed a Super
Brace. It works great, I highly recomend it
for all motorcycles,
Here is the link to Superbrace.com
I have rode and written about a fairly large
variety of different motorcycles and I have selected the Sportster
with a turbo as my preferred ride. I have been lucky, in that
I had the opportunity to ride a lot of different motorcycles
to base my decision on. There are a lot of different motorcycles,
features and riding styles that you have to address before you
make an informed decision.
Obviously, riding style has as much to do with the decision process
as anything. And of course, these are my observations and conclusions,
not necessarily the answers or conclusions that someone else
First of all, I love to tour and make as many road trips around
the great Southwest as time allows. Touring, you say, and on
a Sportster? Yes, remember, riding style. I love to carve out
canyons and mountain top roads. Being, 5’ 8” and
only weighing 150 pounds, makes the Sportster a great fit for
me. For someone that is 6’ 2” and 225, than obviously,
the Sportster would not be the preferred choice.
There is no other selection in the Harley line of motorcycles
that can compete with the ride and sporty feel of a Sportster.
The V-rod is as close as you can get. But its low center of gravity
and extended wheel base and forward pegs, renders it more of
a sport touring bike then a true sports bike. Now, I will have
to admit, the Harley-Davidson Street Rod meets everything that
I wanted in a great ride. It even had center pegs. The problem
was the seat height, 31”. I found myself using my toes
to move the bike around every time I stopped. That was unacceptable.
The touring lines of motorcycles from Harley are great for cross
country while on the interstate. But most of my riding is on
back roads, like 89 and 89a or mountain roads with a lot of curves
and elevation changes. The touring line of motorcycles is way
too big and I find that dragging the floor boards on corners
and making sparks distracting and dangerous.
Besides, these motorcycles
are not meant for carving out canyons, that’s why they
have radios. Performance, for the touring bikes, is a big problem
and when in the passing lane your exposure to the oncoming traffic
is way too time consuming.
I don’t like the true Sport bikes at all. The Kawasaki’s,
Yamaha’s, Suzuki’s or even the Buell’s, all
offer a lot more for sport riding and carving out the canyons,
but the seating configuration is unacceptable. I can’t
sit like that for a very long time, although they are a fun ride
for a short time. And on most, they don’t offer much in
the way of carrying your tooth brush and change of clothes or
providing acceptable seating for a passenger.
Why the Sportster?
The Sportster has undergone a lot of changes since its introduction
in 1957 and it is still going strong today. That makes it the
longest continuously produced motorcycle model in history. Major
changes were made in 2004 when they finally rubber mounted the
engine and changed the rear tire from the 130 mm tire to the
bigger 150 mm tire. Then in 2007, they introduced Electronic
Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI), and a carbon fiber final
drive belt. These are some really great changes.
The Sportster has everything that I want with one exception;
it needs more HP and torque. There are a lot of options for upgrading.
This includes exhaust upgrades, boring for more cc and changing
heads and on and on. Significant performance improvements would
require opening up the engine that has a great history of being
very reliable and trouble free. I hate opening up a perfectly
good engine to make changes. But there is one great and easy
alternative though, just bolt on a turbo.
The Turbo Alternative
Nick from Trask Performance, has done a great job at adapting
the Garrett Turbo to fit just about any motorcycle, carbureted
or fuel injected, in the Harley line. Bolting on a turbo to your
stock bike will provide somewhere around an additional 50 horsepower.
How cool is that! They will make a pre installation dyno test,
install the turbo and re-map it for peak performance and dyno
it again. Then they will provide you with the printout. If you
want, you can also purchase the kit with all of the hardware
that you need, including a CD and do the installation yourself.
It all sounds great on paper, but how is it in real life?
After putting 15,000 miles on this Sportster with the turbo,
I would not want to be without it. The turbo just sites there
quietly awaiting your request. Without the hammer down, you would
never know that you have the extra horsepower. Starting, running
around town or idling in the parking lot, you would never know
that there was a tiger patiently awaiting your request. On the
highway, I still get around 50 mpg. Even if I am pushing it on
the back roads, the mileage still stays around 50 mpg. I am so
There is one drawback to having a turbo on a hot day. It does
run a little hotter than the stock bike. To address this, I added
an oil cooler to help keep the engine oil temperature from going
over 220 degrees. But that only happens when the outside temperature
starts heading north of 105 degrees. I don’t like riding
when it is that hot anyway.
In 2008, Nick created an inline air cooler, for the turbo systems.
That alone drops the intake air temperature 30 degrees. Because
the intake air is cooler, you can re-map it to get more power.
In my case they were able to advance the spark and up the boost
for more horsepower. I had an increase of 9 HP, from 113 to 122,
and the torque was increased from 102 to 113 FPT. WOW! Plus,
the engine even runs a little cooler.
I can’t tell you how much I love this little trouble free
turbo. On any on-ramp, back country roads or especially in the
mountains, when you crack the throttle, this motorcycle just
launches. If you are an adrenalin junkie, a turbo is a must.
In everyday application, it has a very big benefit when you find
yourself in the passing lane. You do not have to grab a bunch
of gears to get around a slow moving vehicle. In the mountains,
even at 12,000 feet, the bike performs like it was at sea level.
Although, I did notice that the boost takes a little longer to
If you are carving out a canyon and you twist the grip on the
exit of a corner, the bike responds with the precise amount you
request and is solid and predicable. No learning curve to deal
with. Just think of having over 100 foot pounds of torque at
3,000 rpm. The deep pockets of torque are always right there
in the normal operating rpm range. Unlike most of the true sport
bikes, you do not have to deal with a small peak horsepower band
somewhere around 12,000 rpm.
Because it is a Sportster, it does not have the cornering ability
of the true sport bikes. But with my skill level, it still corners
with serious dedication. I have found that when you start feeling
the pegs scrape the pavement, it is time to back off a little.
When on the straight away, the bike will run solid right up to
the rev limiter that is set at 6,500 RPM in 5th gear. Yes, this
bike runs strong and now you can see why I love it.
The vast majority of turbos are on the V-rods and baggers. Obviously,
the V-rod screams without the addition, making it a true adrenalin
junkies dream with the turbo. Now the bagger is a sitting in
wait candidate for the upgrade. Every Bagger on the road should
have one in my opinion. Yes, in real life, the turbo is truly
a great addition for the motorcycle.