Starter Replacement: 2008 Harley Sportster XL 883/1200

The 2008 Sportster XL 883/1200 starter is an automatic device for starting the engine. When the starter malfunctions and fails to start the machine it must be removed and replaced with a replacement part.

In some instances the starter must be removed to gain access to other parts of the motorcycle that need servicing. In either case, use these removal and installation procedures if the starter needs replacing or repair.

Starter Removal

For reference, the 2008 Sportster starter is made up of an armature, idler gear, drive assembly, solenoid, field winding assembly and drive housing. Some parts of the starter are serviceable. However, the starter relay is not repairable.

To prevent the motorcycle from accidentally starting-up, disconnect the negative battery cable clamp at the engine, first. Then disconnect the positive cable from the battery.

  1. Remove the negative battery cable stud on engine crankcase boss, it’s located behind the starter motor assembly.
  2. Open the left side cover and disconnect the positive battery cable from the from the positive terminal on the battery.
  3. Close the left side cover.
  4. Place a container under transmission lubricant drain hole and drain the lubricant. Then remove the primary cover.
  5. Remove the Sportster rear muffler.
  6. Remove the Sportster exhaust pipe.
  7. Disconnect the positive battery lead and solenoid wire from the starter.
  8. Take off the starter mounting bolts and washers.
  9. Take off the starter and the starter gasket. The starter must be removed from the right side of the Sportster motorcycle.

Special tools: It may be necessary to use a ball hex driver to gain access to the starter mounting bolts.

Starter Installation

  1. Reinstall the starter gasket and starter. The starter must be installed from the right side of the Sportster.
  2. Reinstall the washers and starter mounting bolts. Torque the bolts to 13-20 ft-lbs (or 17.6–27.1 Nm)
  3. Reconnect the positive battery cable and solenoid wire to the solenoid stud. Torque the nut to 60-85 in—lbs (or 6.8—9.6 Nm). Remember to replace the rubber boot securely over the terminal.
  4. Reinstall the primary cover.
  5. Add 32 fluid ounces of genuine Harley Davidson formula+ transmission and primary lubricant (Part No. 98851-05 quart).
  6. Reinstall the Sportster exhaust pipe and the muffler.


This starter replacement guide is specific to the following models: 2008 Harley Davidson Sportster XL 883 XL883 883C Custom 883L Low 883R,  XL1200 XL 1200 1200C Custom/Custom 105th Anniversary Edition 1200L Low 1200N Nightster.

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