In an age when technology three years old is considered obsolete - the Sportster has been in production for 50 years this year. Admittedly, since 1957 it has gained a new engine, belt drive, rubber mounting and fuel injection. But these changes have been in increments over the years and a modern Sportster is still very much identifiable as such.
Originally HD brought out the Sportster because their heavyweight range were being out-performed by imported lightweight Nortons and Triumphs. So in the Wild One, recreating the famous Hollister riots of 1947, Marlo Brando rides a Triumph whilst arch rival Lee Marvin rides a war surplus Harley. If the film was set 10 years later no doubt Brando should have been riding a Sportster.
By no stretch of the imagination does the Sportster meet the criteria of a 'sports' bike today. But whilst other parts of Harley's range have become increasingly bloated platforms for ever more chrome and tassels, the Sportster stays close to the spirit of the original bobbers and choppers; if it doesn't help make it go or make it stop - throw it away.