With some new graphics and a handful of bolt-on goodies, Harley doubles down in the factory customs market.
The modification-friendly and custom-inspired market has been making a lot of motorcycle companies a lot of money in recent years. BMW experienced impressive sales-numbers with its R nineT range, Triumph’s Bonneville Bobber has broken multiple sales records, one-quarter of Ducati’s sales last year were bikes from its Scrambler lineup, and Indian Motorcycle's Scout Bobber is an unqualified success. With sales dropping year after year, Harley-Davidson is looking to the custom-inspired market to get those numbers back up with the introduction of two new Sporster models—the new Forty Eight Special and the Iron 1200.
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Both models sports tank graphics that, according to the press release, were “originally popular in the 1970s”. In addition to the disco-tastic paint, the bikes are loaded down with a myriad of pieces from H-D’s parts and accessories catalog. All this factory custom goodness encases a package powered by black or chromed-out versions of the Motor Company's torquey Evolution 1200 engine. The US MSRP for the Iron 1200 is $9,999, while the Forty Eight Special’s US MSRP has been listed at $11,299. Like the Scout and Bonneville Bobber models, the new pair of Sportster variants are expected to be further customized by owners, something Harley’s press release says is relatively easy thanks to the bikes' design.
“A Sportster is a relatively easy bike to strip down and reinvent. What we’ve done to create the new Iron 1200 and Forty-Eight Special is what Sportster owners have been doing with their own bikes for generations,” stated Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson V.P. of Styling & Design.
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The Iron 1200
The first of Harley’s two new models features a satin-black Mini Ape handlebar, small black headlight cowl/mini-wind-screen, “fast-back Café Solo Seat", all-black nine-spoke rims—19” fore and 16” aft—and the brand’s classic 3.3-gallon Sportster tank adorned in multi-colored striped graphics package. It's available in “Vivid Black”, “Twisted Cherry”, and “Billiard White”.
At the heart of the Iron 1200 is the tried and true Evolution 1200 V-Twin which reportedly produces 36-percent more torque than the 883 Evo. With the exception of chrome pushrod tubes and tappet-cover, the entire powertrain on the Iron 1200—upper and lower rocker boxes, exhaust and muffler shields, timer, primary, and derby covers, belt guard, and rear sprocket—has been blacked out. The Iron 1200’s 73ft-lbs of torque is kept in check via H-D’s optional factory installed ABS, and owners can rest easy when not on their bike thanks to Harley’s optional smart security system.
Forty Eight Special
The new version of the Forty Eight boasts a thick new front end with a 130mm front tire, 49mm forks, and beefy forged aluminum triple clamps, topped off with 7.25”, gloss-black high Tallboy handlebar. It also features blacked-out, split nine-spoke cast aluminum rims (16” front and rear) wrapped in Michelin Scorcher 31 rubber, and a 2.2-gallon peanut tank wearing a vintage striped livery complete with retro H-D script. Like the Iron 1200, the tank is available in “Vivid Black”, “Wicked Red”, and “Billiard White”.
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“We specifically selected the Tallboy bar for its shape,” explained Richards. “It offers less pull-back than the Mini-Ape - a look that really works with the steamroller front-end and the smaller fuel tank on the Forty-Eight Special model.”
The Evolution 1200 engine powering the 48 Special features a black top-end with a chromed-out bottom, including chrome primary, lower rocker boxes, pushrod tubes, tappet covers, inspection and derby covers, and solid chrome muffler and exhaust shields. Like the Iron 1200 the new Forty Eight Special also features H-D’s optional factory-installed ABS and smart security system.
So, what do we think? Yay? Nay? New, spruced up Sportsters is never a bad thing, but are these things worthy of whole new model names?