The Harley 72 captures the youth and the nostalgia market at the same time.
The Harley-Davidson XL 1200V Sportster Seventy-Two looks like it could have rolled out of any talented young designer’s workshop.
Yet the Harley 72 also conjures fond memories of Peter Fonda’s Captain America chopper from the 1969 cult film, Easy Rider. And all for the attractive price of $17,990 ride away.
It features plenty of highly-polished chrome, white-walled tyres, chopped fenders, ape-hanger bars and a laid-back riding style with forward-mounted foot controls. For an extra $1000, you can also get a candy-coloured metal flake paint called “hard candy”.
The Harley 72 is powered by a new, fuel-injected 1200cc Evolution engine with lighter aluminium heads and cylinders for better air-cooling.
The lean Harley 72 is highlighted by a large 21-Inch spoked front wheel and a tiny 7.9 litre peanut tank, so it’s not exactly a high-speed sports bike or highway tourer. This is a bike for cruising the boulevard to your favourite cafe where everyone can drool over your machine.
Despite its relatively light frame – for a Harley – it’s no fuel miser. At 5.7 litres/100km on test it brings up the fuel warning light around 100km.
Those ape-hanger bars will probably tire your arms long before the fuel runs low, but they don’t make handling difficult. In fact, it feels quite stable on the highway while manoeuvrable at lower speeds, thanks to the extra leverage.
Another advantage of the ape hangers is that the mirrors are ideally placed just off your line of view so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to scan what’s behind you.
Riding position is not ideal for fast travel, with riders adopting a windsock posture of feet and hands out. It’s comfortable around town, but over 80km/h it becomes tiring. On most cruisers, the rear brake is as effective or even more potent than the front stoppers, because the weight is over the back wheel. However, the front brake on this bike is the stronger, despite the single disc. There is a bit of fork dive under hard braking, but it doesn’t affect stability.
What does give this bike a head shake is a bumpy surface. The long front forks and high bars tend to flex and kick a bit over the bumps. Cornering is limited by the lean angle (28.6° right and 29.8° left). There are very long ‘hero’ blobs on the pegs which can be used as an indication of how far you can lean the bike.
Still, it will go quick around corners if you lean your body out a bit, so you don’t have to tilt the bike as far.
Anyway, this is a bike that is built for looking good, not going hard and on that count it wins, hands down.
Harley-Davidson XL 1200V Sportster Seventy-Two
Price $17,995 (ride away), plus $1000 for Hard Candy paint