Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom

Wed, January 6th, 2010

Harley Davidson Sportster Custom
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2007-2010 Harley-Davidson XL1200C Sportster Custom
It'll get blown away by modern twins half its displacement, but gobs of torque will still keep you entertained. '07 and later fuelies are especially well mannered.
Easy to maneuver around town, not at all nervous or punishing on the Interstate, and more capable in the twisties that most would expect. Genuinely narrow and compact in a way Japanese cruisers are not. A nice compromise all the way around. The only flaw is its less than state-of-the-art braking.
The rear end looks saggy, thanks to too-short shocks. Other than that, perhaps the cleanest, most elemental Harley currently offered. And since it's a Harley, there's an aftermarket replacement for whatever bits you might not like.
A bit more maintenance-intensive than some Japanese bikes, but durable as a hatchet.
The modern rubber-mounted Sporty is a jack-of-all-trades that anybody can live with. The XL1200C adds decent fuel capacity. A legit option for anybody from neophytes to lifelong riders.
Big twins may look more menacing, but I'll take the 'fun' Harley, with showgirl looks and a sunny disposition. What's not to like?
Anyone who discredits it as 'just a Sporty' hasn't ridden the ones they build now. Not a retro recreation, but a classic icon updated perfectly.