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2016 H-D Roadster 1200

20th April 2016

 

Sportster | 1200cc | Forty-Eight | Iron 883

 

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When Messrs Harley-Davidson stop giving us the cool dude, hyped-up, hip, macho, bad-ass, urban brawling sales spiel, we're gonna miss it. We know we will. But until then, we're just gonna have to carry on shaking our heads and smiling inwardly at the overblown marketing crap the firm routinely deploys.

 

What's that? You want another example? Okay. Here it comes courtesy of Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson's Director of Styling:

 

 “Since its introduction in 1957, the Harley-Davidson Sportster has proved capable of constant reinvention, and the Roadster writes a new chapter in that story. We’ve watched our customers take the Sportster in so many different directions. The Roadster is a mash-up of styling genres, but the intent was to build a rider’s motorcycle, a Sportster that’s lean and powerful and connects the rider to the road.”

 

Tautological prose aside, we're glad to hear that this bike does connect the rider to the road, because when it stops connecting, it probably means you're in a hedge or something.

 

But we don't much care for this styling. The inverted 43mm (cartridge) front fork looks out of place. The over-abbreviated mudguards are plain silly. The fuel tank is just a little too small. The silencer looks ... well, ugly. The headlight arrangement is even worse.

 

On the plus side, you get a thumping, rubber-mounted, tried-and-tested 1200cc all-American V-twin engine with more heritage than Stonehenge, fuel injection, anti-lock braking (optional in the USA), 4.5 inches of wheel travel up front and 3.2 inches at the rear (apparently this is greater than on any previous Sportster-based HD), and there are tri-rate springs at the tail end with adjustable pre-load.

 

Stopping is courtesy of a pair of dual twin-piston front calipers gripping 300mm floating front discs backed up by a twin-piston caliper at the rear acting on a 260mm rotor.

 

 

But we still don't like it and would prefer a standard 883cc Sportster Iron or a 1200cc Forty-Eight any day of the week.

 

The wheels are 120/70 R19 at the front, and a 150/70 R18 at the rear. The steering angle, note, is a little steeper than usual, and the foot controls are (wisely) mounted in the mid-position (as opposed to way up front). Clearly Harley-Davidson has tweaked the standard Sportster concept hoping to convince us that this is more of a "rider's" bike as opposed to a "poseur's" ride. But the firm ain't fooling us, and this looks more like an upstart Sportster with pretensions.

 

Still, a Sporty is a Sporty (more or less), and having owned a few of them over the years, we're already converted to the church. But this model simple doesn't do it for us. Maybe you feel different.

 

Colours are Vivid Black with a charcoal denim pinstripe; Black Denim with a red pinstripe; Velocity Red Sunglo with a red pinstripe; and two-tone Billet Silver/Vivid Black with a burgundy pinstripe.

 

The price is a few hundred quid or so below ten grand depending on which colour you specify, and how good you are at haggling.

 

 

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