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New Motorcycle Review

Harley Davidson

XL 1200s Sportster Sport

Nicholas Frankl and Alexis Bachofen

European Motorcycling Correspondents

Harley Davidson Motorcycles are not as expensive as you may think. Currently for 4,995 you can purchase a XLH Spotster 883 on the road, including a full fuel tank and 12 months membership to *HOG, (Harley Owners Group). Five Grand for a Harley, now that's not too bad at all, but if you're willing to splash out another 2,000 you could buy yourself a XL 1200s Sportster Sport.

Harley Davidson launched the Sportster Sport two years ago, as a Sportster with an engine upgrade, and an upgrade it is. The difference, well, the Sportster 883 has, as you may have guessed a 883cc engine producing 61NM @ 2500RPMS, where as the XL 1200s Sportster Sport has a 1199cc engine producing quite a difference, however the question is, is it worth the extra two grand?

Designed around the same lines as the Sportster, Harley Davidson have created a bike which is quick and beautifully styled. Set in a small black frame Harley have managed to fit in all engine components perfectly with the colours to match. Most of the bike is black, including the fuse box housing, the handle bars, the fuel tank, the headlight eyebrow and of course the custom seat. However the manufactures did not stop there, they managed to add just the right amount of a silver powder coat to various parts of the Sport to add style to perfection. Harley Davidson have even displayed their name and logo in a font suitable to the motorcycle, the chequered flag displaying what the bike was designed for, racing.

No matter what gear you are in, the Sport provides a tremendous band of torque which can be used instantly at any time. Whether to escape down open roads or shock London couriers the Sportster provides everything you would expect. The engine runs on a single fire design, which means no sparks are wasted, the timing is cued by engine load and RPM sensors which precisely match the demand on the engine. One yank on the throttle in town and the bike is hurtling along the pavement, easily breaking any countries motorway speed limits. The gear box could have been taken out of a Grand Prix bike, running through the gears the revs barely drop through acceleration, propelling the Sport smoothly to a comfortable cruising speed.

Unfortunately however Harley Davidson have gone a little over-board on the vibration, after riding the bike for over an hour the vibration on the handle bars can make your hands go numb. I also felt that the bike didn't turn into corners very well, it really had to be steered through even the smallest turn, giving it an extremely unstable feel. I think it was due to the short, low handle bars, which insist on being guided through each corner. For some bizarre reason I felt more stable when the roads were wet. A friend of mine said it had something to do with failed adolescence, maybe Dr. Freud would be able to help me on that one. Harley Davidson say that the sticky performance-compound Dunlop tires add to the bike's grip and control, which I'm positive they do, as I never once slid. At the same time the Sport has fantastic floating disc brakes which stop the bike quickly, comfortably and safely.

All in all the Harley Davidson XL 1200 Sportster Sport is a good "little" buy for 6,995, it's fun, fast and nimble through traffic, the perfect second bike. In fact after riding it for a week I was considering buying one as a second Harley. The Sport is not a bike for two, quite the contrary, my girlfriend almost flew off the back whist we were riding along the M25. She also mentioned that the vibration was extremely uncomfortable, and insisted to ride with a friend of mind on the return journey, rejection or what! However, put a single seat on the Sport, slightly larger handle bars, black of course, maybe those from the Sportster 883 Hugger or the Sportster 1200, not forgetting all the little custom additions that Harley Davidson, and others manufacture, and you would have a magnificent bike for your own personal pleasure cruising. Subtle, yet quick, loud, chic and most importantly of all a Harley Davidson.

For more information on the XL 1200s Sportster Sport or any other one of the many Harley Davidson motorcycles contact you nearest available dealer, or Harley Davidson at: The Bell Tower, High Street, Brackley, Northants., NN13 7DTY. Tel: 01280 700 101 / Fax: 01280 706 752 on the web, soon you too could be part of an ever growing family.

*H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group). Owners club, providing you with help in the event of theft, mishaps and roadside breakdowns. It also provides information on safety courses, rallies and all sorts of other Harley Davidson events.