Another new Sportster? Did Harley-Davidson make a mistake by producing yet another 1200cc-powered bike simply called the Forty-Eight? Not in the slightest.
The Forty-Eight was appropriately named to celebrate the year, 1948, in which the peanut tank made its debut on the S-125 model. Since then it's been the inspiration for many chopper enthusiasts and has been placed atop the backbone of almost every bike imaginable for the past 60-plus years.
When the rumors started swirling that the Motor Company was to release a new motorcycle, the public wasn't sure what to expect. The Forty-Eight, however, wasn't really what some hungry Harley fans anticipated. After all the hype, especially after photos were leaked on blogs and forums, it seemed as though the majority of enthusiasts were disappointed, which was evident from posts on said forums and blogs. At first glance, it was just another Sportster.
It's clear Harley is dangling the carrot in front of the new-to-the-Harley-world demographic as well as its core fans, and launching a motorcycle with a lower price tag than its big-twin brethren is what makes sense to the newer, less-experienced Harley guy/gal. We get it. And for HOT BIKE, the Forty-Eight makes perfect sense in this day and age and economic climate.
The Forty-Eight's inspiration is this little baby right here: the peanut tank. For more than 60 years it's been the tank of choice for many chopper builds and still looks as cool today as it did when it was introduced.
The Forty-Eight's inspiration is this little baby right here: the peanut tank. For more th
First off, the Forty-Eight is compact at 88.6 inches in length, and the rugged stance is due in part to the dual black and silver two-tone 16-inch spoked wheels wrapped in beefy Dunlop rubber. For the frontend, the fatter front wheel is made possible by wider triple-trees but 39mm fork tubes still handle the bumps up front with a travel length of 2.63 inches. Covering the front wheel is a pretty trick fender/fork brace setup that allows you to remove the fender while retaining the fork brace if so desired. Two-tone, coil-over, preload-adjustable shocks handle the rear and aid in the Forty-Eight's seat height of 26 inches. And while we're on the subject, the seat is one thing Harley might want to rethink since most of the people we've talked to that had the opportunity to ride the Forty-Eight all said that their bums went numb after about 30 minutes on the bike. Simply put, it's not very comfortable. A cushier seat with more padding would be an easy fix.
The under-slung mirrors are a departure from traditional Harley styling. They work aesthetically with the bike's theme, and functionally for the rider.
The under-slung mirrors are a departure from traditional Harley styling. They work aesthet
For stopping power, attached to the wheels are a dual-piston caliper and 11 1/2-inch rotor combination in the front, and single-piston caliper and 11 1/2-inch rotor out back. The front/rear brake setup does a nice job of halting the 567-pound Sportster. And for getting off the line, the rubber-mounted, air-cooled 1200cc engine features a 3.5-inch bore and 3.81-inch stroke with a 9.7:1 compression ratio to give you the mustard to pass those annoyingly slow Sunday drivers without a hitch.
The one thing to be aware of is that with the 2.1-gallon tank full to the brim, you're only going to get about 60 miles out of it. Harley claims 42/57 mpg but if you're actually going to ride the thing, plan on less.
Peeping those behind you is made possible by the under-slung mirrors. These are a nice feature and actually work. We were skeptical at first since other bikes we've ridden with under-hung mirrors had piss-poor visibility, but the rear view is pretty clear, and wider than expected, with these.
In the ergonomics department, the low-profile handlebar positions the upper part of your body forward for a more aggressive feel. The forward controls are placed just right since they're just forward enough to get a comfortable footing while retaining the ability to apply the pressure in the turns. As for dipping into the corners, be prepared to scrape the pegs because of the low stance and a right lean angle of 29.5 degrees and a left lean angle of 32 degrees.
The tank shown is Mirage Orange Pearl with "Sportster" strewn across the sides like the old days, but Vivid Black and Brilliant Silver Pearl schemes with the same insignia are also available.
Overall, the Forty-Eight does the trick and then some. It's relatively inexpensive when compared to Dynas, Softails, etc., it's a blast to ride, and it looks cool as hell. 'Nuff said.