2009 Harley Sportster 1200 Custom | Review

Sportster 1200 Custom

While much attention has been rightfully directed toward Harley-Davidson’s long overdue Sportster XR1200, sometimes pleasures unexpectedly reveal themselves. Such is the case with the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom, which proffers the basic attributes required for something very fundamental-a good time on a motorcycle.

Looking at the Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom, you do not see excessive adornment. Predictably, the Evolution motor demands your attention, but then you begin to notice the minimalist fenders, tank and narrow front tire. Hop on the bike, and you will immediately be taken by how unimposing it is. No, the Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom is not a sport bike, but it is a lean machine that delivers far more riding appeal than promised.

Although it tips the scales at nearly 600 pounds, when you push the start button and unleash the unique cacophony that is a Harley motor, the Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom does a startlingly good job of hiding that weight. Much of the credit goes to the ergonomics. The tank almost disappears-amazing, considering it hold 4.5 gallons-and the semi-forward pegs and pullback bars are easily found. Engage the relatively light clutch, drop it into gear (not as clunky as anticipated) and away you go.

It may be called a Custom, but this Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 is all about riding, not profiling. The 21-inch front wheel and reasonable 150 16-inch rear give the bike light steering and surprisingly good cornering habits, as well as straight-line stability. The bike doesn’t fall into turns at all. In fact, a medium speed run through the backroads is a sublime pleasure.

There is plenty of torque, of course, but also handling that inspires both confidence and smiles. The appealing cadence of the motor is a welcome accompaniment-no need to plug in an iPod-and the rubber mounting of the 45-degree twin keeps unpleasant vibrations at bay, but does not banish them in a way that robs the Harley-Davidson Sportster Custom 1200 of its personality.

Little things like an easily read bar-mounted speedometer (no tach needed), effective mirrors, and Harley’s intuitive switch gear only add to one of life’s simple pleasures-motorcycle riding.