2014 Harley-Davidson Sportster Seventy-Two | Custom Motorcycle Review
Harley-Davidson is a master at evoking images, and they’ve used the venerable Sportster line as a starting point for the easygoing and enjoyable Seventy-Two. As soon as you settle into the 2014 Harley-Davidson Sportster 72’s immensely comfortable solo saddle seat, grab a hold of the mini-ape handlebars, and put your boots on the forward mounted footpegs, the ergonomics set the tone for some laid back cruisin’ good times.
Weekend jaunts will turn into much longer excursions as you find yourself completing forgetting about your to-do list at home; the Seventy-Two is just plain fun. I explored the industrial outskirts of the city, in absolutely no hurry, as the ease of handling the 562-pound (claimed, ready-to-ride) Harley-Davidson leaves your attention on your surroundings, not managing your ride. Tooling around the open boulevards, I was reminded of the Big Wheel tricycle of the 1970s, with its inseam-friendly 28-inch seat, large diameter front wheel, and high bars. While certainly no 3-wheeler, and the comparison is a bit of an exaggeration, the Sportster 72 evokes a childlike enthusiasm for play that can’t be beat.
Pulling away from stops is smooth and easy, with plenty of low-end torque from the 1202cc air-cooled Evolution V-twin motor. With abundant power through the five well-spaced gears, once you’re rolling down the road, you won’t need to shift the Seventy-Two unless the light changes. While a new trip switch function gives the option to display a gear indicator and rpm, I can’t imagine why you’d care. Just roll on or off the throttle as the miles slip by.
Suspension on the Harley-Davidson Sportster 72 works surprisingly well; with just over two inches of travel at the rear it manages to soak up most of the usual imperfections found on the streets of the older sections of the city, at a moderate cruising speed. At a faster pace it is not only uncomfortable, but feels less secure with the high handlebars and narrow front tire.
With the largest diameter front wheel in the Sportster line-up, the 21-inch front hoop has a thin rubber contact with the asphalt, contributing to a lively front end. Turning is easy, but can also dive in quickly at low speed if you oversteer. There is a fatter footprint on the 16-inch rear wheel, and this gives the Seventy-Two a solid foundation and secure feel, as well as aiding the rear suspension.
The 72’s hand controls may be new, but I am still not a fan of the individual left/right turn signal controls. Having to adjust my throttle hand to actuate the right signal means I’m mostly not going to use it. At least they are self-cancelling. I would like to see the Project Rushmore treatment applied to the Seventy-Two; the placement and shape of those turn signal switches are functional and safe.
On every ride, it seems, it’s time to pull into a gas station and fill up the Seventy-Two with 91 octane. With a form-over-function 2.1-gallon classic peanut tank, long distances between fuel stops is not in the cards, despite the casual riding position that doesn’t require stretch breaks.
With a 32-mile roundtrip commute during the workweek I saw the fuel warning light every couple of days. Despite this, the Seventy-Two is a great way to get to the office as long as you don’t leave late — the body language just doesn’t say hurry. The bike easily slides between traffic if you’re so inclined (and if it’s legal in your state), and the non-aggressive riding stance has drivers giving an appreciative nod and sidling over in their lanes.
When the opportunity arises and you can stretch the Sportster Seventy-Two’s legs, kick it up a gear and you will have a total blast. On wide sweeping turns — on smooth tarmac — the bike glides through effortlessly, the front end holding its line well. The Sportster’s handling is nimble enough to transition through moderate S-turns smoothly, and there is decent clearance in corners, though you can certainly scrape the peg feelers when making a tight turn.
The rear brake will take care of most of your slowing duties with its gentle-but-progressive touch, and the single front rotor is at the ready for more immediate needs. ABS is now optional.
There’s a lot to like about the Sportster 72, from its low 28-inch seat and very approachable handling, to the satisfying vibration at idle from its rubber-mounted V-twin engine. The retro chopper styling, wire wheels and white-walled tires, plus all-day comfortable ergonomics make a very appealing and fun package.
Like hearing a favorite song from my teenage years, riding the 2014 Harley-Davidson Sportster Seventy-Two immediately conjures memories of a certain carefree time in my life where days seemed longer and responsibilities fewer, and that is reason enough to have this bike at your beck and call.
Action photography by Don Williams
Helmet: Arai Signet-Q Bomb
Eyewear: TAG Heuer Reflex Original Rimless
Gloves: River Road Tallahassee
Pants: UglyBros Aegis-K
2014 Harley-Davidson Sportster Seventy-Two XL 1200V Specifications
Valves…Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; two valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke…3.5 in. x 3.811 in. (88.9 mm x 96.8 mm)
Displacement…73.4 cu. in. (1202 cc)
Fuel System…Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection
Air Cleaner…Paper cartridge type
Primary Drive…Chain, 38/57 ratio
Final Drive…Belt, 68/29 ratio
Frame…Mild steel, tubular frame; circular sections; cast junctions
Swingarm…Mild steel, rectangular tube section, stamped junctions; MIG welded
Front forks…39 mm
Rear shocks…Coil-over; preload dual-adjustable
• Front…21 in. x 2.15 in. (533 mm x 55 mm)
• Rear…16 in. x 3 in. (406 mm x 76 mm)
• Caliper Type…Dual-piston front, dual-piston rear
• Rotor Type…Solid, uniform expansion rotors
• Front…11.8 in. x .2 in. (300 mm x 5.1 mm)
• Rear… 10.24 in. x .28 in. (260 mm x 7.1 mm)
• Anti-lock Braking System..Optional
• Front Wheel…5.69 in. (145 mm)
• Rear Wheel…2.12 in. (54 mm)
Torque…70.8 ft. lbs. @ 3500 RPM
Fuel Economy (EPA urban/highway test)…48 mpg
Battery (per Battery Council International Rating)…Sealed, maintenance-free, 12V, 12 amp/hour, 200 cca
Charging…Single-phase, 30-amp system (357W @ 13.5V, 2000 RPM, 405W max power @ 13.5V)
Starting…1.2 kW electric with solenoid shift starter motor engagement
• Headlamp (quartz halogen)…55-watt low beam, 60-watt high beam
• Turn Signal Lights…28W self-canceling
• Rear Tail/Stop/Turn Signal Lights…8W/28W per lamp
• Indicator Lamps…High beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning, low battery, security system (optional)
Length…89.6 in. (2275 mm)
Overall Width…36.2 in. (920 mm)
Overall Height…47.6 in. (1210 mm)
• Laden…26.6 in. (675 mm)
• Unladen…28 in. (710 mm)
Ground Clearance…4.7 in. (120 mm)
Rake (steering head)…30.1°
Trail…5.3 in. (135 mm)
Wheelbase…60 in. (1525 mm)
Tires (Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series, narrow whitewall):
• Front – D402F MH90-21 54H
• Rear – D401 150/80B16 71H
Fuel Capacity…2.1 gal. (7.9 L) (warning light at approximately 0.65 gal.)
Oil Capacity (w/filter)..2.8 qts. (2.6 L)
Transmission Capacity…1 qt. (.95 L)
• As Shipped…540 lbs. (245 kg)
• In Running Order…562 lbs. (255 kg)
• Gross Vehicle Weight Rating…1000 lbs. (454 kg)
• Gross Axle Weight Rating…
• Front…335 lbs. (152 kg)
• Rear…665 lbs. (302 kg)
Warranty…24 months (unlimited mileage)
2014 Harley-Davidson Sportster Seventy-Two MSRP: $10,849 (Hard Candy Color: $11,574)