Harley-Davidson brings the touring element to its successful Sportster platform with the release of the new 2014 Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow 1200T. Welcoming novice riders and those of shorter stature to the casual touring world, the SuperLow 1200T is the traveling big brother of the Sportster SuperLow.
Powered by Harley-Davidson’s three-decades-proven Evolution engine, the Sportster SuperLow 1200T is muscular, torquey, and weekend ready. With bags, a windshield and two-up capability, the 1200T is a primed for mini excursions that don’t require the commitment of a full-on touring machine.Nothing spells self-assurance like feeling in control, and that starts with having one’s feet flat on the ground. Piloting almost 600 pounds of combustion-powered machinery might sound overwhelming if that weight weren’t carried low, balanced well, and temperately powered. The SuperLow 1200T delivers on all fronts.It would be nitpicking to point out that the SuperLow 1200T is not quite the lowest of the Sportsters — as its seat is a quarter inch taller than the SuperLow — but since H-D manipulated the ergonomics to make up for this detail, we’ll let it slide. The important talking point is that the bike is aimed at the 5’ 1” to 5’ 7” crowd, and we think they will be well satisfied.The upright seating position of the SuperLow 1200T is neutral, with a comfortable reach to the mid-height handlebars — high enough for a hint of attitude, but without sacrificing control or comfort. With the relocation of the turn signals from the handlebars to the triple clamps, the full lock turning range has been increased. This significantly improves slow speed handling in tight conditions, such as parking lots and U-turns. As an added benefit, the bike has a cleaner look up front.With gobs of torque rolling off the undersquare 1200cc V-twin, the bike moves off idle easily and predictably, inspiring confidence from the moment you ease out the satisfyingly stout clutch lever. You won’t need to do a lot of shifting, as the 1200’s ratios are widely spaced, and match the wide powerband.Boulevard cruising is an easy and relaxed ride, rolling throttle on or off as conditions dictate. The 71 ft/lbs of torque come at 3500 rpm, so with a semi-aggressive throttle hand you can gap the cars pulling away from stoplights with a nonchalant air. About the only time you need to shift to the top of the 5-speed gearbox is out on the highway where the SuperLow 1200T can stretch its legs.In town, there’s no urge to hurry on the SuperLow T. There is a satisfying feel to a moderate pace that allows you to enjoy the view and take in the vibe of the ‘hood. The rumble coming off the V-twin will turn heads, and the clean spare look of the 1200T — especially with the bags and windshield left in the garage — will keep envious eyes looking your way. There’s something magnetic about a Harley, and it’s hard not to enjoy that aspect of riding one.Nothing happens fast on the SuperLow 1200T, which is why it’s so inviting to the less experienced rider. Combining a relaxed 31.1-degree rake with enough rubber on the front rim to keep turning unhurried, it would be difficult to oversteer the 120mm-wide 18-inch hoop. The fatter 15-inch rear wheel just adds to the solid foundation.The substantial footprint of the muscular bike means it isn’t unsettled by uneven pavement, crumbling asphalt, or rain-grooved freeways. That is a good thing, as you are well in touch with the lumps and bumps of the road due to the requisite trade-off of minimal wheel travel to keep the seat low.On a nicely paved road, however, the SuperLow 1200T is a supremely comfortable ride. The wide and firm seat is nicely contoured, giving the rider a supportive and secure foundation for extended saddle time, though the air-cooled engine gets hot under your legs, and the air cleaner cover on the right side requires a wide knee stance.Equipped with streamlined lockable hard bags and an adjustable windshield, the 1200T is supremely practical without being unwieldy. The 4.5-gallon tank gives the bike a 200-plus mile range, and with the rubber-mounted Evolution engine keeping vibration to a minimum—except at stops, where it is appreciated—it’s easy to keep the wheels turning.On the open road at full speed, the windshield effectively redirects the windblast over the rider’s head, yet isn’t so tall that you look through it. That’s a nice balance as it keeps fatigue down when touring, without the rider being fully ensconced behind a windscreen.If you have more to tote than fit in the saddlebags, the optional luggage rack and backrest are easy to attach to the SuperLow 1200, and you can adjust the rear suspension (no tools necessary) to accommodate the extra load and passenger.With the easily detachable bags and windshield off, the SuperLow 1200T responds well and is a surprisingly fun ride for experienced riders. The bike stays firmly planted in turns and will not easily be knocked off its line — very reassuring. Cornering clearance is naturally limited, so it’s not hard to drag the peg feelers.Clad with wide Michelin Scorchers, the SuperLow 1200T sticks to the pavement with unwavering confidence. The single 300mm rotors front and rear do an effective job of slowing the bike down, and feel at the hand and foot levers is appropriately tuned—good feel without being oversensitive.Certainly the SuperLow Sportster 1200T is being marketed to the fairer sex, but to simply dismiss it as a “girl’s bike” would be a mistake. Harley-Davidson has created a very practical bike, one that covers weekend touring duties, daily commuting chores, as well as good-time romps through the urban landscape and suburban canyons. Dressed up or down as your ride dictates, the 2014 Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow 1200T is a convincing option for new and returning riders, or simply those wanting a no-stress reliable touring and town ride with the iconic Harley badge.Photography by Don WilliamsRiding Style
KTM Super ADV R + Lightning Motorcycles’ Richard Hatfield
byMotos and Friends by Ultimate Motorcycle
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Motos and Friends—the weekly Podcast brought to you by the editorial team at Ultimate Motorcycling. My name is Arthur Coldwells.
In this week’s first segment, Editor Don Williams rides KTM’s new 1290 Super Adventure R. This hardcore ADV bike is big, powerful, and a true expert-level machine. Interestingly, it has multiple points of adjustment within its highly capable electronics package, and Don discovered several big surprises where the bike changed personality completely. His is an intriguing look at one of the most capable off road ADV bikes on the market today.
In the second segment, I chat with Richard Hatfield, CEO of Lightning motorcycles. This silicon valley based manufacturer was founded in 2006, and having racked up several notable race victories (including Pikes Peak in 2013 with the late Carlin Dunne on board) Lightning have certainly dominated in racing terms. In another first, Lightning has just announced a new rapid-charging battery technology that may well bring electric motorcycles into becoming real-world, practical transport.
So from all of us here at Motos & Friends… we hope you enjoy this episode!