Harley-Davidson Superlow, Forty-Eight Special, and 1200 Custom Disappear
With all the attention directed at the new and updated motorcycles in the 2020 Harley-Davidson lineup, an overlooked aspect of the coming model year is the loss of three of seven Sportster models.
While the Iron 883, Iron 1200, Forty-Eight, and Roadster will all be 2020 Harley-Davidson Sportsters, the Forty-Eight Special, Superlow, and long-running 1200 Custom are nowhere to be seen. This change leaves the Iron 883 as the sole member of the Harley-Davidson XL 883 family.
The Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom XL 1200C was introduced in 1996, and has been a mainstay in the Sportster lineup ever since. The Superlow debuted in 2011 and, as its name implies, had the lowest seat-height in the Sportster range. The Forty-Eight Special came into the fold in 2018, so its life has been a short one.
The high-bar Iron 1200 should satisfy those who would crave the Forty-Eight Special, so that looks like a natural pruning. However, the Iron 1200 has mid-mount pegs, a narrower front wheel, and less chrome than the Forty-Eight Special, so they’re certainly not clones. Another option for Forty-Eight Special fans is buying a Forty-Eight and making the appropriate modifications.
Shorter riders who might have been interested in the Superlow will have to step up to the Forty-Eight. The Forty-Eight has a seat height less than a quarter-inch higher than the Superlow, along with a 1200 motor rather than an 883. The downside for the new riders will be the forward foot controls, less-comfortable handlebar bend, and higher price.
Anyone looking at the 1200 Custom will also be directed to the Forty-Eight or Iron 1200, neither of which is a particularly close match. The Forty-Eight has considerably less comfortable ergonomics than the 1200 Custom, and some riders will be reluctant to trade comfort for style. The Iron 1200’s mini-apes have a significantly different presence than the swept-back bar bend on the 1200 Custom, and you lose 1200 Custom’s fat front tire and chrome.
Of course, Harley-Davidson has a welcome habit of introducing additional motorcycles as the model year progresses, so we will have to wait and see what is still to come in the 2020 Harley-Davidson Sportster lineup.