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Harley Davidson SPORTSTER 1200 Custom Motorbike Review

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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

The new Harley ‘72’ is a blinged/tarted up custom – the idea being a full-on. Early ‘70s-style custom (hence the name) but on the 1200 Sportster platform rather than the more usual big twins. It works, too.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3

Small block 1200 is unchanged from other Harley-Davidson Sportsters and familiarly free-revving and friendly – easy to get on with, just about punchy enough and willing, too – just don’t expect ‘conventional 1200’ levels of performance…

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

The ergonomics are roomier than you expect thanks to the roomy riding position provided by its high bars and forward, highway pegs. At the same time it drives and handles well enough, too. The combo of skinny 21-inch front hoop and low rear somehow isn’t too skitish – more light and manageable. The forks are basic, but don’t seem it and the shortened shocks give a crud-ish ride, but it’s nothing to complain about.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3

The specific inspiriation is choppers of the ‘60s and ‘70s. A key element is the ‘peanut’ 2.2 gallon tank (filched from the Sportster 48). After that is mostly predictable ingredients: a 21-inch, ‘skinny’ front tyre, lowered rear end, high bars and lots of chrome. But where Harley’s pulled it off for me is by going the extra yard with the details: the sexy white walls, the circular air filter cover (which reminds of Harley’s big twins of the ‘80s), the fab graphics and logos and, the masterstroke, the ‘big flake’ chunky metalflake paint.

Harley-Davidson XL1200 Sportster 72 (2012-current)

Detail Value
New price £9,195
Used price range View Harley Davidson SPORTSTER 1200 bikes for sale to see current asking prices
Engine size 1202 cc
Power 110 bhp
Top speed 95 mph
Insurance group 12 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4
Engine rating is 4 rating is 3
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 3
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4
Value rating is 4 rating is 3

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Quality is up to Harley’s usual high standards with deep paint and chrome and rugged build oh, and by the way, that stunning ‘big flake’ metallic red paint is gorgeous in the flesh and set to be rolled out through Harley’s range. We can’t wait.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3

OK, the ‘72’s no long haul bike and it’s also, still, a tad ‘girly’. But overall the ’72 is fresh, sparklingly pretty, well-equipped and detailed as standard, has plenty of sweet touches and a decent ride at a tempting price that’ll appeal to a broader range of riders than expected.


Insurance group: 12 of 17

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Model History

2012: Model introduced

Other Versions



Top speed 95 mph
1/4-mile acceleration secs
Max power 110 bhp
Max torque 70.8 ft-lb
Weight 247 kg
Seat height 710 mm
Fuel capacity 7.9 litres
Average fuel consumption 41 mpg
Tank range 72 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 12 of 17
Engine size 1202 cc
Engine specification Air-cooled, 45º V-twin, 5 gears
Frame Tubular steel cradle
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Preload only
Front brakes Single disc, two-piston caliper
Rear brake Single disc, two-piston caliper
Front tyre size MH90 x 21
Rear tyre size 150/80 x 16

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 3.5(1 review)

  • Average rating rating is 3.5

    Show Details

    Ride and Handling
    Quality and Reliabilty

    Got one of these after having a Kawasaki Ninja 1000cc and a BMW GS before that. Wanted something less nutty than a rice rocket so went for one of these after trying loads of different bikes. Brilliant fun to drive. Just did my first long-ish trip on it, putting about 400 miles on over a weekend. I'll say it needs a more comfy seat, but otherwise was great. Loud enough that even the white van man brigade make room for you. Still new, so can't really vouch for reliability, but using it for my daily commute as well, so will see how it copes with that. So far though, a solid thumbs up.

    25 June 2012


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