Harley-Davidson Forty Eight
There’s something of a lingering “shame factor” for those of us American males who have never owned a Harley-Davidson. It’s simply one of those things a motorcyclist is expected to do if he or she lives in these United States.
But my problems with the iconic American motorcycle brand extend back to the days of my youth when Harleys were synonymous with leaking oil, poor handling and a woeful lack of power when put up against their enormous weight. The 70’s-era Harley-Davidson was just plain unreliable and difficult to love.
As the Motor Company now makes a push to appeal to a younger and more serious riding audience, they’ll have that hurdle to overcome, and I for one am willing to give them that chance.
To that end, the Sportster “Forty-Eight” is one of Harley’s latest additions to the “Dark Custom” line. For the most part, the bikes feature the black-out motor treatment and, at least as far as their styling cues go, the line attempts to recover some lost ” attitude” and to recapture the glory days. Featuring chopped fenders, a classic side mounted license plate configuration, low profile handlebars (though some of the Dark Customs go with ape hangers) and mirrors mounted below the bars, the Forty-Eight uses a fork brace, slammed rear suspension and an old school Frisco-esque “Peanut Tank” to complete the look. It’s that woefully tiny 2.1 gallon “Peanut Tank” – first used on a Harley back in, you guessed it 1948, that gives the new bike its moniker.
The one thing Harley seems incapable of doing is getting rid of teeth-chattering vibration. Though the mill is rubber mounted, the whole Sportster line has always rattle the paint off the tank, and some things never change.
The 5-speed transmission is sort of cool with a solid, mechanical feel, but the brakes? Not so awesome. I do like the look and the beefy MT90B 16 72H front tire with its blacked out rims is the epitome of cool.
I’m not a small guy, and the 26” seat height from the road might be a good thing for shorter riders but it’s not for me at well over six feet tall. To make the bike that low, the designers only had 2” of suspension travel to work with, and that makes the bike ride like – well – the old school hardtail it was made to emulate. The upright riding position appeals to me and soothes my back, and the foot pegs with their forward positioning don’t let you balance your weight to let your legs dissipate the brutal shocks delivers to the rider.
Okay, I’m done beefing, at least for a second.
The Forty-Eight is beautifully fitted and finished in the Harley tradition.
The bottom line, would I buy one or even ride it a lot if someone took pity on me and handed one over in a fit of insane generosity? I really don’t think I would.
If you do happen to want one, a “Forty-Eight” will set you back somewhere around the list price of $10,499 in black and a few hundred more if you the sort who needs color in their life. If I had that kind of money to spend on a bike, and I had to fight back the No Harley Shame, I’d look back to the past – the real past and not the faux past the Forty-Eight shoots for – and buy a tricked-out, blacked out Softail.
But that’s just me, and I’d rather have a Triumph anyway to keep the floor of my garage clean. Okay, that was a cheap shot and I’m ashamed of myself. In so many ways…
Tips for buying your motorcycle insurance, coverage you need:
- Medical payment or personal injury protection to cover the medical bills resulting from an accident.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist to protect us when the other driver is at-fault and does not have coverage or assets out of which your bills can be paid.
- Collision to pay for damage caused to your vehicle in an accident with another vehicle or any stationary object.
- Comprehensive to cover such things as fire, hail, wind, vandalism, hitting an animal, etc.
- Towing / Pickup