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A New Offering That Appeals To All
Article By: J. Ken Conte
Photos By: Melissa Shoemaker
Originally Published In The June 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I was one of those guys who dismissed Sportsters. Not because they’re “girls’ bikes” or “underpowered”—they just weren’t for me. I like the idea of a bike I can ride around town and take on a crosscountry journey, and Sportys just don’t fit that bill. What I immediately noticed about the Iron 1200, however, was the apparent homage to AMF Harley days with the paint and the blacked-out nature of the bike. It seems like the styling department at Harley has been paying attention to our cover bikes over the last year or so, because the Iron 1200 incorporates a lot of what we at Cycle Source look for in a bike. I was hanging out with some bike builders when I first saw it, and we could see the mark Harley was trying to hit, and I think they got very close. The notion behind this bike seems to be a stripped-down, brand-new 1200 Sportster that might appeal to the same guy who would consider getting an older bike with similar styling. Of course, this new bike also comes with all the modern amenities and a warranty.
I am not their target audience, but this bike made me consider it as an option to run around town on—it was that fun. What made this bike fun? Let’s start with the 19-inch, nine-spoke cast front wheel with retro exterior shock boots and black mini-ape handlebars. That combo gave the feel of a nimble cruiser that could do double duty as a bar hopper and a bike for day tripping. The other feature that makes this bike is really a personal preference—it has mid controls. This allows me, as the rider, to feel the bike beneath me and steer with my feet, which I much prefer to forward controls. The plastic headlight cowl (which they call a speed screen) is a nod to club-style bikes, and, although it serves no functional purpose, it does hide the headlight and wiring. The 3.3-gallon peanut tank is a feature that sets this bike apart—it has a subtle ridge down the middle of the tank, and it’s also set higher to expose some of the backbone, giving it a chopperlike aesthetic.
I had the bike long enough to get all the comments from friends like, “What girl did you borrow that bike from?” and “You’re a little old for a millennial, aren’t you?” But I also got comments like, “Wow, that bike is pretty cool” and “I think they hit the mark.” The cycle source blacked-out color follows the lines of the bike, but with just two brushed items, the gas, and oil cap, I’m not sure why they didn’t carry that through in a few other places, like the pushrod covers and chain guard. The solo café-style seat was comfortable enough for around-town cruising. The powertrain on the 1200 Sportster has a moderate 73-footpounds of torque in a 547-pound package, compared to a Fat Boy with the M8 that has 109-foot-pounds of torque in a 670-pound bike. That is where people get it all wrong with Sportsters. They are quick, nimble urban racing machines, not girls’ or beginner bikes. What I really like about the Iron 1200 is that, for a base price of $9,999, you get a bike that, even stock, draws looks wherever you go, and, at its core, can be the base for a great custom bike.