Back in June we told you about Chinese firm Shineray’s clone of the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 ‘Evolution’ engine. Now it’s appeared in a bike for the first time and surprisingly it’s aimed at Western markets and will be marketed as the SWM Custom V1200 ‘Stormbreaker’.
Shineray revived the little-known Italian SWM brand in 2014, and has been making a variety of on and off-road machines since, with the old Husqvarana factory in Lombardia as its base, still employing many ex-Husqvarna workers. Its bikes include the RS500R enduro – essentially an update of the Husqvana TE510 – and several Shineray-derived roadgoing machines. The new V1200 is both the biggest bike ever to wear the name and the company’s first venture into the cruiser arena.
The new bike is very much in the mould of the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight, both in terms of its appearance and its mechanical makeup. The new Shineray V-twin is a 1202cc, 45-degree design making 60hp and 90Nm of torque, all numbers that match those of the Harley Forty-Eight, which has now been discontinued (at least in European markets) along with the rest of the air-cooled Sportster range to be replaced by the liquid-cooled, DOHC Nightster and Sportster S models, which are far more powerful and high-tech machines.
Above: Spot the difference – Harley’s Forty-Eight (above) is clearly the SWM’s inspiration
At 250kg the V1200 weighs around the same as the old Harley Forty-Eight, and its 16-inch alloy wheels are the same size – wearing 130/90-16 and 150/80-16 rubber, just as the Harley does. The 2165mm length is, you guessed it, the same as a Harley Forty-Eight, and the height and width measurements are also close to those of the American bike. With twin shocks at the back, a steel tube frame, right-way-up forks, forward-mounted controls and dual, twin-piston front brakes, the rest of the spec sheet also closely matches that of the old Forty-Eight version of the Sportster model. Notable deviations include a much longer, wider, 14-litre fuel tank (the peanut-style tank of the Harley was only 8 litres). Visually, the main departure is a more contemporary headlight design, sloped slightly rearward, instead of the small, circular lamp that Harley favoured. Confusingly, SWM’s prototype and Shineray’s design drawings show a belt final drive, just like the H-D Forty-Eight, but the spec sheet says the five-speed transmission takes power to the rear wheel via a chain.
The bike is said to have been developed in Italy by SWM, but the engine was first unveiled in China and originally wore a Shineray badge at that launch earlier this year.
With the original 1200 Sportster range, including the Forty-Eight, now unavailable in Europe and production expected to come to an end in the USA in 2023, the SWM will be competing against used Harleys rather than new ones. The Italian brand says that it expects the bike to reach dealers in September 2023.