Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight review

Posted: 11 Oct 2012

Harley-Davidson is renown for producing custom bikes – custom bikes that are copied but never equalled in terms of character and kudos by Japanese and European bike manufacturers. Where Harley’s competition mainly falls down is they produce blatant copies because they can’t make a custom bike that is of its own design and desirability.

Only Harley has the knack where it can take something old in design and yet make something new and appealing from it. Take, for example, Harley’s own Forty-Eight. Based around the long-running Sportster chassis and air-cooled two-valve per head, 1202cc Evolution engine, the Forty-Eight (48) is based on a custom bike but acts and looks nothing like a custom bike. It has the usual overload of chromed parts and black paint, and the stylish ‘peanut’ tank that has adorned countless Harley models before it, but at the same time it is different. It is a glorious attitude-laden custom roadster.

We’ve all seen celluloid images or the real life vision of a dude in open faced lid and sunglasses, wearing jacket and jeans while riding slightly hunched forward on a perfectly executed cut-down, homebrew bike with oversize front tyre and looking mean and cool at the same time. Well, we too can look like that without all the hard graft by simply buying a 48.

With the image of coolness, you get a proven V-twin engine that delivers a bagful of torque from a point just past tickover. It’s enough pushing power to ensure a grin across the face every time you drop the clutch at the lights. Complete with fuel injection, the 48 engine makes riding a heavy Harley appear to be as easy as riding a bicycle.

Comfort is not the 48’s strongest point. The hard seat and soft twin rear shocks with minimal travel give the bottom a hard time. But by the time butt pain creeps in it’ll be about the same time you need to refill the tiny 7.9-litre fuel tank. And that is around the 65-72 miles recorded on the small centrally located speedometer. No, seriously, it’s true. This, to be honest, is a small price to pay for looking different but happy.

+ points – design, torque
- points – comfort, small fuel tank

Price: £8,895
Power: N/a, 78.2ft lbs
Kerb weight: 260kg
Seat height: 710mm
Colours: Blue, red, black, metal flake gold

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