ROAD TEST: 2012 Harley-Davidson’s Sporty 72 Review

By Gary Koz Mrax, Photos by Ron Sindy

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We gathered at Cook’s Corner in Orange County for the reveal of Harley-Davidson’s two new motorcycles, The Sportster 72 and the Softail Slim (we’ll fill ya in next month on the Slim).  The Seventy-Two is a respectful nod to an era when the cool kids rode a Sting-Ray and the big boys parked choppers in a row on the curb. Those motorcycles were long and lean; candy-apple color and gleaming chrome shimmering in hazy summer sunlight, from its Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint and ape bars to its narrow whitewall tires. That influence of the cus- tom culture that still percolates today along Whittier Boulevard, the legendary cruising street in East Los Angeles also known as Route 72.

A new generation of custom builder is tapping into that era and making a fresh statement, not just in California but in garages across the country, even around the world. In essence it’s a Sporty 1200, with forward controls and apes that allow a lazy stretch, but in total it’s so much more. Ya can’t help but smile when you throw leg over and grab those high bars. The bike sits nicely and feels comfortable even for our 6 foot frames. The suspension is surprisingly forgiving and we’d consider putting some serious miles on that baby but for the 2.1 gallon peanut tank.  If Roy’s café is closed the back way to Vegas or Laughlin, you’re cooked.

As for handling and ride, no complaints here. You use it for what it’s designed for, and you won’t either. Enjoy the ride and comfort around town, throw it around curves and lean as far as you want, but don’t stray too far from home or a gas station.

Now metal flake, an iconic design element of the ‘70s, appeared in everything from dune buggy gel coat to vinyl diner upholstery, and on custom motorcycles. Harley-Davidson brings the sparkle back on the Seventy-Two with Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint. This new finish is created by applying a black base coat, followed by a polyurethane system that carries hexagon-shaped flakes that are more than seven times the diameter of metal flake used in typical production paint. Each flake is coated with a thin aluminum film and then tinted red. Four applications of clear coat, combined with hand sanding, create a smooth finish over the flakes.

“The final touch to the Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint is a logo on the tank top and pinstripe scallop details on both fenders,” says Frank Sav- age, Harley-Davidson’s Manager of Industrial Design. “Each was originally created by hand, and we recreated that art in a decal for production, so they still have the appearance of hand-applied graphics in that they are not exactly perfect. The graphics are then covered with a final clear coat application.”

The solo seat is typical Harley and will probably be the first replacement. What better than their op- tional retro diamond tuck.  Again you smile with nostalgic fondness, but when seated it’s actually functional and comfortable. The side-mounted license plate bracket exposes the chopped rear fender but don’t ride with it turned in, exposing you to a ticket.  The second typical Harley replacement will be aftermarket pipes, insuring a1970’s H-D sound. All in all we really liked the 72.  We’ve all had a sporty and love them for multiple reasons and think Harley has been paying attention to the details.

Key features of the 2012 Harley-Davidson ® Seventy-Two™ include:

  • Air-cooled Evolution ® 1200cc V-Twin engine with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI), rated at 73 ft. lbs. peak torque at 3500 rpm.
  • Powertrain is finished in Gray powdercoat with Chrome covers.
  • Paint color choices include Hard Candy Big Red Flake with period pinstripe details on fenders and fuel tank, Black Denim, and Big Blue Pearl.
  • Classic 2.1-gallon peanut fuel tank.
  • Dunlop ® white side wall 21-inch (MH90-21) front and 16-inch (150/80B16) rear tires.
  • Chrome Laced wheels.
  • Ten-inch mini-ape handlebar mounted on a two-inch high riser.
  • Chrome, eight-inch round air cleaner cover with center screw mount.
  • Chopped rear fender exposes rear tire.
  • Side-mounted license plate bracket.
  • Chrome, staggered, shorty dual exhaust with slash-cut mufflers.
  • Solo seat with black textured vinyl cover.
  • Handlebar-mounted speedometer with chrome cup.
  • Chrome rear fender struts.
  • Chrome coil-over pre-load adjustable rear shocks.
  • Forward foot controls.

MSRP Color $10,499 Hard Candy Big Red $11,199







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