2020 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 Review: Outstanding Sportster
Motorcycles are different things for different people. Cruisers remain a mystery to some riders, even veterans, who can’t quite grasp the allure of something that isn’t the newest, fastest, and best handling. Fortunately, Harley-Davidson continues to build motorcycles that are a part of our lives, rather than just a highly efficient adrenaline pump – not that there is anything wrong with that. That brings us to the 2020 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200, back for its third year of production.
Just watching the Iron 1200 puts me in a good mood, appealing to my riding skills on many levels.
The classic two-valve pushrod actuated engine welcomes simplicity. Air cooling keeps things real, while the modern EFI system is tastefully concealed by a round air filter holder. How powerful is the 73 ci V-twin? I couldn’t care about it. The critical figures are 73 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. At idle, I have all the linear power I need to fight traffic, navigate boulevards, or tackle city canyons. The rubber-mounted Evolution engine sounds great and feels great in the chassis.
Above the engine is a fuel tank reminiscent of the 1970s. Without a doubt, the style inspired by the AMF era of the 1970s has been controversial. To some, it reminds of dark days for The Motor Company, and I can understand that. I was surprised at the graphics when they debuted three years ago, but I can say I’m glad Harley-Davidson stuck with the style canons with the 2020 Iron 1200.
It’s been almost 40 years since the AMF retired, so I think we can let the past go. Oh, and the tank holds 3.3 usable gallons thanks to a claimed 48 mpg, so you’re not going to be going to the gas station every few minutes like you would with a real peanut tank.
Other styling touches perfect for the era included the fork gaiters, bikini fairing, spindle fenders, minimalist speedometer, and side license plate. I would love to see wire spoked wheels to bring it all together.
The ergonomics of the 2020 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 are reminiscent of a Schwinn Stingray with mid-position foot controls, Mini-Apes and a solo seat. The seat-to-footrest ratio is best suited for shorter riders, although the raised handlebars give the necessary knee room for taller riders. While my 32 inch inseam could have used more room, that didn’t stop me from enjoying day trips around town and backcountry.
The seat has sparse padding, as Harley-Davidson wants to keep the seat height as low as possible. For me, a more chic seat would be nice, as my knees are always bent when I lay it flat at stops. I like the stop in the back of the seat when I turn the throttle hard. My butt settles in nicely with the right support, and we’re off to have a good time.
Throwing the 564-pound Iron 1200 is a lot of fun. On crowded city trips, the bike is more than happy to navigate traffic as needed, while maintaining great stability thanks to the 30 degree tilt of the chassis.
Michelin Scorcher 31 tires have all the grip you need, and they aren’t taxed by the smooth horsepower or the 28 degrees of lean angle limited to the left and one degree less to the right. I never had the lean angle advertised because the heels of my boots lay earlier than anything else. Cornering clearance is not a problem for me on the 2020 Harley-Davidson 1200. If I want a sportier Sportster, I’ll ride the Roadster model.
When you hear the canyon call, make sure it’s a well-paved road. The dual shocks allow us 1.6 inches of wheel travel, and the fork gives up 3.6 inches of travel, although they get a touch of help from the top Michelins. On smooth roads, the suspension is pretty good, but things quickly get tricky when the pavement has maintenance issues. The short drive is also quickly swallowed up in town by the assorted dips, potholes, and other traps overlooked by City Hall. That said, Harley-Davidson gets a decent ride from the short-travel shocks thanks to emulsion shock technology.
Braking on the 2020 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 is modestly adequate. You get a single 300mm rotor up front with a dual piston caliper and 260mm disc at the rear. While you can use the front brake exclusively, that large rear disc and 150mm rear tire will play their part in deceleration, as well as a significant contribution to engine compression braking. ABS is an overpriced $ 795 option, and arguably not absolutely essential if you never ride in the rain. Your call!
The winning nature of the Iron 1200 is twofold. Most importantly, as a motorcycle enthusiast it is a pleasant ride. The smooth, ample power is still there and can get you around town with a simple twist of the wrist. The lowered chassis is responsive and the natural ergonomics do not tire you.
Beyond that, a big part of motorcycle riding is about being cool. When you’re on the Harley-Davidson Iron 1200, you always get admiring glances (or stares) and frequent approving comments. For non-riders, the Iron 1200 is what a motorcycle is supposed to look like, and it shows that Harley-Davidson has the perfect styling. You can’t help but feel good when you’re on the Iron 1200 – it’s the epitome of the old adage, âYou never see a motorcycle parked outside a mental health cabinet. Riding the 2020 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 is the perfect inoculation to protect you from a bad mood.
Photography by Kelly Callan
2020 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 Specifications
- Type: Evolution Air-Cooled V-Twin
- Displacement: 73.4ci (1202cc)
- Bore x stroke: 3.5 x 3.8 “
- Maximum torque: 73 ft-lbs at 3,500 rpm
- Compression ratio: 10: 1
- Valvetrain: push rods, 2vpc
- Cooling: Air
- Lubrication: Dry sump
- Transmission: 5 speed
- Main drive: Chain
- Final drive: belt
- Frame: tubular mild steel
- Front suspension; travel: 39mm non-adjustable cartridge fork; 3.6 inch
- Rear suspension; travel: variable-rate spring with adjustable preload with nitrogen-charged emulsion-type shock absorber; 1.6 inch
- Rims: 9-spoke black
- Front wheel: 19 x 2.15
- Rear wheel: 16 x 3.00
- Tires: Michelin Scorcher 31
- Front tire: 100/90 x 19
- Rear tire: 150/80 x 16
- Front brake: 300mm disc with dual piston caliper
- Rear brake: 260mm disc with dual piston caliper
- ABS: Optional ($ 795)
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 59.6 inches
- Rake: 30 degrees
- Trail: 4.6 inches
- Tilt angle (r / l): 27/28 degree
- Seat height: 28.9 inches
- Fuel capacity: 3.3 gallons
- Estimated fuel economy: 48 mpg
- Curb weight: 564 pounds
2020 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 Colors / Price
- Bright Black: $ 9,999 MSRP
- silver barracuda; Billiard blue: $ 10,349 MSRP
2020 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 Photo Gallery