Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 review: “the Sportster we’ve been waiting for”



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In an ongoing effort to keep its promise to launch 100 new models over the next 10 years, Harley-Davidson has unveiled two new Sportsters powered by the Evolution 1200cc engine: the Iron 1200 and the Forty-Eight Special. Both have their own unique look and identity while sharing the same engine and frame. We went to Croatia to put them to the test and here are our first thoughts:

Iron 1200

The Iron 883 is one of Harley-Davidson’s most popular motorcycles and for good reason: it’s cheap, it looks great, it comes equipped with an air-cooled Evolution v-twin, and it handles pretty good too. The only thing it lacks is horsepower, with just 51 hp and 54 ft-lbs of torque, which is why many owners are installing a 1,200cc conversion. Now Harley has done the hard work for you and released the Iron 1200 – the bike we’ve all been waiting for.


Boosting capacity by 30% to 1,202cc had an obvious effect on horsepower, so Milwaukee’s shaking mass now produces 66 hp and 73 ft-lbs of torque – a significant increase over the 883. That gives it a lot. more power out of the corners and when you go out for a fun ride you can just leave it in third gear and roll around on a wave of torque. To be honest, this is the nicest way to drive it. If you want to get the most power out of it, you can spin it until all four valves start to dance above the cylinder head, but all you’ll do is hurt your ears and burn everything. your fuel without making much more progress. Instead, just sit back, relax, and make some noise. The Iron 1200 also has the same final gear ratios as the other 1200s, so you won’t do it like you would with a converted 883, making it much more palatable over long distances.


The old tale “Harley doesn’t go round corners” is a thing of the past and has been for some time. You can ride the new bikes pretty quickly, as long as you don’t mind dragging a peg or two. Unfortunately, when Harley stuck the big engine in the iron, they didn’t update the rest of the chassis, suspension, or brakes. As a result, there’s a lot more speed to be gained between turns, without any additional help cleaning or managing it when it’s loaned out. Without traction control, the extra torque also makes it easier to turn when exiting a corner. You really have to break it to make it squirm, so it would take a shank jumper to do it by accident, but there’s no doubt that it’s easier to get into a pickle on the 1200 than it is on the 883. Better suspension would be nice (as would a second front disc) but suddenly the cost of the bike would skyrocket and Harley would say, reasonably enough, that if you were looking for these things, you’d be better off with a Roadster. The Forty-Eight (more on that later) doesn’t quite have the same issues, as the sturdy front forks add extra stiffness up front for a more secure feel.


The Iron 1200 has been “assassinated”, so anything that can be black is. In fact, the only color options are the tank, which is available in three different AMF-Harley-esque paint schemes that all look great (although white is definitely the choice of the group). The Iron’s brooding appearance is further enhanced by satin-black mini-monkey bars and a West Coast-style “speed screen”. The fastback café single seat and nine-spoke wheels complete the look.

Should we buy it?

If you’re in the market for an iron, there’s hardly any reason to buy the 883. For just £ 500 (a hell of a lot cheaper sight than an aftermarket 1200cc conversion), that’s great value. The extra horsepower means you have to be a bit more careful riding it, but it’s not a fire-breathing superbike and still fits the A2. If you’ve always wanted an iron but wanted more then this is the bike you’ve been waiting for, but if Harley hasn’t it won’t be different enough to change your mind.

Forty-eight special

Unlike the Iron 1200, the Forty-Eight Special has a more classic appeal with as many square inches of chrome as possible, including rocker arms, primary, inspection, and derby covers. The Forty-Eight also has retro paint on its small 10-liter peanut tank, but the aesthetic is dominated by the shiny metallic surfaces. In addition to the paint, the Special also wins a set of “fists in the wind” Tallboy handlebars. In truth, the Forty-Eight Special doesn’t really shake things up compared to the standard Forty-Eight. Paint job aside, the new handlebars give you a different riding position, but it’s not such a drastic change to transform the handling of the bike. Some people like the forward foot position, but for the little 5’6 “old man, the Iron’s riding position is more suitable. It’s the same price as the standard Forty-Eight, so it’s really all about the looks. If you prefer the styling of the Special or disagree with the riding position, that might convince you, but if you fundamentally don’t like the bike, that’s it. does the same.


The Iron 1200 will retail for £ 9,395 when it hits dealerships in May, while the Forty-Eight Special will be £ 9,995. These should help Harley get back into the fight against the Triumph Bobber and the Indian Scout, both of whom have gained ground on the old brand of bars and shields. We’ll be testing both bikes when we get back to Blighty, so keep an eye out for a thorough analysis of the bikes and their rivals.

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