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RideFast Feb 2020

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Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson Forty-Eight (1200 Sportster) Then it was my turn to ride the ‘Forty-Eight’ which did concern me because of its diminutive size, I thought I might end up wearing it like a G-string. I needn’t have worried though, it seems they have built this bike for the taller person and was immediately comfortable dropping down onto the seat which is barely knee high to a grasshopper. My two vertically challenged riding mates for the day complained that the Forty- Eight felt awkward and quite uncomfortable to them. I really enjoyed the seating and riding position on the Forty- Eight, it is low and aggressive but really quite comfortable for this style of bike. Being a naked bike, wind does become a bit of a problem from about 150kmh onwards, and does require a bit of grit to corner quickly … but it was not designed for that type of riding. This is a cruiser for heading down to your favourite hangout spot, a Sunday morning breakfast run or being trailered to your favourite bit of the country to do a bit of cruising along the mountain passes. It would take a very dedicated and hard-core biker to do long distance touring on the Forty- Eight as it is more suited to day to day commuting and shorter rides, the wind and seating position would tire your arms and quite back quickly and the small fuel tank would require very regular top-ups, even at a very reasonable 20km’s to a litre of fuel. The Forty-Eight is a simple, easy to ride, good looking bike that is a lot of fun to ride. “...it seems they have built this bike for the taller person and was immediately comfortable dropping down onto the seat which is barely knee high to a grasshopper.” Shado says: Tough as it may be for a sport bike rider to throw a leg over this iconic iron … it was done. A sunny Tuesday morning saw us arrive at the ROC Harley Davidson to take the 48 sporty and the 114 Street Glide out for a day. To get a good feel of the machines, we first headed into the suburbs for some photographs and unabashedly spirited suburban riding. The Southern suburbs of Jozi are littered with short streets and hills that in short, teach you the command of a machine like a 252kg Harley Davidson quicker than jumping in the deep end of a croc-infested stream in the DRC. That being said, once one comes to terms with the weight of this American cast iron, it becomes a lot easier to handle, and once you have done a few stop-starts on the hilly terrain around Bassonia. Personally, I found the 48 to have decent manners in the parking lot, as well as on the streets. However, it was a little nervous on the highway and on bumpy streets, when the taps are open. I found the comfortable cruising speed to be around the 130km/h mark on the open road. The air and oilcooled Sportster only enjoyed five gears in the transmission, put to the floor by the belt drive system we know on Harleys. The motor does exactly what it was intended to do; plenty of torque and low rpm range of use. When the rpm’s picked up, the machine behaved like a tractor on ‘roids, slowly going through the motions, with an expected taper of power in the upper rev range. The transmission is also classic Harley and good solid shifts are the order of the day, with chunky responses to any shift. Put it this way, you know for sure that you’re changing gears. Ergonomics of the machine are better suited to the taller rider and I found myself a little hunched over and two fists literally forward, into the breeze. On the cruise, I was able to rest the back of my ankles on the foot pegs as opposed to keeping pressure on the soles of my boots so that they stayed on the pegs. The machine is quite low so there were no issues with tip-toeing at the lights. The seat height is 710mm. At our first fuel stop in the quaint little ‘dorpie’ of Henley-on-Klip, the sporty returned about 20km/l, which was under quite spirited riding conditions. Not too terrible for a machine of its weight and the five-speed transmission. I surmise that the machine could do a lot better if fuel-economy was the order of the day. The tank is quite small at a little shy of 8 litres and possibly managing 150km on a tank. Reserve is about 2.3 litres. Controls are standard and the dash is plain, with a speedo only. There are the direction indicators and oil, neutral and high beam indicators. And, chrome, let’s not forget the chrome. There is also no longer need for a key to turn the machine on as they have transponders, which should be kept on the rider’s person for the machine to activate. Keys are used for locking the steering. In my humble opinion, the 48 is a classic ride, and more focussed at moving around town than going out on the open road. Suspension suits the machine, and I only saw it become rude on the bars after meeting with a bridge-bump at speed. But for the rest, it was enjoyable; not my first choice, but I could have it for a lap to the local and possibly, a cruise around JHB on the N1. SOME NUMBERS Engine: Air-cooled, Evolution® Displacement: 1202cc Torque: 94Nm / 3750rpm Length: 2165mm Seat height: 710mm Fuel capacity: 7.9l Dry weight: 247.0kg Price: From R164,500 In conclusion Harley Davidson is a lifestyle with cult status in the biking fraternity. These were two really enjoyable bikes to ride if they are used for that which they are designed and would be a nice addition to any biker’s garage. R.O.C, (Ride of Choice), Harley Davidson kindly loaned us these two from their demo fleet. Give them a call on 010 492 4300, or pop into their very upmarket dealership on the corner of Voortrekker and Louis Trichardt streets, Alberton, (just off the N12 at Voortrekker rd), with your bike licence and ask for a demo ride … you will be hooked. 46 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2020 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2020 47