Getlowdownon2011 Harleys Behind bars
It’s the easiest bike they’ve produced, writes Craig Duff Talk of the town
AHARLEY-DAVIDSON priced and positioned for beginners is one of the headline items in the US brand’s 2011 range.
The 883cc Sportster SuperLow lives up to its name in every respect, with a 69.5cm seat height and a price of $11,495.
It’s a shame it doesn’t qualify as a learner machine under our 650cccapacity LAMS laws, because it really is designed for new riders.
There is hope, though, with Harley working on a new, smallcapacity bike for global markets.
Harley engineer James Sadauckas says the SuperLow is the result of feedback from owners of the previous 883 Low.
The main requests were for better suspension and a bigger tank, but the engineers overhauled everything, from the final drive ratio to the seating position, as they tried to make the ‘‘ entry-level’’ Harley as user-friendly as possible.
‘‘This is the easiest Harley to just get on and ride,’’ Sadauckas says at the Australian launch of the Sportster range. ‘‘We’ve set the riding style up to be really neutral for control and comfort. The seating position is upright, which gives new riders more confidence.’’
CarsGuide’s only gripe about the bike is also a result of the above process— the footpegs touch down with very little lean angle.
‘‘It’s a bit different here. In the States this will be many people’s first bike, so we’ve built that into it. It’s a lot cheaper than scraping the hardware,’’ Sadauckas says, while agreeing potential Australian owners will probably raid the parts catalogue for pegs not so wide.
Grinding noises aside, the SuperLow is a bang-for-your-buck bike that lives up to Sadauckas’s promise of sweet handling.
That’s due in part to the radial Michelin tyres developed specifically for the bike and to the extra suspension travel, which means it doesn’t bottom out on big hits. The cut in wheel weight doesn’t hurt either.
Riders looking for more performance can opt for the 1690cc Forty-Eight. The bike gets its name from the eight-litre ‘‘peanut’’ fuel tank that first appeared on a Harley in 1948. It cuts its touring range but fits with the sleek, Sportster look.
A more foot-forward ride position and 138Nm endow the FortyEight with the looks and urge to make it one of Harley’s more popular models, especially at $14,995.
The Softail models weren’t on hand at the launch, but will now join the Touring and VRSC line-up with standard ABS. H-D Australia marketing manager Adrian O’Donoghue says about 60 per cent of the company’s sales volume now has anti-skid brakes.
magazine is celebrating its 500th edition this month with a series of debatable lists on the best and worst of motorcycling over the past five decades. Editor Jeremy Bowdler says reaching 500 issues is a huge achievement for a special-interest magazine. It shows the growth in interest in motorcycling as a passion, hobby or daily means of transport. The magazine’s topics this month include the best and worst bikes of all time, the 10 best bikes to learn on, and the roads you have to ride. It’s on sale in newsagents for $8.95. Harley-Davidson has joined other major bikemakers in hosting VIP hospitality at the Australian MotoGP on October 15-17. The three-day pass costs $867.20 and includes undercover seating on the front straight, lunch each day and access to coffee from a barista and soft drinks. Assorted HD merchandise will be available and Jack Daniels will hold a tasting session each day from 1-4pm. To book call 1800 012 000.
First bike: (left) the Sportster SuperLow scrapes its footpegs on the bitumen and (above) the smart Forty-Eight.