An uneasy rider still finds it hard to knock fuel hog
Julie Marshall tries a bike with a thirsty sparkle.
IT’S absolutely futile trying to argue the toss with anyone who doesn’t get the allure of HarleyDavidson motorcycles because they will never, ever, agree with you.
Introduce them to the Seventy-Two reviewed here and watch their faces when you tell them it has a 1200 cc engine and a range of, at best, 70 miles between fill ups. In fact during one ride the fuel light came on after a mere 47 miles. Granted I wasn’t sparing the horses, but you’ve really got to be very aware of where your next source of fuel is located if you’re going any distance at all. Either that or take along a mate with a fuel can in his panniers.
Detractors will probably say, ‘what’s the point?’ and the answer invariably is, if you have to ask then you’ll never understand. The Seventy-Two is a thing of beauty and though it can never in a million years be classed as practical, nevertheless, I like it.
The tiny peanut tank which holds a mere 2.1 gallons is only going to be a problem if you want to go touring but I can assure you the Seventy-Two is not a bike to do that on.
The ape-hanger bars, while not as extreme as some I’ve encountered, do make your arms ache after a while and the lack of any sort of a screen means your head and particularly your chest gets a real battering in the wind at speed so it’s best to cruise along at a more sedate pace and watch the world go by.
The solo seat is not overly comfortable after an hour on the road (more to do with the seating position rather than the actual seat itself) and the skinny 21-inch front tyres don’t do an awfully good job of protecting your bones from the potholes, but who cares if you just need to stop more often for a brew than usual?
What it is particularly good for however is posing in the sun on, although with the weather we’ve been experiencing lately, I didn’t get chance to do much of that. It was more a case of dodging the showers to keep the chrome shiny.
The Seventy-Two owes its name to Whittier Boulevard, the legendary cruising street in East Los Angeles also known as Route 72 but it could just as easily refer to the year or the range in miles.
The early 70s were all about retro and there’s plenty of that in evidence here right down to the whitewall tyres.
“In creating the SeventyTwo, we were also inspired by the vibe of the early chopper era,” said Frank Savage, Harley-Davidson manager of industrial design. “Those bikes were colourful and chromed, but also narrow and stripped down to the essentials. You look at period examples and they are almost as simple as a bicycle.”
The bike on test had a beautiful paint job - sparkling “Hard Candy Big Red Flake”.
This 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 the metal flake used in typical production paint.
Each flake is coated with a thin aluminium film and then tinted red. This is followed by four applications of clear coat, and a lot of hand sanding to create a smooth finish over the flakes.
As with all HarleyDavidsons the engine note and the vibration is a big part of the whole riding experience and the Seventy-Two doesn’t disappoint It’s powered by the 1200 Sportster V-twin engine which makes for effortless riding and the massive amount of torque almost negates the need for changing down the gears except at the lowest speeds.
If you want to look cool this summer the SeventyTwo will cost you £8,895 (or £8,695 if you forgo the shiny red paint). Some would say a veritable bargain, others would no doubt disagree.
RETRO APPEAL: It gets only 70 miles between fill-ups, but nothing looks like a Harley.