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2009 Harley-Davidson XR1200 Review


by Marc Cantin ,

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When the XR1200 was first shown to the public in 2007, Americans immediately stated whingeing about not being able to buy one. This throwback to the classic XR750 Flat Tracker seemed like the standard machine that prospective buyers jumping the fence from the rice burners were looking for - and H-D were making it available only in Europe for 2008, with no commitment regarding distribution in America later on.

The XR12000 delivers exceptional looks to the standard marketplace.

The bike at the source of the furore is based on the Sportster 1200, upgraded with a 90 hp motor (At 7000rpm), effective suspensions, a more level rather than tail-dragger attitude, and twin front discs with high quality callipers. Add a comfortable seat and a standard riding position with feet in line with the bum rather than strung out forward, a serious-looking twin pipe exhaust system and a rounded out tail section, an orange-and-black paint job, and you have a serious looking machine.

The XR1200 was the hit of bike shows in Europe in late 2007 and early 2008, and sold out quickly, as riders there look for a modicum of performance from their machine, which the XR12000 delivered along with the best looks in the standard marketplace.

Meanwhile, back in Milwaukee, US and Canadian dealers were not easing up the pressure, to the point where H-D management decided to build a batch of 750 machines to test out the NA market. These machines sold out in a matter of days, and plans were carried out to build more, add a couple of colours, and hope for a hit in this decidedly uncertain 2009 market.

Well, let me tell you that if sales turn out bad, it will not be because of any weakness on the part of the bike - it is not perfect, but rather an irresistible combination of contemporary power, braking, suspension and ergos, mixed in with a satisfying look and feel, and great sound from the motor.

The fuel injected, air cooled motor starts easily and runs well, cold or hot, while the light clutch and easy-shifting gearbox take full advantage of the torquey engine. Part of the bike's character comes out below 3500 rpm, as you can feel that the torque is not up to the level of the normal 1200 Sportster, sacrificed in favour of more power up top - not a problem really as there is still plenty left down there and it all comes back in a rush as revs build up past 4000.

The fuel injected, air cooled motor starts easily and runs well.
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