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2011 Harley-Davidson XR1200X: MD First Ride

Due to the somewhat volatile nature of the comments posted in response to the
announcement
of the 2011 Harley-Davidson XR1200X, I feel particularly  challenged writing this review.

Challenged, in part, because this is a performance model from H-D that is not strictly about performance.  H-D bikes never are, but some enthusiasts can’t accept that fact.  Challenged, also, because I had fun riding the XR1200X . . . on a race track no less!  Conveying the reasons for this to some readers may be impossible.  Here goes.

Let’s first look at the history of this bike. The XR1200 project was revealed to the public at the 2006 Cologne INTERMOT motorcycle show, with the goal of boosting sales in the more sport-oriented European market. The bike went on sale—only in Europe—in 2008, much to the dismay of U.S. riders craving a sport-oriented Harley. They just had to hold out for a short while, though: the XR1200 became available as a USA model for 2009 (Dirck reviewed it here). It wasn’t a smash success, but H-D told me it sells more XRs than Ducati sells air-cooled sportbikes, which is a vague way of saying something like 2000-5000 bikes a year. Not bad.

To build the XR1200, H-D’s engineers started with the frame and motor combo from the existing 1200 Sportster—itself upgraded in 2003 with an isolation-mounted engine and heavier, stiffer chassis—and seriously souped it up. The old pushrod 1200cc V-Twin received lots of changes—downdraft fuel-injection, hotter cams, higher compression and a 2-1-2 exhaust to name a few—resulting in a loss of a few foot-pounds of torque, but a boost in claimed horsepower to 90 (most dyno tests put rear-wheel power around 75-80 hp). Not quite Buell levels of force, but not bad for a half-century-old air-cooled design, either.

To control that new-found power, the chassis got reworked as well. Gone are the spindly-looking forks and swingarm. A cast-aluminum swingarm holds a cast wheel, and inverted Showa forks locate the front 18-inch wheel. Dunlop Qualifier radials grip the road, and when it’s time to stop, four-piston calipers and 292mm rotors offer modern braking performance.

Styling is slick and modern—or heretical, depending on your inclinations. Gone are the chrome accents, old-fashioned peanut-style tank, sissy bars, chrome fender supports and all the other 1950s styling cues that grace the XR’s brother Sportsters. The bodywork is now sleek plastic, designed to recall the XR750 flat-track racer. Footpegs are rearset, the seat is higher than most H-Ds, and there’s even a digital speedometer. What’s not high-tech is the XR’s porcine ready-to-ride wet weight of 573 pounds and lengthy 60-inch wheelbase.

For 2011, the re-designated XR1200X gets even more upgrades. The fork is now the “Big Piston” Showa, the hottest new thing on superbikes and the “best damping money can buy,” according to H-D engineer Matt Weber. The new design is lighter and easier to tune for high and low-speed compression, plus it’s fully adjustable with an Allen wrench and small screwdriver. The new reservoir-equipped rear shocks are also fully adjustable, and the 292mm front brake rotors are now full-floaters to resist fade. The engine and exhaust are now blacked out, and the wheels get a cool red rim stripe to go with their black paint. The suspension upgrades alone are $1500 through H-D’s accessory catalog, but the price of the X only goes up $1000, to $11,799.

It’s the sportiest bike in H-D’s stable, so no better place to introduce it than the twisty and technical Road America racetrack, just an hour’s drive from Milwaukee in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. I’ll admit to you that I’m a timid guy on a track, and most racetrack intros keep me up nights, worried about 120-mph highsides and 5-figure invoices to replace exotic machinery. No pre-ride butterflies in my tum-tum this time, though: I’ve ridden the XR1200, and I know it’s a pussycat, despite its hefty weight and physical size.


That’s not to say it doesn’t feel like a big bike, because it does. Out on track, the bike takes effort to turn, despite the wide bars. But the bike’s low seat (29.2 inches) and narrow waist make it easy to handle and even easier to get a knee down. The brakes also require more effort than your average sportbike. Sure, you can use two fingers, since the bike doesn’t really go that fast anyway, but those fingers will start getting tired. But they don’t fade much (although my fingers did) and they do get the bike slowed, with acceptable (and modern) feel. Still, it’s mysterious why the  engineers didn’t order radial-mount calipers, which are all the rage with the kids these days. After all, they can’t cost too much more than the old-style calipers, and those Showa BPFs are compatible with them. I guess they don’t want to blow anybody’s mind.

The motor is busty for a Sportster, but just adequate for a track bike, especially with so much weight to hustle around. Still, it’s entertaining and easy to use, with a flat powerband and sorted fuel-injection. The five-speed gearbox is clunky, but smooth enough for clutchless upshifts. Get a perfect drive off a corner, and Road America’s long back section offers enough pavement to see 121 mph on the digital speedo, just inches from my eyes when I’m tucked into a dirt-track-style racing crouch to squeeze out that last mile per hour.

It’s slow compared to the latest supersport machinery (okay, any supersport machinery), but you can still have a good time at a trackday (or in the five-race Vance and Hines XR1200 AMA Pro Racing series). The tires—developed just for the XR, says Harley—gave lots of good grip at racetrack speeds, with no warm-up time required. The new suspension is really good, too—I confirmed that by hopping on a 2010 XR for a half session. There is no wallowing, even leaned hard-a-port in one of the ancient track’s bumpiest turns, and the ride is compliant, controlled, and not harsh. The adjustability is also a huge bonus, as I heard few complaints from the other riders, ranging from that little skinny guy from Motorcyclist to A Very Large Man from another publication (H-D’s techs had the bikes set up for a variety of rider weights).

Nobody was babying their bike. That meant footpeg feelers worn down to molten nubbins, as cornering clearance is the XR’s Achilles heel. Forty degrees  of lean angle sounds like a lot, especially compared to the 30-ish degrees of H-D’s other offerings, but the peg feelers touch down surprisingly early. Luckily, the good suspenders keep the bike from bottoming on mid-corner bumps and possibly highsiding. At the end of the day, going around and around a horsepower-oriented roadcourse like Road America on a slower machine is still a good time.

After several hours on the big track, we also got a few sessions in on the super-twisty Briggs and Stratton Motorplex karting track. There, the big XR is a handful, but manageable as long as the speeds are kept sane. Still, it’s probably not the best choice for super-technical goat-trail-like roads. Ironically, it nicely fills the stereotypical role of the classic ’70s Italian Twin, happiest in long, high-speed sweepers.

Track testing done, a few of us headed back to Milwaukee on our XRs, taking two-lane roads to see the countryside. On the backroads of Wisconsin, roaring around the gentle curves, riding over green hills, past sagging red barns and grazing cattle, the bike makes a lot more sense. There’s ample power to pass the RVs and farm trucks (and to get you in trouble with the law, ya, you betcha) and the steering and cornering clearance are more than enough to keep up a rapid pace. Wind protection is negligible, but the rearsets and long seat put you into a slight forward lean, cheating the wind enough so 70 or 80 mph cruising is reasonably comfortable with a full-face helmet and earplugs. Get onto the Interstate, and the big mirrors and upright position give you plenty of awareness of your surroundings and a commanding presence. The flat (if quiet) bark from the staggered pipes sounds good: aftermarket  cans sound even better. The 3.5-gallon tank should last you at least 150 miles at a steady throttle, and there’s even soft luggage available for the bike in the H-D catalog: sorry, no fringes, conchos or hand-tooled leather. It even has a tolerable seat. Around town, the XR is as civilized as any other Sportster, with an easy clutch pull and light controls. the only complaint I had was lots of heat coming from the tuned motor.

So is the XR a good sportbike? Or just a very good Harley-Davidson? I’ll just describe it as a good motorcycle, for the right rider. It’s a unique bike, the kind a lot of H-D fans—flamboyant or secret—have always wanted. You don’t have to make excuses for it, don’t have to defend your decision to buy it, don’t have to worry what your friends will say, you can just ride it and have a good time. Let’s hope more models like this are in H-D’s future.

Photos by Riles and Nelson

Gabe Ets-Hokin edits CityBike magazine, a print publication distributed around the San Francisco Bay Area. He doesn’t want any trouble, but you can get more information about CityBike by emailing info@citybike.com.

198 Comments

  1. Donny says:

    The 2010 xL883N Sporster iron what a bike,but it lacks power and no rear seat,and the the XR1200 what a bike lacks power,but who cares,but the rear seat it dose have no women could sit on for a period of time,and what happened to Eric Buell’s work,the engine tuning and brake system i see they use his belt drive system,and the v rod should be renames the tail bone crusher.(PS) keep playing games harley davidson,soon the baby boomer will be gone and people will be fed up with your game,and then no one will buy any bike you put out

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  2. Shane says:

    One of the most dangerous things one can do on a Harley is try and pass a car. One needs a lot of room to get up to speed to pass. A lot of people are killed each year trying to pass cars on a Harley. They realize too late that the bike does not have enough horsepower to make the pass then they hit the inadequate brakes and the story is over. Harley’s need to be ridden with care. A 900 lb bike with 75 or so horsepower and terrible brakes.

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    • ryan says:

      Also the front forks are small and a skinny front tire take a look at that Night train 16k and many Harleys only have one disc in the front.Then add 700lbs and it all over..

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    • ryan says:

      This just in Cycle World magazine Harley XR1200 LOSES AGAIN IN STANDARD CLASS!Least h.p 100 lbs heavier.. 0-60 4.3 1.4 seconds slower than 2nd..2 seconds slower in the 1/4 mile what is that like 20 bike lengths.30 m.p.h slower Top speed.Mack was right even in 1973 Ducati was faster..The other bikes are faster in the 1/4 mile than the Harley was top speed..10 mph faster..Those are the facts.Harley failures continue.

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  3. Pete99 says:

    Oh boy I want one of these then I can hang at the harley shop and buy a harley t shirt and a harley belt buckle and a harley do-rag and a harley

    Report this comment

  4. roadshow says:

    These Harleys are death traps!!They need more power and better brakes..Look what happened to Bruce Rossmeyer..He didnt have enough power to get around a trailer and he didnt have the brakes to stop..

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  5. ryan says:

    But it gives these Harley riders that so special feelin inside all soft and tender..Yea right and i am still waiting for these riders to tell me one thing that makes this motorcycle anything to talk about.Look at all the major brands and thier technology and what u get vs H.D.No special feeling is worth 12k like i said its a bicket and Mack said it best Underachiever.HARLEY fails again!!

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  6. ryan says:

    Look at that oil cooler on the side of this thing..Is that a work of art Harley Riders??Amazin workmanship that buyers should be soooo proud..Harley failing again.

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  7. roadshow says:

    There u go Jorge lol..Hasnt someone been teling u this for a week now!!Its a bucket i think was his response..Dont bring a knife to a gunfight..U will lose and u have loss this discussion over and over..Harley Davidson losers of the motorcycle industry..

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    • jorge says:

      Yeah, sure means a lot coming from the source. Wow, the opinion of some braying jackasses, really useful.

      Report this comment

      • jorge says:

        Oh and if you’re going to quote the article then quote this too:

        “So is the XR a good sportbike? Or just a very good Harley-Davidson? I’ll just describe it as a good motorcycle, for the right rider. It’s a unique bike, the kind a lot of H-D fans—flamboyant or secret—have always wanted. You don’t have to make excuses for it, don’t have to defend your decision to buy it, don’t have to worry what your friends will say, you can just ride it and have a good time. Let’s hope more models like this are in H-D’s future.”

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        • roadshow says:

          Opinions dont make a good motorcycle especially when it comes to XR OWNERS.1970 PERFORMANCE!1970 WEIGHT!1970 AIR COOLED.ETC..If Harley built a wheel chair it would break.There isnt one good thing about this bike.If your a Harley owner you better own a Japanese bike and a Harley one that stops turns and isnt slow and that has technology and the other to look at..I’m glad i never bought that Harley Davidson!Thank u Mack for keeping it Real!!Some are still in 1970 fantasy land..

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        • ryan says:

          Mack is the man Jorge!Tells it like it is and u cant handle facts.

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  8. roadshow says:

    Just took a look at the XR and IS THAT A OIL TANK ON THE SIDE?Come on Harley your engine is that big that it needs a seperate tank for the transmission??Is this a airplane or a motorcycle?I’m sure that thing doesnt get hot huh..

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    • jorge says:

      Uh, dude, its the way the engine is designed, oil held in the oil tank. Tranny oil is seperate.

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      • roadshow says:

        Thats stupid so its that dated ..Is it the 1950s still..??

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      • ryan says:

        Answer his question Jorge lol

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        • jorge says:

          Haven’t seen an intelligent question asked as of yet just people like yourselves hurling insults and trying to bait others into an argument.

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          • ryan says:

            No arguments at all..Lets talk facts not opinions.Tell me what makes this XR1200 worth 12,000.00 fair enough..??

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          • roadshow says:

            You destroyed this XR buyer in every way!!R.I.P. Jorge..Whats it like to Fail just like Harley?

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          • roadshow says:

            Also the oil tank get hot and lots of heat on the real cylinder making ur legs sweat and soaks you.See why you said it was dated in every way..I bet this guy drives a Japanese car!!

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          • jorge says:

            So Roadshow, when you and Ryan are done copulating with each other try and learn something about real life.
            No one can have a discussion with people like you because you can’t possibly entertain anyone else’s point of view. There is, therefore, no reason to respond to anything either of you say.
            And no, the oil tank does not get hot because it has a cover over it. Too bad you don’t have enough of a brain to actually ride a bike before running your mouth about what it does or doesn’t do.

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          • ryan says:

            I wouldnt waste my time riding a air cooled slow antique.Enjoy a better bike SV 1000 in every way.Still waiting to tell me what makes this a average motorcycle?Actually its a failure and your trying to justify the bucket because you paid 12k but thank u for telling me the oil tank doesnt get hot..Makes me want to go buy one..

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  9. roadshow says:

    XR 1200 What is that??

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  10. Del says:

    I’m 55 and ride a Suzuki SV650 in the twisties on the weekends. If I had lots of cash and could afford several bikes I might have a Harley in my garage. But I don’t so I’m having a blast on my $6000 out the door SV.

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    • ryan says:

      Exactly.Its light wt.liquid cooled aluminum frame low valve adjustments and it will stop and turn.If you ever get the money do buy a Harley ride it first and then get back on your SV and you will never ever want a Harley..

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      • jorge says:

        Right, right, right. You just keep telling yourself that.
        I’ve had an SV650 and I currently have an SV1000 in addition to the XR.
        The Sv is for sale, good bike, just LIKE the XR better.
        Kind of a shame not everyone fits into your vision of motorcycling isn’t it?

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        • ryan says:

          Thats stupid i would of just bought a SV1000 to begin with..Whats wrong with these Harley riders?So whats the better bike??So on a scale of 1-10 rate both bikes overall??

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          • jorge says:

            Why try to justify anything to a person who just wants to call others stupid because they don’t like the same thing they do? It would never matter, you’re just kind of a miserable little sob and thats about that.

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          • ryan says:

            Just still waiting for what makes this XR a good buy..No argument just a simple question that u have been avoiding.I can tell you why it isnt a good buy but you tell why its a good motorcycle to own..Thats it..Just admit that its a failure and an embarassing motorcycle to own or tell me otherwise..Get it

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        • roadshow says:

          The guy likes junk dated bikes.It is his right to drive any bike he chooses even though its slower that a Hyosung Gt650r..The SV1000 IS A 10 compared to any Harley but it will give that Hyosung a run for its money..

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          • ryan says:

            Actually the Hyosung CRUISER will out run that bucket lol..XR 1200 YES 1200cc CANT RUN WITH A 650CC CRUISER.0-60 4.3 Seconds 13.11 1/4 mile..These are the facts that Harley riders dont want people to know.The torque that they brag about is about 90lbs which is what YAMAHA had back in 1985 Thier V-MAX BUT THAT RAN 10.27 1/4 Roadshow..The Harley also is heavy 580lbs wet and it doesnt even have a radiator.The XR also has fuel injection issues and you wouldnt expect that on a 12k bike..All in all its a failure but the Harley riders will say let us be sissies and ride our junk and the minute its time to lay down the gas they put on thier turn signal and go have a beer with themselves and talk about the past.

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  11. Jessy Robert says:

    I like to know about this. To control that new-found power, the chassis got reworked as well. Gone are the spindly-looking forks and swingarm. A cast-aluminum swingarm holds a cast wheel, and inverted Showa forks locate the front 18-inch wheel.
    —————————–
    Car Motorcycle Parts

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  12. Neil says:

    I rode an XR1200 at Daytona and I liked it a lot. I also test rode an Aprilia Shiver and a Buell Lightning and a Triumph Bonneville and I used to own a VFR 750. The XR is not trying to be other bikes. It’s about this motor. Sure it does not do the whole high rev thing. But it is about the low to mid rev thing. I missed a turn on the test ride and had to double back at double speed and the XR was great. Brake, down a gear, lean it over and get on the gas on apex just fine. No drama. Through the curves around the airport it was fun. What else does it need to be? Each bike having its character IS what it’s all about. I ride a Suzuki TU250 now which is a blast on most roads around my house. It’s not an MV. So what? Some of us like mechanical. Clackity clack. Many other bikes than the XR need valve adjustments and need to be held back out of their performance zone. The Multistrada has a plastic tank that expands with heat + ethanol and IT costs 11K (the older one).

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    • ryan says:

      Ride a 675 Triumph Street Triple its offers more and is way less..15000 mile valve adjustments and has better brakes suspension way more power and its not a tank.Fuel tank isnt plastic..Tht motor growls and has low end and high..Its has it allo over this XR And the best thing its a Triumph..

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  13. Mitch says:

    Bought an XR1200 last year and promptly slapped a Procharger Blower on it. Talk about fun to ride with a great big “F” ! Spent the Xtra $$$ for the upgraded suspension goodies and I can honestly say this thing is more fun than all the 27 other bikes I have owned in my lifetime barr NONE! That list includes RD’s, Triple 2 Strokes, SL’s Ninja’s, Busa’s, CBRR’s YZR, GSXR, Ducati’s (my original 350 Duc is a close 2nd!). This bike has what all Harley’s have that is lacking in the best from Japan, CHARACTER. My Triumph and BMW’s also fit this special place. There is something to be said for feeling the mechanical workings of a bike between your legs as you ride it. Don’t get me wrong, the big 4 are a blast to ride fast and even for sport touring if you want to be disconnected from your ride. As I’ve gotten a little older I find myself attracted to what attracted me to bikes to begin with, engine, frame, tank, wheels & Bars. Simple mechanical freedom. Gonna go see what I’m gonna trade for this new “X” model Sportster. Maybe time to give Procharger another call. LOL!

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  14. Ken says:

    I’m a sport bike fan and have been all my life and just picked up a 2010 XR. Taken for what it is, a naked standard, this bike is just plane FUN. Thats the reason we ride aint it?

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  15. Joemamma says:

    A lot of trash talk by haters. I bet over half of the haters here can’t lose a skilled rider on a XR down a twisty road. Unless it has a straight away. So much penis envy, but so little time.

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  16. Super Mike says:

    I am very pleased to see this bike in production. I have been in contact with my favorite dealer about last year’s XR, with the optional performance suspention. Now I have to call them back and tell them to save me 500 bucks and get the XRX. The bottom line isn’t always the power to weight ratio. I was perfectly happy with my FJ1200, 550lbs @ 104 RWHP. Give me a bike that handles and stops reasonably with a flat, predictable power ramp. I’ll tell you, it’s probably not a bad idea to buy a bike that’s going to retain 80% of it’s value in 10 years than a UJM or even an imported sport-tourer that’s worth $2500 or less in 10 years. I just think it’s a niche-filling bike that’s going to be fun to tear up the rural 2-lanes with.

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  17. Joe says:

    The 1125 Buell’s for all there faults, were still light years ahead of the XR, Why not just re-market it as a Harley?

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    • jorge says:

      Intelligent Americans don’t use the slur ‘Jap’ bike.
      They also buy whatever damn well tickles their fancy. Don’t presume to speak for anyone but yourself.

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  18. ryan says:

    Its amazin how many riders keep getting of the subject on this XR..Facts its heavy slow over priced and i’m still waiting for someone to tell me what makes this bike better than a Italian or a Jap bike..?What makes it worth 12k?When u buy a Jap or Italian u get what u pay for Harley..Are Americans that blind to pay for a underpowered over wt bucket?My wife will spamk u on her Multi strada lol…

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  19. Chris says:

    Just buy what you like and respect what other people like. Not that big a deal. Like it or dislike it, speak with your wallet. Just don’t bash someone else’s likes just because you dislike it.

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  20. Geeezzzer says:

    Oh you weak minded whipper snappers. Only with age comes wisdom. Plastic coverd crotch rockets are great fun when you are young. But wait until you are 50, or 60, or 70. Only then will you have the wisdom of age and the arthritis afflicted body that appreciates the heavy, vibrating, powerful ride of a big twin touring Harley.

    Us old gezzers who love riding our Harley’s grew up with real cars. Big Heavy Detroit Iron, Cadillac, Lincoln, Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, Plymouth. That’s what we get with Harley. Big Heavy Iron.

    You may never get it because you grew up with 4 cyl cars and plastic covered motorcycles with no soul.

    I just hope Harley is still around when you are old enough to appreciate it.

    By the way I would love to rip around on a crotch rocket but I probably could not walk for a month after.

    Enjoy your youth you future Harley riders. I’m going riding.

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    • berkhippie says:

      I’m 50 and have rode/own bikes from a Honda 350 to a Harley Ultra Classic. In between I’ve also own and love my Suzuki GSXR750 (8 bikes totalled since 1975). Geeezzzer you are so right about riding. Now with the wisdom of age, not to mention sore back, I tend to ride my Ultra Classic the most and take out the sport bike only once a month or so. With this in mind and what I have read from all the comments, I think a lot of the comments from people have miss the mark. That is you ride cause you enjoy it and you buy the XR12000x cause that’s want you want to ride. Bike buying/riding doesn’t have to be all about having the biggest, fastest, most HP etc… It’s about that time in your life that dictates what you want to ride. When I was in my teens and twenties, it was all about the fastest, most HP etc… Now it’s more about comfort and wether my back can take it. I still ride at a quick pace (scraping floorboards on my Ultra and sometimes pegs on my GSXR) but want a more comfortable bike that is different, unique, and with style. The XR1200x doesn’t make sense if all you are looking for is the fastest, lightest, etc… It does if you are looking for fun and a bike with soul. I know cause I’ve taken one out for a long test ride and fell in love with it. With this in mind, I waiting for delivery of a XR1200x.

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    • ryan says:

      Knowledge yes..Technology not!!

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    • ryan says:

      Its called staying in shape..I see riders in thier late 60′s riding these crotch rockets.You will never find American muscle in a Harley..

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    • Harry says:

      In the years to come they will be justifying their Honda Shadows to kids on electric sport bikes.

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  21. bruce says:

    I have had 4 H/D 1200′s, great bikes with no issues. Not fast, but fun. I guess I am missing something reading some of the comments here. Just proves we all like something different. I like the old air cooled engine but my interest with the X is the better brakes and suspension. 80 horses will get me by.

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  22. Motorod says:

    This looks like a nice bike. For 1977. Who is Harley kidding? Performance model? Just about every 80′s UJM 1100 got 90-100 hp. did WAY better than a 40° lean angle, and weighed less. Right bike for the koolaid-drinking Harley fanboy, I’d say. Not that I’d turn one down if you gave it to me, but if I were going to hand twelve grand over to an American motorcycle company for a new bike, it certainly wouldn’t be for this one. Heck, I could build a better bike for cheaper. In fact, I think I will. Thanks for the inspiration, HD!

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  23. Greg says:

    Danny Eslick says: “It’s a super fun bike to ride….”
    I couldn’t agree more. It’s not the fastest, lightest, most advanced, etc.
    Just v-twin torqin’ FUN and I’m a sport-bike track day rider.

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  24. shaas says:

    Way to stir the pot, Gabe! I’ve owned or ridden a variety of bikes (including HD’s) for over 40 years, and if folks can’t figure out that they are all fun in their own way no amount of talk will open their narrow minds.

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  25. Dusty Roads says:

    Tried one out at 2010 Cycle Week.I’m a retired RR racer.Ran it hard as I could(did hit 127mph behind airport!).Very happy Harley has it here.Probably needs water cooling as the motor had a differant sound than when I started-smelled hot..I did not over rev it.
    Lots of fun-Keeps one cival compared to insane Jap sportbikes.Most excellant front brakes.If someone gave me one,yes,I’d keep it.

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  26. Look-Out Everyone says:

    Oh God – I have to get one of these. I will be the envy of every biker on the road. Just think, with this bikes modern up to date technology, asphalt ripping horsepower and awe inspiring good looks no one would dare challenge me to a race. Look out world here I come on my new S1000RR. Oh wait I thought this was a different forum.

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  27. KneeSlider says:

    Why would anyone pay $12,000 for this wannabe motorcycle. It has a motor that has a power to weight ratio that is a joke. Harley Davidson slaps a bunch of spare parts together and calls this a new model. There is nothing new about this bike except maybe the name. It is slow, overweight and has no horsepower. I would really be embarrassed to show up with this thing on our riding day. I would be the laughing stock of the party. Of course I could always throw some straight pipes on it, put on a pirate costume and join the moron Harley crowd and just ride up and down Main Street showing off.

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    • jorge says:

      Seems like you’re the one worried about joining the crowd if you have to worry about being a laughing stock in front of your ‘friends’. So what do you do dress up in your race replica leathers and helmets and sit in front of a Starbucks trying to look badass and hope somebody will notice your Gixxer among the other 20 gixxers and guys in race replica leathers?

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      • ryan says:

        No some of us have TRIUMPHDaytona 675 in a catergory all by ourselves seems like the XR1200 IS WHATsthe joke.Whoever pays 12000.00 for a XR1200 should be on PUNKED..Its not being worried its called having intelligence.Who goes to Starbucks for anything anyways?

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  28. Patrick says:

    Wow – I wonder if any other motorcycle reviewed on this site has earned the amout of rabid, spittle-flecked vituperation that this one has. What is it that inspires people who aren’t forced to buy this product, or any Harley Davidson product, to such flights of righteous indignation? Why is it so difficult to merely ignore? What is it about this (merely perfectly adequate for the majority of the riding public) motorcycle that makes all these people so viciously angry? It must be the “Harley Mystique”….

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    • Tim says:

      One could make those same points about the HD apologists and their angry comments, Patrick. Be that as it may, this site published a ride review and photos of a bike and then graciously provided a public forum for comments – both positive AND negative. So, if I don’t love everything about this bike and instead wish HD would have made it differently, I’m not supposed to mention it on this public forum?

      I can’t speak for anyone else but my frustrations over this model and others before it lie in my desire to own a US made bike but the utter lack of availability of a suitable model for purchase. By suitable I mean something that has reasonably modern technology and reliability. I don’t want to mention that brand that was recently given the unceremonious heave-ho but they were on the right track, (the 1125 motor in a Uly-type chassis would have had me filling out a purchase agreement – don’t spoil that thought by telling me that bike would never have happened, please. It’s my delusion, don’t ruin it with facts).

      Harley Davidson is not in business to build any one person their perfect motorcycle. I get that. What confounds me, however, is that they seem to be saying to those of us who expect more, “No soup for you! This is what we do and if you want a made-in-the-USA motorcycle you’ll have to make do with one of our cruisers, (or one of Victory’s all-too-similar cruisers). Here. We put bigger brakes and proper suspenders on one of ‘em for ya’. What else could you possibly want?”

      Would they sell a million water-cooled, belt driven sport/adventure tourers? No. But as has been pointed out here by others in reference to the 1200X, they’d only need to sell a few thousand of them. That would be easy if their sales staff could somehow refrain from looking down their noses at anybody who walked past all of the chrome-laden garage jewelry to check one out.

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      • jorge says:

        Mentioning it is one thing, spewing the kind of hate that we’ve seen on this thread is something else again. At least you can make your point rationally and without insulting language. Can’t say that for some, if not most, of the detractors.

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        • ryan says:

          Miserable little sob was it that was a comment of urs??Listening to u ask this and preach but then u use the same words..Cant say that for uuuuuuuu…Those are the facts which u dont like but it is what it is huh..Facts!

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    • jorge says:

      Yes, isn’t that quite interesting. Seems simple enough, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it and go about your business.
      Its been my experience though that there is no quicker way to get the furr flying than to mention Harley Davidson.

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      • LC says:

        How about all the times people say THE EXACT SAME THING STATED IN THE ARTICLE TO WHICH THEY ARE REFERRING, like “it’s not as fast as any modern 600″ or “hefty weight and pysical size?” Those are the most comical. These guys make an argument where there is no argument. I haven’t read one positive reply where ANYONE was denying these statements as fact, yet a lot of people seem to reply only by repeating these facts, sometimes emphatically or angrily.

        Let me help prevent this time wasting on their parts….this bike is physically larger than any current sportbike, is slower around a racetrack and down the 1/4 mile than any current 600, is more expensive than most sportbikes….uses old air-cooled, pushrod technology…is made by a company specializing in totally relaxed, cruiser motorcycles….and a few other things I’m leaving out.

        All that being said again, now you guys don’t have to spout those things anymore! I don’t charge for this time saving tip, I just offer it for your taking. As for the rest of you, carry on….THIS BIKE ROCKS!

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  29. jorge says:

    Up until very recently, with the economic downturn, HD has built products that are very competitive where it counts: in sales and profit. For that matter they’re still doing a pretty good job in selling.
    Note that one of the companies building fast,light, attractive (Suzuki) isn’t bringing in 2010 models because they can’t sell the ’09s they have in stock.
    Note also the deep discounts offered by many of the Japanese makers on some of their bikes because they aren’t selling so great.
    Harley continues to give the target market what they want. Apparently, you ain’t it. Its business, when business demands that they change they will. Not when you demand it necessarily, but when there is sufficent market to warrant it.
    So it seems to me you should just spend your money elsewhere rather than railing a company for not producing something that they are not convinced they can sell. Theres plenty of those choices available to you.

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    • Bryan says:

      Someone is always bashing Harley for the US government tariffs placed on competitor’s bikes. If you do a little research you will find that most countries currently have very large tariffs on U.S exports. For example, H-D bikes imported to India pay 60% import fee and 30% tax. This is how the rest of the rest of the world keeps their local products profitable. Why shouldn’t we??

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      • jorge says:

        Particularly when during that time the Japanese were clearly engaging in a very familiar business tactic of theirs by dumping product in an effort to drive competitors out of business.
        Pretty simple idea, dump a lot of product under normal cost and when the competitiors give up you have the market.
        In the case of the 80s it didn’t work. HD and all of the Japanese companies survived although I’m quite sure that more than one Japanese company wished that they could drive some of the others under.

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      • roadshow says:

        LOL made it with out the help Of the US Government unlike HARLEY

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  30. Garvin says:

    This is a very fun bike to ride. I say you folks should try it out before you judge. I ride a 2009 Vmax. I rode one of these and really liked it. It’s smooth and strong and has a classic feel.

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    • ryan says:

      Smooth and strong lol…I have yet to ride any Harley that is strong.You want smooth and strong??B-King bring that bucket on!!

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      • berkhippie says:

        How many people bought B-Kings and is Suzuki still making those B-Kings with all that modern technology, hp, torque, handling etc.. that people are buying off the show room like hot cakes?
        Answer: No

        People buy motorcycles (name your brand) for fun and it should/always has been an emotional buy for me. I’ve own Suzukis, Hondas, Kawasakis and Harleys. Love them all and havew never bashed a manufacturer yet. The Harley XR1200x is not the greatest, latest , fastest nor the cheapest. But was sure Fun to test ride. It will be my next bike in a few months. It’s called choices.

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  31. Axel says:

    And where’s your ’82 Suzuki now? In the junkyard, while the ’82 Harleys are still being ridden and enjoyed.

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    • Tim says:

      That has to be the most laughable assertion I’ve read in this entire thread. Reminds me of the saying, “95% of all Harleys ever sold are still on the road today. The rest of them made it home.” Aarrgh!

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      • LC says:

        So now the Harley WILL keep up with, or even outrun, your 1982 Suzuki?

        Oh, and you’re right…1982 Harleys sucked and anyone is a fool if they brag about the quality of one…but your statement was that “shouldn’t it be able to keep up with a 28-year old bike?”

        You weren’t comparing a 1982 Harley to your 1982 Suzuki…you were comparing a new XR1200X to it.

        You hire Aaron Yates to ride your 1982 Suzuki and I’ll ride my buddy John’s XR….and you’ll realize what a poor comparison you’ve made.

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    • roadshow says:

      yea with 100,000 miles on it!!

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    • Joe says:

      Some people buy motorcycle to ride everyday, some people just buy them to talk about how much they resale for.

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  32. USA Frank says:

    Overweight, underpowered, overpriced out of date technology. Is this all that American manufacturing can come up with. Harley seems to throw dirt in our face every year. They just keep taking the same old junk and put a new name and a new color on it and then it is the “new model”. What a bunch of Bullshit.

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  33. Total Waste says:

    What a waste of money. Is this all Harley can come up with? A re bagged sportster. Who in the hell would pay $12,000 for this piece of 1940 technology? Sportbike, I really doubt it. My sons 400CC Suzuki Burgman scooter would blow this thing off the road.

  34. mcycle says:

    It’s like putting lipstick on a pig – it is still a Hog!

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  35. Joe says:

    A seriously fast slow bike!

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  36. ryan says:

    This harley is such a joke..Its like going into a Chevy dealer and buying a Malibu and paying a Corvette price..Who would do that??Is this the best America can do??The B-Kings went on sale at $8999.00 170 h.p to boot.PLZZZZ name one thing that makes this Harley a smart purchase..Dont say resale either thats a game you wont win..All in all this Harley is another failure..

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    • jorge says:

      This might shock you but manufacturers aren’t really all that happy when they have to dump product at fire sale prices like Suzuki did with that model and several others. They actually build these things with the idea of making a profit.
      No motorcycle is a ‘smart purchase’ when it comes to economics. You buy it because you want one, and it appeals to you. In that sense an XR is as smart a purchase as any other bike.
      If you want to make a smart purchase go get a Toyota Corolla or some other appliance.

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      • LC says:

        Wow, Jorge has been paying attention! What’s everyone else’s excuse? Price only factors into a motorcycle purchase when determining if one can even afford his current dream. I don’t buy Ducati sportbikes because I can buy other sportbikes that I like for less money. Does that make a Ducati a dumb purchase for those who buy them? Absolutely not….in fact it may be a better purchase…they are getting what they WANT. It’s an awesome ooncept!

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        • Justin says:

          “No motorcycle is a ’smart purchase’ when it comes to economics.”

          This is simply not true. Even taking out the intangible ‘glee factor’ that LC _seems_ to be referring to, you can save a ton of money by buying an affordable motorcycle and riding it instead of driving a car. In fact you can probably save money by riding a Harley instead of a car, but I’ve never tried that. I seldom see people commuting by Harley.

          But there are few bikes that cost more to own and operate than a Harley. And unlike a Ducati, Harleys do not offer the benefits of modern, race-bred engineering, technology, and materials. Even for the casual, weekend rider there are many bikes to choose from that offer superior performance, value, and reliability due to superior engineering.

          So for the Harley purchase to make any sense at all, the purchaser must be one of the people who attach emotional significance to the Harley brand, the sound of a Harley V-Twin, and/or the way their bikes look. (Arrrgh!) All jokes and insults aside, what other reason is there to buy a Harley?

          If the story stopped there, I wouldn’t have any interest. After all, the marketplace should provide people with what they want. The thunder/rumble of a big twin is unmistakable out on the road and I’ll be the first to admit I like it, too. If that’s what you want to spend your money on, in an ideal market, who can argue with your choice?

          The problem I have is that the MoCo enjoys a virtual stranglehold on the US domestic motorcycle market. Yeah, we have Victory now, but their entire lineup is v-twin cruisers. Now, why do you suppose that is?

          Unfortunately, Harley-Davidson has used their position of power as the sole/dominant producer of US-made motorcycles to increasingly isolate their niche in the market from the rest of us motorcyclists. Their innovations in marketing and merchandising are much more impressive (and depressing) than any technological breakthrough we’ve seen from them. As the baby boomers age, as their disposable income is directed toward retirement, and as the improvements Harley has made in the durability of their bikes bear fruit, there will be a continued decrease in domestic demand. Harley has turned to Asia as a possible place to sell bikes, but how long will it be until the Indian and Chinese bourgeoisie outgrow their Fonzie phase?

          Harley’s market strategy seems doomed to fail. Depending upon how you view the past interventions, you could say it already has failed twice. The total lack of innovation at Harley is an absolute bar to moving American motorcycles into new market segments.

          This bike is not innovative. It’s just a really well decked-out Sporty. It will be sold to the same people, for slightly different reasons, as any other Harley. And when you guys run out of cash to buy different versions of the same bike over and over again, what will Harley do? When Harley finally quits, it will probably take the American motorcycle industry down with it. At the very least, I have some friends that will be out of a job.

          Sitting here thinking about it, it seems like I’ll live and die without ever encountering an American-made motorcycle that I’d choose to buy. That’s the part that pisses me off. So, while you have every right to make your personal motorcycle purchasing decision for whatever reason, don’t expect me to think you’re a smart guy at any point in time.

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          • jorge says:

            So why do you think that Harley enjoys a stranglehold on the American made market?
            Could it be because they give a lot of buyers what they want?
            Do you really think theres some huge untapped market out there for a “modern” American made bike that fits your criteria (whatever that criteria is, I’m not actually sure)?
            Apparently no one with money to invest thinks so. Frankly I don’t think so either.
            You seem to think that Harley is somehow keeping some great device from hitting the market which is ridculous. All it takes is somebody like a John Bloor with tons of money to invest and you could build whatever your want. I don’t see anything like that on the horizon though at least nothing that you would call affordable and mainstream.
            You are also incorrect in serveral other assertions.
            One is that Harleys are expensive to operate. I’ve owned several and its simply not true in my experience. With no valves to adjust, belt final drive that needs no real maintenance they hold their own on costs.
            Two is that bikes are a particular money saver for commuting. In forty years of riding them I believe that is simply not true.
            By the time you add up the cost of appropriate riding gear, tires, maintenance I would be surprised if there is much if any savings to be had. If theres is its on something that would be, to say the least, uninteresting to ride. I speak from some experience as I’ve done year round commuting for the last several years and cost savings has not been among the reasons to do so.
            In my riding career I have owned about 50 bikes. I currently have 6, two Harleys, two Suzukis, a Triumph and a Honda. I like all of them for different reasons but I can truthfully say that there will be a Harley in the garage until I stop riding. They just happen to be the right mix of style, performance and cost to suit me. It may not be ‘smart’ in your opinion but you might wish to consider that not everyone sees the world as you do, if you can’t see that, well, thats not what I would call smart.

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          • Justin says:

            There’s a huge ‘tapped’ market for a broad variety of motorcycles with modern engineering. Just that none of them are American. And the device to which you refer is called ‘a Buell’

            I never said Harleys were particularly expensive to operate. I know they have belts, no longer leak tons of oil, etc. But when you consider the total cost to “own and operate” a motorcycle, you gotta factor in purchase price.

            As for saving money, I save money by bike commuting. I keep data. (I don’t keep collision insurance because that stuff is expensive) Saving money is not the reason I commute, but it’s been a welcome side benefit. Winter here is pretty rough, so 3-4 months a year I use a car, and it’s easy to compare. When I move back south, the car is not coming along.

            For the last five years I’ve been commuting on a 98 CBR900RR. ‘uninteresting’ ? The bike still turns heads and is still silky smooth when leaned over.

            I fully understand that Harley gives lots of people what they ‘want’. And congratulations to you for achieving a status in life where you can stock your garage with everything you ‘want’. But the rest of us need to make rational decisions and for us, there’s no American option.

            Harley benefits from a great deal of cultural propaganda and misguided patriotism. We can argue protectionist tariffs all day, but I don’t think Warren Buffet would have been so quick to save the MoCo this time around if there were a viable American manufacturer who were actually bringing exciting and innovative products to the market. I think his choice to dump money into Harley blurs the line between philanthropy and investment.

            But damn, they do sound good. I’ll give you that.

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    • Ez says:

      Talk about fugly, I don’t think they get any uglier than the B-King. So what, it has 170hp. WTF r you going to do with that kind of hp, but get yourself killed. No style at all. I have yet to see one on the road. When you go to the Suzuki web site, they only have the 2008 model year listed. They must have discontinued the bike, because of poor sales no doubt. Now the XR has got character. Yeah I know it is an old design, but I really don’t give a rats behind. No freakin valve adjustment to worry about. 85 hp is not bad, and all from an outdated motor. I am seriously thinking about getting one.

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  37. Bob says:

    Saying this is a good riding bike may just be the kiss of death for this Harley. The 2006 Street Rod got rave reviews from just about every motorcycle magazine and then sat on the showroom floor at most dealerships. I was one of the lucky ones who tried one out and fell in love, and bought one.
    Harley tried this road once before and discontinued the Street Rod after just a year and a half. Let’s hope this one does better. We all need more bikes like this one.

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    • Robert says:

      I think that the MoCo understands that its customer-base is graying. They will have to attract a new generation of riders. Making sportbikes like Hondas would be a pretty stupid idea. That market is pretty commoditised already and they have the advantage of cheaper import production costs compared to HD.

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  38. LC says:

    I can say with certainty that assuming equal riders, the XR1200 would KILL..seriously ASSAULT your 1982 GS750EZ up YOUR CHOICE of roads. How do I know? Because I would have on my 1982 CB900F SuperSport. You are using a paper argument (weight, possibly…possibly 1/4 mile times) to not quite make a point.

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  39. MikeE says:

    When I get back to the states I’m going enjoy rubbing this XR in some sportbike face – just like I did on a 50HP dirtbike with street tires… it’s not the bike people.

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  40. Justin says:

    Not bad lookin’ for a fat chick.

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