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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

HD Plumps Up 2012 Lineup with Two Slimmed-Down Customs

Harley-Davidson introduced two new models on February 1st—a ’70s chopper throwback called the Seventy-Two and a stripped-down Big Twin called the Softail Slim. Though far from being all-new models, the two bikes are interesting fruits of H-D’s strategy to market bikes to new and more diverse audiences.

For riders that crave a ’70s motif, the Seventy-Two puts you in the Way-Back machine to the time after the movie Easy Rider but before the series “Chico and the Man” went off the air. The layout is stripped-down California chopper: 2.1-gallon peanut gas tank, bespoked wheels (with a skinny 21-incher in front, of course), forward controls, ape-hanger bars, chopped fenders and plenty o’ chrome. Mechanically, the bike uses the good ol’ Evolution Sporty motor, a 1200cc mill making a claimed 73 ft.-lbs. of torque at 3500 rpm for maximum boulevard-trolling efficiency.

But H-D seems most proud of the paint, and the one shown does look good in the pictures. It’s called “Hard Candy Big Red Flake,” and H-D says it has “hexagon-shaped flakes that are more than seven times the diameter of metal flake used in typical production paint. Each flake is coated with a thin aluminum film and then tinted red. Four applications of clear coat, combined with hand sanding, create a smooth finish over the flakes.” That’s a lot of paint work for a production bike, but the results look pretty nice. Other available color options include Black Denim and Big Blue Pearl. When it hits dealers, the bike will be priced at $10,499 or $11,199 for the fancy paint.

Not way-back enough for you? Are you more into Louis Jordan than Cream? The other model is the Softail Slim, which gets back to the roots of modern U.S. moto-customizing by taking a basic Softail (the line of Harley Big Twins which use a hidden rear suspension to simulate a rigid rear end) and stripping off extraneous metal in the way a customizer would have done in the 1950s to create a classic “bobber.” The fenders are pared down, there’s only a solo saddle and chrome is kept to a minimum. The low, black-finish handlebar is a cross-braced “Hollywood” bar—a period accessory, so nicknamed because riders would put extra lights on the cross-bracing, prompting their friends to say they had “gone Hollywood” with over-decorating.

Power comes from the 1690cc Twin Cam 103B motor, with a claimed output of 99 ft.-lbs. of torque at 3000 rpm to pull around the bike’s 671 pounds. The Slim will be priced at $15,499 ($15,884 for color other than Vivid Black) when it reaches showrooms.

The minimalistic streak reflected in the Slim is typical of H-D’s Senior Designer Casey Ketterhagen, who also came up with the 2011 Blackline. “I’d personally like to strip the bike down even further,” says Ketterhagen, “but this is as far as we can go on a production model.” It should slot right in with the rest of the Dark Custom family, a blacked-out, bare-bones lineup aimed at youth buyers. Expect more models like this in the future, and we wouldn’t be surprised (in fact, we’d be most pleased) to see an XLCR cafe-racer replica based on the fun-to-ride XR1200X. If you agree, let us know in the discussion below — H-D’s peeps read MD!


  1. Lee Radzak says:

    Anybody remember”Then Came Bronson”?….. Red Sporty, 21-inch front wheel, bobbed rear fender. That was the bike that got me into a life long love affair with Harleys… and Triumphs, and Kawis, and Beemers… What goes around comes around.

  2. cody says:

    How much are these things going for ?

  3. cody says:

    I personally wouldnt mind a HD in the garage but on the other hand i wouldnt take one over a nice cb750, Norton, or Triumph (but thats just me). It looks good for the amount of engine thats on that thing I personally like the slimmed down look of the sportster maybe that’s why I like the new model. Overall it looks good I think.

    Thanks again Gabe for the pics they are back linked now, good article man

  4. Grover says:

    I ride a big bore Suzuki streetfighter (hard) but I like the ’72. I wouldn’t want one as my only bike, but I can see a place for it ( or another Harley or metric cruiser) in my shed alongside the Suzi.

    I don’t care if you ride a sportsbike, a standard or a Harley, you are still a rider to me. Car drivers are our enemies, not other bikers who choose to ride something different to you.

  5. Dave says:

    Build a proper cafe racer. That’s a Harley I could own!

  6. Mitch says:

    The “72” brings back some of the best memories of my life! My 1st H-D was an XLCH I bought in 1978 and it looked real similar to this new Sporty when I got it finished just the way I wanted it. This one though!!!!! Man this is the ULTIMATE Bar Hopper for my 50 yr old Disabled Veteran Ass! Hell no I’m not gonna ride it from here in Tx to Sturgis but, for around town and the 40 mile trip out to the Family Farm to visit with my Dad on Sunday mornings, THIS IS THE BIKE!!!! And the Soft Tail Slim is just the ticket for long rides with some soft bags and a rider back support! Talk about relaxed riding and enjoying the trip! Now back to the reality of both of these bikes. For me, looking at ’em here is as close as I’ll probably get but it sure makes for some great eye candy & fond memories! Right On H-D! Keep cranking them out! No amount of multi cylinder, computer TC mega HP, wizardry will ever give the “Brand X Bikes” the one thing that all Harley-Davidsons have, SOUL.
    Scout Out!

  7. windy says:

    If the Slim had a 100-90-19 tire on the front and a 120-70-18 on the rear,it might come close to to being its just a bobbed Fatboy lo with Crossbones wheels and tires. I was hoping for more.I currently own and ride/drive a BMW K1200GT,an ’83 BMW RT sidecar outfit(EML)and a Harley Fatboy,with lo handlebars and a crossbones solo seat.I’ve come full circle,a vintage looking motorcycle that works is great,but if want to make a 1,500 mile weekend run to visit somewhere or some thing its nice to have choices.

  8. Butchy says:

    Whether you think it looks cool or not, how could someone buy a bike with a 2 gallon tank, excuse me, a 2.1 gallon tank? Could we expect a 70-80 mile range with that thing? Heck, after 50 miles you’ll concentrate less on riding and more on where the nearest gas station is. Who makes those decisions at HD? If you need the look, figure out a way to stash another 2 gallons in some hidden secondary tank. Are the HD engineers that stale? You’ll be at the gas station every other day for Chrissakes. It’ll only cost you 7 bucks to fill up, on the up side.

    This 72 has “poser” written all over it. After a couple months this bike will be up for sale by half it’s owners that thought they wanted a Harley. Posers need bikes too I guess…

    And the black one with the fat front tire. Is that all they got? Fat front tires are in now. Thing must handle like a Dodge Ram. But I guess you don’t buy Harley for handling.

    If you ride a Harley, I’m not hating, just giving my opinion…

  9. grebmrof says:

    Yawn! Wow, big flake paint and black primer, quite the innovations. HD didn’t bring out a new XLCR when it had Buell motors in their lineup, why would they do so now? And who would buy them? The more they introduce their next year line-up the more they look like last year’s line-up. BTW I had an XLCR, it was about the worse bike I ever owned in the past 40+ years of riding – but it did look nice – but that was it. Had 3 Harley’s, but never another one will be in my garage. Why?

  10. Asterix says:

    The Seventy-Two looks hopelessly out of fashion. The Slim looks pretty nice, but the ‘youths’ it’s trying to attract are less likely to want to pay the thousands of dollars extra over a comparable Honda. Heck, it’s almost a thousand more list than a Thunderbird Storm, and that’s a vastly more interesting bike.

  11. ziggy says:


  12. Norm G. says:

    diggin’ the 72. diggin’ the narrow bicycle tire. reminds me of a 5-speed schwinn stingray with banana seat from my youth. 🙂

  13. Tim says:

    Really, a cafe a racer. What was Buell doing? I like Harleys but… “Nothing more than decorating the same old vanilla cake with new frosting and sprinkles” would of liked to seen the V-Rod engine in a Buell but Eric is a racer wanting the best so cannnot blame him for what he picked.

  14. DannyG says:

    The 72 looks like the choppers I saw in the late 60’s and early 70’s in New York. Except for the lame whitewalls. Get rid of those and you’ve got a nice looking retro bike.

  15. GT1964 says:

    The paint job on the 72 looks like something that would come out of Roland Sands shop. But his would probably wheelie.
    Now if they would rip off some of the Euro designers on what they do with V-Rods, that would be a bike to have. HD,Google V-Rod & look at images.

  16. Gummee! says:

    Harley builds bikes that do what they’re supposed to do VERY well: cruise. They’re not about hp, they’re not about cornering, they’re not about getting from coast to coast in 50hrs or less, they’re about *cruising.*

    With that in mind, they make fan-farging-tastic bikes. Combine nostalgia, styling, and some noise and you have about the ‘perfect’ MC.

    No, they’re not my thing either, but I’ve ridden a few and to a one, they do the job they’re supposed to do very well. …and I do wish they’d stick that V-Rod engine in a dresser. :nod May just tickle my fancy enough to actually own a Harley.

    • QCGoose says:

      “Perfect” for who? If you’re referring to those who are in it strictly for the nostalgia, image, and noise, then yes, I’d say you’re right.

    • Butchy says:

      Gummee!, c’mon “they’re not about cornering”…WTF?

  17. Auphliam says:

    I like the Slim. Buddy of mine used to have an old Pan/Shovel in a wishbone frame that he built…looked just like that. I’d ride the hell outta that Sporty.

  18. Tim says:

    I’m not a big fan of the type of mototrcycles that HD builds. That being said, as a guy who was 10 y/o in ’72 and pictured himself as an ‘Easy Rider’ type in the making at the time, that chopster really strikes a chord somewhere inside me. I’m sure I’d hate riding it for more than a few dozen miles at a whack but I think it looks pretty cool. I can’t remember the last time I said anything like that about a Harley – or any other cruiser.

    • Gham says:

      I could probably handle it for maybe 90-120 miles(small tank),but I would not want to travel much past that.Highway speeds might lower that #

  19. Mondo Endo says:

    Nothing more than decorating the same old vanilla cake with new frosting and sprinkles..The HD version of BNG

  20. Fuzzyson says:

    WWWHHHOOOOAAAWWW! New Harleys! Oops, wait, same bikes as always, different colors. My question is, what happens when Hardley runs out of “new” colors?

  21. BryanK says:

    Only HD would call a 671lb motorcycle Slim.
    Only in America..

  22. Jeremy in TX says:

    Is it just me, or does Harley make some of the lamest, most disfunctional bikes in the industry? Apparently, it IS just me because I see more Harleys on the road than other make. 🙂

    I am sitting here scratching my head at these new offerings, but HD will probably sell these things like crack along with a couple of thousand dollars in pirate wear and accessories with each one that goes out the door. Clearly, I just don’t fit the description of the typical American motorcyclist.

    • slimlids says:

      Clearly, my friend, you are one of us. Join us in our D-SLED revolution. Whatever you are riding, parallel twin or not, spoon on some TKX80s and tear up your front lawn in protest of the pirate brainwashing campaign that has overtaken American motorcycling for the last two decades. Also, blow up your TV. As that would also be something cool to do.

  23. falcodoug says:


  24. Kent Kangley says:

    I can’t believe Harley hasn’t made a modern XLCR yet. It’s one of the most beautiful Sportsters ever built and Harley doesn’t revisit it? I don’t get that. But I also agree with the poster who complained about the lack of base Sportsters with real suspension. That’s why I’m looking at a Bonneville rather than a Sportster. Real suspension.

  25. tla says:

    the 72 has got it…but the peanut tank suks and that’s enough to keep me away. suks even more that the gorgeous paint job would go to waste on a peanut tank that most owners would pull in the first 6 mos…

  26. Bud says:

    Please, manufacturers, no more matte black paint jobs.

  27. mickey says:

    I think most of the readers,commentators,and motorcyclists in general want hd to be successful. They want an American motorcycle company to be competitive in the market with something other than bikes that look,stop,handle and run like motorcycles designed 50years ago. Buell was beginning to accomplish that. Harley undoubtedly has the ability, the engineering know how, they just steadfastly refuse to do it. The Vrod has a wonderful motor. Harley could be building state of the art tourers and sport tourers using that motor, and people would buy them…but they couldn’t have high bars and forward pegs or whitewall tires. They would have to at least resemble fjrs or honda sts, or kaw concours, or BMW rts. One has to wonder why American manufacturers refuse to produce something that would appeal to the non brotherhood crowd? To the rider who is not interested in rallys or bike nights, but rather those who desire to spend the majority of their time actually riding somewhere. If factory hd peeps really do read this site they have to realize that even though there is a large market for their current line up, there is also a large market for a truly competitive american made tourer or sport tourer.believe it hd. And if hd won’t do it, maybe victory will. If neither will do it, you will continue to read negative comments about their products from riders who desire something more than the same old crap that has been offered in various forms since 1936 when the knucklehead was introduced. Hd I’d be glad to come back into your showroom if you’ll just make something competitive with the bike I am currently riding.

  28. ben says:

    same shyt different decade. “new” bikes from HD?? what a joke

  29. slimlids says:

    Wow. That sportster looks really bad! What gives HD? Chops are dead! If Willie G and his styling buddies knew anything about whats cool in MCs these days they would be building desert sleds like me and my home boys “Fut” and “the REV”. We roll thick with our mighty throttle hands on big 650cc twins and Conti TKC80s. Its the one true MC religion. Desert Sleds (or D-SLEDS as we call them) are coming folks. Elderly women and Stone masons beware. Mark my words folks. In a years time, you will see D-Sled images on the vintage t-shirts at target.

    • Butchy says:

      D-SLEDs, huh? D-SLEDs sort of sounds like D-BAGS. I can see Harley coming out with a new model with stock chrome balls hanging from the rear fender and calling it a D-BAG, but D-SLEDs is something best left for you desert guys.

  30. Reinhart says:

    The readers Motorcycledaily might not think that these are cool machines, but there’s thousands and thousands of riders that want what Harley has to offer. To them it’s not all about performance, but about the motorcycle. They don’t care if it can’t keep up with the new ZX-14 (neither can the bike you ride!) or corner like a CBR600RR, they just enjoy the ride and the social aspect that goes along with it. It good to have a lot of choices when it comes to buying a bike, don’t you think???

    • Pat says:

      I agree, choices are good. Hell, the peanut tank will probably give an easy 100+ miles per tank, which should be more then enough for what many will use the bike for. I like it. But I really dig the Slim, which looks to be a great starter point for customizing. People (not just here) seem to think that manufacturers should build what THEY want, and if they don’t, they are idiots. The Victory sites have many like that as well.

  31. Michael H says:

    A 2.1 gallon fuel tank? Sure, because who doesn’t like stopping for fuel every 45 minutes?

    • Mike Kramer says:

      OK genius, Harley Twin Cams get about 50 miles to the gallon so a 2.1 gallon tank gets you 105 miles. To cover 105 miles in 45 minutes yields an average of 140 mph. There hasn’t been a Harley made that can average anything over 65 mph so you’ve got over two hours in the saddle before fill-up!

    • QCGoose says:

      2.1 gallons isn’t an issue when there’s only a half a mile between bars. That amount of fuel probably lasts these things a full 2-3 months anyway.

    • Tom says:

      You’ll want to get off before the fuel runs out. Numb butt, hands and brain…

    • Matt says:

      Given the overall riding comfort of the Sportsters, 45 minutes would be a well timed and welcome break from that shallow solo saddle.

  32. Tommo says:

    you brag about owning a BMW, a Harley and well-performing share portfolio, yet you complain about people suggesting you might be a dentist because you ride a Harley?

    • Tim says:

      I wonder what he has against dentists? LOL! The idea that defending your HD ownership by stating that HD is the most profitable/successful manufacturer pretty much reinforces the whole poseur/lemming idea……“I am part of a very large group of people who purchased a high priced, low build cost motorcycle”. I thought riding a motorcycle was all about individualism. I laugh under my helmet every time a squadron of middle aged men thunders past me at 45 mph in identical clothing and on identical HD baggers. To each his own……or not.

      BTW, I am the first Tim that made a dentist comment but I also agree with the other Tim and the dentist/lemming elaboration.

    • Dannytheman says:

      Bragging? Those are your words my friend. I don’t beat down any bike manufacturer as I have owned many of them. But bragging? No. Just stating facts. The idiot I quoted was making it look like all the Harley owners are Dentists and well to do. I am far from that, believe me. I just like old and new styles. If you don’t like Harley, I’m OK with that, but to refuse to acknowledge it’s success is asinine.

  33. Dannytheman says:

    Yup, Triumph. 254,560,000 total revenue. Very nice.
    Harley Davidson 4,860,000,000 total revenue. Only 19 times more. Billions, dude.

    Triumph? Really??????

    • Grover says:

      Revenue (turnover) doesn’t mean much if you cannot turn a profit. I don’t recall Triumph needing a bailout by their government to stay afloat.

      I find it amusing that Harley is trying to attract younger buyers through its Sportster line despite neglecting it for so long. Only now are they investing money in this line after the top end of their market collapsed following the GFC. It’s just a shame that they haven’t invested more in the engine.

  34. QCGoose says:

    I’m thinkin’ a Honda Rebel has a more stout front end than that on the new “72”. Good grief. Between that bicycle front wheel (I’m surprised they even threw on a disc brake instead of cantalever or v-brakes) and those handlebars, the whole thing looks ridiculous.

    *yawn* Just more of the same from HD. Next…

  35. John Bryan says:

    Yeah, a modern re-do of the XLCR based on the XR-X would be interesting…BUT…where’s the base, normal, undfiddled with Sportster 883? H-D discontinued the base Sporty a couple years ago. Or maybe build an 883 (with REAL shocks and a normal front fork) that looks just like an XLR, what the heck, go “whole hog” and use a 19″ rear wheel too, then just add lights. If the designers at H-D really want to do something interesting with the Sporty how about 2 versions of the modern XLR – one with a soft-tail style rear suspension so it looks like the rigid-framed flat track version of the XLR. You would have to have front brakes though…

  36. Dannytheman says:

    I am not a dentist, and that was an ignorant statement, Tim. I own a Harley and a BMW. I happen to enjoy air cooled V Twins. Both of these models will sell very well. Please post a motorcycle company whose stock has done better over the last 18 months.
    I might grab me that bobber softail. I can sell some of the HOG stock I acquired 3 years ago.

    • highspeedhamish says:


      • Dannytheman says:

        Could you expand with some percentage facts on the Bloor holdings please? The company is so diverse it is hard to analyze it’s vertically integrated Triumph motorcycle LTD.

    • Neil says:

      I say, “Who cares about stock holdings in THIS forum?” (More riders than posers) No offense. More one percenters buying low and then a bunch of fools buy high and the one percenters sell the rug out from under them. – These motorcycles look good. They are ok anywhere it does not snow and the roads are smooth. I had a Nightster and the suspension was useless on frost heaves, raised or sunken manhole covers, cable TV dug up and crappily filled in roads, potholes etc. – Even with rubber mounting you shift up through the vibration of the 45 degree horridly balanced motor and back down through the vibrations of the 45 degree horridly balanced motor. – I like the style. But terrible to ride. My 96 VFR 750 blew the Sporty into the weeds and I rode it ten thousand more miles in two years. Better cornering, acceleration, brakes, shifting, for less money. Look good. Ride horrible.

  37. ABQ says:

    I don’t want to hate H-D, but why do they keep insulting our intelligence with this style over function design?! A Harley cafe racer might be good if they took an old Buell and put their label on the fuel tank. Let’s see if they can keep the weight down.

    • Tim says:

      Don’t expect them to ever do anything other tha cater to the black clad lemmings. buehl had a nice bike, finally, and had it nearly sorted out ony to have the rug pulled from under him. Oh well, to each his own. If they all want a slow, heavy bike that shakes out their fillings they can have them. That’s just more money for their Harley riding dentist buddies who can then buy more slow Harley’s. Come to think of it, they have a sustainable marketing strategy after all.

      • Steveski says:

        C’mon Tim…. you wouldn’t buy a Harley if they dumped all of the existing bikes & built ONLY modern sportbikes…

        you’d have some other idiotic complaint to justify your opinion…

        • Tim says:

          Not necessarily true. I posted this mostly tongue in cheek (just stirring the pot a bit for fun), but I would love to have an American option. I once thought of buying a Harley. Fortunately, I rented one first and rode it for a day. I grew up with smooth Japanese twins and fours, and the heavy, shaky motor and foot forward riding position do nothing for me. My friend says I just don’t get it, and I admit that I don’t. I would also contend someone who has never experienced smooth Japanese, BMW or Triumph power, has no idea what they’re missing out on.

          For the record, Harley is great at marketing, the best there is. They get people who have never ridden bikes to buy into the lifestyle thing. In fact, Harley is all marketing, and little engineering substance. They do great paint though, I will give them that.

          Also for the record, the closest thing I have to a sport bike is a sport tourer, and I also have an adventure tourer. Sport bikes are even more uncomfortable than Harley’s (to me) but I do respect the engineering that goes into a modern sport bike, and I appreciate that money goes for R&D instead of advertising.

          If Harley would develop a liquid cooled adventure tourer, I’d give that serious consideration. Buell was on the right track with the Ulysses, but it would have been better if they had waited and put the Rotax motor in it.

    • Dannytheman says:

      Uhhhhh, because the sell tons of them!!

    • Bill says:

      I don’t see it as style over function. In my mind these bikes, and most Harleys, represent style as function. In other words the bike does exactly what it looks lit should do. I’ve never owned a Harley and can’t see myself ever owning one. These bikes don’t appeal to me (there are so many Harley models that most likely even some Harley guys won’t like at least one of these), but I can’t imagine belittling a motorcycle for no better reason than that.

  38. Gentleman Rook says:

    Massive engines producing very few horsepower pulling around overweight, overdramatic bikes? More attention paid to the paint than to the engineering? Ridiculous tire choices rendering classic ‘wet water buffalo’ handling? Despite all the hype about young audiences they’ve got bikes aimed at the very well-heeled perfect weather middle-aged weekend rider whose leathers still smell like the store and who has never swallowed a single bug? If you answered yes to all the above, you’re looking at a Harley Fergusson. *yawn*

  39. Roadrash1 says:

    Another site had a shot of the Softtail Slim bars from behind. I had a little chuckle cuz they looked exactly like bars that Buell used on my City X!