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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

  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.

    • 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..

    • 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.

  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

  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..

    • ryan says:

      Everything this guy did for Harley and the bikes he sold so well failed him in the end.R.I.P.

  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!!

    • roadshow says:

      Damn thats ugly for XR owners huh..Jorge those are the FACTS and you have no answer huh..

  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.

  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..

    • jorge says:

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

      • 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.”

        • 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..

        • ryan says:

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

  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..

    • jorge says:

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

      • roadshow says:

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

      • ryan says:

        Answer his question Jorge lol

        • 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.

          • ryan says:

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

          • roadshow says:

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

          • 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!!

          • 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.

          • 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..

  9. roadshow says:

    XR 1200 What is that??

  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.

    • 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..

      • 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?

        • 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??

          • 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.

          • 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

        • 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..

          • 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.

  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

  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).

    • 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..

      • jorge says:

        Just don’t get it do you? A Street Triple is a great bike, I’ve ridden one and like it a lot. What it is not is an XR1200.
        If you want an XR1200 its not about offering more for less, its not about better this or that. If you want an XR1200 theres only one and Harley makes it.
        Clearly the XR isn’t you thing so why are you so worried about what those of us who have them do?

      • ryan says:

        Its a better bike in every way and the XR IN A BUCKET..Get it!!

        • jorge says:

          The people who buy the XR don’t care. Get it!!
          On top of that I’m pretty none of us care what you think of it either.

          • roadshow says:

            This guy is a riot..He puts u Harley lovers to shame and u cant do a thing about it..I love this guy lol

        • ryan says:

          Ofcourse not Harley riders dont want the truth but everyone is going to get the facts whether u or anyone else likes it.Still waiting for anyone to tell me what makes this bike worth buying.FACTS NOT OPINIONS PLZ.Harley Davidson has no heart or passion for those who ride them.They make over price antiques and some deserve them..

  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!

  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?

  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.

    • ryan says:

      I’m a trash talker..Check out my CBR 900 turbo naked in Sport Rider magazine and WERA open superbike national championship.Bring on that XR..

  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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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…

    • LC says:

      Uhm…no she won’t.

    • ryan says:

      So ur XR runs 150 m.p.h..U lose..Wake me up when u break 130…Its a bucket like all Harleys..

      • roadshow says:

        It goes 121 m.p.h.and thats not on radar maybe 115 m.p.h. thats what 550,s did in 1981 actually they went 121 mph.Your wife would win..Women on Japanese bikes are more manly and faster than Harley riders..You lose HARLEY since 1977 remember King Kenny!!

        • ryan says:

          Damn your right that is funny yea King Kenny destroyed those XRs then they banded that bike..Harley Davidson couldnt beat a bike that he built in his garage..That bike still can spank any Harley anyday anytime King Kenny owns them

  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.

  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.

    • 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.

      • jorge says:

        Hopefully you will come visit us at xr1200ownersgroup.com great bunch of guys there with a lot of knowledge to share.

    • ryan says:

      Knowledge yes..Technology not!!

    • 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..

    • Harry says:

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

  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.

  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!

  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.

    • berkhippie says:

      Exactly!

    • ryan says:

      JOKE – TANK worst thing its a Hardley Driven.EXACTLY!Its funny when a Harley rider rides a Jap bike for the first time..They realize that have been taken by the name but guess what they deserve the bucket..

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

    • 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?

      • 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?

  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”….

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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!

    • 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.

      • 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!

  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.

    • 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??

      • 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.

      • roadshow says:

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

  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.

    • 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!!

      • 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.

  31. Axel says:

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

    • 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!

      • 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.

    • roadshow says:

      yea with 100,000 miles on it!!

    • Joe says:

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

  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.

    • ryan says:

      EXACTLY!Harley Davidson does not build a bike with new technology..All u HARLEY lovers tell me what makes a Harley so good?

      • Robert says:

        Don’t worry about it too much, you likely won’t get it anyway. Outdated technology? Yep. Enjoy your cutting-edge Honda/Suzuki/Metric plastic whatever scoots and try not to fret too much about what the rest of us are riding.

  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!

  35. Joe says:

    A seriously fast slow bike!

  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..

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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.

  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.

  40. Justin says:

    Not bad lookin’ for a fat chick.

  41. Johnne Lee says:

    “…I am not a Harley fan per se. I believe them to be over-priced but very well made and great at their intended purposes. The XR has a great look, handles well for a backroad burner, has great low-end, real-world power, and carries with it an air of exclusivity not achievable on any modern 600cc sportbike.

    If you haven’t ridden long enough or on enough bikes to appreciate each one’s nuances, write a reply about that. That will be fresh and entertaining, and a lot less closed-minded. Until you write something like that, those of us who know will enjoy a lot more about motorcycling while hoping that one day you “get it.” You really are missing out…”

    Please, LC, stop being an apologist.

    I was “getting it” (in more ways than one) AND riding a Sporster when you were still a gleam in your Daddy’s eye. The XR1200X is only attractive to those with more money than sense who enjoy “status” (in their minds) more than they enjoy motorcycling.

    “…very well made…” In comparison to what? Nice paint? Yeah. Cool vintage concept (for wannabe bad-boys who spent most of their lives tied to mamma’s apron strings)? For sure.

    “…exclusivity…” Its only necessary for the ego-impaired and it truly only resides in the ability to ride well, and that can’t be purchased from H-D or anyone else.

    “…Lucifer’s Hammer…” Which one, Pardner? There were several and I’ve ridden one. The XR1200X is a garbage truck by comparison, LH had every bit of the superbike tech of it’s era that could be adapted to it. Of course, you had to be VERY well connected (and have Bill Gates’ $$$) to obtain one.

    I prefer to ride a motorcycle; I have no need to enhance my image!

    Jeez…

    • jorge says:

      I was “getting it” (in more ways than one) AND riding a Sporster when you were still a gleam in your Daddy’s eye. The XR1200X is only attractive to those with more money than sense who enjoy “status” (in their minds) more than they enjoy motorcycling.

      And you have the nads to call anyone close minded? Amazing.

      • LC says:

        Jorge, just for clarification…Johnne Lee was quoting me for his first two paragraphs…then he started his rant and was a BIT disrespectful towards me…with his “getting it” comments…

        I said “closed minded” about the GSXR1ZXRR guys comments below…HE said he was “getting it” blah blah blah…

        not sure you had issue with….but I don’t think he’s impressed with my opinion

        • jorge says:

          He’s impressed with himself.
          Anyone who has the nerve to make a statement such as; “The XR1200X is only attractive to those with more money than sense who enjoy “status” (in their minds) more than they enjoy motorcycling.” is pretty full of himself and more than a bit on the close minded side.

    • LC says:

      Hey Mr. Experience (in more than one way I’m sure…wow!), that was an awful lot of writing to prove you missed my point. Bravo!

      Back to business…modern Harleys are very well made. Does that mean that ANY of their FLXRHXYZ air-cooled bikes make good track day bikes? Absolutely not…and we (the collective apron string riders) knew that before you chimed in. I know lots of guys, possibly even as…experienced, dare say….as yourself, who have A LOT of trouble-free miles on late-model Harley iron. The Japanese and European manufacturers make great product, no doubt, and Im not comparing the two. My RF900 had a leak from day one that the factory deemed incurable…my SV1000 had a leak from a side cover that the factory deemed incurable…etc. etc. etc. At the end of the day they are all motorcycles.

      Fortunately, I’m really handsome so I don’t need any help with my image. What I do need is a large palate of motorcycles to experience on a regular basis to help feed this obsession. So you know what I do…I buy and ride A LOT of bikes.

      Exclusivity means not seeing your bike on every corner. Everyone else but you understands that. I honestly don’t believe you don’t. Seriously.

      Regarding Lucifer’s Hammer and the history behind it…I’ll admit to not being as…experienced…or old, whatever, as you. But I will also admit to seeing what was deemed Lucifer’s Hammer once ridden by Gene Church….trailered to the track by Don Tilley (one of my father’s best friends since they were in their 20’s…yep)…carry on your pissing contest…I’ve put mine away.

      Isn’t the internet great!

  42. Gman says:

    Cool bike to own but a little pricey. I was a track only sport-bike rider/racer. Needed more seat time so I bought an ’06 1200R to convert to an XR for the street – $4,600. It’s not fast (a requirement to keep me at a sane street speed) but lots of fun. Scraping pegs or cruising hills are all at your wrist. The reactions I get are amazing. Both HD and Sport-bike riders don’t acknowledge you. I am stuck in this limbo motorcycle class….smiling all the way.

  43. Craig says:

    I rode the XR1200 at a demo event last year. It was a fun ride. But then I got back on my 10-year-old Buell M2 Cyclone, and it was better in every way. Faster, lighter, better handling, and MUCH more comfortable. So once again, I will keep my Buell. H-D really screwed the pooch by killing Buell. there is so much animosity in the motorcycling community because of their conscious decision to murder the company rather than sell to a willing buyer(BRP).

    • Cal Harling says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Craig. Compared to my 2007 STT the XR1200 I rode is a huge disappointment.

  44. LC says:

    ducatirdr, you can bet your rear end almost none of the opinionated below will have any idea what Lucifer’s Hammer was. I actually got to see that bike run in exhibition at Roebling Road in Savannah, Ga. They pulled it off the trailer and did some pace laps with Scott Zampach or Tripp Noble riding it….they paced with Kurt Hall on a Team Hammer GSXR1100 for a few laps. It was awesome! That was around 1989 or 1990 and that bike was an ancient legend then!

    There’s a guy building custom Harley stuff over in Japan who made a replica of Lucifer’s Hammer as a streetbike. Really cool.

  45. ducatirdr says:

    I like air cooled motors. I have a Buell XB12R and a BMW r1200RT. Both are modern versions of an ancient motor design. Not the fastest scoots down the road but both bikes have something hard to describe, character. This brings up a very subjective word. FUN. They are FUN to ride on the street.

    Still this bike does nothing for me as it sits. I’m not emotional attached to dirt track bikes. If this bike were set up with a full fairing and clip-on bars and a road racing gas tank like the old Lucifer’s Hammer or Cal Rayburn’s XRTT factory road racer then I would certainly own one.

  46. freecat says:

    While it would be great fun to hit the twisties and embarrass sportbike riders on this sharp-looking 1200, wouldn’t it be just as much fun to embarrass them on a 250cc Supermoto, for far less money?

  47. Chris says:

    Well Dirk, pretty huge assumption that none of us could waste that tractor in a set of twisties. In the end we are the readers and the consumers so its up to us to decide. Personally i would never ride a tarted up chopper, the wheel base is long the sportster chassis has never been known for its conering ability, doesnt matter how much suspension you throw at it theres no synergy in the design. Its no where as good a package as any of the current retro or naked bikes no matter whose riding it and at the speeds your thinking i’m sure it would be downright dangerous.

  48. Chris says:

    I’m 24 and I own a Buell Ulysses XT. I have ridden the XR1200 and would definitely consider owning one. I really enjoyed reading this thread and I think the line between the HD and non-HD camp is keeping folks from seeing the ‘other’ point of view. This motorcycle isn’t a Buell, and therefore it won’t be as fast or as light. It is also not a sportbike, so you won’t win any race. If you want to go as fast as possible for as cheap as possible this bike doesn’t make sense.

    If you want to enjoy being part of the HD family (even riding a ‘blacksheep’ Buell has been different that the Suzuki and Kawasaki I owned) and you want a nice, standard, torque-y, sporty, twin this bike is a win. Eric is dedicated to making sportbikes, as evidenced by the 1125R and the unreleased 1190. I’m not sure he will ever be behind a motorcycle like this again.

    On that note, I love my Buell, but I’m not sure what I’ll do when the time for a new/second bike comes. Have to see what Eric does in February. Maybe I’ll ask him this weekend at Homecoming…

  49. LC says:

    Yep, this is a copy of the reply I left on the original article about the U.S. market being “deemed worthy” of the XR, but with a few amendments.

    I keep reading all these criticisms of how this bike isn’t a “true sportsbike” and how it won’t run with everyone’s latest, greatest 600cc sportbike. Oh, it won’t run with a Buell XB12 either. Guess what, Geniuses? You are correct! Yay! Now go get yourself a lollipop and sit down.

    Liking motorcycles is great…I’m glad you do. That’s good for the industry, and good for business. But at least be open to the fact that there are better options for given purposes than whatever you are currently riding. The XR1200 is a GREAT streetbike. I’ve ridden one…and ridden hard…for many miles. It is more comfortable on a daily basis, and has real-world, right-now power at lower speeds and lower rpm’s. The bike feels great hitting it at top gear from a 60-mph roll.

    I’ve had them all, by the way…my last 600 was a 636, 2005. I’ve had two ZX-10’s, GSXR’s of all sizes, and many other bikes. I won several WERA races in 1990 and 1991 on a Yamaha FZR 400. My current bikes are a 2009 Concours 14 and a 1994 HD Sportster.

    No, the XR won’t run with the full leathers on Sunday crowd on their GSXR1ZXRR’s, but it will more than impress EVERY one of them on any twisty road in America. Blah, blah, blah, I can hear you now and let me correct you before any of you computer racers reply…I DO know what I’m talking about. Do you?

    I am not a Harley fan per se. I believe them to be over-priced but very well made and great at their intended purposes. The XR has a great look, handles well for a backroad burner, has great low-end, real-world power, and carries with it an air of exclusivity not achievable on any modern 600cc sportbike.

    If you haven’t ridden long enough or on enough bikes to appreciate each one’s nuances, write a reply about that. That will be fresh and entertaining, and a lot less closed-minded. Until you write something like that, those of us who know will enjoy a lot more about motorcycling while hoping that one day you “get it.” You really are missing out

  50. Marc says:

    Have to admit the whole Harley thing is lost on me and a”sport” version even more so. Love what Eric Buell has done given the motor he had to live with and that motor was what keep me from buying one. He finally got a motor and then the rug was pulled form under him.

  51. mittenduck says:

    I rode the xr1200. The dealer told me to test it for a few hours, if I wanted. I really wanted to like the bike and looked forward to a fun afternoon. The problem was that it was so uncomfortable. The guard for the for the rear brake resevoir bit into my right ankle and the airbox had a corner that stuck me in the right knee. Neither of these problems appeared to be fixable with anything short of major bike surgery. On the left side there was a large rod, part of the complicated shift linkage, that chafed my other ankle. I had to ride with my knees splayed. Am I the only guy who has such a sensitive body? I have owned a couple dozen bikes and ridden probably another eight dozen and never experienced this level of discomfort. The sad part is that otherwise the bike was very entertaining. It had lots of grunt and a very cheerful, friendly personality. OK I’m anthropomorphising; it has a bikeanality. I wanted to like this bike. It handles pretty damn well, and it is undeniably cool, but I just could not bear the way it poked me.

  52. Jeff says:

    Couple of points:
    1). I’ve never owned an HD; I’ve had mostly performance oriented bikes since 1980, but I like the XR1200x. I would like to own one, and may at some point.

    2). I’ve raced and done track days since 1984. I’ve ridden 600 super-sports, several generations of R1s, SV650s and RZ350s. Hands down, the RZ and SV were the most fun. there’s an old track day saying: “I’d rather ride a slow bike fast, than a fast bike slow.” The point being that accessing the maximum from a full-on sportbike on the track requires a lot of effort (fun in it’s own right, but not easily or lightly accessible), but riding a lesser bike right up to ( and a hair beyond) it’s limits, is just plain more fun. I’m guessing the XR would b like that.

    Great job Dirck

  53. Gary says:

    I would not hit my dog in the butt with that bike.

    I love HD cruisers because they are what they are … nice looking with a great rumble. But no one will mistake them for performance iron. Might as well hang a “beware of dog” sign around the neck Pee Wee Herman.

    Harley is trying to make believe this chuffer is a performer, but it will get eaten alive by an SV650 in any measure of speed. Half the size, half the price, 25 percent better go-power.

    Harley’s demographic is slowly dying off, or getting too old to ride. Sales are slipping and will continue to slip. It is a shame they are sacrificing short-term profit for long term viability among younger riders … who are all flocking to sportbikes.

    Buell was prolly their last hope. They will get what they deserve.

  54. tastroman says:

    When I was in the market for a bike last year I walked into a Harley dealership for the 1st time in my 30 years of riding. At 45, I guess I’m done with sportbikes and the looks of the XR appealed to me. So from a looks standpoint the XR at least got me in the door so pat. In the I bought a Buell Ulysses (the 1st new bike I have ever owned), lighter, more versatile, better handling, also American made, and more HP. You see, for some of us middle age guys raised of Japanese in-line 4’s, but willing to move on, performance is still a factor even if it is no longer the factor.
    I think the XR is a step in the right direction but in my case at least it was just to many steps behind Buell.

  55. Garrett says:

    Talking about how much better Buells were than this bike is like talking about how much better Babe Ruth was than A-Rod… Buell is dead, Harley isn’t (if I had my way, it would be the other way around…). It sucks, I know. Let’s move on though, shall we?

    Oh, yea. And don’t give Dirk a hard time. He knows way more about motorcycles than you.

    • Chris says:

      Yes but Erik Buell’s 18 month non compete clause with Harley Davidson that was part of his severance package is about to expire. I’ll bet Bombardier Recreational Products are counting the days.

  56. berkhippie says:

    Bikes that I’ve own or still own:
    1972 Honda CL350
    1977 Kawasaki KZ650
    1980 Honda CB750f
    1983 Suzuki GS750e
    1986 Kawasaki Concours
    1986 Suzuki GSXR750
    1990 Harley FXLR
    2002 Harley Ultra Classic

    Next Bike:
    I recently test rode a Triumph Bonneville and Harley XR1200. With that being said, my next bike will be the XR1200x. Because it’s different and fun to ride. Nothing else matters. So all you bikers quit bashing each other and just go buy the bike that you like to ride. It could be worst, no bikes of any kind/type at all. I must be the target rider that Harley was looking for, 50 yrs. old and riding street bikes since 1975.

    • berkhippie says:

      Because it’s FUN. Don’t need to cream the XR1200X and don’t care if it is not the latest, greatest, fastest or cheaper. FUN is what riding is about. That’s why there are different choices for people. That being said, I’m one of those riders who wave at all motorcyclist and like all bikes. Are you?

  57. Ben says:

    I love my XR!!!

  58. akhan says:

    I’m sure the XR is a nice bike. But when I spend my painfully earned money I spend it on bikes that are cheaper, lighter, more powerful, more refined, more technologically advanced, more reliable, better looking, etc. And I certainly would never buy anything just because of the name on the tank.

    In fact, I would have bought a Buell over the XR ANY day of the week…but you know what happened there.

    Now, if I were a millionaire and collected bikes like some people collect lint in the belly buttons, I might consider owning the XR.

  59. randy says:

    I like the XR1200X, just wish it came in a glossy color…I hate the flat denim look.Rode the XR1200 a few times and its a fun bike to ride.I had a ZX14 and there really was no place to tap all that power without ending up in jail.

  60. Jeremy in TX says:

    The XR is a sad story for me because H-D really could have made this a great bike if they had taken the project seriously. The styling is alllmossst right. The correct styling cues are there, but the design just doesn’t flow. The artful tank, the too-chunky tail, the mile-long exhaust: nothing works together. It is as if a tracker builder and a Fisher-Price designer were fighting over the design of a bike, and the XR1200 was the compromise.

    Props for the great suspension and increased engine output – 80 hp at the wheel is plenty for me if it is wrapped in the right package. But that package would have to weigh at least 120 lbs less.

    At that price-point, they really should have made an effort to compete with Ducati’s SportClassic line on a level other than sales volume. A truly competent XR from Harley would appeal to a much broader portion of the market domestically and abroad while alienating zero of the guys that have bought or plan to buy an XR anyway. Perhaps guys like me who have been sniffing at SportClassics or praying (everyday for the past decade) for a Triumph Bonneville R model with 80 rwhp and minus 30 lbs to break cover present too small a number to justify that type of product investment. But a bike like that would have put a Harley-Davidson motorcycle into uncharted territory: my short list.

  61. Goose says:

    As an XR1200 (not, unfortunately, an XR1200X) owner I have to say your review is pretty good. I’m pleased to hear the X suspension is as good as it should be.

    If you are past the stage where owning the fastest, coolest, whateverest bike in town rules your world try an XR. They are so much fun on real roads at more or less sane speeds it is hard to explain. I just did 1,600 miles in six days on my XR, nearly all of it tight, twisty two lane, I rode Sonora, Ebbetts and Monitor passes the same day. The ride was supposed to be 1,200 miles but I just kept riding more then planned.

    The only real problem with the bike is the tiny gas tank, 3.5 gallons just isn’t enough.

    Goose

  62. ABQ says:

    “not bad for a half-century-old air-cooled design,” hahahaha….

  63. jimbo says:

    I can’t wait, can not wait, for BMW to release the last cruiser/roadster a/c R1200 show bike previewed circa 2008. With one spark plug removed it would probably make the XR look like it’s in reverse, look better (purely subjective, I know), and its motor will easily top 200k rather than shake itself apart in short order, and everything else attached to the frame with it ala H-D. And very friendly, riding enthusiast dealers minus the H-D attitude. And BMW doesn’t cash paychecks from tax funds paid under duress as per H-D.

    Yes, the R1200 will certainly cost more, and be more than worth every extra penny.

    • Gabe says:

      Have you ever actually compared reliability of H-Ds vs. BMWs? Scientifically, not based on what was true 30 or 40 years ago? Look at warranty claims, customer satisfaction, and other actual data: it may surprise you.

      I’m not saying one brand is better than another, just trying to dispel urban legends that just won’t die.

      • jimbo says:

        Gabe
        I OWNED a Buell Ulysses with more highly tuned version of the XR motor. The first time I rode it on CA 101 the flyscreen hit me in the helmet, just south of the discount gas station just south of Petaluma. Is it supposed to do that? I know your wonderful XR weighs about 2000 lbs more than the Ulysses, and that mass will help damp vibration. But please, tell us, and be specific: how many inches +/- was the “stroke” of the tip of the hand grips attached to the handlebars at idle? My Uly was about +/- 1.5″ or 3″ total stroke. Now, is that consistent with a motor that and frame and attached parts (most parts attached to the frame are only secured with threaded fasteners, they are not welded) that will self-destruct or last 200k miles?

        No less an authority than the man who engineered and built Doug Henry’s #2 Yamaha Supermoto Race Bike (#2 behind Ben Bostrum for the year, the builder’s street YZ425 did not detonate on Mexican fuel with 14.0-1 C.R.) says the motors self destruct. Have you ever owned one? (Not on your income…)

      • jimbo says:

        For clarification the self-destruct prediction in the last sentence was regarding modern H-D a/c motors.

        Why don’t you tell us how H-D rates for reliability vs. the competition? IIRC H-D rated quite low in reliability per Motorcycle Consumer News report of warranty claims. (I know that BMW did in fact rate very bad if not the worst, but that doesn’t jive with my experience of 37k trouble free miles on an R1150GS, whose motor did indeed feel like it would go 200k).

  64. Gary says:

    If Harley had not dumped Buell, I might consider this bike. If Harley sold all the key water-cooled rights to Erik Buell or BRP for $1 tomorrow, I might consider this bike. Without a gesture to Erik from Harley, I won’t consider this bike no matter how good it is. Is that rational? Perhaps not, but that’s the way I feel. Harley lost my money the day they decided to close down Buell and make it very difficult for Erik to continue making a true American sport-bike just when we were on the verge of having a true American Super-bike.

    • jack says:

      Dead on. I like the looks of the XRX and one of my dreams was to have a street legal XR750, but this thing is waaay too heavy and the 18″ wheel was a dumb move. I’ve had my fun with Sportsters in the past, but after what H-D did to Erik Buell and the people at Buell MoCo there is no way in hell I’ll buy another Harley. If/when I get old and fat, I’ll look at a Victory before a H-D. Until then, I’ll enjoy my XB12S, and smight even look to pick up a Triumph Speed Triple or Street Triple for my next bike.

  65. Dirck Edge says:

    Air cooled Ducatis have never made the kind of horsepower produced by their liquid cooled counterparts, but Ducati (like H-D, with and without Buell) has continued to invest in improving its air cooled engines, and they have a strong following among enthusiasts. Some of the reasons are discussed in our article way back in 2002 (http://www.motorcycledaily.com/2002/10/21october02ducatids/). The appeal of air cooling is based on many elements, including but not limited to an emotional appeal. What H-D has produced with the XR is a relatively successful product, because enough motorcyclists want this bike for its design, heritage, feel (of the pushrod, narrow angle v-twin), styling and performance. Performance is not the be-all and end-all in motorcycles, or many other products. Motorcycling is essentially an emotional experience, and power-to-weight ratio can be one (of many) elements in this emotional equation, but it is never the only element. Numerous factors go into the development and design of a successful product. If this H-D is not for some of our readers, that’s fine. Perhaps, however, some of those who are so critical do not understand why this bike could appeal to other motorcyclists. You might be less quick with your opinion, and a little less sure of yourself. Other riders, some with far greater experience, might enjoy this motorcycle for the many reasons I have discussed, and perhaps others. The flat track heritage is particularly important to some enthusiasts. On top of all this, Gabe and I have actually ridden XRs, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Then again, my favorite two-wheel experience so far was aboard my 2-1/2 hp Briggs & Stratton-powered mini bike as a nine year old — but you wouldn’t understand that, either. Finally, real world performance has some relevance, and most of you criticizing this bike could not hang on to the back of a well ridden XR in the twisties, even if you were on a MotoGP bike.

    • jorge says:

      Pretty much on the mark. Of course you will be flayed by many of your readers for it.

      • Bismo says:

        Absolutely on the mark. Don’t listen to the Harley hating punks. They never supported Buell or many of the Jap nakeds that came to the US. These guys just need something to bitch about before their mommies get home.

        • Tim says:

          Aarrgh! Harley never supported Buell in their own dealerships, either me Mateys.

          • michael says:

            Dirck,

            I do agree about the minibike! Bouncing around in my buddy’s backyard. (His bike, my Mom wouldn’t let me have one….darn ER nurses!)

            I found something almost as fun as the minibike with the XB9SX, but after last Fall, I sold it and moved on. I ride a Triumph Street Triple R now, and for me….the fun is back.

            We should all agree on one thing..if it has two wheels, it is fun for somebody!

    • Tim says:

      “Finally, real world performance has some relevance, and most of you criticizing this bike could not hang on to the back of a well ridden XR in the twisties, even if you were on a MotoGP bike.”

      Could you make a broader or more arrogant statement about a group of people you know nothing about? Besides, with that rationale, 95% of all sportbike owners should be riding XS400 Yamahas or something equivalent. Afterall, if they can’t ride their litre-bike as fast as somebody else, what business do they have buying the thing in the first place? They certainly aren’t qualified to point out any flaws in the XS400.

      • steve says:

        thing is the average rider could probably ride way quicker and safer on these same twistys with a bike in the low/mid 400 pound range-(ktm 990 sms,fazers,zrx and the list goes on and on) rather than this 600 pound heritage thing or whatever it is. So the pilot of that well ridden xr would go faster and be safer on a bunch of other bikes, oh but he has that heritage thing lol

      • jorge says:

        I can’t help but notice a lot of people commenting on this thread and the other XR1200X thread have no problem making broad, arrogant statements about a bike and people they know nothing about so maybe Dirck should just join the party.

    • kpaul says:

      Dirck Love the new site format and Gabe is a great writer. I guess I wonder how this new HD compares with the Ducati Air cooled Monsters. Aside from the Flack Track thing I don’t see the market for this bike outside the Harley faithful unless it can compare with other air cooled standards. If within the Harley faithful I see this as a hard bike to sell

    • berkhippie says:

      Dirk,
      I know what you mean. Been riding street bikes since ’75 and have own Hondas, Kawasakis, Suzuki and Harleys. So far my favorite bike was a 1977 Kawasaki KZ650c. Not the fastest, greatest etc.. It was just pure fun during that time in my life. Def. an emotional experience. I’ve own 8 bikes and love everyone of them even though some/most were not the fastest, greatest etc.. For all you bench racers who rags on the XR1200x, too bad cause I’m getting one and will be having fun riding it during my retirement while you guys complain/bitch about hp, torque, handling etc… I just like it because it is a motorcycle that appeals to my emotional side and it puts a smile on my face.

    • Dennis says:

      Couldn’t have said it better. The riding experience is what you make of it, regardless of the bike. The mini bike reference is spot on. Who is to say what will make your ride a happy one? If you measure riding fun by the spec sheets, your missing the point.
      Riders have been riding air cooled Ducs and Guzzi’s for years for a reason:they give them what they are looking for. Let us not forget the new Trumpets too. Having ridden all of them and the new XR, I found them to be excellent bikes to ride.
      The naysayers should give ’em a try. You never know, you might like it.

  66. Vroooom says:

    The fact is that any bike is fun at a track day, it’s not really a standard you can apply to a motorcycle review. I’m guessing a Honda CT90 would be great fun. I’ve ridden supermotos at track days, the single cylinder kind. You might only get 100 in the straights, but you kill in the corners. That may be true for a supermoto, but you aren’t going to kill on the corners on this thing. 550 lbs., 75-80 hp, limited corner clearance, $12K? That’s a hard one to justify unless you are really into Harleys. The last 550 lbs. bike I took to a track day would at least hit 145 in a 3/4 mile straight. As others have said, they had a Buell that did this much better, and decided not only they didn’t want it, but didn’t want others to have it either. Now they come out with a heavier slower version of the air cooled Buell? If they can convince existing Harley owners that there’s a more sporting bike in their favorite flavor, maybe it will do OK (I have to wonder what Ducati air-cooled sport bikes they are including, now that the supersports are gone, there isn’t much to choose from other than sport classics, which weren’t really designed as a sportbike).

  67. Murf says:

    Bunch of whiners. There are a bunch of great sportbikes out there already. HD’s intent wasn’t to build another. It’s not about trying to make a Yamaha, Duc, or Buell. It’s a HD- and it stays true to that. If you want to buy a bike by stats buy something else. If you want something different than everyone else, don’t want an acre of plastic, and want to be able to actually maintain it yourself this thing is a great option.
    Murf

    • jack says:

      No, if you want something that was different, didn’t want an acre of plastic, and wanted to maintain it yourself, the BUELL XB series was a *great* option that performed way better and cost less. H-D killed that option rather than sell Buell to another company…that’s just mean-spirited.

      (Oh, and H-D’s excuse for why they didn’t sell Buell MoCo is absolute B.S. There should probably be a shareholder lawsuit in regard to that, but that’s for another thread.)

  68. Trpldog says:

    HARLEY – I know you are looking…

    I’m a motorcyclist – since 1973.
    I just got done owning both a XB9 and XB12R Buell.
    I don’t know who’s making your decisions.
    I would have bought another Buell even with a HD badge on it.
    I’m a motorcyclist – since 1973…
    I bought a Speed Triple.
    Shame on you.

    Trpldog

  69. Stinky says:

    I own two Buells and have ridden the 10 XR. This new bike is a step in the right direction. As far as a sportbike it’s no comparision, as a nice riding motorcycle it’s a VERY good bike. I didn’t get a chance to get the old suspenders to wallow and carry on the way the magazine guys do. I’ve got an old R100S and you learn to live with a wallow while it’s settlin’ in.
    Most people that are in the market for a bike like this (Duc classic,MG Griso,V7,BMW Roadster,Triumph Bonny Scrambler,Thruxton) ride reasonably hard and try to avoid tickets. For that this bike is on the mark. BUT, just like the Duc classic the fuel capacity is an embarrassment. Riding like a nursing home reject or you might not make a 2 hour ride. That’s the only pathetic part.

  70. nferr says:

    Not a bad bike. But for twelve grand?? No thanks. This thing will flop badly. Harley can’t sell a performance type bike. They’re locked into their “image” niche.

    • Gabe says:

      Did you read the story? This is probably one of the better-selling standard motorcycles in the USA market. They won’t sell a lot, but they’ll sell enough to satisfy a small but hopefully growing market. Harley has always had performance-oriented motorcycles in its catalog, even if not always to the general public.

  71. ohio says:

    I’d love to buy a factory-built “street-tracker.” I’d love to buy it even more if it were American. But this bike is 150lbs overweight. 150 POUNDS!!! That’s like lugging an overweight pillion with you everywhere you go. Considering they share an engine and transmission, that makes the weight of Buells bikes that much more amazing.

  72. Joe says:

    Harley should drop the piglet and stick to the Hogs. I like those 105 year old bikes.

  73. Mike says:

    This is the product of 105 years of building motorcycles? Big freakin’ deal.

  74. steve says:

    i could almost ride that and not be embarrassed to be seen on it, almost

  75. GMan38 says:

    I’ve been considering a Moto Guzzi Griso 8V as a sort of sport touring bike. Wonder which handles better when I do encounter the occasional twisty. Dimension-wise, they look similar.

  76. Dave says:

    It looks like a Harley should look. That said, would I want one. No thanks, the only thing it has going for it is no periodic valve adjustments due to hyd. lifters.

  77. Mark says:

    “Briggs and Stratton” as a racetrack? That to me says it all about how us “mericans” view our motorsports. This HD is just an extension of this attitude.

  78. Gary says:

    I’ll say it and I’m not ashamed: What Harley did to Buell was a disgrace to the American motorcycle community (and I’m not just talking about them shutting them down, but their refusal to sell). And for them to release their version of a “sport-bike” and start their own racing series while that wound is still so fresh among motorcyclist who truly value performance is just plain dumb.

    There’s always Polaris Victory.

  79. Jim says:

    Plenty of power for a street bike and proper suspension bits. But too heavy, it even looks heavy. Did they forget to paint it? Seats too low. Is there an uglier exhaust system on a MC? Overall aesthetics, nice for a Harley but still very dated without achieving a feeling of retro chic.

  80. Richard Grumbine says:

    I rode the previous model back to back with a BUELL Lightening long… and walked away wondering WTF was harley thinking… Buell already nailed this one down. The Buell had more character, more power, less weight, and in my book was better looking too… in the end I bought a Street Rod used as it was faster than the Buell (so long as you were going in a straight line) and looked and felt better built. and being used was cheaper too.. if it was 100 pounds ligher (or even 50) it would be the bees knees! Same maybe could be said for the porky XR… good luck harley… after you killed Buell you will get no more support from me…

  81. Fuzzyson says:

    Cool looking bike, years behind it’s time, typical lack luster Harley perfomance and technology. Too bad they’re wasting so much time and money trying to make an ancient platform “look” modern instead of using the money to better promote Erik Buell and Buell motorcycles-the only chance that Harley would have ever had to compete with true European and Asian sport bikes.
    V-Rod: Cool idea but Yamaha already did it(and better)over 25 years ago and everybody else except Harley has since!
    Harley=the plastic surgery experts, old on the inside, fresh paint and chrome outside.
    I owned one air-cooled dinosaur in ’01, ain’t falling for that one ever again!
    XR1200X-already X-tinct.

  82. Chris says:

    Well Harley rub Buell into the dirt, then this lame attempt at some sort of sport bike.Even retro bikes have some sort of style, whats with the passenger seat????Seems to me like another parts bin special.In my mind this is possibly the worst bike Harley have ever built. Surely a naked bike with a Vrod engine and a bit of that Harley attitude in a can would be a much better proposition. And Willy how bout this for a concept design a chassis……I’m sure if Eric were still in your employ it could of happened. Not happy he outsourced his engines?????

  83. kpaul says:

    I plead guilty, hard to say nice things about Harley these days after they killed Buell. Just when Buell was getting it right they killed them. I don’t understand this bike at all. I predict this bike will be sold for a couple of years only. The V-Rod based Street Rod was a better bike and it didn’t sell. The Buell naked standards were better for this market I think. But, no kid < 30 is going to be caught dead riding this bike sorry. Is this another stab at nostalgia in this case dirt trackers. Probably but doubt the market will be big for this bike. Dead on arrival Harley. I agree with several others here that Harley is moving backwards.

  84. avus says:

    and where’s the marketing support from HD to promote this bike? remember the big publicity push HD made months prior to the introduction of the V-Rod – because it wasn’t your ‘typical’ HD?

    • Gabe says:

      Where’s the marketing support? You’re looking at it: H-D held a separate press intro for this bike, has a dedicated website, and is very enthusiastic about it in general.

  85. Mark Flanagan says:

    The XR1200X is a very nice motorcycle. It’s just nothing cutting edge. Most riders would be happy with it as a second bike in the garage. Some might like something more track oriented and some would like something more tour oriented. It’s probably the best supermoto style bike the motor company could offer. Unless they let Erik and Buell Motorcycles built it for them. I’d be gaga if it was more scrambler like the Triumph is.

  86. jorge says:

    Thanks for what seemed to be a well balanced, well reasoned article.
    Everybody knows the bike isn’t cutting edge sporting material. Those of us who own and like them know it very well. We just don’t care and like it for what it is, not bemoaning what it isn’t.

  87. Sands says:

    I think it’s a good looking bike and I like the looks of the XR as well…I like the fact that Harley is improving performance yet keeping the simple design of the air cooled motor….Would I buy one ? Probably not but I can see there will be folks out there that like it..A bikes doesn’t have to make 150 HP to be a good motorcycle.

    Thanks for the review!

  88. Dave-O says:

    Yeah, I vote along with Cal Harling. Having said that, my current ride, a ’92 cb750 Nighthawk, has pitiful specs, and yet fulfills its mission well: commuter with entertaining acceleration. I would bet that big torque at low rpm’s is not only street-friendly, but could put a grin on the rider’s face. I was hoping for a stand-up wheelie photo. C’mon!!

  89. Doug says:

    There is something to the old saying “I’d rather ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow”. I can see where this bike will be entertaining to ride and it has a nice look. And really, how many folks out there can really use 180 hp on a public road – No one. But seriously, has HD taken any notice to what the competition has been pumping out for the last 40 years or so.

  90. Cal Harling says:

    Good looking bike. Too bad its such a pig. Seriously, a Buell XB12 weighed 120 pounds less, made more hp, handled better, and had a MRSP $1400 less. Harley is going backwards, not forwards.

    • Tim says:

      Dude. I wouldn’t mention the B word if I were you. And don’t point out any Harley Davidson shortcomings. Trust me on this.

    • Willie says:

      I agree, it does look okay. I just don’t understand the target market. The guys who buy Harleys are cruiser riders, or touring riders. For the 12 grand this thing costs, there are any number of quicker, faster, lighter, better performing in any category motorcycles available. Harley Davidson had a performance division that put out some terrific stuff, but they couldn’t sell enough of ’em. How is anyone interested in a sport bike going to get excited about another Sportster with a tiny tank?

      I think I’d rather buy a Triumph Street Triple and really have some fun.

      • jorge says:

        You’re right, you don’t understand the target market.
        You make the mistake of lumping everyone who buys Harleys into the category of cruiser or touring riders.
        The people who have XRs tend to be older guys, probably most of us around 50 give or take. Many have a background in flat track racing or just like styling reminiscent of it. Quicker, faster, lighter don’t enter into it. Theres only one XR1200 and it is what it is.
        It is not the bike for people deciding to buy a Ninja or an XR.
        If the Street Triple is what turns your crank buy it, its a great bike, I’d like to have one for myself, but its a different machine.
        If Triumph were to want to compete with the XR head to head it would be with a Bonnevile done up street tracker style. It would have the same issues of weight and power that the XR does (and I’d like to have one).

        • Willie says:

          Oh, I get it now. It’s all about “styling” and old guys reminiscing about their glory days, huh? Slower and heavier turns your crank, great, you are the target market for this bike.

          I didn’t make any mistake when I said Harley buyers were either cruiser riders or touring riders, that’s a fact. Just walk into any Harley -Davidson dealership and this XR is the only sport bike you’ll see, everything else is a cruiser or tourer.

          I’m 51 and have owned a few Sportsters, both ironhead and evolution engine versions. I got tired of wrestling them into the turns. Be honest here, this is just another Sportster, and after dropping Buell and their innovative machines this is a step backward. I don’t think I’m interested in a bike just for it’s styling anymore, it needs to be fun and easy to ride.

    • kpaul says:

      Well said Carl you nailed it. 🙂