My Thoughts: 2014 Sportster 1200T

2014-Harley-Davidson-SuperLow-1200T-studio

The Sporster 1200T. Photo credit: cycleworld.com

Harley-Davidson has recently announced it’s newest addition to the venerable Sportster line-up: A 1200cc touring edition. I’m absolutely positive that the HD top execs got the idea from reading about my adventures on my Sportster, and I shall be pursuing legal council immediately. I wish!!!

20130811_155445

MY touring Sportster!

This is actually a really good idea. Harley is tapping into a market that has very few competitors: physically small, mid-displacement (it’s a bit mind-blowing that 1200cc is considered mid-displacement), touring-capable cruisers. Despite the unfortunate label of “chick bike”, the Sportster is a very capable machine. It definitely has enough “go” for the long haul, and with braided stainless steel lines and available ABS on the 1200T, it may actually be able to stop as well.

As a person who has actually toured on a Sportster 1200, I feel I’m in a position to offer my $0.02 on what the bike needs to be an adequate touring machine.

1. A Comfortable Seat

Most Sportsters are designed with form over function, with a small, uncomfortable seat. The seat on the 1200T looks identical to the “reduced reach” seat I bought for my bike (thank you nlclassifieds). If that is indeed the case, buyers of the 1200T should be given a coupon for a Canadian Tire gel seat because they’ll be wishing for it before they get from the Overpass to Monty’s*. A more plush seat would be a nice touch on this “touring” Sporty.

2. Wind Protection

The 1200T comes equipped with a quick-detach 14″ windshield, adjustable at the fork for various heights. I’d be willing to bet though, that it’s not near as effective as the huge 1980’s-style windshield that I fitted to my Sportster. I don’t really care that it looks a bit odd, it works incredibly well and even keeps the wind off my hands. Why don’t manufacturer’s made large windshields anymore? Oh right…they want you to buy colour-matched batwing fairings.

twothumbs

Two thumbs up for the retro windshield

3. A Gas Gauge

My Sportster doesn’t have a gas gauge (incidentally, neither does my car, but that’s another story). When you’re touring, this means that you really need to pay attention to your trip meter and you NEVER pass up the opportunity to fill up (or to use the bathroom…again, another story), especially if you’re in an area you’re unfamiliar with. I did a little research and I’m still not 100% sure if the 1200T has a gas gauge, but I know that HD sells them separately for $300. On a “touring” bike, this should be standard equipment.

4. Tubeless Tires

My Sportster has beautiful chrome spoked wheels, another example of form over function. Puncture a tubeless tire? Plug it, inflate it, done. Puncture a tubed tire? Jack up the bike (or lay her on her side…ouch), remove the wheel, get the tire off, patch the tube…etc. The 1200T has great-looking five-spoke aluminum wheels. Good choice, HD.

5. Suspension…Pretty Please???

My Sportster has very little suspension travel, and I’ve been back and forth across this island twice now. However, my magic elixir of youth and stubbornness has worn off (the youth moreso than the stubbornness though) and I’ve realized the toll uncomfortable miles take on the body. It’s difficult to find a good compromise between seat height and ride comfort. Harley’s target market for the 1200T is “shorter-statured” folks, between 5’1″ and 5’7″, and because of this they chose the “Superlow” chassis to build the bike around. With a seat height of only 26.1″, it doesn’t leave much room for the suspension to soak up the ubiquitous imperfections in our roads.

So there you have it, Harley-Davidson. Since I know that you read my blog, here are some things to consider for the 2015 model. I’ll be in touch with my address so that you know where to send my royalty cheques.

 

*For readers outside Newfoundland, the original “Overpass”, now replaced, was one of the first overpasses in the province, and came to represent the boundary of the city of St. John’s. Monty’s is a restaurant on the TCH in Whitbourne, popular with motorcyclists. From the Overpass to Monty’s is a distance of about 75km (47 miles).

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Posted on March 13, 2014, in Behind the Visor and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Krista:

    I’m not sure why any touring bike would be without a gas gauge. Doesn’t make sense unless it was a cheap model to keep the price low.

    I don’t remember the Overpass. We were in St John’s a while ago but we went north to Fogo island, Twillingate, then south to Burin peninsula and took the ferry to St Pierre/Miquelon. Next time we have to go to the West side but I really love Fogo. I rode my bike from Vancouver BC to PEI last summer but NL wasn’t in the plan last year. Next time we will ride the rock, most likely summer 2015

    Funny you should say that 1200 is only a mid sized bike. Perhaps that’s true for HD as they have 1,800’s now.

    bob
    A weekend photographer
    or
    Riding the Wet Coast

    • I made my first trip to Fogo this past summer, absolutely loved it. I haven’t been to the Burin Peninsula in about 10 years, and haven’t been to St. Pierre since the mid-1990’s. You will love the west coast of Newfoundland, it’s spectacular…actually our vacation plans are to spend at least a week out there this summer πŸ™‚ Oh, and do NOT pass up the opportunity to visit Gros Morne.

      I would love to have the time/nerve to ride across the country. Some day!!!

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