Review: Harley-Davidson Iron 1200

It’s hard to ignore the fact that in recent years Harley-Davidson has been broadening its range to seduce a wider audience. The most talked about models that Harley will soon launch are the electric LiveWire (already in September of this year!) and an adventure bike that will see daylight only next year but that’s already causing quite some stir. It’s safe to say both bikes belong in the “pretty particular” category.

Luckily, Harley doesn’t forget the beginner bikers. Proof of this is the 750 engine that was introduced in 2015, first in the Street 750 and later in the Street Rod.

Still, the lightest Harley isn’t always a novice’s first choice, which is why the Sportster range was expanded this year with the Iron 1200. Indeed, a big 1202 cc engine, but in the slender body of the Iron 883. Yet its price is just slightly higher than the 883’s: the Iron 1200 starts at £ 9,395 while you ride a new Iron 883 from £ 9,045.

So isn’t that bigger twin cylinder engine too much for a beginner? Well, I found the Iron 883 to have a nice engine but it lacked some excitement. The Iron 1200 wants to remedy that. The newcomer delivers 96 Nm and 67 hp while the 883 does 70 Nm and 52 hp. But other than a clear difference between the engines Continue reading

Photo special: Matchlight Motorcycle Show 2019

Yesterday the second edition of the Matchlight Motorcycle Show took place in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. As the organizers describe it: “a carefully curated collection or hand-picked vintage and custom motorcycles by some of Europe’s best builders”. A few pics I took:

Very impressive, supercharged 1975 Ironhead by Kruyswater Motorfietsen:

Descendant Of A Weapon by Simon’s Custom:

1970 Shovelhead by Pancake Customs:

Piss Yellow Panhead by James Bull:

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Review: Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Choppers and bulky bikes with a chrome overdose. If those are the first associations people make when they hear your brand name, it might be time to take action. Especially if you want to target a larger, younger audience.

That’s why Harley-Davidson introduced the Street 750 in 2015. Less heavy, less expensive and less of a Harley cliché. This new approach apparently gained traction, because in 2017 Harley presented the Street Rod. Based on the Street 750, but with a more lively, sportier attitude. I rode the Street Rod for a week.

Baby Harley?

The Harley-Davidson Street Rod has the smallest lung capacity of the entire Harley stable. After the Street 750, it’s also the cheapest Harley out there (starting at $8,699 in the US and € 8.225 in Germany).

Nevertheless, you can’t say the Street Rod is a Baby Harley. Absolutely not. This is a genuine Harley which can pull up next to its bigger brothers without a blush. The built quality leaves little to be desired (the tie-wraps look a bit cheap, and the cabling could be done a bit more decent here and there), there are plenty of Harley logos (up to the Michelin Scorcher tires), and I can’t imagine non-Harley fans loathing things like the beautiful, wide tank and red rear shock absorbers.

So it’s an all-classic Harley? Well no, not entirely. The Street Rod wants to be sportier than the average Milwaukee creation. So the Street 750 got some seriously slogging. Starting with the V-Twin. The 749 cc engine got pumped up considerably, making it climb from 59 Nm and 57 hp to 65 Nm and 68 hp. Harley even dares to put a High Output label on it.

Compared to the 750, the Rod also gets more ground clearance (from 145 mm / 5.7 in. to 205 mm / 8.1 in.), a higher saddle (from 720 mm / 28.3 in. to 765 mm / 30.1 in.), a bigger lean angle (from 28.5 to 37.3 degrees before the left footpeg touches the asphalt) and a sharper rake (from 32 to 27 degrees). Sounds promising? Start your engines!

And then you find yourself not being thrown back to your childhood, when you loudly raced your bike through the streets, a bunch of playing cards in the spokes. Nope, in contrast to earlier Harleys that I tested, the Street Rod sounds rather tame. So be it. Open the throttle and … try to find a good spot to put your feet.

Ergonomics

As Harley tradition dictates, it’s almost impossible to Continue reading

Review: Harley-Davidson Iron 883

Clothespins and playing cards. That’s all you needed when you were a kid and you wanted your bicycle to sound like a motorbike. In fact you were brainwashing yourself with that loud rattle because if there’s one motorcycle brand that approaches that sound, it’s Harley-Davidson, right?

Fast-forward to 2014. If I’d like to test a Harley for a week, they asked. My motorcycle experience is limited, I never even rode a Harley, so … why not?

If you think of Harley-Davidson, you probably imagine choppers, big tour bikes and of course that typical Harley sound that you hear coming from a few streets away.

My test bike wasn’t a massive Milwaukee beast like the CVO Limited but their lightweight: the Iron 883 from the Sportster series. Although a new featherweight will join it in august when the Street 750 will expand the bottom end of the Harley range.

The Iron 883 will however stay one of the entry-level Harleys, with a boarding ticket starting from $8,999. That’s an attractive price. And with its narrow built and low seat it’s not intimidating so Harley newbies who don’t want to tame a Fat Boy right away are easier to convince to join the HOG.

Sitting position: it’s a rebel

From the first meters you feel the Iron 883 waking up the rebel inside you, even if it’s one of the lightest Harleys. Pressing your knees against the tank? Riding with your toes on the footpegs? Forget about it. Not with this chum.

The footpegs are positioned far out and your toes don’t feel at home on them. But if you put the center of your feet on the pegs, you immediately notice that this is the way to go. Now you can just pivot your foot on the left peg to switch gears. Same story on the right for the rear brake.

And because x-legged riding is a very strange feeling, you ride with your legs spread. Period. Of course the downside of this sitting position is less feedback, less control and more wind.

The seat doesn’t offer any space to move. You sit down and you’ll keep the same spot all ride long. Which isn’t a disaster on short rides but longer trips aren’t very pleasant for your back and behind.

Bad boy with tempting looks

The Iron 883 is a real headturner. At home I – or rather the bike – got a very warm welcome from my wife. It stole her heart in an instant. “Why don’t you change your BMW for this one,” she asked several times during my week’s test.

The 883 has an attractive type of toughness. The black coated engine looks more modern than Continue reading