Please allow me to brag on my hometown for just a minute. Widely known for county music, Nashville is much more than most people think and among other things, has a rich history in the hotrod and motorcycle culture. Those traditions continue today and there are a host of talented builders (of both the 4-wheeled and two-wheeled kind) that currently call The Music City home.
One of those talented individuals is J Ryan of Gusher Cycles. I first met J Ryan about 8 years ago at a local bike show and since then have seen him out and about once or twice a year. It’s to the point now that I look for him at any show I think he might be at… just because I know he will have something stellar on display.
Last weekend I attended a show at the Nashville Fairgrounds and sure enough, J Ryan was there with another one of his smokin’ hot creations. You’re going to have to believe me when I tell you that these photos don’t come close to accurately reproducing the gorgeous paint job on this bike (show lighting is always so awesome!) but even so, you can see that J Ryan has perfected his painting and fabrication skills to a level that most will never reach.
Take a look and then jump on over to gushercycles.com to see more of J Ryans creations. I’m jonesin’ hard to have him paint my Sporty project bike for me and if you’re looking for custom work yourself (paint, fabrication, bars, etc.) you should definitely check out what Gusher Cycles has to offer.
The Spring Thaw! That’s what they call the motorcycle and car show that my friends over at Both Barrels Promotions do every March to kick off the “official” ridding and cruise-in season here in Nashville. It’s the show we look forward to all winter long… knowing that it signifies that the “Dark Months” are officially behind us and we can move on to more cooperative weather for our motorcycle and hot rod habits. It’s an awesome feeling… and today was the day. I never miss this show and this year brought out some real gems. These are a few of my favorites. Look for more in depth features on some of them in the near future… but for now, enjoy the re-cap.
(WARNING: TONS OF PICTURES)
Those who know me or frequent this blog know that I am a Sportster fanatic. It all started back in the 70s, when as a child, I watched a TV show by the name of Then Came Bronson which depicted an ultra-cool dude riding from town to town on an ultra-cool bike… a Harley-Davidson Sportster. Over the years I’ve owned just about every brand and size of motorcycle you can imagine, but I always seem to wind up back at Bronson’s choice of two-wheels. In fact, that’s where I am right now. Some thought I was crazy when I sold my Electra-Glide last year and got another Sporty. But that’s OK. I am perfectly happy with my choice. And if some don’t understand… well, in Jim Bronson rebel form, that makes it even better!
But enough about me. As a fan of the bike… I’ve been pretty happy to see the Motor Company giving the Sportster model some specific attention over the past few years. And in particular, their decision to try and capture some of its history and the retro vibe that I love. The Nightster, Iron 883 and the Forty-Eight were great steps in that direction and now here we are in 2012 and H-D has taken it to the next level with the introduction of the Seventy-Two.
Marketing blabber from Harley describes the newest member of the Sportster family like this: “Authentic ’70s chopper attitude meets modern power and premium H-D styling in this bare-bones, lowrider-inspired radical custom.” I don’t know how accurate that is and honestly, I don’t really care what a marketing team in a conference room in Milwaukee came up with to say about this bike. I’m only concerned with a couple of things. Does it look good, and does it function well. On the first count, I’ll have to admit that they immediately got me hook, line and sinker. The design team, in my opinion, nailed the retro vibe and I’ve wanted to climb on one of these bad boys since I first saw the sneak-peek photos coming out of the dealer meetings this winter. And today was my chance. Bumpus Harley-Davidson, a local dealer here in Middle Tennessee, is playing host to the Harley-Davidson factory truck this weekend and it offered the perfect opportunity for me to check out the Seventy-Two up close.
The Seventy-Two is available in three colors which are Black Denim, Big Blue Pearl and as in the test model I rode that you see here, Big Red Flake. For me, the gorgeous Big Red Flake is the only viable option if you really want to capture that 70s vibe. It looks gaudy and fantastic! Adding to the retro “look” is the 8-inch round mirror chrome air cleaner cover. It might seem like a small thing but it is a great period-correct touch. And while it may be debatable as to whether whitewall tires are authentic to the time period, they look great on the chrome laced wheels.
When I first threw a leg over the Seventy-Two, the shocks seemed pretty spongy. This could be because I have grown accustomed to riding Burly Slammer shocks on my own Sporty… I don’t know. More on the ride later. The next thing I noticed, and what the specs don’t tell you about, is the stance of the bike. The low 26.6 inch seat height, retro 2.1 gallon tapered peanut tank, mini-ape hanger handlebars, 30.1 rake and 21-inch front wheel all add up to a realistic chopper feel. Seriously, It feels like the front-end is up in the air where it belongs on any cool chopper!
Next came the demo ride… where the rubber hit the road, so to speak. At first, the mini-ape hangers seemed pretty wide. My hands were at about bicep level and a few inches wider than my shoulders. This was much different than my Biltwell Frisco bars that are very close together… but it took no time at all for me to get used to the wider feel and I soon found the low seat / ape-hangers / forward-control set-up to be very comfortable. We almost immediately turned on to a four-lane Interstate Highway and since I was the last rider in a line of 15 or so bikes, I had the opportunity to play a little catch-up. I won’t tell you how fast I got going, but let’s just say the 73.3 cubic inch, fuel injected air-cooled Evolution motor had no problem whatsoever getting me to… well at least the 70mph posted speed limit… in no time at all. The Seventy-Two had very good power and the 1-down, 4-up 5-speed tranny shifted and sounded just like any Sportster I’ve ever ridden. No surprises in the gear box.
Next came the curvy part of the demo ride and the Seventy-Two performed flawlessly. I was able to glide through every curve, hitting the apex smooth as silk. It was a joy to ride and very comfortable. This is where the bike shined for me. I would imagine that if I owned one, I would trade every Interstate route I had for the most winding backroads I could find. And as for the soft feel of the shocks? I didn’t really notice it while moving. The ride of the Seventy-Two was very comfortable while still maintaining a good feel of the road. No complaints whatsoever. One final thought on the demo ride. When pulling back into the parking lot of the dealer, I did some slow-speed maneuvering. When I did this on the Forty-Eight, the front-end was pretty “floppy” and a bit unstable but the Seventy-Two handled beautifully with no stability issues at low speed.
So what’s the verdict then? Here are my pro and con opinions of the Seventy-Two. Take them for what they are worth.
PROS: The bike looks FANTASTIC. Even better in real-life. It definitely captures the “chopper” vibe and feel and the Big Red Flake paint is drop-dead gorgeous! The bike has good power and handles well at high and low speeds. One other observation. While waiting my turn for a demo ride, I watched three other people ride off on the bike. A small lady, a stocky man and an older medium build rider. In all three cases, the bike looked killer going down the road. The lines are very nice and regardless of rider size, the vibe works well.
CONS: The most glaring con for me is the speedo location. When you are on the bike it feels like it is sticking straight up in a vertical position. In my opinion it would have made more aesthetic sense to tilt it down and out of the way a bit. If I owned this bike I would probably re-locate the speedo or at least find a different mounting option. The other issue I had is the same one I seem to have with all of the new Sportsters. The exhaust pipes are way too quiet. I literally struggled to hear any exhaust noise at all while riding. I don’t want to hear engine clatter when I’m going down the road. I want to hear that rumble that makes a Harley a Harley. If this were my bike, the stock pipes would have to go! The classic H-D sound should come with the classic H-D look but unfortunately that is only going to come via aftermarket.
Overall, I have to give this bike two big thumbs up! The Sportster haters are of course going to hate any Sportster and the sportbike crowd won’t be interested… but if you are like me and find the classic Sporty look appealing, you should check this bike out. And if the vintage/retro vibe is also your thing, then you definitely MUST check out the Seventy-Two.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.
This review indicates my own personal opinion of this product and should be taken as just that. Yours may vary and you should try this product yourself before drawing any conclusions about it.
© 2012 Biker Swag, All Rights Reserved. No part of this review may be reproduced in any format without express written permission.
As a kid in the early 70s I was more concerned with mini-bikes than Harley-Davidson Sportsters. But as I’ve gotten older… that is exactly the era that I find speaking to my motorized soul. For some reason, the cars, trucks, and motorcycles from the 1970’s seem to have a personality and spirit that I identify with. I have a buddy that says he was born about 20 years too late and I find myself often feeling the same way.
So of course… when I first started hearing rumors about the Motor Company coming out with a new Sportster that goes by the name “Seventy-Two” I was, to say the least, very interested. Today I made my way down to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to check one out for myself at Bumpus Harley-Davidson.
First of all, let me say, the pictures I snapped in no way do this bike justice. You should go check one out for yourself… and let the vibe grab you in person. And that’s exactly what it did to me. It grabbed me and took me to that “lala” motorcycle land where I kind of lose touch with the reality around me. In short… this bike is way-cool and definitely captures the early 70s vibe.
Contributing to that vibe are a smaller 2.1 gallon peanut tank, a great looking 8-inch vintage-look round air cleaner cover, mini apes and laced wheels (21″ front) with whitewall tires. The bobbed rear fender is not necessarily authentic, but it still looks great.
Look for a complete review of the Seventy-Two from me very soon. Until then, enjoy these pics.
Call them Baby Harley’s, Girls Bikes… whatever you want… I don’t care. I am an unashamed fan of the Motor Company’s low-end two-wheeler and am convinced that the Sportster is the perfect bike for mods. As a result, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting work by those who feel the same as I do. I spotted this particular example at the 2011 “Spring Thaw” bike show in Shelbyville, Tennessee. The minimalist approach is smokin’ hot and I love that bobbed rear fender. Not sure if I have the CO JONES to cut my frame like that but I think the end look is killer! What do you think?
And… speaking of the “Spring Thaw”… 2012 marks the 10th Anniversary of the show. Anybody close to the Nashvegas area on March 24 should come out and celebrate the end of the “Dark Months” with me. My friends Scooter and Dorris over at Both Barrels Promotions do a great job of making this one of the best shows in the region and I wouldn’t miss it. Below is the show poster which I designed. Hope to see you there!
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Boswell’s H-D in Nashville kicked off their season of Bike Nights last night. It was the perfect evening for it! I grabbed a few pics while I was there.
My youngest daughter is enjoying Florida this weekend with some friends… and since the rest of my family has little time for me these days (but I’m not bitter…haha!) … I hopped on the bike and took off. I left at about 11:00am and didn’t get back until almost 8:00pm. It was a great day to ride in Middle Tennessee and I hit a ton of roads that I had never been on before.
And, speaking of hit… I also got hit about a million times today by Cicadas! (You people in the north can Google it.) One nailed me right on the cheek so hard I thought I was going to have to pull over. It literally left a bruise. (When are these psycho things supposed to dig themselves back into the ground?)
But seriously… there is something about the “lone-wolf/wanderer” rides that I totally dig. Getting somewhat lost (physically and mentally) and having to navigate unfamiliar roads is a kick for me and I find it refreshing. The picture at the top of this RANT was taken somewhere north of Nashville at a location where I didn’t know where I was. It didn’t matter… it was awesome… and I did eventually find my way back to civilization. I ended up at one of our Nashville H-D dealers at one point and they happen to be having a bike show. The pics below are from there. It was an awesome day!