HARLEY-DAVIDSON SEVENTY-TWO REVIEW
In case you missed my review of the Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two last year… HERE’S A LINK TO IT.
WHAT! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
What! Are you kidding me? The Sporty has gotten out of the garage 2 weekends in a row now. It’s almost like riding season… and Spring is so close you can smell it in the air. Bring it!
WHOOHOO… CAN’T WAIT!
This morning I walked out into the garage, just to check on Otis and the Sporty. I do that more often than I should probably admit. I mean, who makes the effort to peek into the garage, just to stare at vehicles they’ve seen thousands of times before? Well… I do, and my guess is that if you have the right vehicle, a lot of you do too.
But… back to my point. It’s cold here in Middle Tennessee, like 21 degrees, but the sun is shining bright and is cascading through the windows…. bouncing off of Otis and painting the entire wall a glowing red. For some reason, it reminded me that the “Dark Months” are nearly over! I coined the phrase “Dark Months” a few years ago in an effort to describe the time between November 1 and March 1 when the days are short, the temperatures are low and good riding days are few and far between. They suck! But we’ve almost survived them again. It won’t be long before Otis and the Sporty start getting out way more often than they have been recently. Whoohoo… can’t wait!
THREE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS
The Dark Months have been up and down here in Middle Tennessee. Ice storms followed by temps in the 60’s are probably why I’ve contracted 2 head colds already this winter. But, I’m not complaining. I’ll gladly tolerate some harsh weather if it calms down every few days. That’s much better than the extended periods of doom and gloom we’ve had in the past.
Today was January 26, and by all accounts right smack dab in the heart of the Dark Months. The good news is that and we were blessed with sunshine all day long and temps in the upper 40s. To make things even better, our local H-D dealership (Bumpus Harley-Davidson of Murfreesboro) held an indoor mini tattoo convention, so I drove Otis down to check out the festivities. I saw some fantastic artwork and got to combine three of my favorite things in the process, Old Trucks, Harley’s and Ink. I snapped the pic above of Otis in the parking lot.
I even got back early enough to get the Sporty out for a bit before nightfall. Put about 30 miles on it before returning to the house. Frankly, the cold was pretty painful! But, it was a blast and I’m happy to say, the Eagle is still Screamin’!
SOMETHING WITH THIS FEEL AND VIBE WOULD BE COOL
So my Sporty Project has been on somewhat of a “hold” lately, due to a lot of work being done on the Stepside. But out-of-site, does not mean out-of-mind. There are still some things I want to get done and I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week. Vintage white grips (like these) are coming soon… and I think I may have found the answer to my plain tank. Initially, I had just planned on having a buddy do a little pin-striping but I found the bike pictured below on the Harley-Davidson “Dark Custom” website.
The bike is owned by a cat in Wisconsin who IMHO has really good taste! I freakin’ love this tank graphic. Something similar may be in order. Maybe not gold-leaf per se, but something with this feel and vibe would be cool. What do you think? I already have a couple ideas for what it might say.
THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT NOTHING FELL OFF
This evening brought beautiful weather to the Middle Tennessee area and my “Sunday Evening Ride” was fantastic. I’ve been slowly pushing the Sporty further and further since I made all the changes and tonight I made a 100+ mile loop… by far my longest ride on it since the transformation. The good news is that nothing fell off… haha… and I’m really starting to get comfortable with the new feel.
On my way back home, I passed through the little town of Lascassas, Tennessee. I’ve ridden through it tons of times and there is a place there called Pearcy’s General Merchandise that I love… even though I’ve never been in it. It’s a small mom & pop style store that has tons of character. The kind of place that the big-box stores are slowly replacing across America. If I lived closer, I would buy everything from this place… regardless of price.
I’ve photographed nearly every bike I’ve owned in the past 5 years in front of this place, including this bike, pre-transformation (CLICK HERE) so I had to stop and grab a few of the new-look Sporty.
A SUNDAY EVENING RIDE
I love riding on Sunday evenings. It’s that final stress reliever of the weekend before the work week begins again… and I look forward to it. Tonight the weather was exceptional, so I took a little longer than usual. Here’s a few pics and a quick video.
REVIEW: HARLEY-DAVIDSON SEVENTY-TWO
(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.
FIRST TIME IN PUBLIC
Although I don’t consider the Sporty done… I did take it out in public for the first time today. I dropped by the local H-D dealership and then decided to ride over to the local CMA Blessing of the Bikes. I had never been to a BOB before and it was pretty cool. I used to be very active in “church” but for the past few years have not found much there to like. That’s another story… but today it was just nice to have my bike and myself prayed over.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
Well… tonight I decided I would create some faux white letters on my rear tire. I’ve heard this discussed on various forums and also have a buddy that has done this to his bike. It sounds simple enough. You get a Duplicolor paint pen in white, or whatever color you fancy, and go to town on the outline of the existing letters on your tire. No problem… uh, well, not really. It is incredibly tedious and takes forever. Then when you are finally done, it doesn’t look all that great. It’s nearly impossible to stay on target with your tiny brush… as you can see in these pictures! Seriously kiddies… my advice would be not to try this at home unless you are a lot more precise than I am. The good news is… the farther you get away from it, the better it looks!
TOO MUCH CHROME…
Last night I painted the chrome air cleaner cover on my Sporty rattle-can-black. Too much chrome is a bad thing to me. The chrome oil filter went away with last weeks oil change as well. I think some other chrome parts might disappear soon also. Stay tuned.
Late night in the garage…tank’s back on.
EMERALD GREEN FLAKE IT IS
As Garth used to say… “I Got Friends In Low Places!” …and thankfully my friend Scooter likes to help out his ‘ole buddy Swag. We were talking about rattle-can paint the other day and he mentioned that he had some Emerald Green flake lying around and some clear “poly” he needed to use up. Coincidentally, I had a tank that needed paint! So, I spent the evening at his place tonight while he delivered the goods. These pics are horrible quality, (bad camera phone) but hopefully you get the idea. He shot a metallic silver base coat and then the Emerald Green flake over it. It looks killer! Emerald Green Flake it is! (Better pix coming soon.) I’m going to have to name this bike “Scooter” since the real Scooter has done so much work on it!
THIS WEEKEND WAS ALL ABOUT SANDING
This weekend was all about sanding. It’s not a lot of fun, but a necessary “evil” before paint… and I finally got it done. Since my stock tank was already painted, I didn’t take it down to the bare metal… and instead, just knocked the sheen off, roughing it up with 400 grit paper. I was careful to make sure the existing logos were sanded completely flat (they will later be primed) and followed with a round of 800 grit all over the tank. I’m not sure if you can tell from the picture below… but the result is a roughed up, dulled-out stock tank that I think (hope!) is ready for spray.
DISCLAIMER: So at this point I know that all the “real” painters out there are probably cringing but remember… my purpose is to do this on the “lo-budget” right now and also learn what the heck I am doing… so bear with me pros!
BTW… Here’s a picture for all the Harley-Davidson snobs out there who go out of their way to proclaim their bikes are 100% USA. Maybe not. This is on the bottom of my stock fuel petcock.
GOT A BIT DONE ON THE SPORTY PROJECT
Crazy storms again here in Nashvegas tonight. But despite the winds, rain and pebble sized hail, I still got a bit done on the Sporty project. My license plate bracket is now mounted. I’m getting really close now to having something ride-able. Still a huge step awaits… PAINT! If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a major tightwad and paint is going to be a bit tricky. I’m not going for an “Easter Egg” look, by any means, but I also don’t want it to look like a kindergarten finger painting. I’m not sure how this is going to go. Wish me luck!
THE LITTLE THINGS ARE ADDING UP
To the naked eye… it might not look like much is getting done on the Sporty Project but the little things are adding up. I got the new re-bar sissy-bar painted black and I also painted the new speedo mount my buddy Scooter made for me and got the speedo locked down in place. It’s getting there… but I still have some major things to accomplish. I had hoped to have the bike ride-able by March 24th (Spring Thaw Bike Show Day) but I’m not sure I’m going to make it by then.
ONE SMALL STEP
One small step for me, one giant step for the the Sporty Project… Haha! The custom taillight is now wired and actually works!
BUT I CAN’T TAKE CREDIT FOR ANY OF IT
Got a lot done on the Sporty Project today… but I can’t take credit for any of it. My brother-from-another-mother, Scooter, dropped by this afternoon and we loaded the bike up and hauled it to his shop where some “real stuff” was accomplished. The rear fender is now installed, courtesy of Scooter’s mad welding skills, and after a trip to the local Gil’s Hardware store for some reinforced bar, the Sporty now sports a cool little hand-made sissy-bar. It was a good day.
FATTY HEADLIGHT LO AND HI BEAMS, SPEEDO, STARTER…
It was a gorgeous, sunshine-filled day in the mid 50s here in Nashvegas… so I took advantage of the great February weather to get a little more done on the Sporty Project. The major accomplishment was getting the tank pulled but before that I dropped the battery back in to check the wiring I did a couple of weeks ago. I even fired it up and rode down the road and back a few times. (Man… it was good to hear that potato-potato again!) Fatty Headlight lo and hi Beams, Speedo, Starter… everything seems to be working just fine. Now it’s on to the rear fender and paint!
HARLEY-DAVIDSON SEVENTY-TWO SPORTSTER
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.
NOT REAL EXCITING STUFF BUT ANY PROGRESS IS GOOD!
Well… I didn’t get anything real exciting accomplished on the Sporty Project this weekend but I did make a little more progress. I got the Fatboy headlight spliced in and ready to light my way. I also got the speedo flipped in its housing. I had to grind off a metal clip and some of the plastic for the reset button to clear, but mission accomplished and it’s now ready to install… as soon as I get the mounting bracket back which is being fab’d by a buddy of mine. The last picture shows the approximate position the speedo will be in. Again… not real exciting stuff but any progress is good!