Between The Lines | Harley-Davidson Launches The Lean Stylish New Seventy-Two

Mining the Past – Again

XL1200V sounds like an exceedingly awkward name for a motorcycle, so Harley’s pushing the more mellifluous Seventy-Two moniker to grace its latest take on the evergreen Sportster 1200 platform—along with big-time metal flake.

The design brief for this machine was apparently pretty simple: replicate the long, lean bikes of the 70s, complete with their bold, rich colors and gleaming chrome. To hear Harley tell it, the just-revealed 2012 Seventy-Two is “a metal flake dream machine, a Sportster on a trip back to the days when the cool kids rode a Sting-Ray and the big boys parked choppers in a row.”

With its fat red flakes, mini apes and narrow whitewall tires, the Seventy-Two is a pretty successful nod to that period, and acknowledgment of the legendary cruising lane in East L.A. known as Route 72 (a.k.a. Whittier Boulevard).

Harley-Davidson Manager of Industrial Design, Frank Savage, elaborates: “…the Seventy-Two, [was] inspired by the early chopper era. Those bikes were colorful and chromed, but also narrow and stripped down to the essentials. It’s a custom style that’s very particular to America and that California scene.” With this new Sportster, Harley’s also winking—probably with a keen eye on potential customers—at the younger generation of custom builders that are currently tapping those influences to make fresh statements.

But the Seventy-Two makes no bones about the fact that it is your father’s chopper, bringing the sparkle back in a big way with its Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint scheme, a new finish that’s created by first applying a black base coat, then a polyurethane system with super-fat flakes that are allegedly several times bigger than the typical metal flake. Aluminum coating and multiple applications of clear coat and hand sanding create a smooth finish that looks absolutely striking in contrast to the huge swaths of chrome elsewhere on the bike. The display model we checked out also wore an optional silver metal-flake solo seat (from the Harley P&A catalog) that really pumped up the contrasting finishes, as well as the final touches—a logo on the tank top and pinstripe scallop details on both fenders.

That solo seat (in stock form, with a black textured vinyl cover) and a side-mounted license plate bracket leave much of the chopped rear fender exposed on the Seventy-Two. Of course, there are the apes—in this case, ten-inch mini-ape handlebars on a two-inch high riser, with a handlebar-mounted speedo residing between it. Completing the rider triangle is a set of forward foot controls, while a pair of chrome coil-over pre-load adjustable rear shocks damp the ride.

There are fewer surprises below; an air-cooled Evolution 1200cc V-twin engine with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection powers this Sportster package, with the powertrain finished in gray powdercoat, accented by chrome covers and a new round air cleaner as the punctuation mark. Spent gasses exit out of a staggered dual exhaust with slash-cut mufflers. Rolling on chrome laced wheels shod with a 21-inch Dunlop white sidewall up front and a 16-inch rear tire, the Seventy-Two is topped by a classic 2.1-gallon peanut tank showcasing the killer paint job.

Other paint choices include Black Denim, and Big Blue Pearl, both of which retail for $700 less than the Hard Candy metal-flake, at $10,499.