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Casual Sportster

2015 Harley-Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight
Words and photos by Lester Dizon

Truth be told, when we had the Harley-Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight on the cover of this magazine more than a year ago, we weren’t able to really ride it because that particular Sportster wasn’t activated yet and the dealership, Harley-Davidson of Manila, had several deposits lined-up for the Forty-Eight. They couldn’t spare even one unit to be activated as a demo unit.

And we couldn’t blame them. Our Associate Editor, Leslie Croyston commented that the Forty-Eight is probably one of the best-looking Harleys he’s ever seen and perhaps, many local buyers thought so, too. Leslie said that he would never get tired of looking at it, and I guess that we never got tired of looking at it, too. So, we jumped at the chance of test riding one as soon as a demo unit was activated.

Minimalist Look

To recap, the Forty-Eight model name is derived from 1948, which is the year that the small, tapered “peanut” fuel tank first appeared on a Harley-Davidson. According to Harley diehards, the peanut tank showcases the bike’s V-Twin engine and gives it a custom look. Our Harley comes with a fat front fork and fat tires while the rider faces a black drag-style handlebar, speedometer and under-mount side mirrors, which needed some getting used to, especially when you’re riding in horrendous Metro Manila traffic.

The slammed drag-style handlebar is inspired by the way hot rod pioneers used to slam their motorbikes in the old days, which demands a forward, aggressive riding position. To continue the Forty-Eight’s stripped-down, less-is-more minimalist look, retro-styled multi-function lights (Stop-Turn-Tail) and a center-mounted license plate frame with the requisite reflectors are the only things you’ll find mounted at the rear fender.

Twelve Hundred Blockhead

Powering the Forty-Eight is Harley-Davidson’s Evolution 1200 V-Twin, more popularly known as the “Blockhead”. Evolving from the legendary “Shovelhead” and “Ironhead” V-Twins, the Evolution 1200 showcases the advancements in engine technology at The Motor Company. Aluminum heads and cylinders to save weight and improve thermal efficiency; Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) improves power and increases fuel mileage; while rubber-mounting the motor lowers vibrations and improves comfort.

Our test unit is equipped with 300mm brake rotors, stylized front caliper with 34mm pistons and matching stylized rear caliper; an all-aluminum integrated rear master cylinder with reservoir, all-aluminum front master cylinder and stainless steel braided lines. Michelin Scorcher tires with H-D logos provide improved grip, durability and handling. The signature Harley-Davidson “potato-potato-potato” rumble is enhanced with a closed-loop dual exhaust system.

Riding the Forty-Eight

If you ride a Harley-Davidson Dyna, V-Rod, or Softtail model, you might find the Forty-Eight a bit tight. The peanut tank gives an illusion that this Harley is small. Once moving, the ride may feel a bit stiffer and way-too-low than the other Harley models, especially when you run over a speed bump or a small pothole, which further fools you to think that it is small. But unlike the bigger Harleys, the Forty-Eight feels much more nimble and you can squeeze it into tight spaces where you wouldn’t normally squeeze a Harley into.

If you ride a modern Japanese or European motorbike, the Sportster may not make much sense because of its heavier weight, under-mount mirrors, and forward riding position. But once you get to your destination, you will realize the Forty-Eight’s reason for being. It’s all about style – and this Harley-Davidson has gobs and gobs of style. People gather around the bike to ask questions or gawk at it. You’ll feel like a celebrity when you arrive on a Forty-Eight. And you don’t need to don bike gang leathers: a casual plaid shirt, an open face helmet, gloves and rubber shoes is acceptable riding attire, although we’d recommend ones with better crash protection.

The Get Away

Of course, you wouldn’t want to crash the Forty-Eight, but you’d want to ride it longer. You will find yourself riding farther and further than you normally would when you’re on the Sportster. It’s quite ironic that the Harley you’d like to ride longer gets a small tank that diminishes its range. Thankfully, there are now more gas stations on the road today than there were in 1948. So, you can ride on with the confidence that refueling will never be a problem.

We could’ve ridden the Forty-Eight farther and further than we’d normally do but reality has a way of catching up. We were only given four days to enjoy the motorbike and those four days went by quickly. Our Ass Ed Leslie was right when he said the Forty-Eight is a factory-made hot rod that beckons you to go on the road. Left to our own devices, we could have ridden away for days but we have to return the bike to the dealership for others to enjoy. Here’s hoping that we can get our hands on a Harley-Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight again real soon!

Price : P940,000.00
Category : Cruiser
Engine Type : Air-cooled, Evolution® V-Twin
Displacement : 1200cc
Fuel System : Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Transmission : 5-speed manual
Exhaust : Chrome, staggered shorty exhaust dual slash-cut mufflers
Horsepower : N/A
Torque : [email protected]
Wheels : Black, Laced Steel
Tires Front : 130/90B16 73H
Rear : 150/80B16 77H
Brakes Front : Dual-piston Single Disc
: Dual-piston Single Disc
Lean Angle, Right (deg.) : 27.8
Lean Angle, Left (deg.) : 26.1
Length : 2256mm
Seat Height : 726mm
Ground Clearance : 99mm
Wheelbase : 1520mm
Fuel Capacity : 8.0L