2009 Harley-Davidson XR1200

Harley's new retro ride

| July/August 2009

  • harleymain
    Traditional H-D orange and black paint scheme really pulls together the XR1200’s retro look.
  • harley2
    Styling cues for the new XR1200 were plucked straight from H-D’s 1970-1980 XR750 dirt tracker.

  • harleymain
  • harley2

Years produced: 2008-2009 (Europe only for 2008)
Claimed power: 90hp @ 7,000rpm
Top speed: 120mph (est.)
Engine type: 1,202cc OHV, air-cooled 45-degree V-twin
Weight (dry): 250kg (550lb)
Price: $11,079 (as shown; $10,799 in Vivid Black or Pewter Denim)
MPG: 40-45

Add one more bike to the growing list of new retro-themed bikes — this time from right here in the good old U.S. of A. Harley-Davidson has released the 2009 Harley-Davidson XR1200, a Sportster-based hot rod whose styling draws heavily from Harley history, mimicking H-D’s iconic and race winning XR750 of 1970-1980.

Frustrating U.S. buyers, H-D actually introduced the flat-tracker inspired XR1200 in 2008. The hitch? It was a Euro-only offering. It wasn’t until December 2008 that Harley announced it would sell the XR1200 in the U.S. The first batch was limited to 750 units, but the pipeline seems to have opened up now, and XR1200s are rolling out to Harley dealers.

This has been without doubt the oddest model rollout in Harley history, with potential U.S. buyers pressuring H-D to sell the XR1200 here since it was first shown in prototype form in 2006, and understandably frustrated by The Motor Company’s apparent lack of interest in making the XR1200 available in the U.S. — and this despite the fact the bike is actually built at Harley’s Kansas City factory. Talk about homegrown.

One possible holdup was the odd fact that until June 2008, Harley didn’t have U.S. rights to the XR1200 name. It was registered to Storz Performance, a Harley hop-up shop in Ventura, Calif., that, among other things, offers a XR-styled performance and appearance kit for contemporary Sportsters. Once word got out that Harley had purchased rights to the name, the rumor mill went wild with speculation on a U.S. introduction.

Fortunately, the rumor mill was right. We got our hands on a new XR1200 just before this issue went to press, giving us a chance to sample Harley’s take on the retro category. Although first impressions have been a little mixed, we all agree that Harley hit the proverbial nail on the head when it designed its new retro rocket. At least it feels like a rocket. We don’t have any 0-60 or quarter-mile times, but there’s no question the XR pulls hard and strong, quickly powering its way up to its 7,000rpm redline and reaching Trooper-alerting speeds in a flash.

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