Riding the 2009 Harley-Davidson XR1200

The Harley that handles

| September/October 2009


Richard Backus

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

I’m rolling on the throttle and pushing lightly on the inside bar, the big V-twin emitting a subdued but pleasing burble as the XR1200 obligingly leans over and I carve a nice controlled arc through one of my favorite turns. It’s effortless fun, this Harley-Davidson, and as the big twin catapults me forward, I’m looking ahead for the next turn. What’s that? A Harley that handles? Yeah, a Harley that handles.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Harley-Davidson motorcycles, because the XR1200 is like nothing H-D’s ever made, including Harley’s 1970-1980 XR750 flat tracker that inspired it. Although everything about the XR1200 screams yesterday, it’s a thoroughly modern machine.

Riding the XR
Harley-Davidson actually introduced the XR1200 in early 2008, but as a Euro-only offering. It wasn’t until December 2008 that H-D announced it would sell the XR1200 in the U.S. Potential buyers had been flummoxed by The Motor Company’s apparent lack of interest in selling the XR1200 in the U.S. — and this despite the fact the bike is built at Harley’s Kansas City factory.

ne 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.
We logged some quick first impressions on the new XR1200 in the July/August 2009 issue. Since then, we’ve had the chance to put some real miles on an XR — 757 miles, in fact — and we think Harley’s got a hit on its hands.

To begin with, everybody loves the XR’s looks. Black wheels, black bars and black fork cartridges contrast perfectly with the bike’s gray engine and satin-silver exhaust system. And brother, you can’t miss that exhaust, with twin canisters on the right side, stretching up at a steep angle in concert with the lower line of the seat cowl. And while you can get yours in one of three color schemes (Mirage Orange Pearl, Pewter Denim or Vivid Black) Mirage Orange is the only way we’d order one, if only because it amps up the XR750 connection.

bike on highway

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