If you understand the words “factory custom,” you’ll understand everything you need to know about Harley Davidson. The just introduced Sportster Seventy-Two is a perfect example of what the Motor Company does, it builds factory customs; not new motorcycles, not racers, not cutting edge technology machines, it builds custom versions of every standard model in their lineup. The Seventy-Two will not appeal to anyone not already considering a Sportster, however, among that group, it will attract quite a few buyers.
Harley knows its customers and their sales are steadily, albeit slowly, rising. Many readers here will look at this metal flake and ape hanger equipped Sportster and shake their head, they’ll refer back to the Storz SP1200RR and ask, why can’t they build something like that? The simple answer is, they can, and if their customers were crying out for a cafe racer, you would see one in their showrooms, however, the Seventy-Two has a lot more in common with the Storz special than you might think.
Step back a bit, park this bike next to a Storz SP1200RR and what do you see? I see two Sportsters dressed for different occasions or just trying to hang out with two different crowds. Is one better than the other? Nope, unless, of course, you’re trying to hang out with the wrong crowd. The performance of both bikes will be amazingly similar, the Storz might handle a bit better and be more comfortable for riding in the twisties because of your seating position, wheels and tires and the upgraded shocks, but the engine is the same. The body work on the Storz won’t make it go any faster.
Take the comparison a little further and you’ll see both bikes appeal to the same customer. Wait, … what? Yep. Who is going to buy the Seventy-Two and who is going to bolt on the pieces to turn his Sportster into an SP1200RR? In both cases, the customer is someone who wants his bike to stand out from the crowd a little bit, or even a lot, yet doesn’t have the time, skills or inclination to shape metal, machine parts and lay down custom paint. In the case of the Harley, he writes a check and rides a bike, with the Storz he will have to spin a few bolts, too, and in both cases, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Harley ran for years on the doctors and lawyers who bought their customs ready made, pulled on their leather jackets and became someone else, after all, they had no time to build their own bikes or learn how. There might be less of that right now, but even the guys who buy these bikes are doing something very similar. The ability to do major surgery on their own bikes isn’t as widespread as the custom bikes you see might make it appear, but having something that appeals to their own particular tastes and rewards them with an enjoyable ride is reason enough to buy one or the other and that’s why Harley builds bikes like this, because more of their customers want this than a cafe racer. I’ve seen very similar bikes before, and so have you, Harley just made it a little easier for more riders to have one.
So look at the Seventy-Two and appreciate what it is, for that matter, look at every bike in the Harley lineup the same way. Think of the Seventy-Two as you would one of the hundreds of craft beers available today. You might like a stout, someone else an IPA or maybe you prefer to sip an imperial. Who’s right? Everyone. Choice is good and each one appeals to someone. The Seventy-Two just gave everyone another choice.
Available in Black Denim or Big Blue Pearl for $10,499; Hard Candy Big Red Flake $11,199.
Harley Davidson press release:
MILWAUKEE – The Harley-Davidson® Seventy-Two™ motorcycle 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 on the curb. Those motorcycles were long and lean; candy-apple color and gleaming chrome shimmering in hazy summer sunlight. From its Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint and ape bars to its narrow whitewall tires, the Seventy-Two is a respectful nod to that era, and to the influence of the custom culture that still percolates today along Whittier Boulevard, the legendary cruising street in East Los Angeles also known as Route 72. A new generation of custom builder is tapping into that era and making a fresh statement, not just in California but in garages across the country, even around the world.
“In creating the Seventy-Two, we were also inspired by the vibe of the early chopper era,” says Frank Savage, Harley-Davidson Manager of Industrial Design. “Those bikes were colorful and chromed, but also narrow and stripped down to the essentials. You look at period examples and they are almost as simple as a bicycle. It’s a custom style that’s very particular to America and that California scene.”
Metal flake, an iconic design element of the ’70s, appeared in everything from dune buggy gel coat to vinyl diner upholstery, and on custom motorcycles. Harley-Davidson brings the sparkle back on the Seventy-Two with Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint. This new finish is created by applying a black base coat, followed by a polyurethane system that carries hexagon-shaped flakes that are more than seven times the diameter of metal flake used in typical production paint. Each flake is coated with a thin aluminum film and then tinted red. Four applications of clear coat, combined with hand sanding, create a smooth finish over the flakes.
“The final touch to the Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint is a logo on the tank top and pinstripe scallop details on both fenders,” says Savage. “Each was originally created by hand, and we recreated that art in a decal for production, so they still have the appearance of hand-applied graphics in that they are not exactly perfect. The graphics are then covered with a final clear coat application.”
A solo seat and side-mounted license plate bracket leave much of the chopped rear fender – and more of that paint – exposed on the Seventy-Two. The powertrain is finished in Gray powdercoat with chrome covers and a new round air cleaner with a dished cover. A classic Sportster 2.1-gallon “peanut” fuel tank adds a final period touch to the motorcycle.
Key features of the 2012 Harley-Davidson® Seventy-Two™ include:
- Air-cooled Evolution® 1200cc V-Twin engine with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI), rated at 73 ft. lbs. peak torque at 3500 rpm.
- Powertrain is finished in Gray powdercoat with Chrome covers.
- Paint color choices include Hard Candy Big Red Flake with period pinstripe details on fenders and fuel tank, Black Denim, and Big Blue Pearl.
- Classic 2.1-gallon peanut fuel tank.
- Dunlop® white side wall 21-inch (MH90-21) front and 16-inch (150/80B16) rear tires.
- Chrome Laced wheels.
- Ten-inch mini-ape handlebar mounted on a two-inch high riser.
- Chrome, eight-inch round air cleaner cover with center screw mount.
- Chopped rear fender exposes rear tire.
- Side-mounted license plate bracket.
- Chrome, staggered, shorty dual exhaust with slash-cut mufflers.
- Solo seat with black textured vinyl cover.
- Handlebar-mounted speedometer with chrome cup.
- Chrome rear fender struts.
- Chrome coil-over pre-load adjustable rear shocks.
- Forward foot controls.