Harley Davidson is set to ship the XR1200 to dealers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa next Spring. If you were thinking it was the kind of Sportster that might get you into your local Harley dealer here in the U.S., put your checkbook away because there is no mention yet of any shipments stateside.
The XR1200 is styled after the XR750, a motorcycle that gained its fame on the flat tracks of the United States but evidently, the Motor Company believes demand for that type of motorcycle isn’t sufficient to introduce it here, at least not yet. This is the first time they have introduced any model in a country other than the U.S. before introducing it here.
The 1200cc Sportster based machine has sport tuned suspension with inverted 43mm forks and ergonomics designed to fit the average height European rider. The wide handlebars work with semi-rearset footrests to give you an upright yet sporty riding position. It also has ample cornering clearance, which is a welcome addition to any HD machine. But none of this matters for U.S. riders because you can’t have it.
It’s easy to criticize the decision but you have to figure, Harley has pretty good statistics on the customers buying their bikes. If they believe it wouldn’t sell here, they may be right. If no one is beating down their doors asking for this kind of bike, why build it, but, were customers in Europe demanding a flat track inspired Sportster?
Customers often don’t know what they want before seeing it. It’s always a gamble to introduce a dramatically different motorcycle but the XR1200 hardly qualifies as dramatically different, a nice change with sporty pretensions perhaps, but still a Sportster.
If you want a flat track styled Sportster, you can find the necessary parts to change the look of your bike from Storz, among others, so the option is still there, however, a full Storz conversion is no cheap date, which is why he recommends going in stages to make it an affordable changeover if that’s an issue.
Personally, I like the flat track look, whether on Sportsters or on the very popular Yamaha XS street tracker conversions but whether it’s popular enough here for this model to succeed is another matter. Do they plan to offer it in the future? They might, but maybe they believe the average Harley Davidson customer in the U.S. wants a cruiser or bagger and these just don’t fit in. Of course, if a lot of potential customers start asking Harley Davidson to sell it here they may listen.