Harley-Davidson XR1200 VS. KTM Super Duke 990 R - Opposites Attract

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

2008 Harley Davidson XR1200 | Price approx. $14,500 At Current Exchange Rates
Hard Parts

The pipe-rack steel skeleton is essentially what came on-line with the 2004 Sportster. The XR steepens rake and cuts trail to sharpen the steering. There's also a tasty cast-aluminum swingarm. Rubber mounts spare us from nasty engine vibration.

The 43mm Showa cartridge fork offers no external adjustments, but it's still Harley's best yet. Shocks deliver a harsh ride over rough pavement if you choose the stiff end of the spring-preload range. Adjustable damping would help there. Maybe next year?

The sportiest Sportster makes about 18 more horsepower than a standard XL1200 thanks to 10:1 compression, Buell cams and extensive respiratory therapy. Buell's SuperTT feels stronger, but the XR spreads power over a broader range.

Nissin supplies four-pot calipers for the hardest-stopping Harley-Davidson street machine yet. The 292mm Sunmax rotors are a bit smaller than what you'll find on frontline Japanese supersports, but never lack for power and wilt only slightly at a malicious street pace.

Tech Spec
Engine type: a-c 45-deg. V-twinRear brake: Single Nissin two-piston caliper, 260mm discCorrected 1/4-mile: 12.28 sec. @ 107.8 mph
Valve train: OHV, 4vFront tire: 120/70ZR-18 Dunlop D209 QualifierTop-gear roll-on 60-80 mph: 3.87 sec.
Displacement: 1200ccRear tire: 180/55ZR-17 Dunlop D209 QualifierFuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 43/36/41 mpg
Bore x stroke: 88.9 x 96.8mmRake/trail: 27.8/5.1 in.Colors: Orange, black, gray
Compression: 10.0:1Seat height: 29.2 in.Availability: na (overseas only)
Fuel system: Delphi/Dell'Orto EFIWheelbase: 59.6 in.Warranty: 24 mo./unlimited mi.
Clutch: Wet, multi-plateFuel capacity: 3.5 gal.Contact:
Harley-Davidson Motor Company
3700 W. Juneau Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53208
Transmission: 5-speedWeight (tank full/empty): 586/565 lbs.
Frame: Tubular-steel double-cradleMeasured horsepower: 77.1 bhp @ 6750 rpm
Front suspension: Showa 43mm inverted forkMeasured torque: 67.9 lb.-ft. @ 3750 rpm
Rear suspension: Dual Showa shocks, adjustable for spring preload
Front brake: Dual Nissin four-piston calipers, 292mm discs

Harley's strongest Sportster favors quality over quantity. Torque production tapers steadily beyond 3750 rpm, but the horsepower curve is about as linear as you'll find. Buell's SuperTT is 8.5 horses stronger, but the XR is much easier to ride.

Pegs ride higher and migrate a bit farther rearward than we'd like relative to your basic Sportster. Good cornering clearance comes at the expense of some legroom for lanky types, though the dirt-track-style handlebar welcomes long arms.

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