2008 Harley-Davidson XR1200 - Get Sporty!

Milwaukee's All-New Dirt-Track Racer Replica Is The Sportiest Sportster Yet-Too Bad You Can't Buy One In America!

By Alan Cathcart, Photography by Herwig Peuker, Harley-Davidson

2008 Harley-Davidson XR1200

Hard Parts - A Closer Look At The Hot-Rod Hog

Harley's engineering staff made many mods to bring the Sportster's venerable air-cooled, pushrod V-twin up to XR spec. A larger crankpin (1.5 inches, compared to the standard XL1200's 1.25 in.) fitted with a racing-quality roller bearing beefs up the bottom end, and a higher-flow oil pump is now driven off the cam to reduce "social noise." Bore and stroke remain unchanged at 88.9 x 96.8 mm, as does valve train geometry and valve diameters, but a new cam similar to that of the Buell XB provides a power boost. Redline has been increased 1000 revs to 7000 rpm and compression rises from 9.7:1 to 10:1. Oil-cooled cylinder heads appear for the first time to better control temperature (especially exhaust-valve temps), with a small oil cooler mounted to the frame downtube. A Delphi-made ECU controls the sequential-port fuel injection that features a larger, 50mm Dell'Orto twin-throat throttle body (up from the XL's 45mm). The intake has been reconfigured to a downdraft arrangement, compared to the sidedraft format of the standard Sportster, and the traditional side-mounted air cleaner has been replaced by an under-tank airbox. H-D's Active Intake System makes an appearance here, utilizing a solenoid-activated flapper to cancel resonance at certain rpm to reduce noise. The five-speed transmission is unchanged, though the primary drive ratio has been raised from 1.50 to 1.68 for snappier acceleration.

The XR's double-cradle frame is essentially identical to that of the XL except for slightly sportier steering geometry to sharpen handling. The steering head angle is 29.3 degrees; a 1.5-degree reduction in rake engineered into the triple clamps grants an effective 27.8 degrees of rake. A long, 59.6-inch wheelbase and generous 5.1 inches of trail ensure steering stability without sacrificing too much response. An attractive cast-aluminum swingarm anchors the rear end, acting on twin shocks that are adjustable for spring preload only. Up front is an aggressive-looking 43mm inverted fork that offers no adjustment, but is plenty stiff from the factory for spirited street riding.

Wheels And Brakes
Lightweight, six-spoke cast-aluminum wheels carry grippy, sport-compound Dunlop D209 Qualifier tires. The rear is 180mm wide, the front 120mm, in a somewhat unusual 18-inch diameter-a 17-inch front wheel apparently didn't agree with the rangy front-end geometry. Brakes are among the best ever fitted to a Harley, consisting of twin four-piston Nissin calipers and 292mm Sunmax discs up front, with a two-piston caliper and 260mm disc slowing the rear wheel.

Body Work
The sharp-looking fuel tank faithfully recreates the shape of the XR750 racebikes. Unfortunately, the miniscule, 3.5-gallon capacity will have you seeing the low-fuel light in as few as 75 miles if you ride aggressively, resulting in a range more suited to the racetrack than the open road. An air scoop under the right tank flank routes fresh air into the airbox. The one-piece tailsection resembles an oversized version of the racebike's cowling, and incorporates a passable passenger pad suitable for short jaunts. Like the racebike it's meant to emulate, the XR1200 should be considered a solo conveyance.

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