Harley-Davidson XR1200

Staffers' Rides

By Brian Catterson, Photography by Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson
XR1200
Ringleader: Brian Catterson
Msrp (2009): $11,079
Miles: 3008-4280
Average Fuel Mileage: 37 Mpg
Accessories & Modifications: None yet, but Storz Performance is on my speed dial

When I first got my long-term XR1200, it was funny how often I heard it: "Hey, isn't that one of those European Harleys? How'd you get it here?"

"Um, it was built here."

Seems even those in the know failed to realize that although the XR was first offered for sale only in Europe, it was-like all current Sportsters-manufactured in Milwaukee and assembled in Kansas City.

For me, signing up for a long-term Harley was a big step. Contrary to popular belief I have nothing against The Motor Company or its legions of fans, and in fact have lusted for various Harleys over the years. These tended to be the racier models, like the VR1000 Superbike, XLCR café racer, XR1000 street-tracker, XR750 dirt-tracker and MX250 motocrosser. Thus the XR1200 struck a chord. It certainly looks racy, and it works incredibly well for the mostly inner-city commuting I do nowadays.

Of course it's not perfect, a few of the components dumbed-down in the interest of the bottom line. The Showa suspension is marginal at best, the inverted fork fair but the shocks better qualified to serve as door-closers. Shock spring preload is the only adjustment. Fortunately, Harley introduced the Euro-only XR1200X for 2010, and is offering its fully adjustable Big Piston fork and shocks to regular XR buyers for a relatively affordable $1500. That's on my short list.

The brakes could also use improvement, the old-school rubber lines swelling under pressure. The seat needs help too, the soft foam getting softer as the day wears on, making the seat-to-peg distance even tighter than it already is. The Storz SP1200 I rode for this issue's "12 Bikes of XXXmas" feature was equipped with steel-braided lines and an excellent Saddleman seat, so I may have to order those as well.

The only mod I've made so far is embarrassing. After snagging my right pants leg on the rear brake fluid reservoir guard a few times, I finally got it caught but good and tipped over, Laugh-In style, in my driveway! I've since wrapped a black zip-tie around the reservoir and through the guard so it won't happen again.

By Brian Catterson
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