Developing the Dark Custom line-up is probably the best decision Harley-Davidson has made in the past decade. It's a brilliant example of parts-bin engineering, refashioning existing models to create an entire sub-brand of motorcycles with virtually zero platform-development costs. It's a credit to H-D's design staff that the Dark Customs look legit too, with none of the over-styled excess that usually results from corporate attempts at cool.
Some of the most successful offerings in the Dark Custom line have been Sportster-based. The Nightster 1200 and Iron 883 both blend hardcore looks, accessible performance and low prices-a perfect mix to attract the young, female and beginner riders that Harley is trying so hard to lure lately. It makes perfect sense that this mid-year addition to the line is yet another cheap-and-cool Sporty, dubbed the Forty-Eight.
The retro-styled Forty-Eight shares the same bobbed rear fender, hidden taillight and hinged side-mount license-plate bracket as the other Darkies. The big difference is the fat front tire: A 130mm Dunlop MT90 wrapped around a 16-inch spoked wheel gives the bike a tough, bulldog stance. Other unique styling details include mirrors mounted below the handgrips and a clean headlight treatment that deletes the traditional "eyebrow" found on nearly every other Sportster in the model's 53-year history. The fuel-injected, rubber-mounted, 1200cc Evolution engine remains unchanged, and the price tag won't break the bank. MSRP is just $10,499 in Vivid Black, with Brilliant Silver and Mirage Orange Pearl options available for $290 more.
Blacked-out trim and a low-profile, 6.5-inch smoked windscreen give the CVO Ultra Glide a
Harley-Davidson's other new offering, a budget-busting, limited-edition Ultra Classic Electra Glide from the exclusive Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) division, lands at the opposite end of the economic spectrum. Looking like something Mad Max might ride after retiring from the Main Force Patrol, this bike features black-on-black flames and more bolt-on bling-185 pieces, according to the press release-than you can shake a Screamin' Eagle catalog at.
Just 999 CVO Ultras will be produced, each featuring a serialized number plate on the dash. Powered by a black-and-chrome Screamin' Eagle Twin Cam 110 (cubic inch) engine paired with a six-speed Cruise Drive Transmission, the CVO Ultra rolls on Contrast Chrome Roulette wheels. Standard ABS helps maintain control, and a bevy of electronic gadgets-including a 160-watt Harman-Kardon CD/AM/FM/MP3 audio system with standard XM Radio and a bar-mounted Road Tech Zumo 660 GPS Navigator-keep you and your passenger entertained. This one isn't cheap: Suggested retail price is $36,499-a number that should help boost Harley's future earnings.