AMF ownership of Harley-Davidson isn’t memorable due to indifferent quality standards, but as time passes it’s customary to focus on the good and discard the bad, and the new Seventy-Two underscores the better aspects of that decade. Whether watching one roll by or straddling the bike, the Seventy-Two so well represents customs of that period it’ll fool many into thinking it’s an oil-tight, customized 40 year-old Sportster.
Mini apes, a 2.1-gallon peanut tank, laced, chrome wheels with a skinny MH90-21 front, and a proportionate 150/80B16 rear Dunlop whitewall tires in a package with a curb weight of 555 pounds. Staggered, shorty dual exhausts with slash-cut mufflers add to a ’70s chopper experience, but it’s that wonderful paint that makes it come to life.
The flakes in the Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint job ($11,199) are fat (supposedly more than seven times the diameter of metal flake used in typical production paint) and phat, and highlighted by the copious use of chrome elsewhere on the bike. The metal-flake effect on the display bike was made groovier with the addition of a silver metal-flake solo seat from the H-D accessories catalog. And cool metal-flake paint doesn’t stop there. Harley’s making available a variety of Big Flake colors, designs and glosses for numerous models, past and present. The Seventy-Two in its other color guises, Big Blue Pearl, and Black Denim retail for $700 less at $10,499.
“In creating the Seventy-Two, we were also inspired by the vibe of the early chopper era,” says Frank Savage, H-D’s manager of industrial design. “Those bikes were colorful and chromed, but also narrow and stripped down to the essentials. You look at period examples and they are almost as simple as a bicycle. It’s a custom style that’s very particular to America and that California scene.”
Harley’s other new model, the Softail Slim, is the result of a standard Softail after a stint at Jenny Craig. From its trimmed front fender to its combination brake and turn signal taillights, the Slim has been reduced to only its essential items in their simplest forms.
“I’d personally like to strip the bike down even further,” says H-D senior designer, Casey Ketterhagen, “but this is as far as we can go on a production model. The Slim is intended to be a direct interpretation of home-built customs of the 1940s and 50s, and we used a number of components that evoke that era, beginning with a Hollywood handlebar.”
The handlebar to which Ketterhagen alludes was originally offered as an accessory for H-D models with Springer front-ends. The bar features a wide, arching bend and cross brace. Other era-specific cues are the half-moon floorboards, round air-cleaner and louvered headlight nacelle.
In vivid black the Slim retails for $15,499 while Black Denim and Ember Red Sunglo command a $400 increase to $15,884.
The Seventy-Two and Softail Slim personify two distinct periods in H-D’s 110-year history — which the company is celebrating in world-wide fashion this year — and emphasize that Harley-Davidson isn’t simply capitalizing on current retro trends, but rather that the Motor Company was there when these styles were cool the first time around.
The Seventy-Two and Softail Slim are scheduled to be at most dealers today.
|By the Numbers|
|XL1200V Seventy-Two||FLS Softail Slim|
|Engine Type||Air-cooled, Evolution||Air-cooled, Twin Cam 103B|
|Displacement||1200cc||103 cu. in.|
|Bore x Stroke||88.9mm x 96.8mm||9.4mm x 111.1mm|
|Torque||72.9 lb-ft @ 3,500 (claimed)||98.7 lb-ft @ 3,000 (claimed)|
|Wheelbase||60.0 in||64.4 in|
|Tires||Front: Dunlop 402F MH90-21 54H
Rear: Dunlop D401 150/80B16 71H
|Front: Dunlop 402F MT90B16 72H|
Rear: Dunlop D402 MU85B16 77H
|Front Brakes||Single 2-piston caliper||Single 4-piston caliper|
|Rear Brakes||Single 1-piston caliper||Single 2-piston caliper|
|Seat Height||28.0 inches||25.9 inches|
|Wet Weight||555 lbs||700 lbs|
|Fuel Capacity||2.1 gal.||5.0 gal.|
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