2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two and Softail Slim Preview

Two new old-schoolers from the authority on vintage cool


Harley-Davidson has just released two new 2012 models that look in the Motor Company’s mirrors for inspiration, the XL1200V Seventy-Two and the FLS Softail Slim. The Seventy-Two represents the disco era when skinny choppers with fat metal flake paint jobs were vogue, while the Softail Slim evokes a period when bobbed FLs were the hippest things on two wheels.

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.

2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two and Softail Slim

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.

2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two Profile Right

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.

2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two Tank

“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.”

2012 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim

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.

2012 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim Gauge

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.

2012 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim

By the Numbers
  XL1200V Seventy-Two FLS Softail Slim
Price $10,499/$11,199 $15,499/$15,484
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
Compression 9.7:1 9.6:1
Torque 72.9 lb-ft @ 3,500 (claimed) 98.7 lb-ft @ 3,000 (claimed)
Tramsmission 5-Speed 6-Speed
Wheelbase 60.0 in 64.4 in
Rake/Trail 30.1°/135mm 31°/147mm
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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