EPA Certifies 2018 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 and Forty-Eight Special

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

An updated list of motorcycles certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists two new Harley-Davidson Sportster variants for 2018.

The two new models, identified as a Forty-Eight Special and an Iron 1200, were included in the list of 2018 models certified to use Harley-Davidson’s air-cooled 1200cc Evolution Sportster engine along with the 1200 Custom, Roadster, and the Forty-Eight (both the regular model and the Anniversary Edition color variant pictured below) which are already available for sale.

(UPDATE: the Forty-Eight Special will be identified by the model code XL1200XS, which is no surprise as the regular Forty-Eight goes by XL1200X. The Iron 1200 will go by XL1200NS, which has ties to both the Iron 883 XL833N and the long-discontinued Nightster XL1200N.)

The Forty-Eight Special and Iron 1200 were added to the EPA’s list of certified models in a document dated January 2018. The document was previous updated in October 2017, only certifying the existing 1200cc Sportster models. Apart from the addition of the two new model names, the filings for the 1200cc Sportster engine remain the same, with no changes to claimed power output or emissions levels. The certification number, JHDXC01.2CEA-006, remains the same, just with the addition of “-R01” at the end, with indicating a revision.

The fact nothing else had changed in the engine’s emissions data tells us a couple of things. First, whatever the Iron 1200 and Forty-Eight Special are, their engines and exhaust systems are fundamentally the same and did not require additional emissions testing; and second, it means at some point in the last few months, someone at Harley-Davidson submitted a revised filing for the sole purpose of adding the two names. That would suggest an official announcement for the two models will be coming sooner rather than later.

Of the two, the Iron 1200 is probably the easiest to figure out. Expect it to look like the current Iron 883 Sportster (pictured above) but with the larger engine. In other words, a blacked-out engine with chrome highlights, chopped fender, solo tuck-and-roll seat and low-rise drag-style handlebars.

The Forty-Eight Special name offers slightly more ambiguity. The word “Special” can mean anything, but we do have a few of recent Harley examples to look at in the Road King Special, Road Glide Special and Street Glide Special. In these cases, “Special” meant a blacked-out version of the base model. In this case, we expect the Forty-Eight Special to have a black engine, exhaust system and fork tubes, and possibly a different wheel design.

What’s curious is where the Forty-Eight Special relates to trademarks Harley-Davidson recently filed for the name “ 48X” in the U.S. and other markets. The 48X is likely a separate project that will come much farther down the road, as the EPA filings make no mention of it. A change from spelling out “Forty-Eight” to the numeral “48” would suggest a more substantial change than just replacing chromed parts with black.

Given the timing of the revised EPA certification, we expect Harley-Davidson will reveal the new Iron 1200 and Forty-Eight Special fairly soon. Keep checking right here on Motorcycle.com for the latest.

Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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10 of 38 comments
  • Biker Bob Biker Bob on Feb 03, 2018

    Very disappointing that HD is including these two models in the “100 new models in 10 years” sham.

  • Spiff Spiff on Feb 03, 2018

    The EPA certifies the new 2019 Harley Davidson Sportster, the BNG 1200.

    • See 7 previous
    • Alaskan18724 Alaskan18724 on Feb 04, 2018

      Wish I could graft the saddle from a 1982 GS850....