XR1200X: A Harley-Davidson For Non-Harley Riders – Driver’s Seat – WSJ

6 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on XR1200X: A Harley-Davidson For Non-Harley Riders – Driver’s Seat – WSJ
Harley-Davidson XR1200X
Harley-Davidson XR1200X

XR1200X: A Harley-Davidson For Non-Harley Riders

Jonathan Welsh The Harley-Davidson XR1200X is a pleasant return to the mechanical sound, feel and smell that make bikes thrilling.

I was chatting with a motorcycling friend recently about technology taking some of the fun out of two-wheel transport. I’m not talking about anti-lock brakes, a bone of contention among bikers for years. Indeed, ABS makes bikes more fun because it can keep riders from falling.

What bother me are those things that keep us from feeling.

Subtle changes to modern bikes have made them less enjoyable than older ones. Engines run with turbine smoothness, suspensions adjust with the touch of a button and a growing number of bikes are available with automatic transmissions. They are becoming more like two-wheel cars.

Sure, you still get the rush of the wind, but what happened to the rumblinig, vibrating sense of engagement that drew many of us to riding?

To track down the visceral, iron-horse thrill of riding you may have to look at old bikes for sale in the classifieds, or you might find it in a Harley-Davidson showroom. I know what you’re saying. You want a horse, not a hog.

Harleys have never been my style either. But the new XR1200X is different. Really.

The motorcycle maker known for large, heavy, slow cruisers and touring bikes rolled out the XR1200 a couple of years ago in an attempt to woo younger riders who prefer, quicker, sportier machinery but don’t want to ride a plastic-shrouded sport bike in loud colors with bad graphics. The XR was nice, but lacked the handling some riders wanted. When riding fast into a corner its too-soft suspension could feel wobbly and unsure.

 Now the X version, with a more broadly adjustable suspension, has hit the mark.

This isn’t a track bike, though you could have a lot of fun riding it on a track. It is really an all-around street bike, which is rare in this era of specialization. The XR1200X is ideal for early-morning rides on hilly, twisting roads or for quick runs to the store or the local cafe.

 It fits in almost anywhere you go in part because it looks the way people expect a motorcycle to look.

For me, the new XR also does everything a motorcycle is supposed to do, from getting you to point B in style to stimulating all your senses. Yes, it looks and sounds good. But it also has that slightly oily hot-metal smell and vibrating feel that let you know you are riding a machine.

Neither crude nor refined, it engages without overwhelming, annoying or disappointing the rider.

Harley-Davidson XR1200X
Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Roll on the throttle and the XR1200X’s air-cooled, 1.2 liter V-twin engine lets out a raspy growl and the bike accelerates with authority, but it’s nothing startling. Hit the brakes and it stops with a sense of urgency, but won’t throw you over the handlebars if you squeeze a little too hard. This ride won’t outperform the latest sport bikes from Japan, but it’s still much faster than a car and nimble enough to run with most high-performance bikes you might meet on a back road.

And how much more do you really need on the street?

I found the new XR1200R a joy to ride. Other than a 1977 XLCR, the new machine is the only Harley I have ever really wanted. Of course I know the XLCR, also known as the Cafer Racer, wasn’t really a good bike.

But the new XR is, and at $11,799 it costs a few thousand dollars less than the older motorcycle.

But like the fetching XLCR and other vintage bikes, part of the new Harley’s attraction lies in the way it goes beyond simply being fun transportation. It also impresses people in a way that other bikes don’t. It looks athletic, rugged and adventurous while avoiding the disconcerting outlaw image.

And while I hate to admit it, I loved watching people’s expressions as I rode up.

I could read their lips uttering, “Oh, my!”

Ford Plans Engine Teardown At Detroit Auto Show Next

Harley-Davidson XR1200X
Harley-Davidson XR1200X
Harley-Davidson XR1200X
Harley-Davidson XR1200X
Harley-Davidson XR1200X
Harley-Davidson XR1200X
Harley-Davidson XR1200X

Interesting articles

Other articles of the category "Harley-Davidson":

Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts


Born in the USSR


About this site

For all questions about advertising, please contact listed on the site.

Motorcycles catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions about Motorcycles.