Harley-Davidson Unveils Two “New” Sportsters. A Forty-Eight Special And Iron 1200 Fuse.

Both Sportsters, the Sportster Forty Eight Special And The Sportster Fuse, got a throw-back design with a modern performance. These 2 new Sportsters are the latest in a line of 100 motorcycles the company plans to introduce by 2027. Maybe these 2 Sportster designs are part of the solution for Harley-Davidson, an iconic aging brand with declining sales…In this case it boils down to a garage-built attitude with high handlebars and cool graphics.

its introduction in 1957, Sportster motorcycles have been repeatedly reimagined, in the hands of both the Motor Company, custom bike builders and bike owners Sportsters turn into a bobber, a chopper, a scrambler, a café racer or as a hero on flat tracks and drag strips and road-race courses. The Sportster has always been an accessible entry-point motorcycle or first-time riders.

“Since its inception, the Sportster has offered the perfect combination of size, power and character that makes it appealing to so many different riders,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson V.P. of Styling & Design. “A Sportster is a relatively easy bike to strip down and reinvent. What we’ve done to create the new Iron 1200 and Forty-Eight Special is what Sportster owners have been doing with their own bikes for generations.”

New fuel tank graphics distinguish both the Iron 1200 and the Forty-Eight Special, and combine bold color stripes with a formal typeface, color and graphic elements originally popular in the 1970s. “The art on these two fuel tanks reflect contemporary trends we are seeing on custom bikes and in design in general, a move away from more complex and intricate art to a look that’s very simple and clean,” said Richards. “It’s also important to note that these graphics respect the shape of the fuel tank and in the case of the Sportster, that tank shape is a classic design element in its own right.”

Iron 1200™

The Iron 1200 recipe starts with power. A 1202cc Evolution® 1200 V-Twin engine delivers 36 percent more torque (73.0 ft. lbs. vs. 53.8 ft. lb.) than the 883 Evolution engine that powers the Iron 883, the original urban brawler in the Sportster family. The Iron 1200 brings more punch to the street fight – more power to blast away from green lights and more mid-range to muscle through traffic. More power means more rowdy fun.

The satin-black Mini Ape handle bar is an essential element of the garage-built chopper look that adds instant attitude. This 1.0-inch diameter handlebar offers an 8.75-inch rise, 32-inch spread and 6.5-inch pull back, that opens the rider triangle with a fist-in-the-wind posture. The gloss black speed screen framing the headlamp is a West Coast styling influence that amplifies the attitude of the tall bars, is intended to offer some wind deflection at speed and provides a space for easy personalization. The fast-back Café Solo Seat flows to the rear fender and is shaped to help hold the rider in position when the torque of the Evolution 1200 kicks in.

A classic 3.3-gallon Sportster fuel tank features multi-colored striped graphics that wrap around the tank profile. The dark engine finish helps draw the eyes to the bright tank graphics. Fuel tank paint color options include Vivid Black, Twisted Cherry and Billiard White, always contrasting with the Vivid Black speed screen. The entire powertrain has been styled with a popular color: black upper and lower rocker boxes, black exhaust and muffler shields, and black timer, primary and derby covers. Chrome pushrod tubes and tappet covers are the only brightwork and highlight the V-Twin engine shape. The Iron 1200 is finished with all-black 9-Spoke wheels (19-inch front and 16-inch rear diameter) and a solid black belt guard and rear sprocket. The Harley-Davidson Smart Security System and anti-lock braking system (ABS) are factory-installed options for the Iron 1200 model.

Forty-Eight® Special

The burly front end of the Forty-Eight Special – a 130mm front tire framed by 49mm forks secured in massive forged aluminum triple clamps – looks especially menacing when topped with a gloss-black, 7.25-inch high Tallboy handlebar. “We specifically selected the Tallboy bar for its shape,” said Richards. “It offers less pull-back than the Mini-Ape, a look that really works with the steamroller front end and the smaller fuel tank on the Forty-Eight Special model.”

That 2.2-gallon “peanut” Sportster fuel tank features rows of bold, horizontal stripes framing a simple Harley-Davidson text logo. The fuel tank is available in three color options: Vivid Black, Wicked Red, and Billiard White. The Evolution 1200 engine features a black top end and an expanse of brilliant chrome below, including chrome primary, inspection and derby covers, and solid chrome muffler and exhaust shields. Chrome lower rocker boxes, pushrod tubes and tappet covers contrast with the black cylinders to highlight the V-Twin engine shape. High-performance Michelin Scorcher 31 tires front and rear are mounted on Black Split 9-Spoke Cast Aluminum wheels (16-inch diameter front and rear). The Harley-Davidson Smart Security System and anti-lock braking system (ABS) are factory-installed options for the Forty-Eight Special model.

46 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Unveils Two “New” Sportsters. A Forty-Eight Special And Iron 1200 Fuse.”

  1. 1 fordaith Feb 21st, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    So they brought back the Nightster, and added apes to the 48……amd they wonder why their sales are slumping

  2. 2 NoH2oH Feb 21st, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    “New” just might be stretching the term. I do love that flat bottom tank though.

    Time for a really new Sportster, HD. And please, NOT with an Indian made engine.

  3. 3 Boomer Feb 21st, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    I like them. Not sure they can be called “new” but I like ’em. At least the handlebars aren’t down around the knees.

  4. 4 BobS Feb 21st, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    Two new models that consist of new stickers on the same old bikes. Yeah that’ll turn around the sales slump.

  5. 5 SoCalPhun Feb 21st, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    HD really needs to put out a Street Tracker Sportster.

  6. 6 wheel time Feb 21st, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    nice but I think they should make 1200 sportsters the asking price of the 883’s and 883’s less…
    might not be possible as they look to their figures? but if they want more of the market, competitors offer better value motorcycles of arguably better quality/practicality…

  7. 7 NoH2oH Feb 21st, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Have to agree in regards to $$$$. I mean, really? Been using the same platform since 2004, and basically the exact same engine since 2007. I am guessing the tooling has been paid for by now. 😀
    Time for a modern XLX-61.

  8. 8 Xenu Feb 21st, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Way past time to end this. HD can do better than new decals and mini apes.

  9. 9 Woody's Feb 21st, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    Meh, they look ok, big front tire one needs a real front fender IMO, but I don’t really see anything new enough for excitement.

  10. 10 the slob Feb 21st, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    i got 3 letters to say about those tank graffics : AMF

  11. 11 nicker Feb 21st, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    That big front tire just looks awkward…


  12. 12 Seymour Feb 21st, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    Is it true that every time HD rolls out one of these “new” models, all HD employees are required to give a standing ovation and hoot and cheer and slap each other on the backsides?

  13. 13 fuji Feb 21st, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Wow HD “nailed” it.

    If future bikes in their proposed new design “nail” it in the same manner as their intro bikes “nailed” there’s going to be a lot of “nails” in the coffin.

  14. 14 golfish Feb 21st, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    I really like these bikes, albeit their not new. I might get spanked for saying this, I’d like to see these offered with a Springer front end, or are these to unsafe.

  15. 15 garagedog Feb 21st, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    Momma said if I didn’t have anything nice to say…..
    Well, I will just say I was disappointed.
    Saw them first on the H-D release this afternoon, clicked on that email first…..
    New graphics and mini apes?
    Wow, should have checked them off as 4 new models.
    Sorry Mom.
    I will be keeping my ’05 1200R. Love it.

  16. 16 Max Feb 22nd, 2018 at 7:37 am

    Whenever a new model is announced in the middle of the season, this usually means that it is the last thing to do. I think they will expire the Sportster models in line with the unsolvable E5 guidelines

  17. 17 Al Gajda Feb 22nd, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Look like AMF which is an embarassment

  18. 18 Calif Phil Feb 22nd, 2018 at 8:49 am

    I luv the retro tank graphics. Long live the Sportster!

  19. 19 Seymour Feb 22nd, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Al Gajda I agree they are reminiscent of the AMF graphics, but that’s hardly an embarrassment. Despite the stigma, the late 70’s and early 80’s were the peak of HD’s life.

  20. 20 beentheredonethat Feb 22nd, 2018 at 9:29 am

    they want old skool well then make a softail sportster, they have the technology
    then you really have a new but old rigid frame look and
    whats with the single seat on everything put a nice tuck and roll leather
    cobra seat and a tall sissy bar with the bar and sheild at the top
    so the babe can ride and maybe the millennial can get laid

  21. 21 Guzzigreg Feb 22nd, 2018 at 9:37 am

    Nothing new.HD is burying themselves.

  22. 22 Barry Van Dyke Feb 22nd, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Still no flat track replica. What a missed opportunity to make a really new .

  23. 23 highrpm Feb 22nd, 2018 at 10:32 am

    ossifying like lots of slow growth investor-owned corps. the execs running scared of wall-street russia mobster types. debt is debt. and thug bill collectors are gangsters. either pay the privateers or the wall street goons. take the iconic company private and make it employee owned. cut the production volumes. make it elite. and raise the $$$. and the hell with big $$$ global profits. there’s no fooling the customer w/ new paint schemes and add-ons. invent or die.

    and dump the drivel advertising, trying to sell the product using the biker look with the poser loner look staring off into the distance. who respects themselves by defining their wannabe looks from “you can look like this!”? revamp the corp website. the splash screen should centerfold the bike, rather than a wannabe hollywood actor tough guy all dressed up in h-d urban riding garb.

  24. 24 Buz C. Feb 22nd, 2018 at 11:36 am

    They are never going to get it.
    I have been wanting to buy an American Motorcycle for 50 years.
    I have had two. One was a Buell the other was a Rokon. I did have a Sportster, just like these two.

  25. 25 BOSS HAWG Feb 22nd, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Yawns again.

    Boss Hawg

  26. 26 richards Feb 22nd, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But a couple of these negative posts are rediculous/inane. I will not take up the time and space to explain why some of us like sportsters. All I’l say is “That if I have to explain it to you, you wouldn’t understand”.

  27. 27 Jim Tom Stimpson Feb 22nd, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    looks like a yamaha bolt

  28. 28 Lonny Spiva Feb 22nd, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Some last Hurrah’s before a all New Sportster Frame and updated Engine? You know kit’s Coming !

  29. 29 kingcycles Feb 22nd, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    They are good looking bikes. Way cooler than 1000 pound baggers for $25,000

  30. 30 Aaron! Feb 22nd, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Well if these new bikes don’t jump start sales to Millennials I don’t know what will

  31. 31 rebel Feb 22nd, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    make all sportsters 1200 (or more) and add 6 speed, drop price and sell more than you can make

  32. 32 Doc Robinson Feb 22nd, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    Hey Seymour, in 2016 Harley shipped 266,382 motorcycles.
    Yet you say “the late 70’s and early 80’s were the peak of HD’s life” well to take just one example in 1982 the shipped a total of 30119. Peak? Your dictionary must read differently to mine.
    And Jim Tom, Yamaha totally copied the Sportster to design their Bolt. Totally copied.
    And as far as outdated technology, know that Royal Enfield’s total sales from April 2015 to March 2016 saw 508,099 motorcycles sold around the world. Old technology, old looks got it there. And you want H-D to modernise the Sportster?

  33. 33 Kelly Feb 22nd, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    If the sportster line us keeping the factory open they should pay more attention to it. Some of the changes since 86 have been good some not. But new decals do not equate to new models!

  34. 34 Biggles Feb 23rd, 2018 at 2:57 am

    More power than an 883 Street brawler. Just prolongs the agony of watching the Scout taillight disappearing into the distance.

  35. 35 CycleSavage Feb 23rd, 2018 at 5:51 am

    Personally, I like the graphics.
    $10K for a Sportster? People said they’d go under when Shovelheads went over $5K. That was a while ago.

  36. 36 Woody's Feb 23rd, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Like doc said.

  37. 37 Seymour Feb 23rd, 2018 at 11:02 am

    Doc I was talking about HD being in their element – maybe I meant creatively. Shovelhead Wide Glide, Sportster XLX-61, Super Glide, Sturgis belt drive, FLHS, etc. these bikes had style and soul never again matched by the co.

  38. 38 chicagojohn Feb 23rd, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Keep em affordable, to attract new riders HD

  39. 39 Woody's Feb 23rd, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Some guys get it, you can’t sell an entry level bike at $10,000.

  40. 40 Pestilence Feb 23rd, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    Seriously … I like the retro tank & using the Evo engine BUT the rest of the bike … talk about missing the mark entirety …

    I don’t know who they’re listening to but obviously it’s not the customer base that you should be TRYING to keep. You guys have really crapped the bed … AGAIN.

    Please hire someone with a pair to bring HD back to where it used to be …

  41. 41 Texaspoontangtappa Feb 24th, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Can’t wait till they bring golf carts back!

  42. 42 Xenu Feb 24th, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    The Royal Enfields cited as old tech are actually recently designed UCE engines with EFI and other features. Even RE came up with a whole new engine. HD could too.

  43. 43 Dieter Sowade Feb 26th, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Just in case nobody knows this ………. Motorcycles have now been built since at least 1895 – so lets call that 123 years.

    Unlike cars that offer you a LARGE platform on which to let your imagination run wild, a “liddle” narrow frame and two wheels kind of limits your options and as such, how much NEW can you actually DO ?

    Whilst every couple of years someone DOES come up with something new, it’s ALL been done before and by way of example, there’s only so many handle bar designs that “work” and at the end of the day there are only 7 colours in The Spectrum so someone, please define “new” for me.

    Tyres MUST be round and an internal combustion engine needs fuel (gas) and spark to fire it so ……. until someone invents a nuclear powered bike, how “new” would you like anything to be these days ?

    Having said that,I agree that HD (and others) should STOP calling things NEW and should rather refer to them as “renewed” or re- designed but the future may prove me wrong. If only we KNEW ……….


  44. 44 Batterycap Feb 26th, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Thanks Harley – for sticking with a design that I would be sad to see fade into history. I’m not kidding. You do what you do. Be liked on your terms. Don’t twist with the wind. Besides, how many “new” things can one do with a machine that has a tire in the front, a tire in the back, and an engine in the middle. Regarding the price – nothing is cheap anymore. Nothing is inexpensive. A typical Trek electric bicycle can cost more than $7,000.

    The real problem with motorcycle sales is that too many millenials don’t give a rat’s behind about anything mechanical. They don’t don’t know and don’t care what engine is under the hood of a car. They can’t change a tire, and don’t care that they can’t change a tire.

    Motorcycles attract a lot of guys that actually have had some grease under their fingernails and think that a louder exhaust note is a form of music. Some in the new group get it, but far fewer than in recent generations. How this fixes itself is not known by me.

  45. 45 JakeofSpades Mar 6th, 2018 at 12:41 am

    What about a new line of Sportsters like this:


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