Torque and More Torque
Heading toward a dip in East Newport Road, the main highway between Route 30 in Gap, Pa., and the Amish village of Intercourse, Pa., I realize it’s now or never. Up ahead lies a fairly decent dip on the road we’re riding as it curves through the rolling countryside of Eastern Pennsylvania. I’m searching for the torque to blast me up the other side of a valley that’s full of Amish farms and to keep me ahead of my buddy, who follows me on his Harley-Davidson Sportster.
I give a quick twist of the wrist to keep my import, Harley-wanna-be cruiser in its torque range. However, I can hear my buddy behind me, his exhaust sounding through the valley and bouncing off the 200-year-old farm buildings where there is no electricity or television. Soon he is upon me, a huge smile shining between a beard that is way too long on a face that’s covered by a half helmet covered with way too many stickers. Then he is gone, speeding off into the distance, cresting the hill long before I can.
“Damn,” I say. “I wish I had a Harley-Davidson.”
In 2011, Harley-Davidson introduces a redesigned 2011 Sportster XR1200X that combines improved suspension components, retro-classic looks with updated brakes to create a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that’s fun to ride, still a cruiser and fast to be on.
Old-Style Café Racer Looks
Walk up to the Sportster XR1200X , and the first thing you notice is its menacing appearance created by a flat black paint scheme on the transmission case, oil tank, header pipe and muffler. The seat sports a café racer rear section, creating a look that reminds me of the classic motorcycles and their fearless riders that roamed the Island of Man TT races through the 1970s. The black-on-white and orange pin striping on the fuel tank captures the images of the classic Harley-Davidson flat-track racers of yesteryear.
In short, this bike is cool to look at and rides even better.
Sportster XR1200X Engine
The 2011 Sportster XR1200X is powered by a 73.3 (1.2-litre) cubic inch, air-cooled Evolution motor that churns out a more-than-healthy 73.3 pounds feet of torque at a relatively low 4,000 RPM, according to Harley-Davidson. Like all motorcycles in the 2011 model year, the carburetor has been replaced by an electronic sequential port fuel inject to improve power, response, fuel economy and eliminate those flat spots in the RPM curve that all carburetors seem to create.
Harley-Davidson doesn’t release horsepower figures, but Aaron Frank, writing in the October 2010 issue of Motorcyclist magazine, claims horsepower rating of 91. American Iron magazine writer Reg Kittrelle claims a horsepower rating somewhere in the middle 80s. Either way, that’s more than enough horsepower to power you with motoring authority on any of the nation’s interstate highways.
Harley-Davidson says the 2011 Sportster XR1200X will get you an average of 38 MPG in the city and 53 MPG on the highway. As usual, if you ride the bike as though you are competing in the Northwest 200, you’ll get lower fuel economy. However, members of the riding press say these numbers are optimistic and that you’ll average about 37 MPG overall and especially if you have a thrill-seeking right wrist.
Remember, the Harley-Davidson designers only gave the 2011 Sportster XR1200X a 3.5-gallon fuel tank so you’ll want to fill up the tank long at least every 90 minutes and long before you want to stretch your legs.
The 2011 Sportster XR1200X gets as standard equipment up front a pair 43-mm adjustable Showa inverted forks to go with adjustable Showa shocks in the rear. This improvement gives the rider more feedback and much more precise ride control when compared to earlier Sportster models.
Harley-Davidson has never been afraid of building big and powerful bikes with a big-as-Texas emphasis on big. The 2011 Sportster XR1200X tips the scales at a healthy 551 pounds dry. With a 60-inch wheelbase, this Sportster will track straight all day long against substantial side winds. The improvement in suspension and brakes will make this a standard motorcycle that enjoys being driven enthusiastically on country roads with tight corners. However, I really can’t imagine flipping this bike left to right through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca Raceway.
Like automobile builder Henry Ford once said about his Model T, it seems the Harley-Davidson 2011 Sportster XR1200X is available in every color as long as it’s black or white. However, the color scheme works on this offering, creating a Stealth Fighter-like appearance that is anything but stealth in performance.
The 2011 Sportster XR1200X starts off at $11,799 plus freight ($305), California emissions ($100) and dealer setup.