1,000 mile ride review - 2012 Harley Sportster 1200 Custom - Harley Davidson Forums

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1,000 mile ride review - 2012 Harley Sportster 1200 Custom

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Old 08-05-2012, 02:44 AM
MrPeepers MrPeepers is offline
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Default 1,000 mile ride review - 2012 Harley Sportster 1200 Custom

After 1,000 miles here are a few comments on my experience with my new 2012 Harley Sportster 1200 Custom

Recent bikes I have owned: 1988 Suzuki Katana 1100 (GSX1100R), 2007 Honda VTX 1300, and a 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan Voyager 1700 touring bike.

Why I bought the Harley: The Vulcan Voyager is just too big and heavy for short fun rides.

2012 Harley Sportster 1200 Custom (Vivid Black)

  • Easy to ride. This bike is very easy to ride probably because of its low weight. Very nimble and fast especially with the power to weight ratio of the 1200cc motor.
  • Sounds great. The 2012 Sportster 1200C with Vance and Hines slip-on exhaust sounds great. No backfires, no changes to ECM. If you want loud pipes then forget the Harley Screaming Eagles – those are not much louder than stock. Want to make some thunder then get the Vance and Hines.
  • Best shifting transmission. By far, the Harley has the best shifting transmission of any Japanese bike I have owned. The Voyager 1700 and the VTX 1300 both had a noticeable clunk in shifting from first to second gear. The Sportster goes through the gears flawlessly.
  • Nice headlight. I don’t know what it is, but this bike has a great headlight with a beam that has illumination 180 degrees. Seems better than the lights on my Voyager touring bike - Primary plus two additional wide-angle lights.
  • It’s a rough ride. Riding the Voyager is like sitting on a cloud. On the Sportster you can feel every bump. Even compared to the Honda VTX1300 the Harley is a rough ride.
  • Vibration. None of the Japanese V-Twin bikes that I’ve ridden every vibrated this much. The vibration is sometimes at the worst speeds. For example, at 55 mph there is noticeable vibration through the foot pegs. You have to go 75 mph+ in 5’th gear to rid of this vibration. In fact, at 75 mph the bike is smooth as glass. But, 75 is 20 mph over the speed limit here near Chicago Illinois.
  • Two-up. I don’t think this bike is big enough for 2 people.
On the fence
  • No liquid cooling. Harley does not use liquid cooling on any of its bikes – even the touring model. Most Japanese V-Twins are liquid cooled. So what happens when it overheats?
Observations and suggestions
  • Oil Dipstick. Who invented this thing? Crazy.
  • Oil Change. Do yourself a favor and spend $10 on the Harley end-cap oil wrench.
  • Synthetic Oil. I put this in on the first oil change - Mobile One V-Twin 20w-50. I bought a case of 6 from Amazon.com for $60 with free shipping. Seems that the motor top end value noise is reduced with the Mobile One.
  • Size. The 1200 Sportster seems like a small bike. But, I have a hard time judging since all I have to compare it to is the Voyager touring bike.
  • Service Manual. Do yourself another favor. Get yourself the Harley Service Manual. About $48 online and well worth it. Accept no substitutes.
  • Low fuel indicator. The tank on the Sportster 1200 Custom holds 4.5 gal. My low fuel light comes on at 2.5 gal. Is that your experience?
  • No Tach. Anyone got any idea of what RPM the motor is at running at 55 mph in 4’th and 5’th gears… or in any gears at any speed for that matter?

Not sure I regret getting the 2012 Sportster 1200 Custom. Thinking back, I should have bought the Fat Bob. The Fat Bob was more like the bike I was looking for.

What kept me away from the Fat Bob was that I got sticker shock. The dealer priced it at $17,500. I probably could of got it for about $16,000. But still. My 2010 Vulcan Voyager touring bike was $17,000 and that has everything. Seemed to me $16K was a premium price for not much of a bike (compared to a full out touring bike at $17K)

I got $800 off the 2012 Sportster MSRP of $10,299. Out the door price on the Sportster was slightly over $11,000 including the dealer installed Vance and Hines exhaust and all taxes, plates, and mark-ups.

Would $5,000 more for the Fat Bob be worth it?

Bottom line

I like my 2012 Harley Sportster 1200 Custom. It’s the perfect bike for an hour or two of joy riding on a nice day. The bike is easy to ride, nimble, forgiving, and fast with the 1200cc motor and low weight. So these days, the Harley is the bike of choice and the 2010 Vulcan Voyager sits in the garage waiting for the next long trip.

Last edited by MrPeepers; 08-05-2012 at 03:11 AM.
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Old 08-05-2012, 08:34 AM
Arihant Arihant is offline
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Location: Sweden
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Good review. I have the 2011 model ... Pretty much the same as 2012.

Which specific slipons did you get? Planning to swap the stocks with VnH..seems the ones they have are the twin slash 3"...you got those? Black or chrome n how much?

Did you have problems with the passenger pegs?

Last thing...get some more posts and u can post some pics!
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Old 08-05-2012, 08:56 AM
1200Cdriver 1200Cdriver is offline
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Peepers, the vibration you feel at 55 in 5th gear is not vibration at all but more accurately it is tortional impulses from running the engine right on the verge of lugging. In fact if going up hill at 55 in 5th gear, it is lugging. I have a PCIII on my 2007 1200C and it moved those tortional impulses down to 50 and turned my throttle into a very linear rheostat. A set of Progressive 13.5" 440s will remove the hit you feel on every bump. The stock shocks give you a very jackhammer like ride as you discovered.
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Old 08-05-2012, 09:16 AM
xwhyz1959 xwhyz1959 is offline
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The rough ride is easy enough to fix. Air shocks, Progressive springs, Ricors, and Sundowner seat. My Sporty rides almost as well as my 08 FXSTC.
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Old 08-05-2012, 09:31 AM
Sport1200N Sport1200N is offline
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You really shouldn't be riding at 55mph in 5th gear. Stay in 4th for sure and move to 5th only if you're accelerating to 60-65mph.

That vibration and lack of power in 5th @ 50 is telling you something. Maybe a tach would be a good addition for you if you're having trouble riding by ear/feel.
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Old 08-05-2012, 09:43 AM
1200Cdriver 1200Cdriver is offline
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Sport, I rarely ride at 50 in 5th but I can with no problem with the PCIII installed. No tach needed, Harley V twins communicate their needs very well, with 60 years riding experience I can read them very well.
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Old 08-05-2012, 10:28 AM
sportpilot sportpilot is offline
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Location: reno, NV
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Never had the fuel light come on. Ive had the tank down to 1 gallon. My 2012 only has 430 miles on it. There is a noticeable vibration when it lugs but its not as bad as my brothers '05 883L. After swapping bikes on the first ride and we both agreed the 2012 was pretty smooth. Also looking at the Vance pipes. Is the clunk from N to 1st normal? 1st to 2nd and up is fine but it seems to really pop going into 1st.
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Old 08-05-2012, 10:56 AM
Jondalar Jondalar is offline
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I have a 2012, and it's the big front tire that does it for me.
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Old 08-05-2012, 11:45 AM
XKnight XKnight is offline
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I have a new 72 and sure it shakes and vibrates a bit (that's part of the fun), but compared to the old Sporty I had my 72 is smooth as glass.
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Old 08-05-2012, 02:44 PM
JeffJA JeffJA is offline
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I have an 09 with the 4.5 gallon tank and everytime i fill up after the fuel light comes on, it always only takes 2.5 gallons.
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