The Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight looks and feels good. It is also a sensible and practical bike. This model has the Harley’s distinctive tried and tested triangular profile with single seat and fat tyres. All of these contribute to a custom look. It does not pretend to be a copy of any other bike.
The stripes on the tank are echoed in other parts of the bike. The lines are seen on seat stitching, along with the slotted exhaust shields and also on the belt guard and rear sprocket. The tail light in Forty-Eight are included in indicators to streamline the masculine rear end of the bike. The single saddle seat is a low 710mm above the ground. This makes the bike ride-able even for small riders. It is ride-able despite its good 252 kilogram weight. The Harley-Davidson company have kept the bike’s air-cooled V-twin engine with 1,202cc power unchanged. No ride-by-wire throttle is found, along with traction control or alternative engine modes. The US firm has not made any adjustment to the 60bhp maximum power output.
All these unchanged technologies have not made the bike less of a stellar performer. The Forty-Eight cannot be termed spectacularly exciting or fast. However, it is reasonably crisp when the engine pulls and also strongly from the low revs. It also changes reliably through the five-speed gearbox. The 70mph cruise feeling is a smooth one. This is made possible by the bike’s rubber mounted technology. Since the riding position is an upright one, the bike feels fast to ride. Disappointment is in the Euro-4 compliant muted sound of the exhaust.
The majority of development efforts went into the chassis. It is steel framed and updated with fatter front forks. The forks are linked by brace and the newly introduced rear shocks come with incrementally \wound springs. The handling is better by any Sportster standard. The only negative point in this regard is short-travel rear suspension. The latter feels crude sometimes-specially over the bigger bumps. These bumps can be painful due to footrests being forward set and the weight of the rider being felt through non-thick padded seat.
Cornering is a joy thanks to available ground clearance. The Harley branded Michelin made tyres rarely slips. The 16 inch wheels provide a manoeuvrable feel. The bike’s braking is excellent due to single rear and front discs which function in partnership with the efficient ABS system. It is practical engineering. The list of pleasure controls include indicator switches which can be operated by the rider’s thumb, and mirrors mounted below handlebars. Rear view is clearer than one would expect.
The Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight has an uncompromising approach. Its peculiarities can be easily accepted. Truth be said, a number of better performing and more capable bikes are available in this price segment. In fact, better bikes can be bought at less price. Of course, these kind of reasoning completely misses the whole point of buying a Harley. A buyer goes for a Harley for its retro style rebel looks. It is cool and has a distinctive character.