2010 Harley-Davidson XL 1200N Nightster from United Kingdom
A solid, well built and reliable piece of engineering
This is my first foray into the world of Harley. All my previous bikes were Japanese and German, doing what you want when you want, with little or no soul.
I must admit to having reservations about getting the Sportster. I'm 6' 2" and the mid mounted controls would have been too cramped for me. However, this one came with forward controls, the Badlander seat, rear rack and sissy bar. It fits a treat.
It's got a long and low easy rider look about it. Lots of matte black finishes, very little chrome. It looks mean and purposeful.
The build quality is the first thing that hits you. Things you would expect to be plastic are lusciously painted or chromed. The bike is solidly build with meticulous attention to detail, and despite the urban myth of days spent cleaning, this isn't really that bad (just show it a wet rag and it'll clean itself).
I just love the sound of it starting up. There's that asthmatic rasping cough followed immediately by that deep sonorous rumble that stirs your soul (this is motorbiking as it should be).
Kicking into first on a cold engine is a bit clunky, and first gear is very tall, requiring a bit of clutch control to get going. Wind it on in first and the bike pulls like an African Elephant on steroids. The torque is massive. Short shifting through the box to 4th will see you up at about 60 odd before you know it. There's no tacho, but the bike sort of lets you know when to change gear. I find 5th is good for above 60. Any slower and it tends to lurch and surge. For fast sweeping bends, short straights etc, 4th is definitely best. Loads of torque on tap with no bogging down. Just ride the waves.
Urban riding and narrow country lanes require careful gear selection. It's a lumpy devil at low revs, and tends to surge and judder if you're in the wrong cog. However, the low centre of gravity makes low speed handling an absolute breeze.
Did I mention the sound? Even with stock pipes you'll get a harsh bark from them when you wind it on. I'm not sure what aftermarket exhausts would give me regarding power output, but to me, the note from the stock pipes is just fine.
I've only had it for a couple of weeks and have done some reasonable blasts on it. It's comfortable, responsive, solid and planted going through the bends, and it turns heads.
This is one characterful piece of machinery, and raises the question: What has taken me so long to get a Harley?
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th May, 2014