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View Full Version : The 48.. too much compromise for style?


Mr.Mow
23rd March 2011, 04:21
Does the 48 compromise being a decent bike for style?

I've a deposit down on one, don't have the ability to ride one though (there are no demos available anywhere.. I was lucky enough to TOUCH one :laugh).

In typical 'i have a deposit down and still have to wait 6 weeks so I'll read everything I can on the internet' style.. I've been seeing a few reports of head shake, tank slappers and general 'skippiness' from the front and rear ends over bumps and rough roads.. seems to be linked to low front and rear suspension and small amounts of suspension travel.

How are other 48 owners finding them? Has Harley compromised handling for looks? Even one of the dealers was trying to steer me away from one for these reasons.

Just curious, especially interested in opinions from guys who own or have spent time with 'regular' sporties..

Unbalanced
23rd March 2011, 04:30
The suspension isn't much different from the nightster, so I'll bite.

The suspension sucks. It's far too short to allow proper travel, and therefore spring rate, so there's no compromise between too stiff and bottoming out too easily. I personally have not experienced or heard about head shake, but more along the lines of failing to follow road irregularities in order to maintain traction while cornering. I found the stock suspension too stiff in the rear, so I fixed that with whittlebeast hybrids, and the n suddenly the front feels way too soft, so I'm fixing that with Works dual rate fork springs and air valves.

If you read XLXRs 7 pages of suspension threads you'll find many ways to improve the suspension from levels starting at Rideable all the way to great. "Rideable" can even be acheived on a modest budget (about $250 combined front and rear), or you can get close to $1000 with online rear shocks, works form springs and ricor intiminators for a very good setup.


Essentially though, it's a sportster thing, not just specific to the 48. Salesman probably wanted to get you on a more expensive big twin.

Brad
23rd March 2011, 04:32
I think all of the things that suck on the 48 suck on most sportsters in general (except the range) Never rode one, just from what I've read.

Mr.Mow
23rd March 2011, 04:37
Well.. heres another point to add..
Nightsters and Irons for the Australian market (where I am) get much taller suspension than the US models.. The 48 though gets the low suspension of the US.

For what its worth with the dealer, he was trying to steer me to a nightster.. longer waiting list on them!!

BOSS
23rd March 2011, 04:59
Mr. Mow. The 48 is an aquired taste. i have a 48 and love it. it has taken some comfort away for the nastalgic look but thats all part of the scene. I would have to say that the suspension is a little rough rideing at times but its an awesome ride. ive never noticed any head shake or bottoming out. i tested the suspension pretty good on a 9 inch speed bump that came out of no where and it was stiff but never bottomed out. its tourqie as hell in high and low band. great throttle response in all gears and is an all around awesome city crusier. the 2.1ga peanut tank makes it a little hard to go long distances. all in all its just one of those bikes that you would have to ride to get your own opinion about it.

lostNdallas
23rd March 2011, 08:28
I'm pretty satisfied with my '48 as a whole. I've changed around a few things that are mostly subtle styling cues in addition to a heavy Breather and Side Shots exhaust. The handling seems fine to me. I come from a heavy background of cycling though so I don't know if that has influenced my opinion in any way regarding the handling.

This is the first motorcycle I've ever owned so I have nothing to compare it to in terms of ownership.

jharback
23rd March 2011, 09:10
The ride on the 48 is harsh but, it's not made to tour. It's a "bar" bike. Short runs. If your looking for something that will handle longer rides and money is a little tight then look at a diffferent sportster and upgrade the suspension and seat.

Mr.Mow
23rd March 2011, 10:41
The ride on the 48 is harsh but, it's not made to tour. It's a "bar" bike. Short runs. If your looking for something that will handle longer rides and money is a little tight then look at a diffferent sportster and upgrade the suspension and seat.

Oh, dont get me wrong, not talking 'comfort' none of my rides are a comfort issue..

Being spat off the side or have the rear end wash out on a 1" bump due to badly designed suspension.. These are my concern!

I'm not after a fast bike or a sports bike, I want a big dumb fun bike for banging around town with the odd day long trip..

But a death trap more suited to posing outside a cafe being ridden 10 miles a monthin the name of fashion.. No way..

Example, I had a BMW r1150r a few years back, nice bike until you started to push it, those paralever front ends give bugger all feedback when braking or cornering.. Couple of close calls told me no freakin way!

PUNJABIon48
23rd March 2011, 11:56
G'day guys now i just clocked 1100ks on my 48.. And i have no probs whatsoever at slow or fast speed .. Yes potholes it gets bumpy but i guess every bike will and it still is in control.. No probs on corners ..either.. If u ride it like your baby n avoid potholes u be aight.. After all you only ride through potholes at fast speed if you don't know your way or you are the test pilot. I use it to n from work abt 40 ks everyday n i know my way so got no probs.. I guess it also depends on your riding style.. Don't get me wrong no offence to any of you .. But even if you put $1000 worth shocks on your ride and still don't know your way off bumpy roads then you still gonna be winging ...and yes its little low suspension but hey with that fat hot lookin front i will go through ne thing for my 48 love it all the way and yes it stand out ...finally its your shot.. When i bought it i never get to ride it i went to dealer to look for iron and when i looked at 48 and sit on it i knew its made for me .. So choose what you are after sometimes oy u have to compromise in life a little

Mr.Mow
23rd March 2011, 11:59
G'day guys now i just clocked 1100ks on my 48.. And i have no probs whatsoever at slow or fast speed .. Yes potholes it gets bumpy but i guess every bike will and it still is in control.. No probs on corners ..either.. If u ride it like your baby n avoid potholes u be aight.. After all you only ride through potholes at fast speed if you don't know your way or you are the test pilot. I use it to n from work abt 40 ks everyday n i know my way so got no probs.. I guess it also depends on your riding style.. Don't get me wrong no offence to any of you .. But even if you put $1000 worth shocks on your ride and still don't know your way off bumpy roads then you still gonna be winging ...and yes its little low suspension but hey with that fat hot lookin front i will go through ne thing for my 48 love it all the way and yes it stand out ...finally its your shot.. When i bought it i never get to ride it i went to dealer to look for iron and when i looked at 48 and sit on it i knew its made for me .. So choose what you are after sometimes oy u have to compromise in life a little

Hey mr. Punjabi! See you around on the hd oz forum! It was actually one of the guys on there has got me rethinking it all after his tales of near crashes!

PUNJABIon48
23rd March 2011, 12:10
Yes i know u! I hope whatever you decide good for you .listen to everyone and do wha ur mind says .. May be that guy had bad luck with riding i don't know but i ride to work n u know how it is when u off to work rush rush i neve ever came close to ne thng that u concerned about .. By the way where abt u r ?

whittlebeast
23rd March 2011, 12:57
Oh, don't get me wrong, not talking 'comfort' none of my rides are a comfort issue..

Being spat off the side or have the rear end wash out on a 1" bump due to badly designed suspension.. These are my concern!

I'm not after a fast bike or a sports bike, I want a big dumb fun bike for banging around town with the odd day long trip..

But a death trap more suited to posing outside a cafe being ridden 10 miles a month in the name of fashion.. No way..

Example, I had a BMW r1150r a few years back, nice bike until you started to push it, those paralever front ends give bugger all feedback when braking or cornering.. Couple of close calls told me no freakin way!

If you think anything built by BMW is a pig, I think you will be very disappointed with the 48. I spent a small fortune just making my Sporty to ride as the level I expected it to be from the factory. 10 sets of shocks, fork work, front end brace, two sets of calipers and rotors and a full year of tuning and I have a fairly decent riding bike. By comparison, my FZ1 Yamaha took an free EFI tune to make twice the HP of the Harley and was good to go. The Sporty suspension is not even close to the FZ1 but at least the tires stay on the road and my butt stays on the Sporty seat now.

Harley makes huge compromises in the name of bling.

AW

travistheone
23rd March 2011, 13:36
my 1986 yamaha kicked the shit out of my XLC. I have bottomed my XLC out a million times, it handles like a fat kid, but somehow I love it.

whittlebeast
23rd March 2011, 13:48
my 1986 yamaha kicked the shit out of my XLC. I have bottomed my XLC out a million times, it handles like a fat kid, but somehow I love it.

Absolutely true. Get a Harley if that is what you really want. Enjoy a Harley for what it is. There are a few things it simply is not. It is possible to get it reasonable but it does not have the DNA to be a great riding bike. I does have the DNA of make a lot of people happy. You will wind up spending just as much money making a Ducati Diavel out of a Sporty as getting the Ducati in the first place.

AW

Mr.Mow
23rd March 2011, 14:10
Ok, sorry maybe I need to explain further..

I've had a sporty before, an 883.. Was a fun bike, I get the average handling, dodgy brakes etc, I'm not after a sports bike here!

I guess I'm asking, I've read some fairly uncomplimentary and downright dangerous stories about the 48, some people have said the 48s suspension is just too low and combined with the oversized front end compromises safety etc.. think of those crazy raked out choppers, nice pose/show pieces but not really 'riders' bikes.

I don't personally know the people who have made those comments so I can't judge the way they ride, where they ride etc.. Hence throwing the question out to the greater xl forum community!

aus
23rd March 2011, 14:45
Hi, Mow good to know you are enjoying your 48.

As much as I do, for what is worth to all 48 owners ,ceck your front wheel is not buckle as my was from new.

-Release back axle nut if swing arm springs out and a gap appears in between spacers , insert flat washer to take slack off , and enjoy the difference

Happy riding
AUS

Terrytori
23rd March 2011, 14:50
Ok, sorry maybe I need to explain further..

I've had a sporty before, an 883.. Was a fun bike, I get the average handling, dodgy brakes etc, I'm not after a sports bike here!

I guess I'm asking, I've read some fairly uncomplimentary and downright dangerous stories about the 48, some people have said the 48s suspension is just too low and combined with the oversized front end compromises safety etc.. think of those crazy raked out choppers, nice pose/show pieces but not really 'riders' bikes.

I don't personally know the people who have made those comments so I can't judge the way they ride, where they ride etc.. Hence throwing the question out to the greater xl forum community!


Mr. Mow: In addition to my 883 iron, I own a KTM 690 Duke ( 110% Hooligan ) and A Ninja 250 R which is in the process of being Caffeinated. Previous to these I owned a Monster 1100 S. A Ducati Mh 900e Hailwood Replica, A BMW Boxer Cup Replica, and a half dozen other BMWs.

I tell you this only to assure you that i have some concept of performance and dynamic stability.

The Iron which is perhaps the worst of all the Sportsters, dynamically speaking can be made into a reasonable twisty road bike with a little suspension work and tuning. The 48 ... despite it's tiny tank is a better road bike form the get go than the Iron.

Much of the joy of owning a Sportster '48 involves managing expectations and seeing it for what it is... a beautifully styled ( IMHO ) torque rich, hand of god at you back runabout with the ability to acquit it self in the twisty bits without losing its' dignity if you do a little suspension work.

It will not toss you or buck you or cause you to toss your cookies unless you get all Valentino Rossi with it.

sportysrock
23rd March 2011, 15:03
Life's to short for me to compromise on everything about a bike. I can't stop for gas all the time, and also need some suspension to cushion the ride.

It does look nice though.

Mr.Mow
23rd March 2011, 23:38
Mr. Mow: In addition to my 883 iron, I own a KTM 690 Duke ( 110% Hooligan ) and A Ninja 250 R which is in the process of being Caffeinated. Previous to these I owned a Monster 1100 S. A Ducati Mh 900e Hailwood Replica, A BMW Boxer Cup Replica, and a half dozen other BMWs.

I tell you this only to assure you that i have some concept of performance and dynamic stability.

The Iron which is perhaps the worst of all the Sportsters, dynamically speaking can be made into a reasonable twisty road bike with a little suspension work and tuning. The 48 ... despite it's tiny tank is a better road bike form the get go than the Iron.

Much of the joy of owning a Sportster '48 involves managing expectations and seeing it for what it is... a beautifully styled ( IMHO ) torque rich, hand of god at you back runabout with the ability to acquit it self in the twisty bits without losing its' dignity if you do a little suspension work.

It will not toss you or buck you or cause you to toss your cookies unless you get all Valentino Rossi with it.

Great post, thankyou man! I think we have been on similar paths! I've had 2 duc monsters, 750ss and a bunch of bmws..

As I said, you read things on the web, you take em with a grain.. I don't know how or where those other guys making complaints have ridden, good to see a broad spectrum of opinions!

Now of course if Harley Australia actually had a demo bike ANYWHERE this wouldn't be an issue, apparently most people here walk into hd dealerships without even a license and slap down deposits for bikes they know are 6 months away.. Buying out of a catalogue, that's just crazy!

Terrytori
24th March 2011, 00:35
Great post, thankyou man! I think we have been on similar paths! I've had 2 duc monsters, 750ss and a bunch of bmws..

As I said, you read things on the web, you take em with a grain.. I don't know how or where those other guys making complaints have ridden, good to see a broad spectrum of opinions!

Now of course if Harley Australia actually had a demo bike ANYWHERE this wouldn't be an issue, apparently most people here walk into hd dealerships without even a license and slap down deposits for bikes they know are 6 months away.. Buying out of a catalogue, that's just crazy!


Mr. Mow ( sounds like a character out of Reservoir Dogs ) . Consider decent suspenders out back and Race Tech Emulators up front. You will have a completely different scooter. A distinctly more competent one.

cpracing519
24th March 2011, 00:43
I love my 48! I think it handles great with the fat front tire. It does ride a little stiff, but you will get use to it. You just have to get your butt off of the seat before you hit bumps and rail road tracks and such. The stock Dunlop tires suck! I put Avons on mine and it made a world of difference! All in all its a really fun bike to ride and it handles very well. Its a blast to modify it also! I stuck well over $3,000 into mine already.

Mr.Mow
24th March 2011, 05:11
Well.. I'm kinda committed to it now!
It should be here in 2 weeks and I bought some Screamin Beagle muffs for it (police here are pretty militant in my area..)

:doh
Heres hopin'!

Bone
24th March 2011, 07:23
As I think I said in your other thread on the subject.

The DIFFERENCES between models are pretty small. The basic frame, swingarm, rake/trail are all pretty much the same on these things.

Trust me, a slightly fatter front tire doesn't make the 48 a death trap that the 1200N wasn't also.

If you don't like something about your 48 - then CHANGE IT - put longer shocks on it, or longer fork tubes or better springs etc.

You'll be fine.

jimmyess333
24th March 2011, 07:55
I'd love to see someone put a 4.5 tank from a custom on a 48 to round it out.
Personally, I think the little tank looks out of place with the big fat tire.

Sportster Spence
24th March 2011, 10:41
I LOVE my 48, there are always doom sayers regarding any bike other than those that they own themselves, but from my firsthand experience the 48 is awesome!

Yes it has some shortcomings, the tank looks great but can get a little frustrating when you have to refill so often, yes the seat is a liitle short on comfort but looks great, all in all the 48 is the best bike I've ever owned and I wouldn't swap mine for all the tea in china as they say.

Your moneys down, beleive me when I say you'll be a happy man in 6 weeks time :D

wachuko
24th March 2011, 16:20
I still want one... having used my wife's Nightster, the suspension can use a lot of improvement... bridge joints will shake every bone in my body... the vibration of the bike will numb the hands (reason why my wife traded her in for a Softail Deluxe)... Suspension can be improve, just see the many threads on that... but we never had an "oh shit!!" moment with it. Ride was nice and the engine has enough power to have fun with it...

Go for it!

Turbo Sporty 48
24th March 2011, 16:27
My 4.5 tank should be back from the painter within a week.
Will post a pic.
If I can afford to get it out of the paint shop. Should look ok.

I'd love to see someone put a 4.5 tank from a custom on a 48 to round it out.
Personally, I think the little tank looks out of place with the big fat tire.

Mr. Mow,
As a newbee to Harley I can say I bought on looks.
After a few mods and a few $$$.....
It is easy to say, once you go Sportster, there is no going back.

Well.. I'm kinda committed to it now!
It should be here in 2 weeks and I bought some Screamin Beagle muffs for it (police here are pretty militant in my area..)

:doh
Heres hopin'!

83XLX
24th March 2011, 19:45
I've ridden a friend's 48 and didn't find it to be an ill-handling death trap...:laugh

The suspension's a little to short and harsh for my tastes, but some front end work and a pair of better, slightly longer rear shocks would be a fairly inexpensive improvement that you could really feel.

Unlike some, I'm happy with simple, inexpensive suspension mods that make the Sportster a better handler...I don't expect it to handle like a sport bike, though, and I won't throw serious money at it in that quest. My old Ironhead sports 3/4" longer (than stock) Superglide Sport shocks, and Progressive springs & a fork brace up front. Does just fine, and will leave most other Harleys in the dust on a twisty road.

http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c237/rotcorp52/Lehnert/P1010141.jpg

Robotech
24th March 2011, 20:28
Anyone else reading these posts from the blokes from down under and feel like they're reading a foriegn language? LOL Just playing guys.

I can't see how the suspension would be so bad as to cause someone to crash. To me, that sounds like either the road really was horrible or someone is overexagerating the experiance.

Keep in mind too it is someone's perspective.

Shame you can't take one for a spin yourself. wachuko mentioned his wife's hands went number riding a rubber mount Nightster because of vibration yet I rode a solid mount 99 1200 conversion Sportster 20K miles in a year and never had that issue. Does that mean they're "wrong"? No. Am I wrong? No. Just different perspectives.

Mr.Mow
25th March 2011, 03:51
What do you know.. I go into another dealer this morning.. They JUST got 3 48s in.. Two sold already..

Now all 3 are sold! Should get it next week :)

wachuko
25th March 2011, 05:23
What do you know.. I go into another dealer this morning.. They JUST got 3 48s in.. Two sold already..

Now all 3 are sold! Should get it next week :)

Congratulations mate!! :tour Enjoy it in good health! And post photos.

BOSS
25th March 2011, 05:53
congrats mrwow. you'll love the 48. i love mine. its an awesome ride.

UK48
25th March 2011, 14:29
Don't read too much into forums. The 48 is not designed to be fast. Just ride at a safe speed, enjoy the torque of the motor and the looks of the bike, you'll be fine.

I have competed in trails and enduro all of my life and have had numerous large capacity sports bikes. The 48 is nothing like any of these. It is designed to just cruise from one place to another with a fuel stop pretty much everywhere. But that aside, you will not regret your purchase. One thing is for sure, noone has had anything bad to say about the bike, who actually owns one.
You will love it, once you have travelled a mile....guaranteed.

einraz
25th March 2011, 16:30
Oh, dont get me wrong, not talking 'comfort' none of my rides are a comfort issue..

Being spat off the side or have the rear end wash out on a 1" bump due to badly designed suspension.. These are my concern!

I'm not after a fast bike or a sports bike, I want a big dumb fun bike for banging around town with the odd day long trip..

But a death trap more suited to posing outside a cafe being ridden 10 miles a monthin the name of fashion.. No way..

Example, I had a BMW r1150r a few years back, nice bike until you started to push it, those paralever front ends give bugger all feedback when braking or cornering.. Couple of close calls told me no freakin way!

Here's my .02 and be forewarned this is my first motorcycle. I found that the forward controls made the ability to take a bump much more difficult, so I swapped a friend for his mids. Since I've swapped them the only time I have an issue with bumps is when I'm unable to prepare for them (meaning I don't see them).

Almost all my cars have had stiff suspension and larger wheels so I am used to rough rides, though.