2011 Harley-Davidson Sportster XR1200X

When Harley announced in late ’07 the XR1200 as a 2008 European-only model, the decision seemed confounding to Americans who couldn’t buy the Americana-infused XR.

First and foremost because it is, after all, a Harley-Davidson; secondly because its styling is directly inspired by the iconic XR750, Harley’s famous, purpose-built flat-track dominator.
It seemed crazy the States wouldn’t see this “all-American” machine. However, sensible marketing logic was behind excluding the XR1200 from the U.S. market.
As we’ve noted in numerous reviews, the European sport-standard segment is remarkably stronger than is the same segment in the U.S. For reasons not very well understood, we just don’t seem to have an appetite for the nakeds and standards.
Despite this reality of poor sales for sport-standards in the U.S., Harley said it heard enough requests for the XR from its home market, and so by the end of 2008 the Milwaukee-based company introduced the XR1200 for America as a 2009 model.

Damping qualities and spring rates seemed perfectly suited for my weight (geared up, roughly 170 lbs) and abilities. Stability was sufficient, as was front-end feedback. However, I can say – again considering weight and skill level – the XR1200 was also up to the task of track duty.
I seized the opportunity to ride an XR1200 back-to-back with the new X model. Although the new BPF front-end and improved shocks provided a moderately firmer feel, the standard suspension on the XR12 wasn’t far off pace in terms of stability and damping quality.

Though it seemed a little odd we were runner-up for an American motorcycle with such an iconic American appearance, I guess, as the saying goes, it was worth the wait, even the second time.