Oxfotd (06 March 2012) - February 2012 saw Harley-Davidson let the cream of the UK’s motorcycle press get to grips with the all-new 2012 Softail® Slim™ and Sportster® Seventy-Two™– barely five days after the two new bikes were first revealed to the world.
The British contingent was part of the first group of press outside of America to ride the new models, as part of a Europe-wide launch held in sun-drenched Malaga.
The riding event was held over four days and took in a selection of roads ranging from dual carriageway to fast flowing mountain roads and included a ridiculously scenic nature park. This natural splendour was also home to wildlife with perfect viewing points and one of Spain’s few natural water reservoirs, which provided an excellent lunchtime stopover point.
Total riding distance was a delightful 130 miles per rider and all nine UK journalists were keen to see if the Slim and Seventy-Two rode as good as they looked.
Both bikes are styled to replicate Harley-Davidson machines of yesteryear. The Softail Slim mimics the cut-down Bobber-style of the early-to-late 1950s, and the Seventy-Two, complete with ape-style bars, white-walled tyres and Big Red Flake metalflake paint is every inch a 1960s custom paint machine. Of course, both bikes run on modern chassis with equally modern running gear including ABS found as standard on the Slim.
The British contingent had its fair share of Harley admirers, but the riding party also included three journalists who had been raised on a diet of sports bikes or anything other than a Harley-Davidson. Surely a recipe for scorn and hilarity? Not quite…
The truth is everybody liked them. From impressive looks to the wonderful, easy to use torque delivery, every rider walked away from the bikes with a grin. One journalist, while scratching his chin after stepping off the Softail Slim, publicly stating he could ‘easily live with one’. Another commented that sticking to the speed limit never felt so good. His reasons why were the same as the answers given by every Harley owner: easy going nature of the engine but with dollops of torque when needed; a class act in terms of style and the way the bike rides; has bags of character. High praise indeed.
The Seventy-Two got its fair share of praise too. Not just because of its eye-catching paint, nor its smooth engine, but mainly because of its handling. You wouldn’t think a bike with a 21-inch front wheel, high bars and feet forward riding position would be so stable and agile at the same time, but the Seventy-Two is all this and more.
The object of launching the two new bikes in Malaga to varying riding mindsets proved its worth. Not only were the bikes ridden and photographed in beautiful sunshine and scenic locations, the disbelievers were now converted to the joys of riding a Harley-Davidson.