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22nd Jan 2010: There's another new Hot Rod Sportster on the streets, and it's a stunner.
Loosely based on a cross between the Iron and Nightster models, it's a 1200cc model with a blacked-out engine, slammed suspension, a new low-profile speedo mount and a first for a factory XL: a 16-inch front tyre beneath a minimal mudguard, which buy my reckoning - if an FX is an FL with FX forks - means it should be the XF1200.

Think of the Zero Samurai that shared the cover of last issue and then add a black XL motor and modern tyres and you'll have a pretty good mental picture.

Harley have even put the mirrors beneath the handlebars, which gives it a very clean, strong, custom silhouette, and with it's black laced wheels, solo seat and close-fitting rear mudguard that doubles as a fork brace, it'll tick a lot of boxes for bobber fans who are looking for a factory bike.

And "Forty-Eight"? The year when the peanut tank that will forever be associated with the Sportster was introduced - a full nine years before the XL - fitted to the DKW-derived, Bantam-like 125cc Model-S.

And it is a proper peanut tank, returning to a smaller 2.1 US Gallon tank (7.95l / 1.75 Imp. Gallon) that fails to fill the top frame rail just like on those Sportsters of old. Graphically, it takes the Sportster script that has been reused over many years and models, which makes a very different statement in the three colours: silver, orange and black; with the Brilliant Silver looking every inch the timeless classic, Vivid Black the modern hot rod and Mirage Orange the understated traditional.

The "Forty-Eight"continues the 'drilled for lightness' theme of the Nightster, with holes drilled wherever possible - which now includes the fork brace and the mountings for the shorter tank, and will retain the rear mudguard detail of the Nightster and Iron for the UK market, rather than the side-mount of the American model. It does look as though we'll be keeping the short shocks and forks though, keeping the stance low and aggressive, and the seat height down to 710mm, lower than both the Iron and the Nightster, but still a piece higher than the 883 Low.

Will it work?

It's Choppertown without the grazed knuckles, which will miss the point for many, but I suspect it will find it a fan-base very quickly. Much of that will depend on how £7,990 sounds to you?

See the new 2010 Harley-Davidson "Forty-Eight" video here.

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