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.
I just couldn't resist it. Mad Fokker. Whatever you do, turn down the sound unless you like the sound of a 2-stroke

Sorry. Actually, no I'm not: it's borderline inspired genius with a heavy hint of madness and I want one. No, two, for recreating dogfights.
Motorcycle insurance specialists, Carole Nash, have signed a three year contract with Harley-Davidson Financial Services in the UK, which will include a dedicated Harley-Davidson section at their South Manchester headquarters. The deal will include existing pilicy holders, who are set to receive a better standard of cove, including UK and European cover and up to £50k of legal protection.
Worryingly, it looks like Hamburg's city officlals are opposing "Hamburg Harley Days" on environmental grounds. Seems like Europe's biggest city centre biker street party will have to be held outside the city ... see link.
This is the sort of stuff we've set this up for: try doing this with a magazine. The big debate is who was first to backflip a Harley: the Aussies posted Kain Saul doing this on 28th November 2009 ...

... the same day that Chuck Carothers flipped one at the Gladiator Games in Prague, although he didn't land as cleanly, and put his XR into a crash mat at the end.
Both are pretty impressive. I think I can hear Craig Jones warming his engine up now ...

A clever and sophisticated calendar is now running, is accessible from the main American-V blog but can be accessed here.

Once I've got the rest of the coding sorted out for the blog, I'll see if I can hook it into Facebook's interface, but be aware that the blogs will have a lot more information on them when they go live with the publication of AmV39.
Everything here will be pushed out to Facebook and Twitter in some form or another, thankfully automatically.
Putting a static calendar into the magazine is a thankless task, so we're going to run it here instead: it means we can correct things that are wrong, and add things as soon as they arrive.

It's not such good news for those without computers, but I don't know an easy way round that. if you haven't got access to a computer, send us an email to let us know and we'll despatch a pigeon with the events calendar tied to its leg.

All we've got to do now is get it working properly ... the calendar, that is: the pigeon's fine.
Thanks to the many of you who responded to the survey in AmV37: we've been going through them as they came in, and while we haven't scientifically stuck them all into a database to get accurate percentages, the underlying sense is that we're doing most things right.

You can't please all the people all the time, but the only major points of contention were between those who reckon we've got way too many events, and those who reckon we need more. Roadtests, Custom, Tech and Classic content are all within pretty close parameters.

Only one of you was vehemently opposed to anything other than American v-twins, regardless of the circumstances - a very long term reader who runs a CBR1000, which was odd - and the only major additional requests have been for more touring features and one request for nekkid women.

We will be publishing the full results as soon as we've had time to analyse them fully, which we're committed to doing if only to get a handle on what you're ride. We would have done it over Christmas, but it was more critical that we got these blogs sorted out, for reasons that should become clear by the time they've gone fully live.
The web is beating up the conventional magazine world at the moment, but we've got a plan to use each to its strength.

We occasionally run out of space or forget to do things in the heat of the last days of deadline; sometimes news breaks before the magazine hits the streets, and sometimes we just want to be able to show a bike moving, listen to its rumble or capture something of the atmosphere of a party ... which is a problem with a magazine.

But then until someone comes up with something better than a magazine in terms of price and portability, t'internet is going to be tied to a desktop, laptop or TV. Yes, I do know you can now download stuff onto 3G phones, but can you really imagine reading a 5,000 word article on a phone? You can? Well, make the most of it because you'll wreck your eyesight in the process.

So, we're having a bit of each technology, and this is it! News as it happens, stuff as it comes up, the odd bit of banter and basically stuff to keep you entertained between magazines.

Don't expect long diatribes: this is the longest piece I anticipate writing for this blog, but then it will be accompanied by a blog covering staff bikes and long term roadtests, and a third that will cover the XR1200 Race Series in 2010, both of which could get a lot more involved.