click here for an explanation on the title.
The other day I received a call from Cape Cod Harley-Davidson informing me that the demo fleet would be there for demo rides. I have passed on several of these demo days in the past, but decided to go to this one.
I wanted to ride the XR1200 and if I had time the Nightster but as we all know. if we have been reading this blahg, I was already sold on the Nightster and it would just be a joy ride of sorts.
…I am skipping the frustrating part of the pseudo organized registration line…
After a 30 min wait I am up to go for a ride on the XR1200. I throw my leg over and it feels nice. The seat is about 2″ higher than my current 883. The seat is also angled slightly forward. The hand controls are very familiar though the bars are wider. The foot control are quite different. They are set back, with short brake and shift levers. The shift lever also has a short nub of a post. It starts up quick. The sound of the engine is also lighter and quite different than any other Harley. A twist of the throttle reveals a light feeling engine, like whipped cream compared to the custard that is a regular Harley engine. (I owe thanks to my wife for the whipped analogy.)
We are off and the XR1200 feels nice. It’s a smooth ride and the engine feels smooth in its power delivery. There is an excessive amount of foot peg jiggle around 4000 rpm. Around the first corner I notice that my feet have a little trouble finding the controls and that the bike tips into corners very nicely on the sporty tires. This makes me excited for how I might ride it outside of the guided demo ride. The suspension feels firm but not too stiff. The only thing that bothered me was that I found myself sliding down towards the tank making for a cramped ride, if you know what I mean. At the first stop I noticed the difference in seat height as my feet kept going for what felt like an uneasy minute till the pavement was reached. The front brakes felt great and the rear breaks felt a little under powered due to the short break lever. This is probably preferable due to the slightly more weight forward design of this bike.
Next the acceleration onto the highway. This was slightly marred by my unfamiliarity with the foot peg position. But it was still fun and seemed to keep going in each gear much longer than my current bike.
Back at the dealer I was all grins. I was surprised by how much I liked it.
It was the last ride of the day and there was space for me so I asked if I could take the Nightster out and boy am I glad I did. By the way I was the only person all day to have taken either of the Sportsters out on the demo rides.
I walk up to the Nightster and I notice how drastically low the seat is. “That’s cool,” I think to myself. It is very comfortable to sit on when not moving. This bike feels a lot like my current bike only with wider bars (same as the XR1200). The sound is also more familiar than the XR1200.
The minute we get on the road I can not believe how uncomfortable this bike is. It rides pretty much like a hard tail bike. I feel every single bump go up my spine. This is due to the slammed suspension and minimal seat. Around the first left turn I scrape the kick stand. Feeling every bump in the road also makes me feel every hot spot in my helmet and gives me a headache. It was mind blowingly awful. I also felt that the power delivery was patchy when accelerating slowly. This made for an even more bumpy and uncomfortable ride. The acceleration onto the highway was fun with short high torque shifts but that only lasts a few sweet seconds and it is back to riding the hard tail. Notice my face, it is much less happy and excited than after the XR1200 ride.
The Nightster was my default upgrade bike. It was the sure thing in my mind. I can’t believe how awful it was. Yes, it looks very cool but it feels very painful. It took me hours to process this paradigm shift.
As I continue to think about it, the XR1200 is much more suited to my current riding needs. I would want to get a different seat. One that has a bit of a bucket to it and will keep me from sliding forward. I may also want to get a bigger shift peg.
If I had to buy today and choose between these two, it would be hands down the XR1200. This is really surprising to me. Both how great the XR1200 was and how awful the Nightster was.
Needless to say my spreadsheet has been updated.
thanks for reading and happy riding.