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2016 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight First Ride Review

04 November 2015, 09:30 AM Pratheek Kunder

What is it?

The Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight has always been a motorcycle that adds plenty of value in terms of aesthetics to the Sportster range and that’s all. With the 2016 updates on the bike, the company has proved it again that sometimes styling is more important than practicality and comfort.

How does it ride?

I am not a big fan of the Forty-Eight’s riding position. Even though the riding position is upright, the handle-bar is far off, making the whole riding experience slightly tedious. You have to stretch out your legs to reach the pegs as they are placed way ahead. This is fine for someone who will just ride the Forty-Eight all the time and don’t own any other motorcycles. The under-bar mirrors are not just practical but look quite appealing too.

Harley-Davidson Forty Eight [2018-2019]

Last known Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 10,70,797

Harley-Davidson has equipped the Forty-Eight with a new suspension setup, with wider 49mm forks doing the duty in front. However, the ride is on the stiffer side. Couple this with 130/90B16 front tyre and the riding experience isn’t pleasant. Be prepared to feel every bit of the road, small stones, bumps, undulations et al. The bike’s ground clearance of 110mm doesn’t help matters either; you will end up riding gingerly over every speed hump that comes your way and that my friend is way too many. Once you have got the bumps out of the way it comes down to ergonomics. One will need to plan out the U-turns on the Forty Eight because of the far set handlebar.

The Forty-Eight is powered by a 1202cc air-cooled engine that produces 96Nm of peak torque. This torque-loaded machine feels nice to rev across the range, that’s once you have battled with the humps. However, the low-end torque is enticing and more enjoyable. The five-speed gearbox transfers the power to the rear-wheel via a belt drive, and although it feels heavy, 100kmph is where the Forty-Eight feels at home. Twist the throttle to 120kmph, and you begin to feel the vibrations on the handlebar. Go above that speed and the intensity of the vibrations increases. The Forty-Eight has decent braking power, enough to stop the bike from high speed.

Anything else I should know?

7.9. No! This isn’t a Richter scale figure. These numbers represents the fuel tank capacity (in litres) of the 2016 Forty-Eight and you thought KTMs have a minuscule tank. If you want me to talk about the total range, then I am afraid I have to tell you that it isn’t much. But if you are a sane rider and know the technique of throttle control, then you are looking for a range of around 120kms. Yes, 120kms! To make things worse, there is no fuel gauge, just a low-fuel warning light.

The speedometer is round and small and Harley has smartly integrated the gear indicator and tachometer. I quite like that. Just like the other Harley-Davidsons, except the Street 750 of course, the quality of switchgears is top-notch. It feels nice to operate them. However, the self-cancelling indicators have been installed on each side of the handle-bar.  You should also know that the 2016 Forty-Eight is assembled in India and not imported from USA as a completely-built-up (CBU) unit.  The bike is also available in a new colour scheme – velocity red sunglow.

Why should I buy one?

Buy the Forty-Eight if you want to feel special and want to stand apart and are limited to a budget of Rs 10 lakh. The bike isn’t practical nor it is comfortable, but it surely has its own special character that draws you in.

Where does it fit in?

At Rs 9.1 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the 2016 Forty-Eight is an expensive affair. It’s the most expensive Harley-Davidson Sportster you can buy in India. It sits between the Iron 883 and the Street Bob from the Dyna family. In terms of its competitors, the Forty-Eight has the Indian Scout but this iconic American cruiser has its own set of consumer base, which is slightly different from the Forty-Eight.

Photography by Sanchit Arora