In 1972, the Brady Bunch ruled TV, the Eagles dominated radio, and Atari launched a video game revolution with Pong. But California pop culture was playing out a bit differently on two wheels, with candy-colored customs thundering down the boulevard, clearing away traffic and turning heads.
It’s this era that Harley-Davidson distills in its new Seventy-Two, a laid-back Sportster with sparkling metal flake paint introduced Wednesday. The vibe of this bike isn’t menacing so much as playful, with its mini ape hangers, skinny white walls and throwback “peanut” tank, which holds only 2.1 gallons of gas but, for Harley’s increasingly young and urban buyers, is more than enough to get them to the corner bar.
In developing the Seventy-Two, Harley-Davidson looked into its rear view and scavenged from its past, per usual, but it also peeked into the garages of custom shops in France, Japan and Germany, where its designers were dazzled with metal flake finishes and “raw, simplified looks,” said Harley-Davidson media relations manager Jennifer Hoyer. The Seventy-Two lops the rear fender and stretches the pull-back handlebar ever so slightly skyward, but it stops before things get too extreme.
Its Sportster heritage and $10,499 starting price already say the Seventy-Two is revving its 1,200 cc V-twin for a younger, more credit-restricted rider. The modest 60-inch wheelbase, 26.6-inch saddle and relatively light 545 pounds underscore the entry-level demographic for Harley’s newest “dark custom,” as does the bike’s solo seat and five-speed transmission.
Unlike the Nightster, Blackline and Iron 883, the Seventy-Two goes for gloss rather than matte black. Its powertrain is finished in gray powdercoat, but its engine and air cleaner covers are unapologetically chrome, as are the laced wheels, rear fender struts and rear shocks.
Despite its blacked-out precedents, “dark custom is more of a mind set than something that has to be black,” Hoyer said. It’s more of a blank-slate mentality designed to give riders a minimalist template they can personalize. In conjunction with the Seventy-Two’s unveiling, Harley also announced a new metal flake vinyl seat accessory and a series of metal flake paint options in a rainbow of colors from pink to orange to green.
The 2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two will be available starting Thursday.
2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two
Base price: $10,499
Powertrain: Fuel-injected, air-cooled, Evolution V-twin, 5 speed
Displacement: 1,200 cc
Maximum torque: 73 pound-feet @ 3,500 rpm
Overall length: 89.4 inches
Wheelbase: 60 inches
Seat height (laden): 26.6 inches
Shipping weight: 545 pounds
Estimated MPG: 48 combined