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2010 Harley-Davidson Sportster 48 Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


2010 Harley-Davidson Sportster 48
Photo © Basem Wasef

The Bottom Line

A stylish-- if punishing-- expression of Sportster heritage that exudes cool from every corner.


  • Cruisers don't get much cooler looking or sounding
  • Torquey 1,200cc powerplant pumps plenty of grunt
  • Low seat height accommodates almost any size rider


  • Slammed suspension, long handlebar reach, and stiff seat put a damper~ so to speak~ on long rides
  • 2.1 gallon fuel tank limits cruising range to around 100 miles
  • Accessory purchase required for passenger seat


  • Price: $10,499 (Vivid Black), $10,789 (Brilliant Silver Pearl or Mirage Orange Pearl)
  • Air-cooled, pushrod actuated, overhead valve 1,200cc v-twin Evolution engine produces 79 ft-lbs of torque @ 4,000 rpm
  • Fuel economy: 42 mpg city, 57 mpg highway
  • Five-speed transmission
  • Chromed dual exhaust with slash-cut mufflers
  • New front, 39mm forks with wide triple clamps, preload adjustable rear coilover shocks
  • Seat height: 26.8 inches (unladen), 26.0 inches (laden)
  • Fuel capacity: 2.1 gallons
  • 260 mm front, and 210 mm rear disc brakes
  • Running weight: 567 lbs

Guide Review - 2010 Harley-Davidson Sportster 48 Review

Harley-Davidson's dark customs— which include the Nightster, Iron 883, Cross Bones, Fat Bob and Street Bob— offer factory custom style across the H-D lineup by adding aftermarket-style details to Harley's standard issue bikes. The latest to receive the dark custom treatment is the Sportster 48, whose numerical model name was inspired by the year its so-called peanut tank was minted.

The Forty-Eight boasts chopped fenders, slammed rear suspension, a low profile handlebar, and lightening holes on the fork brace and tank mount— though its spec sheet reveals those features don't really do much beyond look cool; running weight for this low slung bad boy is 567 pounds.

Despite its tonnage, sliding a leg over the 48 is far from intimidating, thanks to its diminutive size. The big v-twin fires up with Harley's great sounding thrum, and the moment you reach for the right and left grips, it's easy to feel cool; there's something about this bike's low profile and forward controls that exude swagger, and those underslung mirrors actually work surprisingly well. However, its hunkered down stance leaves only 1.63 inches of rear suspension travel— the same as the Nightster—which translates to a jarring ride in concert with the rock hard saddle. That 2.1 gallon tank might also cramp your riding style, necessitating frequent gas stops and more aggressive fuel management techniques.

Clutch takeup is rather abrupt, and the bike's urgent low end torque and tall gearing produces swift forward motion. Grunt peters out towards the upper registers of the powerband (which you'll have to guesstimate, due to the lack of a tachometer), and vibes can escalate considerably at the footpegs. But shift early enough, and the copious torque enables you to hoon it up rather nicely, thank you very much.

Stopping, however, isn't as easy as accelerating; if you're accustomed to a casual two-fingered braking approach, you'd better get used to grabbing the lever with four digits and estimating longer braking distances, since the dual-piston, single-disc front and single-piston, single-disc rear brakes aren't quite as brawny as they could be.

But the Sportster 48's strengths lie in the areas it has delicately honed since the model first appeared in 1957: its street smart style and its pared down functionality— even if it can be a grating ride during longer distance rides. This cruiser exudes character and authenticity, and its durable design gives it a road presence that's uniquely Harley-Davidson. If you don't mind the 48's compromised comfort or the impractical edges of its runabout personality, you'll likely find it a engaging steed for your city cruising needs.

Who should buy the 2010 Harley-Davidson Sportster 48?

Style savvy Motor Company fans who don't mind sacrificing long range comfort for urban caché.

>Click here for a 2010 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight Photo Gallery

>>Click here to see the 2010 Harley-Davidson Lineup

>>Click here to see the 2010 Harley-Davidson CVO Lineup

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