Drag site icon to your taskbar to pin site. Learn More

2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two First Look

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Harley-Davidson rolls back the clock back with its Seventy-Two Sportster, harking back to the days of Watergate, a time when the last ground troops were pulled out of Vietnam, the movie “The Godfather” was just being released and gasoline was a whopping 55-cents a gallon. It was also the height of the American chopper movement, bikes with ram’s horn handlebars, stretched forks and banana seats.

2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two Sportster
The Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two features mini-apes, a 21-inch tall laced front wheel, and a skinny frame with a peanut tank.
The 2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two draws upon the year 1972 for its DNA, rolling with mini-apes on a skinny frame and tires. The newest addition to Harley’s Dark Custom line also resurrects the famous Harley “peanut” tank. The new Sportster lists for $10,499 in Big Blue Pearl or Black Denim and jumps to $11,199 for the Big Red Flake paint job. Motorcycle USA will get to spin around Daytona Beach Bike Week on one of these babies the beginning of March, after which we’ll offer up our first ride impressions. Until then, here’s more info courtesy of The Motor Company.

The Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two motorcycle is a metal flake dream machine, a Sportster on a trip back to the days when the cool kids rode a Sting-Ray and the big boys parked choppers in a row on the curb. Those motorcycles were long and lean; candy-apple color and gleaming chrome shimmering in hazy summer sunlight. From its Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint and ape bars to its narrow whitewall tires, the Seventy-Two is a respectful nod to that era, and to the influence of the custom culture that still percolates today along Whittier Boulevard, the legendary cruising street in East Los Angeles also known as Route 72. A new generation of custom builder is tapping into that era and making a fresh statement, not just in California but in garages across the country, even around the world.

"In creating the Seventy-Two, we were also inspired by the vibe of the early chopper era," says Frank Savage, Harley-Davidson Manager of Industrial Design. "Those bikes were colorful and chromed, but also narrow and stripped down to the essentials. You look at period examples and they are almost as simple as a bicycle. It's a custom style that's very particular to America and that California scene."

Metal flake, an iconic design element of the '70s, appeared in everything from dune buggy gel coat to vinyl diner upholstery, and on custom motorcycles. Harley-Davidson brings the sparkle back on the Seventy-Two with Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint. This new finish is created by applying a black base coat, followed by a polyurethane system that carries hexagon-shaped flakes that are more than seven times the diameter of metal flake used in typical production paint. Each flake is coated with a thin aluminum film and then tinted red. Four applications of clear coat, combined with hand sanding, create a smooth finish over the flakes.

"The final touch to the Hard Candy Big Red Flake paint is a logo on the tank top and pinstripe scallop details on both fenders," says Savage. "Each was originally created by hand, and we recreated that art in a decal for production, so they still have the appearance of hand-applied graphics in that they are not exactly perfect. The graphics are then covered with a final clear coat application."

A solo seat and side-mounted license plate bracket leave much of the chopped rear fender – and more of that paint – exposed on the Seventy-Two. The powertrain is finished in Gray powdercoat with chrome covers and a new round air cleaner with a dished cover. A classic Sportster 2.1-gallon "peanut" fuel tank adds a final period touch to the motorcycle.

Key features of the 2012 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two include:
Air-cooled Evolution 1200cc V-Twin engine with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI), rated at 73 ft. lbs. peak torque at 3500 rpm.
Powertrain is finished in Gray powdercoat with Chrome covers.
Paint color choices include Hard Candy Big Red Flake with period pinstripe details on fenders and fuel tank, Black Denim, and Big Blue Pearl.
Classic 2.1-gallon peanut fuel tank.
Dunlop white side wall 21-inch (MH90-21) front and 16-inch (150/80B16) rear tires.
Chrome Laced wheels.
Ten-inch mini-ape handlebar mounted on a two-inch high riser.
Chrome, eight-inch round air cleaner cover with center screw mount.
Chopped rear fender exposes rear tire.
Side-mounted license plate bracket.
Chrome, staggered, shorty dual exhaust with slash-cut mufflers.
Solo seat with black textured vinyl cover.
Handlebar-mounted speedometer with chrome cup.
Chrome rear fender struts.
Chrome coil-over pre-load adjustable rear shocks.
Forward foot controls.
2012 Seventy-Two Sportster Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Slideshow
Harley-Davidson Dealer Locator

Login or sign up to comment.

Mitch   February 7, 2012 07:51 AM
Hecklerboy. Harley does have the only state of the art facility for researching exhaust sound and paint schemes but the fact that they needed to outsource the design of their first high tech engine (the Revolution) to Germany tells me that they don't have the personal or facilities to engineer the same engines that are common from most other manufacturers. But as the slow sales of the V-Rod may have demonstrated perhaps performance enthusiasts are not the demographic Harley caters too. That being said if they ever put the Revolution in a touring frame I would probably be first in line to take a test ride.
Piglet2010   February 5, 2012 05:26 PM
H-D should have brought back the "Confederate Edition", as it would sell in this election year.
Piglet2010   February 5, 2012 05:25 PM
Well, in the "Super Sport" and "Super Bike" classes, what you sell better be competitive on the track and have been updated in the last couple of years, or it will not sell. And in the entry level market, you better have the economies of scale to produce a quality bike at a budget price. H-D could not compete in either market (and admitted as much 30 years ago).
Brian426v   February 5, 2012 01:46 PM
Heavy, slow, expensive, 100 year old tech. Think I'll pass.
Scoot   February 5, 2012 07:37 AM
Another harley parts bin bike. Over priced for an out of date motor with no horsepower for the over weigh lead sled.
wildpig   February 5, 2012 05:02 AM
you want problems -- buy a bmw.......... i'll take a wore smoke belching loud ass sportster over ever bmw made....
woodco100   February 5, 2012 03:26 AM
Hecklerboy, dont waste your time responding to piglet. He lives in a Euro/Socialist lala land land where everyone rides NV700 Honda. How a MC looks, sounds, feel and stirs the soul is not taking into account in purchasing decisions. Utility is the primary deciding factor. Think Minivan of motorcycles. To him the purpose of buying a MC to to help society, not escape from, and occasionaly piss it off! Read "Ameritopia"
woodco100   February 5, 2012 03:21 AM
Actually the StreetGlide is the best selling MC in America. Bar none.
Hecklerboy   February 4, 2012 05:59 PM
I'm pretty sure Harley has the R&D and the engineering expertise to compete with the Japanese bikes. Allot of people out there want the retro cruiser look with a motor that has it's own unique sound and feel. There's a reason why every Japanese and American bike maker copies the "Harley" look. Harley looks at what mods bikers are doing and incorporates them into their bikes hoping it will sell. Sometimes it's a dud, sometimes it sells. Look at the Nightster and the Streetglide. Two of Harley's most popular bikes.
Piglet2010   February 4, 2012 05:25 PM
The last H-D that wasn't retro was the XLCR of almost 3½ decades ago (in appearance that is - technology was standard AMF H-D). When the management buyout from AMF occurred, they realized they did not have the R&D resources to compete with the Japanese on technology or performance, or the manufacturing capability to compete on price without the government imposing a 70% import tariff on bikes of 700cc and over (many of which were not cruisers so not competition to H-D, thereby screwing the consumer), so they deliberately decided to sell on heritage and image instead.
Bob59601   February 3, 2012 10:53 AM
Uh I thought all Harley's are retro bikes.
harleybro   February 3, 2012 09:05 AM
One of Harley's better retro-bike projects, except for the fuel tank. 2 gallons means this bike can't stray too far from the boulevard...
Hecklerboy   February 3, 2012 08:27 AM
Not bad. I think they will sell quite a few of these.
Has a unique look to it I think people will enjoy.
woodco100   February 3, 2012 04:22 AM
Cool, a bike Americans will actually buy and ride. Are you taking notes Honda!
Pavement   February 2, 2012 09:17 AM
I think this is a really cool bike. That said... A 2.1 gallon tank relegates this bike to "really expensive toy" status. Hopefully this time around they did the 1972 Sportster right because 1972 AMF Harleys were absolutely awful.
Piglet2010   February 1, 2012 06:59 PM
The 1200XR in white is the best looking H-D.
nathan   February 1, 2012 04:46 PM
Like the metal flake and white walls. The question is, why cant they carry some of the design language from the Sporties over to the Dyna line. The Sporties are the best looking bikes they make right now.