Harleys, long thought of as the “big bikes” of our two-wheel world, have been largely immune from the size creep infecting cruisers from other manufacturers. Even The Motor Company’s Big Twins have remained a more human size than many of its competitors’ bikes.
Within H-D’s line, Sportsters are definitely the bikes that best fit the definition of “middleweight.” And while the Sportster Custom 1200 may seem large by virtue of its displacement, in terms of ergonomics, (perceived) weight and approachability, the “big” XL is definitely a middleweight cruiser. In fact, it’s only 5 pounds heavier than the more traditional entry-level Sportster, the Iron 883, while being no more difficult to ride or handle.
Compared to the identically displaced but lower and more compact Forty-Eight Sporty, the XL1200C feels a bit more top-heavy, especially with its more-pulled-back bars on tall risers and larger, 4.5-gallon tank; but the comfortable ergonomics and more secure-feeling, notched seat provide an enhanced level of confidence on the road. This makes the “bigger” Custom more approachable and versatile than the “smaller” XL1200 models, even though you might not get that impression by just sitting on all of them on the showroom floor.