Harley-Davidson’s latest Dark Custom is more like a ray of nostalgia than a chiaroscuro one-off. Available in traditional black ($10,499), silver, or orange ($10,789), the Sportster Forty-Eight packs a fuel-injected Evolution 1200 V-twin, a 5-speed transmission, and chromed shorty dual exhaust with slash-cut mufflers— all of which serve as modern but faithful reinterpretations of the mechanical underpinnings that graced the first Sportster, which debuted in 1957.
But the Forty-Eight’s main attraction is its slammed, chopped, and discreetly minimalized styling, dominated by a “bulldog” front stance thanks to a low-profile custom handlebar to which under-mounted mirrors snugly fit. A tall, fat 130mm tire wraps around the spoked front wheel, and lightning holes dot everything from the peanut fuel tank bracket to the fork brace. But perhaps the most fortunate side effect of this bike’s lowered suspension is that its one-piece, solo Sportster classic seat rests only 26 inches above ground, an ideal altitude for style-savvy beginning riders. (www.harley-davidson.com/darkcustom)