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Tuesday 14 March 2023


SWM V1200 

Harley-Davidson's air-cooled Sportster range finally reached the end of the road in 2021/2022, but hardcore fans of the engineering and appearance of the old 1200 cc ((it was also built as an 883 cc) machines might find the launch of the SWM V1200 interesting - a bike so similar to the old Sportsters that you'll have to look twice to spot the differences.

SWM stands for Speedy Working Motors according to the company itself, but the name's roots are in the initials SVVM, for Sironi Vergani Vimercate Milano. The company's founders were Piero Sironi and Fausto Vergani, based in Vimercate near Milan when the brand was established in 1971. 

It isn't one of the better-known of Italy's myriad motorcycle brands, and the original company folded in 1984 before being revived 30 years later by Ampelio Macchi with backing from Chinese brand Shineray, using the old Husqvarna factory on the shores of Lake Varese. 

While several of SWM's initial models were based on Husqvarna machines, the new V1200 is hugely different, marking the brand's first venture into twin-cylinder bikes and its first cruiser, with a capacity more than twice as large as any other SWM model.

The bike has also been shown in China under the Shineray name, but SMW's parent says the engine was developed in Italy to meet Euro 5 rules, something that the old Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 didn't achieve.

The similarity to the Sportster extends to its 1202 cc capacity, and visually there's barely a difference between the SWM engine and the old Harley-Davidson 1200 Evo twin. It would be no surprise if Harley-Davidson parts could bolt straight to the SWM V-twin. 

The only notable technical difference is a lower compression ratio, dropped from 10.1:1 in the Sportster to 9.1:1 in the SWM V1200, probably to help meet emissions limits. The change is reflected in a slight performance drop, with peak power of 45 kW (60 hp), down from 48.5 kW (65 hp) for the last of the Harley Sportster 1200s. Torque is also down a fraction, peaking at 90 Nm rather than 99 Nm. 

The transmission is also near-identical to the Harley five-speed box, and the V1200's frame and styling are very much as the Sportster, with the same overall dimensions to the old Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight. Only the SWM's sloping headlight and larger fuel tank really set it aside.

At the moment, there's no word on the bike's price or when it will be available, but it's likely to appear in the Chinese market under the Shineray name first, with SWM-branded versions for international markets following later on.