Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight XL1200X Maintenance Schedule and Guide
This is the maintenance schedule and general maintenance guide for the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight, also known as the XL1200X.
The Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight — and its closely-related sibling, the Forty-Eight Special — is based on the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200, but with a few distinctive features, including a fatter 16-inch front tire, different steering geometry, shorter shocks, and a smaller tank with a paltry 2.1 gallon capacity.
Like the other motorcycles from the Sportster line, the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight / Special was retired after 2022 when Harley-Davidson launched the Sportster S as part of the Sportster RH line. We might see a comeback of the Forty Eight’s style one day, as that’s definitely not going out of fashion. It’s a good-looking machine!
Like the other Sportsters, the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight is powered by the 1200cc Evolution 45-degree air-cooled V-twin. It makes peak torque of 79 lb-ft (107 Nm) at 4000 rpm, and puts power down via a 5-speed transmission and belt drive.
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Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight XL1200X Service Intervals
Like other Harley-Davidson Sportsters with the XL1200 engine base, the Forty-Eight’s service intervals can be summarised as
- Minor service: 5000 mile / 8000 km maintenance intervals where you have to change the oil and filter, and check everything.
- Major service: Every two services, tighten everything up back to torque spec, and lubricate major bearings.
- Other fluid replacement service: Every 2-4 years replace fluids, or as needed.
You don’t need to do a valve service on the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight as it has self-adjusting hydraulic lifters. However, they can develop valve noise as the engine wears. If so, get a dealer to look at it — there are any number of repairs or even aftermarket solutions.
What you need to service your Harley-Davidson Forty Eight
Most of the fluids and consumables that you need to keep your Forty-Eight maintained are best obtained from your local dealer. But here’s what they are.
|Part||Harley-Davidson Forty Eight Spec|
|Engine Oil||Use Genuine Harley-Davidson H-D 360 Motorcycle Oil 20W50, or another oil certified for a diesel engine with certification CH-4, CI-4, and CJ-4, preferably (in descending order of preference) 20W50, 15W40, and 10W50. One well-recommended option is Mobil 1 20W-50 V-Twin Synthetic.|
|Oil filter||Use a Hiflofiltro HF170RC filter. The oil filter wrench part number is 94686-00.|
|Transmission lubricant||Use Formula+ Transmission and Primary Chaincase Lubricant. Two good alternatives are Red Line Primary Case Oil and Amsoil Primary Chaincase Lubricant.|
|Brake fluid||Use only DOT 4 brake fluid, e.g. Castrol DOT 4. The H-D part number is HD-48497-A.|
|Spark plug||Use an NGK DCPR7E or DCPR7EIX spark plug.|
|Brake pads||Use EBC brake pads for better bike and less fade. FA640HH on the front, and FA254HH on the rear.|
Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight (XL1200X) Maintenance Schedule
Below is the maintenance schedule for the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight.
We’ve broken it up into three distinct parts:
- The major items maintenance schedule
- The list of things to look over at every service (the service checklist) and
- A guide to maintaining the belt of the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight.
Generally maintenance for the Harley-Davidson Sportster line can be summarised as
- 5000 mile / 8000 km maintenance intervals where you have to change the oil and filter, and check everything.
- Every two services, tighten everything up back to torque spec, and lubricate major bearings.
- Every 2-4 years replace fluids, or as needed.
- No valve service needed.
Notes on the maintenance schedule:
- (*) Items marked with an asterisk (oil, filters, controls etc.) should be maintained more regularly if you ride in severe conditions (including high temps, dust, rough roads, after storage, short runs, heavy stop/go traffic, or poor fuel quality)
- See torque specs in the service manual for all items to re-torque
- When there’s a period (e.g. “every year”), observe the earlier of the two maintenance intervals (time or distance)
|mi x 1000||1||5||10||15||20||25||30|
|km x 1000||1.6||8||16||24||32||40||48||Every|
|Perform standard inspection checklist (see below)||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||Year|
|Replace engine oil and filter*||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||Year|
|Inspect drive belt and sprockets||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Check drive belt tension, and adjust if necessary||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Adjust primary chain||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Replace transmission lubricant*||X||X||X||X|
|Adjust steering head bearings||X||X||X||X|
|Replace brake fluid (Castrol DOT 4)||2 years, or sooner if moisture content greater|
|Replace spark plugs (DCPR7E)||X||2 years|
|Grease steering head bearings||X|
|Rebuild front forks (Disassemble, inspect, rebuild, replace fork oil)||40000 mi / 64000 km|
|Replace fuel filter*||100000 mi (160000 km)|
|Spoked rims (if fitted) — Torque wheel spoke torque, front and rear||X||X||X|
|Torque hand control switch housing screw||X||X||X||X||Year|
|Torque upper front stabilizer link to engine bracket mounting screw||X||X||X||X||Year|
|Torque front isolator mounting bolt and nut||X||X||X||X||Year|
|Torque front axle nut||X||X||X||X||Year|
|Torque brake banjo bolt||X||X||X||X||Year|
|Torque rear axle nut||X||X||X||X||Year|
Standard Inspection Checklist
Below is the standard inspection checklist for the motors on the Sportster / Iron platform. Do these items according to the schedule above.
|Standard inspection checklist for the Harley-Davidson Sportster / Iron|
|Inspect air filter, clean/replace if required*|
|Inspect brake pads and discs|
|Inspect front and rear brake fluid level & reservoir cover tightness|
|Check front and rear brake fluid moisture content|
|Check front and rear tire pressure and tread|
|Inspect oil and brake lines (check for leaks/abrasion)|
|Inspect fuel lines and fittings (check for leaks/abrasion)|
|Check, Adjust, Lubricate throttle controls|
|Lubricate jiffy stand|
|Lubricate brake and clutch controls|
|Inspect electrical equipment and switches|
|Inspect exhaust system, fasteners and shields (check for leaks, cracks, loose or missing fasteners/shields)*|
|Check 12 volt battery – terminal torque, connection cleanness, lubricate terminals with contact lubricant|
|Check component and system functions (Road test)|
You need to periodically check the deflection of the belt on your Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight, and set it, if necessary.
To measure belt deflection, you need a belt tension tool. You don’t need the official Harley-Davidson one — they’re very simple devices and all work the same way.
Follow this procedure to measure belt deflection.
- Get a steel ruler and your belt tension gauge.
- Put the motorcycle in neutral, upright on its side stand, with the rear wheel on the ground. Make sure there’s nothing on it (no rider, no luggage, no friends posing for pictures, no errant pets, etc.)
- Find the spot halfway between the belt sprockets. Measure the position of the belt.
- Push up with the belt tension gauge until it registers 10 lb / 4.5 kg of force. Measure the new deflection of the belt.
Target belt deflection for the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight: 1/4 – 5/16 in (6.4-7.9 mm)
If it’s out of spec, you need to either loosen or increase belt tension. Harley-Davidson recommends you do this at a dealer, but the process is straightforward.
- Loosen the rear axle nut. If there’s a cotter-pin, remove it.
- Turn the adjuster nuts on each side of the swingarm to adjust deflection. Clockwise tightens it up — increases tension / decreases deflection. Make sure you turn them evenly to maintain rear wheel alignment.
- Tighten the axle nut to 60-65 lb-ft / 80-90 Nm.
- Check the deflection again.
Oil and Lubricant Change on the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight
The Forty-Eight has 5000 mile / 8000 km service intervals under normal operating conditions. But if you drive your Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight short distances in very cold weather, Harley recommends you shorten the oil change interval.
On the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight, you have to change two main fluids
- Engine oil (every service)
- Transmission lubricant (every second service)
Here’s how you change the engine oil:
- Warm the motorcycle to operating temperature (warm oil drains much more easily) and turn it off.
- Take the dipstick out of the oil tank.
- Put a drain pan under the tank.
- Remove the clip from the drain hose, and direct it into the pan.
- Loosen the clamp and remove the plug from the end of the hose. Completely drain the tank.
- Install the plug, and tighten the clamp 6-1 inch-lbs (0.7-1.1 Nm)
- Put the drain hose back, and clip it in place.
- Take the oil filter out with an oil filter wrench.
- Partially fil a new oil filter (4 fl oz / 120 ml) with fresh oil, make sure the contact surface is clean, and clamp it on to contact + a 1/2 to 3/4 extra turn.
- Pour 2 quarts / 1.9L of oil into the tank
- Install the dipstick in the oil tank and seat the cap.
- Start the engine, and check that the oil pressure indicator turns off at 1000 rpm or above.
- Turn the engine off
- Check the engine oil level when hot.
- Start the engine again, and look for leaks.
To change the transmission lubricant, follow these steps.
- Warm the engine. The lubricant drains best when hot.
- Turn off the ignition.
- Put a container under the transmission drain plug (under the clutch, on the underside of the primary cover).
- Remove the drain plug and drain the lubricant.
- Raise the motorcycle straight up using support under the rear swingarm or via the handlebars. This allows more fluid to drain.
- Clean the magnetic drain plug. Replace the O-ring if damaged.
- Apply Loctite 565 pipe sealant with teflon to the drain plug. Install and tighten it to 20-40 Nm / 15-30 lb-ft.
- If you have mid-mount controls, detach the rider footrest support bracket from the left side.
- Remove the screws and washers from the clutch inspection cover, and remove the clutch inspection cover.
- Verify that the lubricant level is even with the bottom of the clutch diaphragm spring.
- Add enough lubricant (using Formula+ Transmission and Primary Chaincase Lubricant) through the clutch inspection cover opening until the lubricant reaches the bottom of the clutch diaphragm spring.
- Install the clutch inspection cover with a new quad ring that’s fully seated. Tighten the screws in a crosswise pattern to 10-12 Nm (84-108 in-lb)
- If you removed the footrest, reinstall it, tightening the screws to 45-50 lb-ft (61-68 Nm)
- Start the engine and check for lubricant leaks.
Wheels and Tires
The XL1200X ships with Michelin Scorcher “31” tires. It has the following standard tire sizes and pressures.
|Wheel||Wheel size||Tire size||Tire pressure (cold)|
|Front||615||130/90B16 M/C 73H||36 psi / 248 kPa|
|Rear||16||150/80B16 M/C 77H||40 psi / 276 kPa|
About the Harley-Davidson Forty Eight (XL1200X) and Forty Eight Special (XL1200XS)
The Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight XL1200X is another stunning everyday roadster from the Harley-Davidson sportster family. Like many others, it combines old-school charm with modern features, with a healthy dash of street-ready style.
The Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight XL1200X made its debut in 2010, but its roots trace back to the iconic 1948 Harley S-125 ‘Hummer’, which first popularised the “peanut” fuel tank that has become part and parcel of the Sportster.
So the 2010 XL1200X was styled similarly to the “Dark” Nightster produced that year, but with the smaller 2.1 gallon “peanut” fuel tank, as well as wire wheels, forward controls, a wider front tire, a slammed speedo, and a low seat with low suspension.
The core of the Forty-Eight XL1200X is the 1202cc air-cooled Evolution V-Twin engine, a pushrod-operated motor with overhead valves and hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters, with two valves per cylinder. The motor makes peak torque of 73 lb-ft / 99 Nm at 3500 rpm in recent models (and more in earlier models).
Like other Sportsters, final drive is through a five-speed transmission and a belt drive.
One distinguishing characteristic of the Forty-Eight, apart from its peanut tank, is the 16-inch wheels with fat tires and low-slung, solo seat. It’s a real looker! The fat front tire looks good and doesn’t impede handling.
The engine in the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 line is very traditionally “Harley-Davidson”. It has rubber mounts, but it’s unbalanced (in that it has no internal counter balancers), so the entire motorcycle shakes with a lot more fury than a modern Milwaukee-Eight motor.
While the lean angle of 27 degrees of the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight isn’t terribly awe-inspiring, it’s not as limited as some of the low, long cruisers from Harley-Davidson or other brands. So it’s quite fun at lower-speed curvy roads.
The Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight is a cool-looking motorcycle and isn’t hard to manage, but it isn’t the most practical one in the world. You’ll notice quickly that some parts of it are a bit annoying, like the way the air filter can bump your right leg, or that it’s not exactly comfortable on the freeway due to wind blast. But none of that matters if you’re looking for an old-school Harley-Davidson experience.
Harley-Davidson has made some changes to the Forty-Eight over the years, but nothing dramatic.
In 2016, Harley-Davidson upgraded the rear shock to nitrogen-charged shocks, for improved compression and rebound damping, thanks to interval valve stacks with 36mm pistons and upgraded oil.
H-D also updated the cartridge fork with progressive rate springs. They’re “triple-rate” units, designed to minimise wheel hop under hard braking.
However, there haven’t been any updates to the major drivetrain components, so the maintenance is the same.
Sadly, 2021 was the last year in which Harley-Davidson sold the Forty-Eight. The line has been phased out in favour of the liquid-cooled Sportster RH line, starting with the Harley-Davidson Sportster S.
Reference — Harley Davidson Forty Eight Manual Screenshots
For reference, below are screenshots of the manual for the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight, which the motorcycle shared with other Sportster models during its tenure.
You can download manuals and other info from Harley-Davidson here (login required)