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Why Is the Harley 48 Called the 48?

Harley 48

Anybody that loves motorcycles is relatively familiar with a lot of the products produced by Harley-Davidson. After all, the name is practically synonymous with motorcycles. Even people who can scarcely name a single motorcycle manufacturer know who Harley-Davidson is and what they do. While some of their motorcycles have certainly been more popular than others, a fair number of them have been so popular that they've become almost legendary in their status. The Harley 48 is one such example.

What Is It?

As a matter of fact, the Harley 48 was originally produced during the 1950s and 60s, one of the most formative times for classic motorcycle production. It's interesting to note that while most motorcycles were being named for the engine or receiving some mysterious name that made them sound like they almost had superhero powers, this particular bike was named after its fuel tank.

It's true, the motorcycle has one of the smallest fuel tanks that has ever existed on any bike in history. As a result, it's only large enough for just over two gallons of gas. You can identify this bike almost immediately by the gas tank’s exceptionally small size and shape, as it's in the rather unique shape of an inverted teardrop.

At any rate, the bike got its name because it is only capable of going about 48 miles on a single tank of gas, thanks to the fact that it scarcely holds more than most modern-day gas cans. It's definitely not the most convenient option if you plan on riding long distances, but that didn't stop this particular bike from becoming extremely popular during its original run. As a matter of fact, it was so popular that Harley made the decision later on to resurrect it. It continues on in production in its updated form to this day.


The characteristics of this particular bicycle also serve to make it unique, although nothing will ever be as synonymous with the bike as that teardrop fuel tank. The truth is, there are quite a few things about the bike that are just different. For starters, it's a lot smaller than most of the other bikes produced by Harley-Davidson. It's shorter and it's thinner. Overall, it doesn't weigh as much and it doesn't have nearly as much power, either. In fact, it's powered by a 1200 cc engine. It’s not enough to set your hair on fire, but considering its overall lightweight and small size, it is definitely enough to get the job done when it comes to getting from point A to point B, provided you don't need to go further than your two gallons of gas can carry you.

A Bike for Everyone

Due to its relatively small size, the Harley 48 has at times been referred to as a “girl's bike” by people that were essentially trying to make a less-than-flattering comment about the fact that it's not as big as some of the other bikes manufactured by Harley-Davidson. Granted, it is smaller and has a smaller power plant to boot.

Nevertheless, it is a bike that can be enjoyed just as much by any man as it can any woman. Unfortunately, the bike has picked up this nickname within the biking community, mostly by people who feel like they need to have the biggest motorcycle and the biggest automobile in the parking lot in order to feel masculine. For people who don't trouble themselves with such ridiculous things, this isn't even an issue to begin with.

Whether you are a man or a woman, if you're interested in riding a smaller bike that doesn't weigh as much, the Harley 48 is a great option. Perhaps you are more interested in getting one of the more updated models or maybe you really want to kick things up a notch and start looking for one of the original classics that was manufactured decades ago. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on one of those, you can bet that you'll probably have to pay a fair price for it, but you can also bet that it's worth it, provided that the bike is in relatively good condition.


So, what does this little bike cost you if you want to go buy a brand new one? Surprisingly, you're looking at just over $11,500 for the purchase price. That might not sound like a lot, but you have to keep in mind that there are plenty of motorcycles out there that are larger and offer a great deal more power for roughly the same price.

Granted, you might pay $2,000 or even $3,000 more than the purchase price listed here, but if you ride a lot, it could be worth it, especially when you consider the fact that you can't really go very far on a single tank of gas with the Harley 48. On the other hand, if you're just looking for something that you can play around with and you don't have any intention of going on long rides, this might be exactly what you're looking for. It's definitely a fun bike, there's no doubt about that.

At the end of the day, the little bike that weighs scarcely more than 550 pounds, even with a full tank of gas, is still a popular option for a lot of riders. It's especially popular with people who aren't comfortable with riding some of the taller bikes made by Harley-Davidson, as this one sits at a height of less than 30 inches. All things considered, it's easy to understand why it was popular back in its heyday and it's equally easy to understand why Harley-Davidson decided to bring it back into their production line-up years later.

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Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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