My First Motorcycle: A Harley-Davidson® Forty-Eight Sportster

2011 Forty Eight Sportster

Everyone remembers their very first motorcycle. Mine was a Harley-Davidson® 2011 Forty-Eight Sportster. This was the motorcycle that would take me on my first cross-country trip a few years later, and spark my love of touring riding, motorcycle camping, customization, and everything in between!

At the time, I loved the fat tire look of the forty-eight as well as the “bobber craze” that was running rampant through the Sportster community in the early 2010s.

When I initially bought this bike, I wasn’t too concerned about customization. I just wanted to ride. But over time as I learned more about motorcycling, that idea changed. Here’s a brief timeline of how and why I built this bike out.

2011: I purchased my bike brand new! The first thing I did was change the handlebars out for a drag bar out of the H-D Parts Catalog. Eventually, I added Vance and Hines Short Shots like many folks do when they buy a Sportster. I was very much so a product of my surroundings. I was working in a Harley-Davidson dealership when I purchased my first bike, and what I saw at the dealership was basically all I knew about bikes!

2012: We’re Famous! My bike and I appeared in a Harley-Davidson Commercial called “#StereotypicalHarley.” It aired during UFC Fights that H-D was sponsoring.

A few months later, I laid my bike down at about 50mph. I did enough damage to the bike that I was able to do some “minor customization.” Back then, it felt like a huge motorcycle makeover. 

I swapped out my peanut tank for a 3-gallon tank from a Nightster and then proceeded to hand sand it and clear it in my garage over a few nights. The rear fender and struts were chopped at this time as well, and a Vance & Hines 2-1 Exhaust replaced the short shots, complete with a bronze heat wrap. I still loved the look and feel of drag bars and forward controls, mainly because I didn’t know any better. So I proceeded to keep riding around like a “flying squirrel.” It was a rugged, ratty little bike that matched my love of rockabilly, hot rod culture at the time.

Road Trip on a Sportster

2013: In 2013 I took my first out-of-state (cross country!) motorcycle trip on this exact bike! I had a friend make a sissy bar for the bike and off I went into the sunset. That solo motorcycle trip led me to a motorcycle event in Mexico called the El Diablo Run, where I’d become enamored with the custom choppers for the next few years. That trip is also the reason why I fell in love with motorcycle touring! But, that’s a story for another time.

Motorcycle by Palapa in Mexico

2014: When my 2003 Sportster was finished, I stopped riding my 2011 Sportster as often. It was still a fun bike to ride here and there, but my 2003 Sportster was set up to fit me better.

2016: Eventually: I sold my 2011 Sportster to a guy in Phoenix who had just retired and wanted to ride again. I don’t know where this bike is now. But I hope the man who purchased it enjoyed it as much as I did.

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Staci Wilt

I’m Staci: a freelance journalist, photographer, and marketing consultant. I primarily focus those skills around my passions of motorcycles, travel, and food…and yes, we will count margaritas and craft beer in that last category. Thanks for checking out my blog!
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  1. Tonva Brown on November 15, 2023 at 2:14 AM

    Absolutely love this post! The Forty-Eight Sportster is a beast, and your customization journey is inspiring. It’s incredible how each Harley-Davidson becomes a unique expression of its rider. Cheers to the freedom of the open road and the unmistakable roar of a Harley. Ride on, brothers and sisters! 🏍️✨

    • Staci Wilt on November 15, 2023 at 5:06 AM

      Thanks chicky!!! Hope to get down to some Smoky Mountain H-D events next year and ride with y’all!

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