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.

You may also enjoy

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!
Posted in
Grab some gear for your next ride

2 Comments

  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!

Leave a Comment