I don't have much to offer really, but I did just get back from my first ever HD riding experience. I recently developed a burning desire for a Forty Eight and took a test ride earlier today. After well over 35 years riding various sport bikes, standards, dirt bikes and such, I was a little dubious of the forward controls. I do agree with the whole "control" thing, but I also understand that that is a little like comparing apples to oranges to a certain extent too. What I mean by that is, yeah, a more mid of the road or even rear-set peg position allows for a lot of things that forward controls don't. I learned many years ago, riding dirtbikes, that weighting the pegs and being able to shift your body weight around makes a huge difference in the way a bike responds and reacts to various rider inputs. The same principles apply to other bikes as well, even though it may not be as noticeable. Physics is physics. Also, on my usual ride route there is the mid corner BUMP where they did some sort of utility work and patched it back with concrete. I doesn't look bad, but man, can it upset the chassis of my Buell! If I hit it at speed without raising my ass off the seat an inch or two first, it seriously affects my inputs on the bars. Not fun at all! I can't imagine hitting it on a poorly suspended Sportster and not being able to do anything about it due to forward controls gluing my ass to the seat.
But, with that said, the expectations we have for a bike, and the demands we place on it, do vary depending on the riding style we enjoy and what we want to do today. For example, my first ever HD experience (of a sort) was with my Buell S1 Lightning. It shares a very similar engine with the 48 but they are very different bikes and my expectation of them are very different. Totally different riding experience. I won't trade the S1 for the 48, or the GS for that matter either, but I do enjoy different flavors on different days and I accept each for what they are.
Now, on the comfort thing... I rode the 48 with its forward controls... it felt weird to me. Not terrible, but weird. Maybe I'd get used to it in time, IDK, but first impressions were pretty much what I expected. Not terribly comfortable to me at all. I felt stretched out and sorta "hunched over" to reach the bars and just didn't feel relaxed. Then, just to test my theory I took a ride on a 883 Iron with mids. MUCH BETTER!
Completely changed the riding experience for me. Much more natural and relaxed. I really liked that bike! If I get the 48 I'll give it a chance to grow on me, but right now I pretty much feel like I'll be changing it to mid controls after a little acclimation period.
Of course body type probably plays a huge role. I'm about 5'7", with a 30" inseam and 33 inch sleeves. Yeah, I have monkey arms...
And it may just be from years of muscle memory. But still, for me, I don't think I'll care for the forward controls too much.