Harley-Davidson is replacing the old-favourite 883 Sportster with a new liquid-cooled 975cc Nightster.
It is arriving now in Australian and New Zealand showrooms at $A23,995 in black ($NZ25,495) and $A24,300 in grey or red ($26,330).
This is the first of the 975cc versions of the liquid-cooled Revolution 1250cc engines which have been fitted to the new Pan America adventure bike and the Sportster S which replaced the 1200cc Sportsters.
Consequently we can soon expect a 975cc Pan America version in the showrooms.
Meanwhile, the “Night” moniker which is familiar from the old Night Train and Night Rod is returning with the entry level 975 Nightster.
It is powered by a 975cc version of the Revolution V-twin with 67kW of power, which is a massive set down in power from the Pan America with 112kW of power and the downtuned Sportster S at 90kW.
However, the interesting thing is that Harley even nominates a power rating which they had rarely done before the advent of these new motors.
More importantly, the new motor packs 95Nm of usable torque at just 5000 revs.
Harley says it has less mechanical noise thanks to hydraulic valve lash adjustment which also reduces service costs, although I see service intervals are still at 8000km.
The balanced engine also now runs smoother than the juddering 883 Sportsters.
Other features of the bike are mid-foot controls, low-rise bars and a low 705mm seat which means the rider sits “in” the bike rather than “on” it like with new Sportster S.
Compared with its bigger Sportster S brother, there are no bronze accents, the pipes are lower and leaner, and there is a more conventional round headlight set into a mini cowl.
Harley says the engine is a structural component of the chassis and the tail section is aluminium which both help to reduce weight, yet it still weighs in at 218kg with a full 11.7-litre tank.
Actually the “tank” is an airbox and the fuel is stored in a plastic tank under the seat for a lower centre of gravity. There is no fuel cap as such with the filler hidden under the hinged solo seat.
The company has again employed the tried and trusted 41mm Showa Dual Bending Valve conventional forks and twin emulsion-technology shock absorbers with coil springs.