Rumours of the death of the Harley-Davidson Sportster brand seem to have been greatly exaggerated!
Instead of replacing the 883cc and 1200cc Evolution-powered Sportster with a water-cooled 1250cc Revolution-engined Bronx, Harley has kept the 64-year-old model name alive with the new Sportster S.
It may be Harley’s attempt to keep fans of the Sportster happy after their experience killing off the Dyna range a few years ago when it merged with the Softail family, much to the chagrin of many Dyna devotees.
However, the new Sportster S is really a Sportster in name only.
It looks more like the short-lived Softail FXDR and, of course, it’s water cooled to meet tougher emissions standards and keep it selling in Europe.
The new model was expected to be called the Bronx Streetfighter, but in May last year it was revealed the company had listed a Sportster Streetfighter in its 2021 line-up.
We expect a 950cc model to follow to replace the current 883 models.
Well, it’s now the Sportster S and is powered by a 121hp Revolution Max 1250T V-Twin engine that will no doubt power a whole new line of water-cooled Sportsters.
That makes it the most powerful Sportster yet.
It’s also the most expensive.
Harley-Davidson Australia says it will be available late this year from $A26,495 ($NZ28,750) ride away for the Vivid Black model.
There has never been a Sportster that cost more than $20,000.
Harley says the new Sportster S has a “taut, lightweight chassis and premium suspension” and claims it will corner like no other.
They quote a 34-degree lean angle on both sides thanks to the high scrambler-style pipes and higher-mounted forward-mounted footpegs.
Harley boss Jochen Zeitz says the next-generation Sportster is “defined by power, performance, technology and style”.
“And it’s part of our commitment to introduce motorcycles that align with our strategy to increase desirability and to drive the legacy of Harley-Davidson,” he says.
The bike is dominated by fat “balloon” tyres, a bobbed rear end, shorty front guard, upside-down forks and a slim solo seat.
Harley says it is inspired by their XR750 flat tracker, but those forward controls seem out of place.
However, a mid-mount conversion kit will be available as an accessory.
Images released show the bike in a matte black and a “Chocolate Satin” paint with bronzed engine highlights.
They say it all be available in Vivid Black, Stone Washed White Pearl and Midnight Crimson.
It will come with three ride modes (Sport, Road and Rain) and two rider-customised modes as well as traction control.
Harley says the round, 4.0-inch-diameter TFT screen will mirror the rider’s smartphone via Bluetooth so it could have Apple CarPlay and the Android version.
That means music, hone calls and satnav on the screen.
All lighting is LED and the headlight is an oval shape more like a modern Fat Bob than a traditional Sportster.
The engine is a central member of the chassis which keeps wet weight down to 228kg.
Harley says the stiff chassis and welded tubular steel trellis swingarm with stamped X-member provide sharp handling.
It comes with fully adjustable Showa 43mm upside-down forks and Showa Piggyback reservoir rear shock with hydraulic hand-adjustable pre-load.
The aluminium alloys are shod with high-profile Dunlop/Harley-Davidson GT503 tyres 160mm up front and 180mm at the back.
Brakes are supplied by Brembo with a radial monoblock four-piston caliper and a 320mm single disc up front and a two-piston caliper and a 260mm diameter disc at the rear.
Seat height is a low 752mm and the hand levers are adjustable, so it should suit shorter riders.
It comes pre-wired for accessory heated hand grips, has two power points for heated riding gear and a USB-C port for charging a phone or other device.
Cruise control and a proximity-based security system are standard.
Harley says there will be a range of accessories available at launch, but we are not sure which will be available in Australia, although we expect most will be.
They include the mid-mount conversion kit, passenger pet, seat and backrest, a comfort rider seat, detachable windscreen and mailbag.
Sealed, maintenance-free, absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery, 12V, 12Ah, 225 CCA at 0°F
Three-phase, 45 Amp system (300 Watts @13 Volts, 1200 rpm, 585 Watts max power @ 13 Volts, 2250 rpm)
0.9 kW electric with direct drive starter motor engagement
Lights (as per country regulation), Headlamp
All LED headlamp, low and high beam with signature position lighting
Lights (as per country regulation), Tail/Stop
All LED Tail/Stop lamp with signature tail lighting
Lights (as per country regulation), Front Signal Lights
LED Bullet Turn Signals
Lights, Rear Turn Signals
LED Bullet Turn Signals
4 inch viewable area TFT display with speedometer, gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, ambient temp, low temp alert, side stand down alert, TIP over alert, cruise, range and tachometer indication BT capable – phone pairing to access phone calls, music, navigation (H-D App ONLY)
Electric Power Outlet
USB C-Type , Output 5V at 2.4 Amp
Warranty And Service
24 months (unlimited mileage)
First 1,000 miles (1,600 km), every 5,000 miles (8,000 km) thereafter