Born in 1957, Harley-Davison’s longest running nameplate – the Harley Sportster – retains its status of being one of the world’s most popular motorcycles. Boasting a range of motorcycles that have all the power and attitude a rider could ever need, the Sportster family saw many changes over the years – but one thing has always stayed the same: the die-hard fanbase behind them.
But in 2021, the previous Sportster family retired. And while loyalists were quick to cause a stir, it paved the way for something even better – a bike that proved the brand was evolving, and improving their offering in line with advances in technology, functionality and design: we received the Harley-Davidson Sportster S.
Launched Down Under at White Bay Overseas Passenger Terminal in early December 2021, the motorcycle hit the roads in January this year and has been spoken about ever since.
Less beefy and a lot less heavy than the bikes you probably think of when you hear the word “Harley,” it’s described as “an approachable seat-height motorcycle”, a “Performance Cruiser” and “slim and small enough for most people”. But don’t get it twisted – Harley’s new Sportster S may be a totally new and different beast to the air-cooled 883 and 1200cc Sportsters we grew up with, but it’s doesn’t only hold up the Sportster name, it puts the sport back into it (packing way more punch than a 1200 Sporty could ever muster).
Boasting a 1250cc 60-degree V-twin engine producing plentiful torque, you can be as lazy as you like with your gear changes, although you will want to give it a big blip on each down change, just to hear that distinctive bass boom that Harley builds into its exhaust systems.
As for the design, it’s something else. The fat 160/70R17 and 180/70R16 front and rear tyres are a nod to the outgoing Sportster Forty-Eight, the XR750-style upswept exhaust gives that slammed look, and the body looks purposeful when parked, canted dramatically on a short kickstand delivering a seriously snap-worthy pit stop.
What also makes a difference on the Sportster S is the reduced weight, coming in at a claimed 228kg, 28kg lighter than the discontinued Iron 883, and the low seat height (so the Sportster S would be a more accessible ride to more people), at a very manageable 765mm.
Harley-Davidson Sportster S
Price: From $26,495 ride-away
Engine: 1252cc v-twin, 121 HP / 90kW and 127Nm of Torque
Safety: Cornering ABS, traction control, multiple ride modes
For such an aggressive and impressive bike to look at, our motor expert was delighted to report that the new Harley-Davidson Sportster S was incredibly easy to ride, even for someone completely out of practice, and also the sort of motorcycle that just makes you want to ride more often.
The Harley-Davidson Sportster S starts at $26,495 ride-away. Find out more at harley-davidson.com.