Harley delivers wild new Sportster S custom cruiser

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Words: NZ Autocar
14 Jul 2021

As has been widely anticipated, Harley-Davidson has unveiled its new custom cruiser, the Sportster S, and it utilises a retuned version of the Revolution Max powertrain pioneered for the Pan America.

The 1250cc V-twin gets less power but beefed up torque for its new application, generating 121hp (90kW/128Nm). Featuring a new lightweight chassis the company promises it will deliver “responsive, intuitive handling”.

“The Sportster S...sets a new performance standard for the Sportster line,” according to Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President and CEO, Harley-Davidson. Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson vice president of styling and design, commented “Every visual design element of the Sportster S model is an expression of the motorcycle’s raw power”.

The liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-twin which features variable valve timing is designed to produce prodigious torque from low revs well into the midband (the company claims 10 per cent more torque from 3000-6000rpm compared with Pan America). Its torque peak of 128Nm arrives at 9500rpm.

Helping to keep weight low (228kg wet) is use of aluminium and magnesium in the engine, and the powertrain is a structural component of the chassis. Front-, mid- and tail frame elements bolt directly to the powertrain.

Other design elements include liquid cooling of the engine oil, four-valve cylinder heads, internal balancer shafts, and slipper clutch operation.

The primary instrument is a circular 4.0-inch wide TFT screen, controlled by buttons on the left- and right-hand switch blocks. A digital speed readout is surrounded by a circular rev counter.

Calls and music can be routed through the infotainment system, providing the rider is wearing a headset. Nav instructions pop up on the main instrument with key information overlaid. An App provides extra information relating to the riding area.

Safety systems stem from the standard fit six-axis inertial measurement unit. There’s Cornering Enhanced Antilock Braking System (C-ABS), a variant of ABS that takes into account the lean angle of the motorcycle, and Cornering Enhanced Traction control, along with front- and rear-wheel lift mitigation, amongst others.

Also present are three pre-programmed ride modes, and two rider customisable. Road mode delivers balanced performance for everyday use while Sport mode maximises the rider connection to the motorcycle, with full power available and the quickest throttle response. Rain mode enhances rider confidence in wet or slippery conditions.

Other features include 43mm inverted Showa forks, a Showa shock with outboard reservoir and remote preload adjustor, Brembo brakes (four-piston caliper acting on a 320mm disc up front), wide profile tyres, a high-mounted 2-into-1-into-2 exhaust, and all LED lighting, including a capsule-shaped headlight.

Forward controls and low bars and seat impart an aggressive riding position. Both levers are reach adjustable, unusual on a Harley. Cruise control and a security system are standard fit. The fuel tank holds 12L of gas. A range of accessories will also be available at launch.

The Sportster S will dot down in New Zealand before year end, with an RRP kicking off at $28,750 for the model in black. It’s also available in white and red colours.


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