Harley-Davidson has been hard at work in recent years in tweaking and innovating it’s product portfolio to cater to the ever-changing preferences of modern-day motorcycle enthusiasts. It took several years for the Milwaukee motor company to let go of its archaic practices and come to terms with the fact that the only thing that’s certain is change. Well, at last, here we are, and to say that H-D has been reinventing itself as of late would be quite the understatement.
When Harley launched the Pan America several months ago, it made itself crystal clear that it was serious about going with the times. It’s first ever motorcycle outside the cruiser segment, the Pan America is proving to be quite the hotshot. That said, the MoCo had yet another ace up its sleeve—something more attune to the good old Harleys, but built from a revolutionary perspective. That’s right, it’s the Harley-Davidson Sportster S. Now, if the hype surrounding this motorcycle is anything to go by, then you can almost be certain that it’ll change the cruiser game. Here are a few reasons why we think this is so.
A new level of performance
The Harley-Davidson Sportster S packs the latest and greatest motor from the Milwaukee MoCo—the Revolution Max. Displacing a whopping 1,250 cubes, this engine pumps out gobs of torque and power all across the rev range. On the Pan America, Harley tuned it to pump out an adventure-packed 150 ponies. However, in order to offer a more relaxed, tractable ride, H-D has retuned it to pump out 121 horsepower, as well as 94 ft-lbs of bottom end torque specifically for the Sportster S.
In our opinion, Harley-Davidson has hit the nail on the head when it comes to the styling of the Sportster S. Clearly targeting a younger, more performance-focused generation of riders, the Sportster S employs aggressive styling consisting of compact bodywork, chunky tires, and sleek, flowing lines. Although categorized as a cruiser, it employs styling cues from a flat-tracker, thanks to its upswept exhaust pipes and slightly aggressive stance. From some angles, it even looks like H-D has injected some café racer into the mix, as well. Once you sit on the bike, however, it puts you in a slightly hunched over riding position, with your feet extended forward thanks to forward-mounted controls.
A technological marvel
Apart from packing decent performance and head-turning looks, the Sportster S is by far the most technologically advanced Sportster out there. H-D has pulled out all the stops in decking it out with the latest and greatest tech. For starters, it gets three selectable riding modes—Rain, Road, and Sport. Rain mode keeps all the punch at bay, while Road unlocks just enough for respectable, well-mannered riding. Sport mode, on the other hand, let’s the Revo Max’s true colors shine through, and is sure to provide an exhilarating ride.
The Sportster S also employs a fancy full-color TFT gauge pod. It gains a host of nifty buttons and switches, all of which designed to make it very easy to toggle between the bike’s numerous features. It gets Bluetooth connectivity as standard, as well as navigation, music, and notification compatibility with your smartphone. The TFT screen also lets you keep tabs on the bike’s vitals including but not limited to battery voltage, tire pressure, ambient and engine temperatures, and other data.
Rooted in heritage
As is the case with most Harley-Davidsons, the Sportster S, despite being a new model through and through, is strongly rooted in the MoCo’s rich heritage. One glance at this bike makes it very clear that it is indeed a Sportster, and a good-looking one at that. However, despite it being chock full of tech innovations, it would appear that Harley-Davisson has remained true to the Sportster philosophy when it comes to this bike—minimalist styling mated to a simple chassis designed to deliver the perfect balance between comfort and performance.
An eye to the future
This brings us to the last and final point—something that has kept Harley-Davidson alive, especially in the past few years. After acknowledging the ever-changing landscape of the motorcycle world, it turns out that Harley-Davidson is still very much a relevant player in the game. The Revo Max motor is proving to be quite the versatile mill, and it seems that the MoCo is on the right track when it comes to reinventing itself for today’s generation of motorcycle riders.