Everything you thought you knew about Harley-Davidson is changing, and the new Sportster is proof of that. Sure the bike still has throwback-cool good looks, and forward foot controls, but it has been given so many changes in this new generation that it’s hardly recognizable as a Sportster. With a brand new Revolution Max engine making 121 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque, the power output sounds American Cruiser, but the internally balanced watercooled dual-overhead camshaft engine decidedly doesn’t. Oh, this is going to be interesting!
Considering the new Sportster S is some 60 pounds lighter than the bike it replaces, and has been updated to include a new round TFT dash, LED lights, more lean angle, and IMU-controlled traction and ABS system, this looks like it’ll be an all-around good ride. Based on the press pictures, the Sportster appears to carry a similar handlebar control setup as the Pan America, meaning the old mainstay of Harley life—namely getting used to having a turn signal for each hand—is gone the way of the mountain gorilla. That is to say not extinct, but getting damn close.
The impetus for this major change has been the introduction of Euro 5 emissions standards, which killed off the old air-and-oil-cooled Sportster. The Sportster name dates back to the 1950s, and rode on a frame introduced in 2004. This new model carries on the name, but updates everything for the modern age of motorcycling. Even the most jaded of hipsters would be happy to post this bike to their Instagram, but at the same time it looks hard enough to be enjoyed by big burly bikers.
I’m really looking forward to kicking one of my standing sticks over the seat of the new Sportster S. It’s got all of the styling cues I love from Harley, including the upswept pipes of the old XR1200. I’m hopeful that this points to an even more aggressive Indian FTR-beating upright naked streetfighter (come on Harley, just give us the Bronx!) in the future. At 15 grand, this isn’t a cheap bike, but it looks like it’ll be a riot. And that purple (okay, Midnight Crimson) paint is absolutely spectacular in photos.
So, I’m out riding the bike on Wednesday afternoon. Here’s your chance to ask me anything. What do you want to know about this bike? What do you want to know about the future of Harley-Davidson?