Last summer when I rode the new Sportster S, I called it a paradigm shift. That bike had and has the promise to completely upend the cruiser market. An advanced watercooled twin-cam engine as good as that, plus a chassis good enough to handle it, makes for a great bike. The new Nightster is a little closer to the entry-level cruiser ready to replace the ready-for-retirement aircooled Sportster models. It still looks the business, should have enough grunt to have fun, and ready to bring more traditional Sportster buyers into the 21st century.
In running order, the Nightster weighs 481 pounds, so it’s no lightweight. In comparison to the Sportster S, the Nightster gets a smaller and less powerful version of the Revolution Max engine, plus a narrower front wheel for a less chunky Terminator vibe, and revised ergonomics. If the Sportster S is the modern version of a Fat Bob, then the Nightster is maybe a bit more like the standard Iron 1200.
Compared to the old air-cooled Iron 1200, which pumped out a paltry 60 horsepower and 73 lb-ft of torque, the new Nightster’s smaller watercooled engine wins the battle. With just 975cc, the Nightster pushes down 90 horsepower and 70 lb-ft of torque. Basically the same torque, but from an engine that revs to the heavens and sounds great doing it? Yeah, that’s going to be a good motorcycle engine. The Nightster is also 83 pounds lighter than the Iron. Yowza.
The new Nightster starts a bit higher than you’d expect for the smaller Sportster, with an MSRP of $13,499. I’ll be able to tell you soon whether the bike is worth that asking price. I’m riding it pretty much as you’re reading this right now.
So, there’s a new Harley on the block. What do you want to know about it? What could you possibly need to know? I’ll do my best to answer your questions when I type up my review in the next few days. Drop me a comment below.