Harley Davidson Necks Some Brave Pills – 2021 Sportster S Revealed!Armani Moffatt
It’s been a few days now since Harley Davidson lifted the covers off their latest cruiser, the Sportster S, and boy has there been one mixed reaction to it. That’s due to the engine mostly, of course, a derivative of the new Pan America’s lump, as modern as modern can possibly be for a V-twin, no less. This has of course made the majority of the old-school faithful extremely angry, but unlike the last time they had a proper flap about this kind of thing, we reckon HD is gonna stick it out no matter what…
Is it really nearly two decades since the ill-fated V-Rod? We say ill-fated, but it did hang around a fair while in their range, even if it never properly took off and was utterly loathed by the beard brigade. The new Sportster is a little different though, as it’s not night and day compared to the usual Harley look of their cruiser range, as was the then futuristic V-Rod. Yes, it’s the power plant that’s garnered most of the flack but, conversely, also the part which has turned the eye of the more discerning modern biker. Quite a few eyes, in a matter of fact.
This is exactly the point here – those customers Harley could traditionally never hope to tempt now have two modern options to consider, and more are set to be revealed, too. For the modern biker, and we don’t mean to sound cruel here, but the perception of HD metal is that it’s all fashioned from pig iron, rubber bands and technology Isambard Kingdom Brunel would have considered cutting edge. The new Pan and Sportster are the first line of defence in combating that kind of view, and the 1,250cc Revolution Max engine in many minds steals the show entirely.
Aptly named we say, given a revolution in customers is exactly what HD are after, and a claimed 121bhp and stonking 130Nm of torque (to shove a wet weight of 228kg) should do the job nicely. The engine has had a myriad of changes wrought upon it to fit the Sportster vibe, such as new velocity stacks, adjustments to the variable-valve-timing, smaller valves and a bunch of other stuff you won’t give a hoot about when it’s flinging you towards the horizon. As much as some of us silly folk would have loved to see the full-beans Pan motor here, this is a far more sensible approach.
Joining the cutting edge VVT system is a raft of other aids and features the latest sportbikes would be happy to wear, with three preset rider modes as well as a custom option, cornering ABS and traction control. Just the previous sentence alone would have, a wee while ago, gotten you wondering if we were writing about the right bike manufacturer, but for HD it’s a brave new world, and one many will want to join. To be honest, spying through the spec’ sheet and feature list, the only thing that gives us any pause is the tiny 11.8-litre fuel tank!
Aside from that little gripe, it’s hard to see what else HD could have done to keep their existing customers happy, while also appealing to a new crowd? They’ve gone to town on the looks and chassis, plus odds and sods, so it gives off the classic HD jive, just one with a modern twist on the top. Even the dash is a little round old-school number, the front wheel looks absurdly larger than the rear and they’ve just given it a single front brake disc/caliper to try and stop nearly a quarter of a tonne – how can that be any less Harley Davidson?!
In reality, the anger of the long term Harley lover is both moot, and also pointless. HD is not going to abandon them, nor their preference in regards to their products, either. The bikes they love will still be available and if they don’t like the new ones, move on and save your stress for something that actually matters! In the meantime, we expect the new Sportster to hit dealers in September and are excited to see what the new philosophy can bring to the party. And even if these bikes aren’t your thing, with all the modern whizz-bang on show, you can’t say you’re not even a little curious to know what it may ride like, nay?
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