In the event you got here right here on the lookout for an affordable and elemental cruiser meant for speedy rips via the town, you’ve come to the flawed position. Harley-Davidson will have constructed that motorbike, but it surely selected to not. And whilst the Sportster S will gladly travel you from stoplight to stoplight, then domestic once more, Harley-Davidson all the time meant for this motorbike to be one thing greater than that.
However who’s the Sportster S for, and the place does it paintings absolute best? After spending a restricted period of time with the motorbike because it first confirmed up at the “Recreation” segment of the Harley-Davidson site, we determined it used to be time to test in with the Sportster S and perceive what it’s like residing with H-D’s maximum performance-oriented cruiser. If no longer to reply to the query: Are energy and era sufficient to attract riders into the H-D circle of relatives?
The Sportster S reminds us of an American muscle automobile; huge tires and a stocky stance give it presence, however the big name of the display is the Revolution Max 1250T engine. (Jeff Allen/)
Concerning the Motorcycle
Presented in 2021, the Sportster S is Harley-Davidson reaffirming its dedication to a remodeled and completely trendy lineup, and to the use of a clean-sheet way to new fashions. Updating the air-cooled, Evolution-based platform would no longer suffice even supposing it did appease Sportster loyalists and prolong a legacy begun in 1957. Nor would a brand new air-cooled platform have made sense from a producing viewpoint, as Harley-Davidson has closely invested within the new Revolution Max engine that powers the Pan The us. Enhancing the Rev Max and the use of it throughout other H-D fashions is helping amortize the prices related to designing, creating, and assembling a completely new engine platform.
So whilst the Sportster may well be considered one of Harley-Davidson’s greatest good fortune tales and some of the longest regularly produced bikes in historical past (greater than 50,000 fashions have been shipped a 12 months from 2012–2017), it’s necessary to acknowledge that the Sportster S virtually had to be other. One take a look at the spec sheet and also you’ll understand simply how other it’s.
Harley-Davidson took a novel way to the Sportster S design. There are design components from the bobber global but additionally design cues from the XR-750 flat-tracker. Simply take a look at that tail and solo seat. (Jeff Allen/)
The 1,250cc Revolution Max 1250 engine is the point of interest right here. Dubbed the Revolution Max 1250T, this model of Harley’s liquid-cooled 60-degree V-twin makes use of smaller valves and ports and a distinct combustion chamber form than the Pan The us 1250, for additonal torque at low and midrange rpm. Variable Valve Timing (VVT) stays on consumption and exhaust cams (the Nightster’s Revolution Max 975T engine has VVT at the consumption aspect handiest), and maintenance-free hydraulic lash valve adjusters are used. Harley says torque is up 10 p.c between 3,000 and six,000 rpm when in comparison to the Revolution Max 1250 engine within the Pan The us.
Strapping the motorbike to our in-house Dynojet dyno helps that declare; our testbike produced 109.6 hp at 7,530 rpm and 85.2 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,000 rpm, while the closing Pan The us we examined made 127.6 hp at 9,040 rpm and 78.4 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,480 rpm. The torque curve is as promised, the Sportster S making close to height torque at more or less 2,500 rpm and the Pan The us no longer attending to its height torque quantity till round 4,500 rpm.
You’ll watch the whole Sportster S dyno video right here.
The Revolution Max 1250T seems not anything like a standard Harley-Davidson engine. (Jeff Allen/)
The engine pulls double accountability, performing as a wired member of the chassis and disposing of the desire for a standard body. As an alternative are a entrance body, mid body, and swingarm that mount without delay to the engine, which is designed to be inflexible in order that it could act as a chassis element. And whilst that may prohibit how a lot the at-home builder can customise the Sportster S, there are advantages to this design, the largest being diminished weight and a relatively stiff “chassis” that’s higher suited to spirited using.
The Sportster’s engine is used as a wired member of the chassis, that means there’s no conventional body. A trellis entrance body bolts without delay to the engine. Fork legs are unfold huge to house the chunky 160/70-17 entrance tire. (Jeff Allen/)
Extra hints at H-D’s performance-first method come within the type of Brembo brakes and Showa suspension, the Sportster S rolling on an absolutely adjustable 43mm inverted cartridge fork and completely adjustable piggyback reservoir surprise with hydraulic preload adjustment. Sure, there’s just one entrance brake disc, however no less than it’s paired to a Monoblock caliper. Extra unlucky is that the rear suspension has simply 2.0 inches of go back and forth, which contributes to the motorbike’s low, stocky stance however doesn’t lend a hand a lot at anything else instead of a standstill. Previous conduct die laborious, and right here Harley is acknowledging that stance nonetheless issues.
To construct a sportier Sportster and no longer outfit it with the most recent digital rider aids would defeat the aim, thus Harley-Davidson threw the whole lot it had on the Sportster S. 3 preprogrammed journey modes (Recreation, Street, and Rain) are to be had along two Customized modes that the rider can construct to their liking, with choices for engine map, engine-braking, throttle reaction, and traction management. Now not handiest do the ones Customized modes build up the flexibility of the Sportster S, however additionally they lend a hand distinguish the costlier Sportster S from the “entry-level” Nightster, which comes handiest with H-D’s 3 preprogrammed journey modes.
The 4-inch-diameter TFT show does not really feel busy, and is straightforward to navigate when it comes time to regulate rider modes. (Jeff Allen/)
Harley’s Cornering Rider Protection Improvements (RDRS) rider-aid suite provides an additional layer of protection, the Sportster S coming usual with such era as lean-sensitive traction management with Rain, Street, and Recreation settings. All of those methods are controlled via a 4-inch-diameter TFT display screen and Harley’s newest transfer equipment. Riders can attach the show to their Bluetooth software and headset, which permits them to pay attention to tune, take calls, and even get navigation instructions when the use of the Harley-Davidson App.
One of the best ways to method the Sportster S is not to call to mind it as a Sportster, or to permit your self to be boxed in by means of what you suppose this motorbike is meant to do.
Even simply throwing a leg over the motorbike you’ll realize its flexibility; a slightly accommodating rider triangle lets in you to sit down again in a at ease place, on the heart of the seat in a extra upright, commanding place, or leaned over the tank in a sportier using place very best for spirited canyon using. You’re no longer locked in position or restricted by means of conventional cruiser ergos that will another way make the motorbike really feel misplaced because the surroundings adjustments.
Needless to say that is with the Sportster S fashion’s usual ahead controls. Harley-Davidson gives a mid-control conversion package ($693.95) that strikes the footpegs to simply below the seat, for a sportier using place and to house shorter riders. Nice to have choices, positive, however for any person over 6 ft tall the ahead controls really feel extra accommodating. Most mentioned cornering lean perspective is 34 levels on each side, and that used to be greater than sufficient to stay us from dragging pegs in maximum eventualities.
The Sportster S feels proper at domestic on town streets. The actual amusing comes when you’ll crack the throttle at the Revolution Max 1250T engine. (Jeff Allen/)
It would really feel ordinary studying about “going farther” at the Sportster S and “tackling the canyons,” however that’s what occurs in case you have an engine that’s as succesful and amusing because the Revolution Max 1250T, which is in some ways the most efficient a part of this motorbike.
VVT makes the entire distinction, permitting the engine to be clean and controllable off idle however open up because the virtual rev counter sweeps previous 4,000 rpm. That is a particularly free-revving powerplant that isn’t restricted in any state of affairs, with a usable unfold of energy and sufficient over-rev previous 7,000 rpm to stay you from continuously moving. There’s little or no warmth from the engine or high-mount exhaust. The one actual element we don’t love is the seize, which has a mild pull however restricted really feel during the lever go back and forth. This may make it tricky to release the Sportster S when leaving a stoplight, particularly for those who’re the use of some of the less-responsive using modes.
The left aspect of the Sporter S is a little bit busy. (Jeff Allen/)
The modes themselves upload to the motorbike’s flexible nature, despite the fact that the one preprogrammed mode we have been attracted to used to be Recreation, with its direct throttle reaction and linear energy supply. Street mode is OK when trudging via afternoon visitors, however in each different state of affairs the tempered throttle reaction and restricted seize really feel make it laborious to get stepping into some way that resembles just right, clean using. That’s a little bit bit ironic as we’d another way have argued that Street mode would lend a hand new riders get at ease at the Sportster S earlier than tapping into its complete doable. If anything else, this is a sign that Harley-Davidson continues to be getting happy with what digital management is absolute best for a platform just like the Sportster.
There are naturally extra choices, and in the end we most popular a Customized journey mode with Recreation Engine Map, Base Engine-Braking (5 ranges overall), +1 Throttle Reaction (5 ranges overall), and Recreation Traction Regulate. We spotted little or no distinction between engine-brake settings. Any other humorous factor to say is that the motorbike has an Off-Street Engine Map, a transparent indication the machine’s roots are within the Pan The us. And seeing as how not likely it’s the Sportster S will move off-road, one may argue Harley must have taken the time to relabel or take away this. If not anything else, you’ll see how briefly H-D is operating to carry those methods to new fashions.
A unmarried, 320mm entrance brake disc and Brembo Monoblock caliper helps to keep issues easy whilst providing greater than sufficient preventing energy. One thing else Sportster S homeowners must believe is entrance tire alternative; the 160/70-17 Dunlop GT503 sells for $299.95 at the Harley-Davidson site, a $120 top rate over the extra conventional 100/90-19 at the Nightster. (Jeff Allen/)
The engine does smartly in its function as a structural part of the chassis, which is to mention the motorbike handles strangely smartly as you’re employed your means up a winding mountain avenue. The motorbike stays planted and balanced, permitting you to force via a nook in some way previous Sportsters couldn’t except you’d thrown 1000’s of bucks at an o.e.m catalog. The one downside here’s that the 160/70-17 entrance tire and slender handlebar make it heavy to persuade, which limits how briskly you’ll assault a collection of turns. Even simply gently including entrance brake force in a nook will make the motorbike rise up, and making small line changes midcorner calls for effort.
So no, this isn’t a sportbike. However this can be a nice choice for the rider who needs to chase down KTM 390 Dukes on a “cruiser.”
When you get previous the heavy turn-in, the Sportster S is a large number of amusing on a canyon avenue. (Jeff Allen/)
Thoughts you, that rider will in finding different obstacles, the largest one being the rear suspension. Two inches of go back and forth isn’t sufficient to clean out even somewhat bumpy roads, and it’s no longer lengthy earlier than your again is beginning to curse the Harley design group that determined this used to be the most efficient resolution, as there’s necessarily no suspension alternate you’ll make to get round that restricted go back and forth. Thankfully, the Showa fork gives much more in the best way of bump absorption and avenue retaining, and it’s simple sufficient to regulate the clickers with a flat blade, for extra reinforce throughout spirited using. As soon as heading again to the freeway, we’d merely pull compression damping again out and be on our means.
The functionality that Harley has pumped into this bundle makes you marvel concerning the Bronx bare motorbike that Harley teased in 2018. Harley is restricted by means of what it could do with the Sportster S whilst keeping up a standard cruiser stance, however that wouldn’t be the case with a real streetfighter. Harley-Davidson reps say they “have no longer formally ever stated if it used to be coming to marketplace or no longer,” however using the Sportster S strengthens the need for that motorbike, in particular as a result of how just right this engine is.
Extra laid-back using will give you an opportunity to realize the spaces the place Harley has made developments lately, which on this case method the gauge cluster and turn equipment. That show is roofed in nonreflective glass in order that it’s simple to learn in any lighting fixtures, and the brand new management structure Harley-Davidson is the use of makes it extremely simple to navigate during the rider-aid choices. The similar can also be stated for navigating tune choices with the buttons at the proper aspect of the handlebar. We’re satisfied not to have flip sign buttons on every aspect of the handlebar too—extra small indicators that Harley is prepared to depart some issues prior to now.
Harley-Davidson’s newest transfer equipment is a step in the appropriate course and general really easy to make use of. The motorbike is prewired for heated hand grips (realize the heated grips button), however the ones grips want to be bought one by one. (Jeff Allen/)
Possibly the most efficient praise we will give the Sportster S is that we didn’t stroll clear of the take a look at lacking the previous Sportster. There’ll all the time be comparisons to that platform, positive, however Harley-Davidson has executed smartly to make the Sportster S excel in techniques the previous motorbike by no means may. This Sportster has the prospective to paintings for extra other folks of various using talent and revel in, because the functionality doable is such a lot upper than any Sportster that got here earlier than it.
Thoughts you, functionality and a extra expansive electronics bundle comes at a value. MSRP for the 2023 Sportster S is $16,399, a $2,900 top rate over the entry-level however nonetheless pricey Nightster, which is priced at $13,499. You’ll’t lend a hand however really feel like Harley-Davidson is ignoring doable new riders with this excessive barrier to access. For reference, MSRP for the 2021 Iron 1200 used to be simply $9,999, with the upgraded 40-8 at $11,459.
The opposite fear is in how a lot the restricted rear go back and forth affects the revel in. This can be a if truth be told spectacular platform on the subject of engine and dealing with, however that issues little or no if the one factor your decrease again recalls is each pothole you pummeled via in your means as much as the canyons. Possibly this is able to topic much less if we hadn’t been teased with the Bronx, which might virtually for sure be offering all the similar functionality because the Sportster S however in a platform with sportbike-like suspension that will be extra appropriate to the spirited using that the Sportster S encourages.
Those that are prepared to sacrifice a little bit convenience for a standard cruiser stance shall be rewarded with an absolutely trendy motorbike that’s a steadiness between taste and function. However that individual should position extra worth on energy and era, as a result of that’s what defines the fashionable Sportster.
A three.1-gallon tank units the tone, and doesn’t will let you move too some distance. The majority of our gas stops have been executed in below 100 miles. (Jeff Allen/)
The high-mount exhausts don’t get in the best way just about up to you’d be expecting. The seat is skinny, however great in that you’ll transfer round on it simply. (Jeff Allen/)
Nearer take a look at the Sporter S entrance brake. (Jeff Allen/)
The Sporter S makes use of a Revolution Max 1250 engine that’s been up to date for extra low and midrange torque. (Robert Martin/)
2023 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Specifications
|Engine:||DOHC, liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-twin w/ variable valve timing; 4 valves/cyl.|
|Bore x Stroke:||105.0 x 72.3mm|
|Cycle Global Measured Horsepower:||109.6 hp @ 7,530 rpm|
|Cycle Global Measured Torque:||85.2 lb.-ft. @ 6,000 rpm|
|Gasoline Gadget:||EFI w/ 50mm throttle our bodies; ride-by-wire|
|Grab:||Rainy, multiplate w/ lend a hand and slip|
|Body:||Metal trellis body w/ stamped, solid, and cast junctions, and cast aluminum mid-structure|
|Entrance Suspension:||Totally adjustable Showa 43mm inverted fork; 3.6 in. go back and forth|
|Rear Suspension:||Totally adjustable Showa monoshock; 2.0 in. go back and forth|
|Entrance Brake:||Radially fixed Brembo Monoblock 4-piston caliper, 320mm disc w/ Cornering ABS|
|Rear Brake:||Brembo 1-piston floating caliper, 260mm disc w/ Cornering ABS|
|Wheels, Entrance/Rear:||Solid aluminum; 17 x 4.5 in. / 16 x 5.0 in.|
|Tires, Entrance/Rear:||Dunlop Harley-Davidson Collection Radials; 160/70R-17 / 180/70R-16|
|Floor Clearance:||3.5 in.|
|Seat Peak:||29.6 in.|
|Gasoline Capability:||3.1 gal.|
|Reasonable MPG:||39.3 mpg|
|Cycle Global Measured Rainy Weight:||508 lb.|
2023 Harley Davidson Sportster S (Jeff Allen/)
Helmet: Bell Eliminator Helmet
Jacket: Spidi Storage Jacket
Pant: Spidi J-Tracker Tech Denim
Gloves: Spidi Storage
Boots: Alpinestars Primer Driving Sneakers