With tons of power, the Sportster S is a “wolf in wolf’s clothing”
July 16, 2021
By Kali Kotoski
For years, Harley-Davidson has teased a flat track-inspired future concept bike on its website, without giving any details on the model, the internals or specifications. What we were left with was just some nice eye candy that we hoped would actually be developed instead of lost — like the Bronx streetfighter model — under the company’s refined business strategy.
But the veil has finally been lifted with the July 13 release of a much-anticipated redesigned Sportster S model, the second model including the Pan America adventure bike to be powered by Harley-Davidson’s new Revolution Max 1250T V-Twin.
“The Sportster S is the next all-new motorcycle built on the Revolution Max platform and sets a new performance standard for the Sportster line,” said Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO of Harley-Davidson. “This is a next generation Sportster defined by power, performance, technology and style. And it’s part of our commitment to introduce motorcycles that align with our strategy to increase desirability and to drive the legacy of Harley-Davidson.”
The 121-horsepower Revolution Max engine, like the Pan America, makes up part of the Sportster S’ frame, and as part of the chassis it greatly reduces the weight of the bike to just 502 pounds.
“A taut, lightweight chassis and premium suspension deliver responsive, intuitive handling. From stop light to stop light, and corner to corner, the Sportster S model offers riders extraordinary power and performance,” Harley-Davidson said in the release.
The Revolution Max 1250T is tuned to make plentiful torque at low RPMs like we would expect from Harley-Davidson and provides a torque curve that stays flat through the powerband. It is also a high-revver with the red line a little above 9,000 RPMs. Meanwhile, a high-mount 2-into-1-into-2 exhaust is designed to produce a pleasing low-frequency tone — something some modern consumers will likely appreciate.
In profile, the Sportster S model appears crouched and ready to pounce. The massive front tire recalls the fenderless front end of a classic bobber, while the tail section and slim solo seat are throwbacks to the Harley-Davidson XR750 flat tracker.
“Every visual design element of the Sportster S model is an expression of the motorcycle’s raw power,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson vice president of styling and design. “This is a wolf in wolf’s clothing.”
The Sportster S gets all of the riding tech Harley-Davidson usually reserves for its touring models, like three pre-programmed ride modes plus two customizable modes. It has cornering tech, navigation software and a LED headlamp designed to produce a homogenous spread of light, eliminating distracting “hot spots.”
The Sportster S model is equipped with fully-adjustable, premium front and rear suspension — SHOWA 43mm inverted cartridge forks and a SHOWA Piggyback reservoir rear shock. Rear suspension features hydraulic pre-load adjustment knob. Lightweight cast-aluminum wheels are shod with wide Dunlop/Harley-Davidson Series GT503 tires. The single front brake features a new Brembo radial monoblock four-piston caliper and a 320mm diameter disc. The rear brake is a two-piston Brembo caliper and a 260mm diameter disc.
The forward foot controls and low handlebar gives the Sportster S its aggressive riding posture, but also makes it more utilitarian with an unladen seat height of 29.6 inches.
The Sportster S will reach Harley-Davidson dealers this fall with a base MSRP of $14,999 and comes in Vivid Black, Stone Washed White Pearl and Midnight Crimson.
Check out the Harley-Davidson Sportster S model at www.harley-davidson.com to learn more and to see its host of accessories.