Bikes > Motor

We take a closer look at the all-new Harley-Davidson Sportster S

This is a cruiser that can dance in the corners

The Sportster S's hybrid tracker/cruiser style looks really good. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

In just one year, Harley-Davidson has not only released two new models in the Pan America and the all-new Sportster S, but it has also made sure these have reached markets outside of the US. News of the latter first made waves in July, and now, the new bike is here in the Philippines.

The bolt-on tire-hugger plate holder and fender looks ungainly. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

We’ve already listed the main features of the Sportster S here, but this is the first time we’ve actually seen the bike as launched at Harley-Davidson of Manila (EDSA Greenhills). To help us draw a comparison with its predecessors, the company lined up several generations of the Sportster outside. Compared to the past, the new bike looks beefier with its high-mounted exhaust, modern suspension, and sport-bike-ish tires.

The Dunlop GT503 tires are specially made for the Sportster S. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

The all-new 1,250cc Revolution Max V-twin engine is proudly framed in the chassis. While purists will decry the added complexity, weight and ugliness of having a radiator, no one can deny the obvious benefits in efficiency. Rated power is 121 horses and 125Nm, putting it leaps and bounds ahead of past Sportsters. The all-new chassis is also impressive, using the engine as a stressed member, and welded tubular steel for the swingarm to keep the weight down to 228 kilos.

A modern suspension by Showa uses an inverted fork and a piggyback-reservoir rear shock, while braking is by Brembo. The tires are specially made by Dunlop for the bike, measuring 160/70R17 for the front, and 180/80R16 for the rear. At 2,270mm long, the Sportster S looks substantial especially with that beefy rubber, but at least the 75.1cm seat height makes it accessible for most riders.

The Revolution Max V-twin engine is the star of the show. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

The Sportster eschews a traditional rear fender for the tire-hugger style currently in vogue, although it’s a bolt-on piece that could be removed or modified by customizers. Harley-Davidson touts a sporty and nimble ride with the Sportster S, but that may require some management of expectations. Even with the modern componentry, the ergonomics dictated by the forward foot controls will limit how aggressively you can push it. Lean angles of 34° on both sides do indicate you can run rings around most other cruisers, though.

The full-color TFT is a welcome break from tradition. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Other modern touches include the white all-LED lighting and a tidy, 10.9cm TFT instrument pod. It’s supposedly Bluetooth-enabled, although we don’t know yet if that includes music and GPS integration (we’ll find out with a test ride). Cruise control, a USB-C charging port, and a security system are welcome features. Three colors are available: Vivid Black, Midnight Crimson, and Stone Washed Pearl.

With a starting price of P1,030,000, the Sportster S is parting ways with its laid-back past and is going for a more aggressive, sportier dynamic.

Andy Leuterio

Andy is both an avid cyclist and a car enthusiast who has finally made the shift to motorcycles. You've probably seen him on his bicycle or motorbike overtaking your crawling car. He is our Motorcycle Editor and the author of the ‘Quickshift’ column.