The Pan America 1250 was a major breakthrough for Harley-Davidson, but as impressive as it is, the big burly ADV doesn’t quite resonate with traditional Harley customers. Buying an ADV from Harley-Davidson is like having a pizza from your favourite burger joint. Sure, it may have all the right ingredients, but it’s unlikely to become your go-to place for your pizza cravings. You get the drift…
But, then, earlier this year, the legendary American bike maker brought the Sportster S to our shores. It’s a signature Harley dish with everything in excess. For starters, the Sportster S gets all the usual Harley bits and bobs. It gets the typical hot-rod muscles, coupled with a thumping V-Twin heart, and yeah, it looks gobsmacking from all angles. In fact, with the exception of the Suzuki Katana, it has scored the highest points among all contenders here in terms of design and X-Factor. But, unlike the Katana, the Sportster S is badass to the bone, which makes it oh-so-desirable.
The best thing is that it’s not just the Sportster’s sex appeal that makes it so alluring but also the fact that it’s a Harley with the most modern and cutting-edge mechanicals to go with its stunning look. The Sportster S is propelled by the same Revolution Max V-Twin engine that you find in the Pan America. The motor isn’t as powerful as it is in the ADV, for it has been tuned for more low-end torque. However, with 121bhp and 125Nm on tap, it’s still a bit of a maniac for what it is. And the best part is that there’s nothing old school about this engine – it’s supremely refined, revs like a sports bike to its 9,500rpm redline, and offers mind-blowing acceleration. The Revolution Max is an absolute star!
What brought the Sportster S’ final scores down was its ride-and-handling and practicality. Although it’s an enjoyable motorcycle to hop on every day, it’s still a heavy bruiser. The rear suspension has next to no travel, meaning your spine will take a beating on our roads. And that V-twin does heat up quite a lot! Plus, we think, it’s a little pricey too.
All told, the Sportster S is Harley’s best attempt at modernising the brand, without compromising its legacy. Think of it as a double patty Big Mac – mouth-wateringly good!
- Harley-Davidson Sportster S (Lap Time – 01:30.9)
|COMFORT & PRACTICALITY||10||5|
|RIDE & HANDLING||10||5.5|
|VALUE FOR MONEY||20||12|