It’s been almost 10 years now that American manufacturer Harley-Davidson has been to be experimenting with its bikes. Now it’s tended to drift away from the traditional burly chrome-clad cruisers of the past and cater to the more modern, tech-savvy motorcycles of today. Cut back to 2013 when Harley-Davidson came out with the LiveWire Electric, which now is a complete spin-off brand on its own, and a year later H-D came out with the 750, the -biased which not a lot of people really took a liking to. A couple of years later H-D introduced the big Pan America 1250, the adventure, which honestly no old- Harley aficionado really saw coming in their wildest dreams, or even their nightmares. And now here we have the brand’s next step in its evolution – the Sportster S. now this is a far cry from the previous gen Sportsters that Harley has come out before. It’s a lot more tech-heavy, it’s a lot more powerful, and it’s a lot less of a cruiser. Now although Harley is saying that this is the next step in its evolution, is this new bike a revelation out here in India? Well, it’s time to find out.

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Design:

Starting off with the way this bike looks, it resembles no other Sportster machine that Harley-Davidson has come out with before this. It’s a lot more compact, a lot chunkier, muscular and boy does it look attractive. Starting with the front – up ahead you have this big chunky 160/70-17 inch tyre which adds a great deal of bulk to the front end. Coming further up you get a nice solid 43mm but not a lot of travel room out then coming up to the headlights you have an all-LED headlamp unit with indicator bulbs. Once again it drifts away from everything that Harley stood for. Coming up to the bars, which are nice and flat sort of flat-tracker style which are a bit forward-set. Then you have the 4-inch round TFT digital display which once again breaks away from the old- Harley-Davidson bikes that you’ve been accustomed to seeing over the course of time. A lot of tech and riding aids are thrown in there. Coming back to the – you get a 12-litre unit which should give you a good range out on the highway which will allow you to cover a good amount of ground.

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Under the, you have the big 1200cc Revolution Max engine, which is the real highlight of this Harley-Davidson. It’s almost identical to the unit that powers the big Pan America. You will also notice the suffix T to the engine’s name – and that stands for torque, so while on the Pan America you’ll have to shift down a gear to take on tricky terrain, with this bike well it’s designed to rip up streets so peak torque is more accessible in the mid-range of the powerband. Like with the big ADV bike the engine here is a stressed member in the frame that helps reduce weight. Harley has done ever so well to stuff that big engine in there and it looks ever so neat and just so darn gorgeous.

Then you have that brilliant 2-1-2 exhaust unit, which is massive and really catches your eye the first time you look at it. Simply outstanding. Then you get a single-piece seat on top. You do have the option of adding an extension for a pillion seat with a back rest as well, but honestly, there are better bikes to cater to that if you want to ride with a pillion. Further, out back you have an even chunkier 180/70-16 inch tyre. Overall the bike looks fantastic, but it does come with certain shortcomings.

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Engine, Performance and Features:

The Sportster S is powered by the 1250cc Revolution Max engine, it’s the same engine that sits in the Big Pan America ADV bike, there’s enough torque and a good deal of power as well around 120PS, which is about 30PS less than the Pan America, but it produces almost the same amount of torque at 128Nm but gets to the peak output sooner (at 6,000rpm).

Power delivery is just phenomenal. Low down the powerband, short shifting at around 2,000rpm, the engine does get a bit clunky, but when the needle goes north of that, man this thing just flies. It just wants to hit the 9,000rpm redline every single time, and this machine just feels so capable. The engine is very refined, unlike any other Harley-Davidson that I’ve ridden before. It’s a far cry from the older eight engines that the company has on its motorcycles. This bike is in a league of its own. It just wants to rev hard, it wants to push you further and it feels a lot better at higher speeds.

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The Sportster S comes with a host of tech and riding aids that includes ride modes like Rain, and Sport and even comes with customisable modes which allow you to set the engine maps, engine braking, traction control, cornering abs, and so on, as per your preference. You even have Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. But the ride modes are my favourite. In sport mode, this bike is just ballistic and you’ll have to really hold on tight to stay on the bike which is exhilarating and unlike any other Harley Davidson I’ve ever ridden before. Even the small twist of a throttle propels you forward with great enthusiasm. See a nice, long and flat stretch of the open and you feel compelled to whack the throttle open and roar to the end. The only downside here has to be the brakes. The single disc up front feels inadequate when you’re riding fast and need to stop in a jiffy. It should have had a twin disc setup up front like the Pan Am according to me.

Ride and handling:

The ergonomics of this bike will have your legs in a forward-set cruiser-like position. The handlebars will have you hunched forward a bit if you’re as tall as me, at 5’9, and it can get a bit cumbersome over long distances you do have the option of throwing on mid-mounted footpegs, but that will obviously cost extra.

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That’s a big setback with this according to me because Harley has tried their best with this particular setup – the chunky wheels at both ends, the weight of this bike which is around 230kg, given its wheel size alone, this one was never going to be the best of handlers. Chuck it into a corner, it doesn’t feel very comfortable and it’ll take a bit of effort to keep to the line because it just wants to sit up straight all the time. Lean into the corner ease off the gas and it feels out of place. You’ll always have to be on the throttle which this machine. With 90mm of ground clearance – it’s not the best – speed breakers will often be an issue and of course the suspension setup. Having a look at both ends, there’s not a lot of room to play with and this will take a toll on your back when you hit a bump. Given Indian conditions,’ that’s inevitable. Although the suspension settings are adjustable – up front you can adjust for preload rebound and compression – there’s not a lot that you can really work with out there and after a couple of days of riding you will feel like visiting your chiropractor.

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Conclusion:

Out in a place like Delhi, a bike like the Sportster S will set you back by around Rs 16.5 lakh which is for the standard black coloured variant. This alternate white coloured bike will cost you Rs 15,000 extra. Now is this bike a real revelation in a country like India? In all honesty, no it is not. it looks fantastic, with a lot of visual appeals it feels nice to ride over short distances but over long distances, not so much so. Given the conditions in our country, you’re not going to be the most comfortable astride this either. You’re either going to land up damaging the bike or your back, so at the end of it, it doesn’t make a really great deal of sense, although if you are a Harley aficionado you will want to get your hands on this one because it’s like no other bike the company have come out with before. It is unique, it is sporty, but in the end, it’s not the best in its category.

Harley-Davidson Sportster S 2022 Full Spec

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 15,51,000
Displacement
1250cc
Transmission
6-Speed
Max Power(ps)
122.60
Max Torque(Nm)
127.04
Mileage
19.60 Kmpl

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