HARLEY-DAVIDSON’s Sportster S has arrived on Australian soil, and it’s mighty tasty. Exhaust Notes Australia got their hands on the performance cruiser at the recent media launch in Sydney.
No longer the entry point to Harley-Davidson’s large cruiser segment, but perhaps what could now be considered the pinnacle of performance for that range, the bike maker has put the sport back into the Sportster S, and we couldn’t be happier.
Our day began with an overview of the history of the Sportster, with an array of models on display, creating an atmosphere of excitement for the next generation bike that was soon to be revealed to the waiting media.
Not before a presentation on the technical features that have gone into the new model though, along with an in depth explanation of Revolution Max 1250T motor, with 90kW of power (121hp) in a 228kg package.
Initial perceptions were that this would be a detuned version of the powerplant found in the recently released Pan America, but in this case we were quite happy to be proven wrong.
You see, the T at the end of Revolution Max 1250T stands for torque, and due to host of specifically designed parts, the motor in the Sportster S offers a totally different character, and an impressive 125Nm of torque.
And that makes the Sportster S a torque monster. Straight out of the box, with traction control turned off, it wasn’t hard to get these bikes up on the back wheel. That pretty much set the scene for the fun we were about to experience.
Climbing aboard our test steeds as the rain clouds threatened, we headed for an urban ride and some photo opportunities across the Anzac and Harbour Bridges to North Sydney, Gladesvillle, and then back to White Bay Terminal, where we’d started.
Through Sydney’s morning peak hour traffic, the Sportster S was well behaved. We appreciated the simplicity and clarity of the new TFT tacho, which has smart phone connectivity as an added feature, as we got to explore the bike’s functionality.
On the road, the Sportster S felt small and nimble in traffic, and perfect for lane filtering. There was plenty of mumbo available at the twist of the right wrist and navigating the traffic was a breeze.
It wasn’t too long and we had flicked our riding mode from Road to Sport (one of four available options) so we could experience all that the new Sportster S had to offer. It was also at this time that we turned our attention to the performance of the 160mm (17 inch) front tyre.
Aesthetically it looks the goods, and adds to that flat track roadster sports vibe Harley-Davidson are trying to achieve with the Sportster S. On the road, during normal cruising and average cornering speeds it handles well.
Likewise, it works well when the bike is ridden a little more spiritedly. But at sub-15km/h speeds, the front tyre feels a little more average. It’s something we’ll test further during our full review of the 2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S in the coming weeks.
From there it was on to some happy snaps on a quieter road with some corners. Another opportunity too, to test the Sportster’s capabilities. We were impressed. The clutch feels nice and light, and the forward mounted foot controls have a good ergonomic feel.
Granted, there’s a 34-degree lean angle on both sides and you can still put the foot pegs on the road, but this bike is fun, and the motor is an absolute beauty. Harley-Davidson has put an engine with naked sports bike performance into a cruiser, and it’s a great thing.
What began as a good photo opportunity back at the White Bay Terminal descended into drag races, and an opportunity to experience the raw power of the Sportster S. From there it was onto a controlled space to make the most of cruising on the new bike.
It became another opportunity to engage in its adventurous side as well, with some quick times showcasing handling, braking and acceleration. We learned that the suspension is nice and firm, and it tips well into corners.
Acceleration is brilliant thanks to the torque on tap, from the new Revolution Max 1250T motor. We did notice a missed opportunity here but you’ll have to wait for the full review to find out more, as we need to investigate further.
Although fitted with quality Brembo brakes, the Sportster S only has a single disc up front. We reckon that’s an under estimation of the potential in this new model, and adding another rotor to the pointy end would have taken the bike to the next level again.
While our time with the 2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S was brief, it left us wanting a whole lot more. This bike is something quite special and we can’t wait to get our hands on it for a longer period.
We may not want to hand it back either, but for now we are left with fond memories of the new generation Sportster S and a strong desire to be back in the saddle, enjoying more of the good stuff.
We rode the Harley-Davidson Sportster S as part of its Australian media launch. Further details are available from your local Harley-Davidson dealer. Pictures courtesy of Incite Images.