INSPIRED by the coastal build scene in America, the 2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S is the centrepiece of next year’s range, with a focus on power, agile handling, enhanced rider control, all while maintaining the traditional Harley-Davidson character.
The new model is built on a Softail frame, which may make some purists cringe, but in all honesty, it shouldn’t. The Softail frame offers an improved ride and has added to the superior handling of the range, since its inception a few years back.
Combined with an inverted front fork design which stiffens the front end for improved steering response and a 28-degree raked frame which allows more responsive handling, the 2020 Low Rider S has been designed with an aggressive rider in mind.
Braking is handled by dual front disc brakes that provide a strong performance, coupled with ABS. We found the front brakes especially good when riding a little more enthusiastically through the tight bends of Macquarie Pass just south of Sydney.
Now before we get into the next part of this story, it’s worth mentioning that the author is is taller than 6ft and heaver than 100kg – not an obese man, but a well-rounded individual, you might say.
We say this because it’s here that we move onto the mid-mount controls. We first mentioned these back in our launch story for this bike. The conundrum lies in whether to embrace them, or swap them for the optional forward controls from the parts catalogue.
It’s a form over function choice, but let’s look at the positives of the mid-mount option. It’s easier when hitting the corners to lean the bike in with your feet by pushing directly down on the mid mount controls. This adds to the nimbleness of the Low Rider S.
Agile handling characteristics are also enhanced, while corner clearance is much better too. You can tip the bike over both left and right and get maximum tyre usage, adding to the aggressive performance demeanour of the bike.
One downside is the rear brake pedal and rear brake setup. These feel a little spongy, and are lacking when compared to the front brakes on this bike. We’d need to ride a 2020 Low Rider S with forward controls to know if this is impacted by the mid-mount controls.
What is impacted though, is the feeling of being tucked up and cramped after putting in a longer 150km ride stint. Taking into consideration that this is not a full touring model, that can be forgiven, but it will increase the debate for forward controls.
If this rider could go on a diet and get squashed by an elevator to become a little shorter, mid-mount controls would definitely be our choice, but, if you are a taller rider, forward controls may need to be considered.
That aside, the 2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S sports a dry weight of 295kg, which means it’s not heavy in terms of the Softail range. A 120mm ground clearance and 690mm seat height also helps make the bike feel more nimble and agile.
We found the standard solo seat to be supportive and comfortable while riding. The matte black 25mm diameter sports-style handlebars, mounted on 4-inch high straight risers contribute to a good riding position as well.
Standard Harley-Davidson controls not only feel good to the touch, but work well ergonomically too. It’s a comfortable package that’s clearly been designed for an aggressive performance rider.
Shoe horned into its soul is a massive Milwaukee Eight 114 cubic inch motor, matched to a six-speed transmission, with the combination boasting 155Nm of torque. It’s a power plant that means business, with a sweet spot between 3,000 and 4,000rpm.
It offers great pick up, and while you can get pull from lower down in the rev range, it’s above that 3,000 mark where it really hums. The 2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S is available in Vivid Black ($27,995 ride away) and Barracuda Silver ($28,340 ride away).
It’s part of Harley-Davidson’s dark custom range, which means the majority of bits on the bike are blacked out. It’s a look that sets off the beautiful bronze wheels on the uncompromising performance model, sensationally well.
Up there with the FXDR in terms of how nice this bike really is, we’d have to hit the Harley-Davidson parts and accessories book and add a Screaming Eagle motor kit and aftermarket exhaust system, just to make it truly ours. We’d definitely own one though.
Our test bike was provided by Harley-Davidson Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S, visit your local Harley-Davidson dealer.