Harley-Davidson reveal new Roadster

Published: 18 April 2016

Harley-Davidson have unveiled first details of their new Roadster, the latest model to join the firm’s Sportster range of motorcycles. Stripped down for a more pared-back offering, Harley say it has only the “essential elements of a pure riding machine.”

“Since its introduction in 1957, the Harley-Davidson Sportster has proved capable of constant reinvention, and the Roadster writes a new chapter in that story,” said Harley-Davidson Director of Styling Brad Richards. “We’ve watched our customers take the Sportster in so many different directions. The Roadster is a mash-up of styling genres, but the intent was to build a rider’s motorcycle, a Sportster that’s lean and powerful and connects the rider to the road.”

The new Roadster model joins the Dark Custom line-up with a more minimalist design inspired by classic racing motorcycles and current trends in stripped-down, naked custom builds.

So what’s new on Harley’s Roadster?

It might not look immediately obvious, but there are numerous changes compared to this year’s Sportster 1200. The Roadster gets new wheels and tyres (Front 120/70 R19, Rear 150/70 R18) mated to new rear suspension and front fork – which is set at a steeper angle (28.9° rake, 27.4° fork angle). The 19-inch front and 18-inch rear Offset-Split 5-Spoke cast aluminium wheels were designed specifically for the Roadster. Harley claim the wheels are lightweight, and the new size and revised suspension will deliver better ground clearance – although the angles of dangle available still result in metal scraping tarmac at 30.8 degrees on rights, and 31.1 degrees on lefts. Miserly as this is, it’s actually a useful 3-degrees more than the Forty Eight manages. The seat remains relatively low at 785mm.

Harley-Davidson Roadster highlights

  • 1200cc Evolution engine
  • NEW Premium emulsion technology rear suspension with screw-style pre-load adjustment
  • NEW 43mm inverted front forks with premium cartridge dampening technology and triple clamp design
  • NEW Dual disc front brakes with ABS
  • NEW Optimised steering geometry for a responsive, confidence-inspiring ride
  • NEW Two-up seat with ribbed detail and minimalist styling
  • NEW Lightweight offset-split 5-spoke Cast Aluminium wheels – 19in front, 18in rear
  • Mid-mount footpeg controls
  • NEW Chopped front and rear fenders
  • NEW Low rise handlebar
  • NEW Dual-function clock
  • Finned cast timer cover
  • Custom tank graphics

The Roadster’s suspension comprises a new 43mm inverted single-cartridge fork with tri-rate springs, gripped in robust triple clamps, while the rear gets twin gas-charged emulsion coil-over shocks and tri-rate springs with adjustable pre-load.

The Roadster also gets improved stopping power, with dual 300mm floating discs up front, gripped by ABS-enabled twin-piston calipers, and a 260mm rear disc with twin-piston caliper. The new low-rise handlebar and mid-mount foot controls centre the rider’s weight – we expect slightly more rearward footpegs would make the riding position more comfortable – over the classic profile of the 12.5-litre Sportster fuel tank.

The rear fender has been clipped shorter than previous bobbed Sportster fenders, while a slotted belt guard and muffler shields apparently ‘mimic the lightening holes drilled through race-bike components’. Up front there’s a surprisingly modern single four-inch diameter clock unit tucked low in front of the triple clamp. Rather than the usual analogue speedo, it actually boasts a large analogue tacho, and a digital panel for the speedometer and other information.

The Harley-Davidson Roadster model will be offered in four colour choices: Vivid Black with a charcoal denim pinstripe for £9695 (€15,835 ROI); Black Denim with a red pinstripe for £9895 (€16,130 ROI); Velocity Red Sunglo with a red pinstripe for £9895 (€16,130 ROI); and two-tone Billet Silver/Vivid Black with a burgundy pinstripe at £10,145 (€16,495 ROI). The Roadster will be available at your local Harley-Davidson dealer in June.

The firm clearly has a well-stocked accessories catalogue already to go for the new Roadster, too. The final image here shows a heavily modified bike, with blacked-out exhausts, a different seat, rider footrests, transmission and engine cases, blacked-out heads, removed numberplate hanger, different bar grips, alternative mirrors, smoked front indicators, a different fuel cap, and a performance air filter.

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