HARLEY-DAVIDSON LOW RIDER ST (2022 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Air/oil-cooled High-Performance Milwaukee-Eight 117 motor
  • 125lb.ft of torque
  • Californian ‘tall bike’ styling

At a glance

Power: 102 bhp
Seat height: Low (28.3 in / 720 mm)
Weight: High (721 lbs / 327 kg)

Prices

New £19,677
Used £17,000 - £17,800

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Harley call the Low Rider ST a sports tourer however this needs to be taken in context as Harley’s idea of what constitutes a sports tourer is obviously very different to what a Japanese manufacturer considers defines one.

With this in mind, it is hard not to thoroughly enjoy the Low Rider ST. The 117 High-Performance Milwaukee-Eight engine is superb, the Softail-derived chassis balanced and sporty enough to make 327kg of Harley feel fun in the bends and far more agile than its weight suggests.

The look is contemporary, especially in the modern grey colour – but that costs a slightly unjustifiable £375 extra over black!

Considering our fairly bumpy and twisty road network, this Californian-inspired ‘tall’ bagger feels right at home in the UK.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST on the road

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Inspired by the burgeoning Californian ‘tall bike’ movement, the Low Rider ST is a jacked-up mid-sized cruiser that sits the rider higher on the bike than a more traditional cruiser such as the Sport Glide while also increasing its sporting potential through improved ground clearance.

And the ST is certainly one of the sportier Harley models. The suspension’s increased height (12mm at the rear) means that while enthusiastic riding does see the rubber pegs drag, you aren’t concerned about a more solid metal item also grinding out quickly afterwards and damaging either your wallet when it comes to replacing the scraped item (it’s usually an exhaust!) or the bike should it lift a wheel.

Low speed control is pleasingly balanced and the ST feels very assured in bends – it’s not ‘King Of The Baggers’ agile but it is reasonably quick-turning.

The brakes, which have braided lines as standard, bite harder than you would expect on a Harley model and have more than enough stopping power with a good ABS system keeping you safe.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST riding past a yellow field

The frame-mounted fairing takes its styling from old Harley FXRT police bikes, another recent trend that custom houses in California have been replicating, and although the screen may appear a bit short it is effective and unpleasant turbulence is kept to a minimum (helped by the vents).

The seat’s padding (solo, a pillion seat is extra and so are the pegs...) is also good and although it is rigidly mounted, the engine’s vibrations are more character-adding rather than intrusive, helped by twin balancer shafts.

When you first sit on the ST the pegs do feel quite high, however it doesn’t take long to slot into this riding position and thanks to high bars it is comfortable enough to see off the 200-plus mile tank range, which is about all you need.

The ST isn’t a rival for a mile-munching full-dress Harley model, it is more a weekend escape bike, a fact backed up by the panniers.

Boasting a combined capacity of 53.8-litres, the panniers feel a bit small (the left is bigger than the right) but have an easy internal release mechanism to remove them completely from the bike for a stripped-back look and sturdy chrome operating lever as well as an internal damper rod to control their opening speed and help prevent your pants spilling out in a car park.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST panier mechanism

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

This year Harley have rolled out their Milwaukee-Eight 117 (or 1923cc if you are metric) engine to models outside their exclusive CVO range, where it has been reserved for since 2018.

And what a motor it is! The headline power figure may be a tad low at 101.6bhp but this V-twin is all about torque and with 125ftlb produced at just 3500rpm, it is a real grunt-monster.

The gearbox remains very clunky (purists will argue this is part of its heritage, but you can hear first engaging from about a mile away) but once on the go it has bags of lazy roll-on torque, requires virtually no revs and feels and sounds as a Harley should.

Helped by the ST’s standard fitment high-performance cam and free-flowing air filter (this looks really cool), it’s a wonderful engine and is spot on in attitude for this bike’s slightly sportier outlook in life – although it could do with a bit of tech.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST air filter

Considering you have so much torque on offer it is disappointing that Harley haven’t fitted some form of traction control as standard on the Low Rider. Other models in their range have it, so the company certainly have the ability, but they have chosen not to go down this route.

I’d like to see at the very least a basic system, which would be a welcome safety net in wet weather (to be fair the Michelin Scorcher tyres perform well) and could be added unobtrusively (even without telling owners) using the existing ABS sensors.

You do, however, get cruise control and self-cancelling indicators as standard. The LCD dash is quite dim (it contains a gear indicator and fuel gauge/range) and the idiot lights are tiny but considering the pace and styling of the bike, that’s no drama.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST 117 engine

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Milwaukee-Eight motor has been around since 2016 and although it first appeared in 107 and 114 formats, the 117 has been used in CVO models since 2018 with no reported major issues.

It may be oil/air-cooled rather than having a water jacket like some other versions, however it is far from stressed in 117 format.

Overall, the build quality seems good on the Low Rider ST and the extensive use of Wrinkle Black, Gloss Black and Satin Black give the ST a mean and moody look.

Visually it annoyed me that the gear change linkage mechanism was left metal rather than anodised black, something that makes it shout out against the black engine, but overall the ST is very impressive and there are typical Harley details such as the hidden wiring in the bars that make it look a quality product. Just ignore the ‘Made in Thailand’ sticker on the frame.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST headlight

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Milwaukee-Eight motor has 5000-mile service intervals and thanks to the fact it runs hydraulic self-adjusting lifters, there are no valve clearances to check.

You need to expect to pay roughly £300 per service with a recommended annual oil and filter change £180, which is good value. Another upside to Harley ownership is the fact their bikes are very good in terms of holding their value, so depreciation is less of a factor than on many rival machines.

So what of its rivals? The Harley Low Rider ST costs £19,677 where an Indian Chieftain Dark Horse is £24,495, the Challenger Dark Horse £25,695 and Chief Bobber Dark Horse £18,095, but it lacks a front fairing.

You could argue the Honda CMX1100 Rebel at £9499 (£10,399 with DCT) is a rival but not really, the BMW R18B is probably more realistic and it costs £22,450 or the R18 Classic at £19,540. Realistically, buyers know they want a Harley and won’t consider anything else.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST cornering on the road

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

Considering the ST’s price tag, you would rightly expect a bit more in terms of equipment. You get ABS as standard alongside cruise control and a USB port but that’s it in terms of electronics.

An Inner Fairing Audio Kit is £1033 extra (which features Bluetooth connectivity and is basically plug and play) but there is no option of traction control and heated grips cost £351.

If you want to splash the cash, as you would imagine the list of official Parts and Accessories is extensive... Annoyingly, picking the grey paint option over black adds £375 to the price tag!

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST dash

Specs

Engine size 1923cc
Engine type Air/oil-cooled, 8v, V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel
Fuel capacity 18.9 litres
Seat height 720mm
Bike weight 327kg
Front suspension 43mm, inverted forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Single rear shock, adjustable pre-load
Front brake 2 x 300mm discs with four-piston caliper. ABS
Rear brake 292mm single disc with two-piston caliper
Front tyre size 110/90 x 19
Rear tyre size 180/70 x 16

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 47 mpg
Annual road tax £101
Annual service cost -
New price £19,677
Used price £17,000 - £17,800
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 102 bhp
Max torque 125 ft-lb
Top speed 120 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 230 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2022: Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST – The all-new ST is launched. Although the Low Rider S already exists, it is updated in 2022 and the ST version released alongside.

The ST features removable hard panniers and a bigger front fairing, making it more aimed at the sports touring market. Both bikes use the Milwaukee-Eight 117 motor.

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