The Nightster’s shorter forks than the donor Sportster put more weight over the front end to give the new Harley a stable ride. Lower bars with the seat repositioned closer to the tank make the Nightster an altogether comfier motorcycle to ride around; it also means the bike can be flung around a lot easier than a 251kg bike should. Ground clearance isn’t great but it’s still a lot of fun out in the country as well as posing down the high street.
The Nightster’s 1200cc five-speed engine has old-fashioned charm of clunks, whirring noises and an unmistakable Harley-Davidson exhaust note. These quirks are easy to live with because the Nightster’s injected fuelling is so sweet meaning you could tap in top gear and simply use the engine’s ample stock of torque to lug you around all day.
The use of modern touches like fuel injection, belt drive and modern production techniques means that with the Nightster H-D has left its ‘old-shanker’ image well and truly behind. Paint and plating is tip-top and build quality spot-on. All that’s left is to uprate the brake system to something that doesn’t demand the rear brake to be stamped on when the weak front is used.
The Nightster is possibly the best value Harley-Davidson ever, at least in its 2008 sales brochure. If you want to buy into the Harley image this is the most affordable and credible machine to do it with.
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With the Harley Nightster there aren’t any bells and whistles to talk of; it’s the whole motorcycle that impresses. The use of black coating on the forks, drive belt guard and a black wheel finish (with stainless wire spokes) gives the Nightster a menacing look.
This is sweetened slightly by a range of glorious fuel tank colour schemes and shorty front and rear mudguards. A neat touch is the combined brake and turn signals built into the indicators.