Even the most die-hard Harley-Davidson fan would probably admit that for years the American firm’s Sportsters were anything but sporty.
But that ends with this version. Called, somewhat confusingly, the Roadster, it is inspired partly by the fashion for all things café racer and partly by those original 1950s Sportsters.
Although based on an unchanged Sportster 1200 engine, which is H-D’s familiar, middleweight, air-cooled V-twin cruiser family, a significant chassis makeover with credible performance-orientated suspension, brakes and wheels and more, has turned it into a genuine café racer that’s been a surprising hoot to thrash around twisty roads.
All in all, though still clearly a Harley at heart – the unchanged, ‘rustic’ but willing 1202cc V-twin, lumpy gearchange, fat controls and distinctive, ‘Peanut’ fuel tank leave you in no doubt of that – the Roadster is also a credible, café-racer.
Or, to the Sportster, what the old Triumph Thruxton was to the British firm’s Bonneville. And that, at prices starting at under £10,000, is no bad recommendation in itself. A Harley Sportster? Yes, there is, at last.