A quick jaunt to Land's End ticks the MCN fleet Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST over the 10,000 mile mark

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Since collecting the Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST back in April we’ve racked up thousands of miles together. But, with only a few weeks of the test period left, I was beginning to be irked by the fact the odometer started with a nine rather than a 10. Thinking hard about how I could remedy the situation, the answer popped straight into my head – a trip to Land’s End, of course.

Now don’t get me wrong, this final tour would be a working one taking in various cafés in the south west for MCN’s Out & About section, but it would also be giving the bike plenty of miles to eat up.

As I got in the saddle and prepared for the first four-hour stint, I reflected on how far I’d ridden this year. The Harley had taken me to Budapest as well as Scotland and Wales, with plenty of short trips in-between. While all of them were ‘work’, they were also a real pleasure.

MCN fleet Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST at Sylv's Diner

My first stop was at a café in Crediton – Union Road Moto Velo. As the venue is normally shut on Mondays, the Low Rider ST looked lonely in the car park, but walking through the door it was clear it fitted right in with the mass of Harley-Davidsons inside. We had tackled a cracking route from the M5 through Tiverton and Bickley along the A3072, and it was a welcome change from the motorway slog. 

The Low Rider ST can handle long miles like a champ and the cruise control is a welcome addition, but riding off onto some twisties after a long, monotonous ride was bliss. The bike weaved along the curves as if it knew this was the last proper ride we’d have together, and it drank in the miles with effortless capability as we moved closer to the first stop, with the engine churning out heaps of torque at low rpm, yet urgent acceleration out of corners.

Although heavy at 327kg, the centre of gravity is so low that swinging it from side-to-side is an easy task. It was almost a shame it had to end as I came into Crediton, but as this was my first destination on a three-day, 10-stop ride, I could only hope there’d be more magic roads as I cruised further west. 

MCN fleet Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST at Project 83 Motorbike Lounge

I made it all the way down to Penzance on day one but woke up before the crack of dawn to make my way to Land’s End to begin day two. I’d hoped the sunrise would begin to appear before I got to the landmark, but I had no such luck. The wind and rain battered me as I took on the dark hazardous roads, and the Harley was pushed off course multiple times. But as I approached Land’s End there wasn’t a soul to be seen… or the famous view for that matter.

Nevertheless, I’d made it, and with the odometer nearing the 10,000-mile mark I knew I would be well into five digits by the end of the trip. So, as I was early for my next stop, I decided to take the scenic route along the coast rather than the drudgery of the A30.

As I rode through Penzance, the sky’s black blanket began to withdraw, but the storminess of the weather did not. Waves crashed over the promenade and bathed my already soaked suit and the Low Rider ST in salty water.

MCN fleet Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST in need of a clean

Cringing, I pressed on, hoping the rain would lick most of the salt from the engine, but the voice in my head kept telling me that no matter how exhausted I was when I got home, the jet wash would have to come out ASAP to prevent that saline nastiness biting into the finish.

As I left my last call – Haynes Museum in Yeovil and their new motorcycle mezzanine – the rain was still stubbornly drizzly as it had been for the past three days. But knowing that the next stop would be a place where I could get warm and dry (and the bike get a decent wash), I was excited to be on the road, and with 159 miles to go, I watched the odometer click over to that magic 10,000 miles. Job done. Good work Low Rider ST.

Saffron tests the H-D’s touring credentials

Published 21.02.24

Long-term test Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST ridden on the road

When a staffer at a Harley-Davidson dealership called my bike a ‘mini-tourer’, it got me thinking about how well the Low Rider ST performs in that role. I have done my fair share of miles on it, with many of them on what I’d call ‘tours’, such as up to Scotland and even down to Budapest in Hungary.

Yet in standard trim straight out of the showroom I wasn’t sure if the Low Rider ST could live up to that name because of its single seat and the inability to add any more luggage to its pair of standard-issue hard panniers. Putting myself in the position of someone in the market looking for their first touring motorcycle, I decided to find out if the bike could make the perfect touring companion for someone who doesn’t want the heft or height of a traditional Harley-Davidson tourer, such as a Road Glide or similar.

When I think of touring, I’m thinking hours in the saddle and long blasts on the motorway to get to a biking hotspot with plenty of switchbacks and some stunning views, so really for me a tourer needs to tick all the boxes when it comes to practicality and fun. But I’m going to focus on practicality, as I didn’t have the chance to swap out my tyres or tickle the suspension and don’t want to presume how that would have changed my riding experience.

Long-term test Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST rear seat unit

Out of the showroom the Low Rider ST comes with a single seat and a bare-back mudguard. Without the rack (for reasons I mentioned in my last update) I thought a two-up seat would be best as it meant I had the facility for not only having passenger, but also giving me an opportunity to add an extra bag without damaging the paint on the mudguard.

This allowed me to carry an SW-Motech bag which was vital if I was headed for more than just a few days away. I think I could cope with the two panniers for a weekend break, but they’re not the easiest things to ride long miles with, as their clam-shell mechanism makes it difficult to grab a snack or a drink from inside.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that Harley-Davidson motorcycles are unique in that accessories are added through the lifetime of the bike – and it’s a pleasure to do so. But if this funky bite-sized Harley is made for touring, I would have loved to see a few more practical bits that make it ideal for such a sport, for example mudguard paint protection and anchor points as well as the ability to add a rack.

Long-term Harley-Davidson SW Motech tail bag

But the easy-to-use cruise control and effective fairing means it’s well on the way, and in a way, it’s simplistic and unfussy style makes it the perfect starting point for someone to make it into the tourer that’s right just for them.

Update seven: Saffron compares the 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST to her own Heritage Softail

Published 14.12.2023

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST compared to Heritage Softail

Growing up around Harley-Davidson cruisers it was almost inevitable that I’d end up with one in my garage – and that day came in 2018 when I bought a 2009 Heritage Softail. But after taking on the 2023 Low Rider ST as a long-term test bike this year, it’s clear that although my own 14-year-old machine is half a world away in terms of engineering, the culture is just as inviting. 

You can’t stop progress

OK so I’m not comparing like with like (the Low Rider first entered the market in 1977 with the FXS Low Rider) so you can take direct comparisons with a pinch of salt. But when it comes to the engine, Harley tend to use the latest iteration throughout their range at different points in history.

The 2023 Low Rider ST sports a 1923cc Milwaukee-Eight 117, producing 105bhp and 124ft.lb of torque, whereas my 2009 Heritage Softail has a 1584cc Twin Cam engine with 92ft.lb of torque and around 65bhp (although this is just a rough estimation as H-D didn’t supply power figures back then).

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail

From the numbers it’s clear to see how far they’ve come. And when you’re riding them back-to-back, you can immediately feel the years of development in the heart of the motorcycle. The new bike is far punchier, the torque can help you out when you’ve been lazy with the gearbox and the smoother rumble hasn’t lost the Harley essence but there are fewer vibrations, which is much appreciated on long rides.

But both have the classic V-twin engine, are belt driven, and I was surprised when there wasn’t too much difference in the heaviness of the clutch. The gearbox and chunky controls make both bikes feel like they’re there to be ridden rather than taking you for a ride, which means the new Low Rider ST still feels quintessentially Harley. 

Don’t pass the Autosol

I think you’ll probably be able to tell from the pictures that Harley’s days of ‘chrome everything’ are over. While the shiny stuff is still featured on a few modern Harleys, the blacked-out engine and trims are becoming much more popular, and as somebody who is a bit shoddy with Autosol and a rag, I’m quite thankful.

Saffron Wilson compares the long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST to her own Heritage Softail

The fairing is dramatically different (and a new feature for the Low Rider ST for this year) but both are great for long tours. The shallower and more streamlined style of the ST means that you can still feel the speed without too much buffeting, whereas on the Heritage Softail I had a taller screen fitted to combat motorway windblast.

On the subject of mods, I changed my Heritage Softail’s standard soft panniers, which required the straps to be manually clicked into place in order to secure them, for easier-to-use quick-release items. The luggage on the Low Rider, meanwhile, comprises a pair of hard, piston-controlled panniers with a sleek design.

As a result, when the panniers are removed, I think the Heritage Softail lends itself to having a ‘naked’ back end whereas the ST gives the impression something’s missing – but looks fine nonetheless. Although the new bike’s panniers are easy to pack you never know when you’ve overfilled them until you try to get them shut, whereas on the Heritage the standard bags had a smaller opening than you’d expect but oodles of space once you’ve squeezed everything through. 

My mobile armchair 

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail on the road

With forward controls, wide bars and a much more relaxed approach to tarmac as if it’s taking on long, sweeping bends of the USA, the Heritage feels like you’re sinking into an armchair, putting your feet up and manoeuvring a boat bobbing on a calm sea.

Whereas the Low Rider with its mid controls and pulled forward handlebars is lot more immediate and can handle tight UK roads with confidence even though there isn’t much difference in weight (327kg compared to the Heritage’s 340kg) and taller seat height (720mm compared to the Heritage’s 697mm).

It’s clear Harley have developed their motorcycles and improved them in many ways over the past 14 years, but that said there really is nothing like your own motorcycle… even if you’re tempted to look elsewhere. 

Update six: Saffron thinks the ST could do with back-end spruce up

Published 01.11.23

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST on the road

I love the styling of the Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST but after living with it for six months so far, there are a few things I want to address – and it’s all about the back end.

The original plan was to install a rack and a sissy bar so I could take myself to the ends of the country with plenty of luggage capacity. But after adding the spacers behind the panniers to accommodate the sissy bar, it was quite clear the rack wasn’t going to work, despite being listed as fitting the bike. Why? Well, it’s up to you who gets the blame, but in essence, the UK number plate is too big, and the bikes and accessories have been built to accommodate smaller US-sized registrations. 

With an American number plate, the rack sits just above it, but the UK plate and its position above the rear taillight means it cannot sit flat, and therefore couldn’t be installed. Bugger. So, I was left with a choice. A plate relocation kit and a lengthy amount of labour, or a back seat and sissy bar to accommodate extra luggage. As I wanted to try a new seat anyway, I opted for the latter, and it has worked well since. 

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST rear end

But there was something else that bothered me about the number plate. When I first got the bike, I thought the positioning was odd. The single seat and exposed mudguard were a slick styling choice with smooth lines that complemented streamlining as well as style… until you got to the number plate. 

I get that in America the plate is smaller and less ‘in your face’ but with the brand so popular over here in the UK, I question whether it would be better positioned under the indicators and taillight, like on other Harley models. 

Initially, I loved the panniers – they suit the bike perfectly without being vulgar or intrusive, a sticking point for baggers the world over. But what are they like to live with?

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST right side with tidied rear end

Inside the pannier is a small piston to allow for soft opening and has a lip to overlay onto the other side of the pannier to aid waterproofing – and both work well. But when I’m packing (and yes, I’m a serial over-packer) it’s hard to determine just how much stuff I can squeeze in.

You have to be wary not to have anything in the way of the internal piston which takes up a surprising amount of room for free-roaming luggage, and as it opens like a clam shell, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you can cram in the kitchen sink only to discover you can’t get the pannier closed.

But I acquired some pannier liners from Harley (£74.99 for both) and they are game-changing. You can’t overpack, they fit in perfectly, and you can simply lift them out and carry them to your hotel.

Update five: Let loose with the Harley catalogue, Saff tots up the impact of her mods

Published 27.09.23

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST action shot

I’ve been riding Harley-Davidson’s  Low Rider ST for five months now, so I thought it was time to talk about a few changes I’ve made to the bike. There are other things I’d love to experiment with, but I think these additions have made a big impact to the riding, be it comfort, entertainment or practicality. 

Mounting pressure

The Low Rider ST doesn’t come equipped with a huge TFT dash or satnav connectivity like Harley’s bigger full-dress cruisers do. So, I fitted a Quad Lock (with vibration dampener) to hold my phone so I can use it as a satnav. It looks a touch cumbersome on the otherwise sleek bars, but using the black mount rather than the blue makes it much more subtle and the position of the ST’s USB port allows for on-the-ride charging (but, as mentioned in a previous update, it has corroded slightly, so now is intermittent).

Going the whole hog

This one is a little bit out there, but a must-have for any fair-weather Harley rider. Before I get into the details, let’s get the worst bit out of the way – the price. £1764 is enough to make you hyperventilate rather than just take in a sharp intake of air, but what do you get for the money?

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST media speaker

To quote the brochure, you get: Endgame Rider Footpegs, Flat-Out Bar – Black, Low Rider ST Tip-over Bar Bracket, and a full complement of the ‘H-D Audio by Rockford Fosgate – Inner Fairing Audio Kit’.

In other words, that’s some fancy footpegs with a bit more surface area so you don’t feel like you’re balancing on thin pegs, and I think they do look much cooler than the originals. Without the rest of the pack, they’ll set you back £155 (although currently not available individually for the ST).

The flat-out bar is essentially a crash bar for the engine, but instead of being garish and cumbersome, I think this design isn’t half as intrusive. It’s around £240 (currently only on the US website) and is also great if you need to stretch your legs out on a long ride.

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST sissy bar

And finally, the pièce de résistance is the sound system. The speakers fit inside your fairing and use all the previously empty space so you (and others) can listen to tunes on the move. It was easy to set up, and it automatically connects through Bluetooth each time you turn on the engine.

The sound quality is great and gets surprisingly loud. I only mention this as I turned the ignition on in a petrol station on the motorway to check out my mileage and I got the fright of my life… and most of the other users at the pumps did, too. 

Blinging up the rear

In a bid to increase my luggage capacity I wanted something over the rear mudguard for anchor points and extra space. Initially H-D fitted spacers on the pannier mounts so I could add a sissy bar (£229) and for a while, I used Amazon’s best £8 stick-on seat to protect the paintwork from luggage. But I’ll be honest – it looked awful. Nevertheless, it did the job for a while, but it needed to change. (If you’re wondering why I opted for a back seat rather than a rack with 

Update four: With the ST in for a service, Saffron tries the Nightster Special

Published 23.08.23

Harley-Davidson Nightster Special at the Ace Café

With over 8000 miles ridden on the Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST consisting of camping trips, cross-continental voyages and slugs up to Scotland, it was time for a bit of R&R. So, the bike has been left with H-D for a service and hopefully a few new toys, too (watch this space).

While the Low Rider ST is away, I’ve been lucky enough to be loaned the new Nightster Special to ensure I can still get out on the road, and my gosh, it’s a completely different beast. 

Pulling away, the first tentative few inches had my feet pawing the air, searching for stretched-out footboards rather than the Nightster’s more conventionally placed pegs, but I soon hunkered down with this nifty 975cc sports-cruiser and made the lengthy journey from Gloucester to Northamptonshire, taking the scenic route through the Cotswolds just to sling it around gorgeous B-roads and get familiar with the wide, flat bars and sportier riding position. It was brilliant fun, if tempered slightly by the air filter leaving me with a stubborn bruise on the side of my knee.

Harley-Davidson Nightster Special carrying a load

But aside from the vastly different seating position and the revvier, less gutsy 89bhp engine, the biggest shock about riding the Nightster was the weight – it weighs just 218kg compared to the Low Rider’s 327kg. Previously, every Harley I have ridden has always been a bit of a lump and it takes some calculating on my part to ensure I can get out of any carpark I ride into, but this feels as light as a feather and I had no problem scooting it around with feet flat on the floor.

The niggles? I’d pulled my back prior to picking up the Nightster which, given the soft suspension of the Low Rider ST, hadn’t been too much of a problem when riding. But the more rigid chassis of the Nightster (coupled with the fact that I had to use a rucksack as I didn’t have any luggage) was a bit of a shock for my poor lumbar region, especially since the Nightster’s suspension is only adjustable for preload at the rear.

I also passed three petrol stations with an illuminated fuel light as I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to fill it up. I finally gave up, pulled in and had a quick Google followed by a facepalm as I remembered the 11.7-litre fuel tank is under the seat. Not the bike’s fault, only mine, but I didn’t particularly like the hollow sound the dummy tank makes on the road, it feels like a show piece. 

Harley-Davidson Nightster Special

Although they are completely different types of motorcycle, the Low Rider ST is much more enjoyable for long jaunts on the motorway, but for short blasts the Nightster is proper fun.

Update three: Saff takes the ST across the continent to Budapest for Harley-Davidson’s 120th anniversary

Published 19.07.23

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST in the mountains

When I decided to get the Low Rider ST, I knew I had to do something to commemorate H-D’s 120th anniversary. Joining the European celebration in Budapest was high on the list, even if it meant six 10-hour days in the saddle.

I spent the first night in Dijon, then skirted around Lake Geneva, slipping into lakeside towns where the Harley rumbled comfortingly as though it belonged there.

I then hit the motorway and pushed on to Lake Como, and soon remembered something important – Italian riders are a different breed. I watched scooterists in flip-flops cut up fast moving traffic before I hesitantly followed. But the Harley nipped in and out of the madness and we beat the traffic to the lake, parked amid a sea of scooters and stuck out like a proud sore thumb.

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST and Saffron Wilson

Into the Alps

With eight hours in the saddle to the Grossglockner Pass in Austria, I left before the morning traffic and headed for the mountains. I hit the motorway at first, then peeled off to rumble through tunnels with picturesque diversions to pick up lakeside roads. In Switzerland, the motorway gave way to a single lane road that got progressively emptier as the miles clicked on, until I arrived at a car train through the mountains.

I emerged high in the Alps with the temperature cool and the roads beautifully smooth. I was treated to passes littered with switchbacks, including a lovely ride along the Passo del Maloja. The Harley glided through the dizzying direction changes and my worries of pegs forever scraping tarmac dissipated the further we ventured.

Passes to Budapest please

With a thunderstorm the night before, I decided to wake up at 4am and take on the alpine passes before blasting out the final leg to Budapest. What a decision!

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST on Italian pass

We danced over the smooth roads and swept down the other side of the mountain before we were faced with the decision to carry on to Budapest or nip up to the Grossglockner – you know what I chose. Despite the annoyingly expensive toll (30 euros for a single day) I got to experience the High Alpine Road with virtually no traffic.

There was a welcome chill in the air and the roads were smooth as they snaked up the mountainside. I even visited ‘bikers’ point’ which was a nerve-wracking set of switchbacks on cobbled roads between walls of snow. The view at the top was worth it, but I wasn’t too sure about the perilous view on the way back down again. Nevertheless, the Harley didn’t miss a beat. 

Afterwards, the dash towards Budapest and the Harley gathering was full of fast, snaking roads, and I didn’t see a motorway until I got within 60km of the city.

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST European tour

Once there, there was no hope of filtering due to the thousands of Harley-Davidsons that surrounded me, and the weather hit the mid-30s with high humidity. You could feel the heat radiating from the V-twin engine, but aside from some increasingly clunky gear changes, the bike coped better than me.

The home stretch

On the way back it was a rush to make the 1300-mile trip (and channel crossing) in two days. So instead of dancing through in the Alps, we simply smashed out toll road after toll road, and on the Autobahn I pushed the Low Rider ST further than ever, and discovered it was more than happy to sit at 120mph even with luggage.

The only issue I had was on the very last day as I was streaking towards the Eurotunnel. The USB port under the tank started to glitch and my phone/satnav wouldn’t stay charged. I think it was a result of it being subjected to the elements and wonder if it was closer to the bars it would be better protected.

Update two: More than 4000 miles ridden and Low Rider ST life is good

Published 14.06.23

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST right side on the road

I’ve now done more than 4000 miles on the Harley Low Rider ST since I took temporary ownership of it in mid-April. In that time, I’ve come to realise that a lot of these miles haven’t been spoken about because they involve nothing more than bearing down on a straight stretch of road, usually the M1, M6 or A1. But of course, there have been some more memorable routes in between.

I’ll address the elephant in the room from my last update – I’m still not sold on the riding position. Thanks to my busy schedule, I haven’t had the time to make any of my planned changes, so the seat, pegs and bars are still in their original spots. But, when all’s said and done, I am beginning to get used to riding this way – although I’m still getting off the bike with an over-stretched back and achy shoulders, so I think the bars could do with coming back a few inches.

Aside from that, it’s frankly brilliant for motorway mileage. While the fairing looks the part, initially I was unsure whether it would do its job well, but I’ve been proved wrong. You can sit for hours in the saddle without the usual aches and pains as the fairing takes so much of the wind off you.

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST by the road side

It’s worth noting that as the fairing is frame mounted, you do have a wide-open space at the bottom to allow your forks to twist. Because there is a bit of a gap, in wet weather you get spray from your wheel up along the forks and on the inside of the fairing. You don’t particularly notice when you’re riding but you do when it comes to cleaning afterwards! On the plus side, the frame-mounted bodywork helps keep the steering light.

When it comes to the engine, you can instantly tell it is made for America’s long sweeping highways. It didn’t miss a beat or complain once on long motorway stints – bearing in mind that this could be for six hours strong with perhaps two very quick fuel stops to break it up and nothing more.

It can sit at motorway speeds without any bother and the cruise control is a bonus, too, as it’s easy to use and reactive. The torque is great when it comes to slowing for traffic and overtaking as you barely ever have to change gear, and even when it’s working hard while filtering, the V-twin soon relaxes back into cruising speed.

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST at the Filling Station café

These trips have taken me all over the country so far, and one thing I am disappointed with is that such a great touring ride doesn’t have enough capacity for long trips – two panniers aren’t quite enough for me. I’m going to have to think about another luggage option, but being a Harley, it’s nothing if not adaptable.

Update one: Five days after taking delivery, Saffron heads to Scotland and the Lakes for a week of piling on the miles

Published 10.05.23

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST in Scotland

After a big week of riding to get to know the Low Rider ST, Saffron plots the hits and misses from her first impressions.

The riding position – Miss

When I’d sat on this bike stationary at shows I had wondered how much strain would be put on my back. With newly added mid controls instead of forward controls, the overall cruising position has changed and as a result I feel stretched towards the handlebars.

I added a seat cushion to lift me an inch or two to see if it made a difference, and it did help a touch, but I still ended up with backache (and had an annoying seat cushion). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got used to it after the now 2000 miles I’ve clocked up, but for a long time in the saddle I think I’m going to have to do some tinkering.

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST on tour

V-twin engine – Hit

During my week away in Scotland on the Harley, many of the blokes who I was riding with on the tour commented on how such a lump (although easily manageable I might add) can really pull. I never had a problem with the pace and keeping up with the group comprised of adventure bikes, and a KTM Superduke R…

Handling – Hit

As I own an older Harley (a 2009 Softail) I expected the handling to be as much of a boat as it is on mine, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

With the updated riding position – despite its drawbacks – and far more composed suspension, you can cruise into corners with gusto and a twitch of the bars will send you the right way rather than feeling as if you’re fighting the bike, and physics, all the time. Better suited to our European roads rather than the big American highways, it makes riding great fun.

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST bike trip

Heavy clutch – Miss

I’d hoped the new iterations of Harley-Davidson would have made a few changes to make the clutch lighter, but it’s still a heavy workout for your left hand. If you’re in slow-moving traffic your hand can become fatigued quite quickly so I’m on the hunt for solutions to lighten the clutch load. Of course, it’s a lot less of a problem when cruising and riding the torque.

Cruise control – Hit

I’ve ridden a few bikes with cruise control and have sometimes found their systems quite confusing to use, easy to accidentally switch off, or a constant game of adjustment to deal with changing circumstances. But the Harley’s cruise control is a delight for long motorway miles, and I didn’t have to watch a two-hour YouTube video to figure out how it works (although I did have to consult one to find the where the USB port was hiding).

Saffron’s trip around Scotland on the Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST

For my third ride on the Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST I hopped on the A1 and headed north to hook up with the guys from Queensferry Moto Routes for a tour of Scotland. Typically, the heavens opened and drenched me before I’d hit north Yorkshire, but the bike didn’t grumble, although I was a bit worried about the hefty open air-filter next to my leg.

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST refuelling by a loch

Despite the gorgeous black paintwork now being streaked with rivulets of sludgy brown road grime, I pressed on. Once I’d had enough of the M6, I diverted to follow a more scenic route to Edinburgh, although the enjoyment was hampered by the appearance of punishing hail and yet more rain.

The bike had seamlessly despatched the motorway grind, but once we’d started the tour itself there was only one stretch of just a few miles where we were on dual carriageways. For the rest of the ride, the Harley was subjected to over 200 miles per day on glorious Scottish roads littered with fast flowing twisties, and the occasional sheep… and it lapped it up. 

The new riding position meant that there wasn’t much worry of catching footpegs while cornering, and as we got further into the highlands, the anxiety of wrestling the H-D on tight roads had melted away. We were soon treated to more snow, sleet and hail, but progress wasn’t hampered amongst our group of quick riders, and the Harley didn’t miss a beat when trying to keep up. Sure, the other bikes were quicker off the line, but they couldn’t leave the Harley in their wake, and it proved more than capable of matching the pace of the best of them. 

Long-term Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST reviewed by Saffron Wilson

On day two, as we scrabbled from east to west and headed over the Isle of Skye bridge, I was becoming ever more comfortable with the Harley. I stopped worrying about keeping up and instead set my focus on cornering properly to seek out its limits.

It is perfectly suited to fast flowing A-roads, shifting from one clean arc to the next, dropping from side-to-side with the smooth tick-tock fluidity of a metronome. It made for a really enjoyable ride, especially as the weather had finally started to clear up. Yes, it’s a bit more of a beast on finicky B-roads, but familiarity brings confidence, and with every mile travelled, it felt more capable.

The weight could put some off, but as it’s so low to the ground it’s easy to manoeuvre, and I didn’t have any problems as long as I remembered to back it in every time there was a small slope – and I only needed a single push to help me reverse back out when I didn’t.

To make the most of the 120th year of Harley-Davidson, I’m planning to adventure across Europe, take on the wiggly roads of Scotland and more on the Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST. Plus, being the owner of a 2009 Heritage Softail, it’ll be great to compare it to the newest generation.

Contact: saffron.wilson@motorcyclenews.com