Harley-Davidson Sportster S unveiled with new chassis, new engine and new £14k pricetag

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Harley-Davidson have unveiled the Sportster S – the latest machine powered by their new Revolution engine – which promises more power and improved electronics built on a brand new platform.

The Sportster range has been a mainstay of the Harley-Davidson line up since the mid 1980s, with its air-cooled Evolution motor powering thousands of them all over the world.

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But tightening emissions legislation put an end to the bike in Europe last year, leaving Harley with a gap at the bottom of the range. At the same time the competition from the more powerful Indian Scout and Triumph Bobber had left Harley’s air-cooled dinosaur out in the cold. H-D will be hoping this new machine puts them back where they want to be.

The bike is powered by a 1252cc v-twin engine dubbed the Revolution Max 1250T. Just like the Revolution Max fitted to the Pan America 1250, the engine is a water-cooled 60-degree v-twin with DOHC and a VVT system but it’s got a few changes.

2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S in white

Overall displacement, including the bore and stroke are the same, but there’s a new top end with smaller valves, different velocity stacks and altered cam profiles. The result is less peak power and torque (120bhp claimed rather than the 150bhp of the Pan and 92ftlb instead of 95ftlb) but an increase in torque elsewhere in the rev range with 10% more torque from 3000 to 6000rpm. The redline of the Revolution Max 1250T is also a little lower coming in at 8000rpm instead of 9000rpm.

Also like the Pan, the Revolution motor is a stressed member in the chassis, helping to improve feel and reduce weight. Elsewhere in the chassis is new suspension from Showa that, unlike the old units, is fully adjustable, while Brembo now provide the brakes.

The electronics too have had a huge uplift compared to the old model with three riding modes (Road, Sport and Rain) as well as cornering ABS and lean-sensitive traction control.

All of this is controlled through the 4" round TFT screen, which also houses other functions from the Harley-Davidson app such as navigation. Along with the new dash are heaps of other new features including LED lighting, new multifunction switchgear plus the obligatory restyle complete with high-level flat track inspired exhaust.

2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S on the road

 

The Sportster S is available to order now, starting at £13,999. We had hoped the price would be closer to £10,000 perhaps with the loss of the VVT system from the engine. As it is it means that the Softail Standard remains the entry level model to H-D ownership at £12,995. It also means the bike is £2000 more than the major competition, albeit considerably more high tech.


Harley-Davidson will unveil new 1250 Custom model in July

First published on 22 June 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Harley-Davidson teaser

Harley-Davidon have announced that their next new bike will be revealed on Tuesday, July 13, at 4pm BST. The new bike, which so far is only known by its prototype name of 1250 Custom, will be revealed in a video release involving H-D leadership, product designers and no doubt some trendy influencer types too.

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The project is called "From Evolution to Revolution" and quite apart from sounding like a quote from Alan Partridge, also gives away a lot about the bike and where it will be positioned.

First up the ‘From Evolution’ bit. Harley-Davidson name all their engine platforms and until very recently, the Sportster model range was powered by the Evolution engine.

In fact it had been powered by that motor since in the mid ‘80s but emissions legislation ended that party in Europe this year. With the entry level model to Harley-Davidson off sale, it’s clear they’ll want to plug that hole sharpish.

In the same vein the Revolution refers to the new engine ‘Revolution Max’, which debuted in the recent Pan America.

Chances are Harley will have modified the engine for more torque and a bit less top end but we’d still be expecting power over 100bhp, maybe even as much as 120bhp, which would be a considerable leap over the fun but underpowered Sportsters. They may even have fiddled with the timing/firing order to give it a bit more of the classic Harley sound.

The biggest question of all though is likely to be price. The Pan America shocked a lot of people when It debuted for its competitive pricing and we hope H-D can repeat the same trick with the new bike.

Given the price of its major competitors (Triumph Bonneville Bobber and Indian Scout), as well as the outgoing Sportster range, expect prices around £10,000-12,000.


New Harley-Davidson 1250 Custom to quickly follow Pan America confirmed

First published on 18 March 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Harley-Davidson 1250 Custom front

Just weeks after the surprise revelation that was the Pan America, Harley-Davidson have confirmed that the 1250 Custom will be arriving "very soon" and that it will have similar power and torque to the PanAm.

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When Harley-Davidson first announced the Pan America as part of their ‘More Roads’ programme, they said the intention was for the engine platform to be modular, allowing multiple bikes to be made with different displacements.

At the time they unveiled a 975 Streetfighter, which appears to have been shelved for the time being, and the 1250 Custom. Little has been said about the Custom until now, when as part of the Pan America reveal, Harley confirmed we won’t have long to wait.

"This is the start," said Jochen Zeitz, CEO of Harley. "We have great plans to expand on the Pan America. Lots of innovation waiting. This is just a launch into a whole new dimension."

Harley-Davidson 1250 Custom side

As Zeitz said this, new images were unveiled of a black 1250 Custom, which has advanced considerably since the first white model was shown nearly three years ago. It has a brand-new dash and switchgear direct from the Pan America, suggesting the unit will have many of the same functions such as smartphone connectivity, mapping and advanced electronics.

There’s a new radiator, mirrors, indictators, lights, footpegs and a frame sticker on the headstock, suggesting what we see here is pretty much the final form.

As well as the electronics the Custom sports the same stressed member engine as the Pan America, so we should expect lower weights than we’re used to with cruisers (nearer 200kg than 300kg) along with an extra serving of power. Top notch suspension from Showa and brakes from Brembo will complete the package.

"We plan to build on [the Pan America] platform going forward with a product that’s coming out very soon: the 1250 custom cruiser," said Alex Bozmoski, Chief Engineer for the PanAm. "It’s got a fistful of torque and power, just like the Pan America."

Harley-Davidson 1250 Custom rear

So how much power and torque can we expect? Well unless Harley want to challenge the Ducati Diavel, which is possible, we imagine they’ll change the tune on the 1250 Revolution Max engine to for less power and more torque.

Harley have chased big power on cruisers in the past with the V-Rod and we don’t foresee them retreading that path. Instead, we’d expect a power figure closer to 125bhp and a boost in torque from 94lb.ft to well over 100.

That would put the 1250 Custom in a good place to challenge bikes like the Indian Scout, or even the FTR1200 now that the Sportster platform is gone from the Harley range in Europe.

  

And what about the name? Well Harley recently reapplied for the Nightster name, which was previously used for the stripped back 1200 before they made the Iron. Sounds like a good fit to us.


Harley-Davidson 1250 Custom joins the Pan America in next year’s post-pandemic line up

First published on 9 December, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Harley-Davidson 1250 Custom

Harley-Davidson will release their new 1250 Custom model in 2021 – sharing a common engine platform with the upcoming Pan America adventure bike.

We’ve known the Pan America has been coming for some time but the 1250 Custom was missing presumed mothballed after the huge internal shake up at the Bar and Shield brand.

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When new CEO Jochen Zeits was installed earlier this year, just as the pandemic began to really bite, H-D quietly removed the Bronx streetfighter from their future models page.

The 1250 Custom was always planned to be the last of the three to be released and with no news about it until now, it was assumed it had gone the way of the Bronx.

The 1250 Custom couldn’t come at a better time for Harley. The company have struggled to attract newer riders for some time while competitors like the Indian Scout offer more modern and more powerful options, plus Honda’s 1100 Rebel is the new wolf at the door.

There has also been the looming threat of tightening emissions standards, which appear to have hammered the final nail into the Sportster coffin.

Harley-Davidson 1250 Custom rear

There’s very little info about the new model available but we do know it will be powered by Harley’s new water-cooled 1250cc 60-degree V-twin Revolution engine. Harley have already said the new engine produces ‘at least’ 145bhp and 90lb.ft of torque, although we imagine it will be retuned for less power and more torque in the Custom.

Harley have also said the new engine will be modular as the Bronx was originally slated to be 975cc, which could be perfect for an entry-level A2 compliant cruiser.

So when will we see it in UK dealers? The whispers are that Harley-Davidson are moving to a traditional ‘European style’ unveil cycle; expect the bike to be shown in full in November 2021, in dealers the following Spring.

The Pan America meanwhile is expected to get its full unveil soon, quite probably in the first few weeks of the New Year.

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Jordan Gibbons

By Jordan Gibbons

News Editor, owns some old bikes. Should know better.