Just months after unveiling their first ever adventure motorcycle, the Pan American 1250, Harley-Davidson have lifted the lid on a new street brawler: the Harley-Davidson Sportster S. Ditching the V-twin Evolution engine that’s come to define the historic model, the 2021 Sportster S switches things over to the Revolution Max powertrain, and represents what is perhaps the biggest update to the model in its long, lauded history.
Ushering in a new era of Sportster performance, the 1250cc v-twin Revolution Max powerplant – delivering 121 horsepower (90kw) – mated to a lightweight chassis, with forward foot controls, promises unrelenting torque and responsive, intuitive handling.
Instead of the usual 45-degree angle, the Revolution Max engine is positioned at a 60-degree angle – a stark visual departure from the Evo that has been driving the Sportster model since 1986 – for a narrower powertrain profile to help centre mass, enhance balancing and handling, and improve foot/leg room. Taking this kind of pressure off the chassis results in a more efficient and centralised machine, aided by a curb weight of 228kg, with a 11.8l fuel tank.
Despite the design being optimised to reduce weight, the Sportster S is still an aggressive rooster or a “wolf in wolf’s clothing” according to HD, with a massive bobber style front tyre, low drag handlebars, slim solo seat and wide rear tyre sitting below a chopped rear guard. The rear taillight and licence plate arm, as well as high tracker style pipes aren’t to everyone’s taste, but you can rest assured they’ll be swapped out the moment this leaves the dealership.
Features of the Sportster S have matured with the design. You’ll get three riding modes here – Road, Sport, and Rain – as well as room for 2 Custom Modes where you dial in torque delivery, engine braking, throttle response, and C-TCS and C-ABS intervention (within reason). You’ll also get cornering ABS, lean-sensitive traction control, and a collection of advanced Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements.
That 4-inch round TFT screen on the dash looks super slick and a lot cleaner than previous models, with all display functions exceptionally legible in all conditions, and well-planned when using the moving map for navigation. Bluetooth connectivity will better integrate the Harley Davidson app into the vehicle’s instrumentation and infotainment functions for a better overall experience.
The Harley-Davidson Sportster S will launch for Australian dealers in the middle of Q4 2021 with a ride away price of $26,495 for the Vivid Black model.