After Harley-Davidson recently announced the end of the current Sportster lineup in the Australasian marketplace, we wondered if the company was preparing to reveal an all-new take on their longest-running nameplate. This was confirmed overnight with the unveiling of the 2021 Sportster S which is a complete ground-up redesign of the Sportster.
The new Sporster S is based around Harley-Davidson's new Revolution Max engine platform which debuted earlier this year in the Pan America. Unlike the Pan America, the Sportster produces 121hp thanks to a torque focussed retune.
With no need to build from an existing architecture, Harley-Davidson was able to make some radical changes away from the traditional Sportster aesthetic while also building in some nods to the past. The engine is a stressed member of the chassis for the first time, allowing H-D to reduce overall weight and put a bit more sport back into the Sportster name.
Visually there are nods to Harley's 64 years of Sportster production throughout the bike. the tail section and exhaust evoke the XR750 flat track racers and the, while the 16-inch wheels wrapped in chunky tyres hint at the Forty-Eight for example.
The Sportster S revs out to 9500rpm and produces its peak figures at 7500rpm for its peak power of 121hp and peak torque is noted at a stump-pulling 127Nm. Despite the retune, it seems based on those figures that the new Sportster is a much more revvy engine compared to the outgoing Evolution engine platform which should be quite fun out in the real world.
Like the Pan America, the Sportster's Revolution Max engine also features variable valve timing and dual overhead cams with hydraulic valve lash adjustment meaning it's both optimised for power delivery as well as reduced maintenance.
Long gone is the traditional suspension setup with Harley throwing in fully adjustable, premium front and rear suspension. Up front is a Showa 43mm inverted cartridge fork while the rear is a Showa Piggyback reservoir rear shock. The rear suspension features hydraulic pre-load adjustment using a knob located on the left side of the motorcycle, just like many of the Softail models feature.
The wheels are lightweight cast-aluminium in a staggered, five-spoke design and are pulled to a stop by a Brembo radial monoblock four-piston caliper and a 320mm diameter disc in the front and a two-piston Brembo caliper and a 260mm diameter disc in the rear.
As you'd expect from a completely new bike in today's world, Harley has packed the technology in with the new Sportster. A 6-axis IMU backs up the cornering ABS and traction control standard equipment for the first time on a Sportster model. Other safety net features include a tyre pressure monitoring system and Harley's Cornering Enhanced Drag-Torque Slip Control System (C-DSCS) which is designed to reduce excessive rear-wheel slip and help prevent rear-wheel lock under powertrain-induced deceleration.
Helping the rider navigate it all is a 4-inch circular TFT display that modernises the Sportster from the ageing analogue gauges of the past. Not only can the rider select from up to five rider modes including the expected road, sport and rain modes plus two custom modes, but the Sportster S is also able to pair with a phone via Bluetooth and display music, phone calls and navigation through the Harley-Davidson app.
The 2021 Sportster S is expected to hit the streets here by the end of the year to cross over with the end of the last air-cooled Sportster models, with pricing starting from $28,750 for the Vivid Black model.