If there’s a criticism to be levelled at Harley-Davidson’s Sportster 1200 line it’s that it isn’t terribly sporty – but the Motor Co is going some way to remedying that with its new Roadster.
The new seat design has the look of the discontinued 883R, but the Roadster has a sportier stance thanks to bobbed fenders and dropped bars. And unlike the old 883R, the Roadster packs the firm’s 1202cc twin instead of the smaller 883 motor. That means it makes 98Nm at 3750rpm, some 27Nm more than the 883 motor manages. As usual, power isn’t something that Harley quotes, although in reality it’s around 40kW at 4000rpm. That’s not a lot for a 1200cc engine, but sheer power has never been what Harleys are all about, even those with the word ‘sport’ in their names.
Twin floating discs and upside down forks mean the Roadster’s chassis is also sportier than most Sportsters. Not since the demise of the XR1200 have we seen a 1200-engined Harley making such an effort on the handling front. The 19-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels mean that you’ll still be limited when it comes to choosing sticky rubber though.
Harley notes that the bike has longer suspension travel than any of its brethren, and the low bars mean that the riding position is a far cry from the usual armchair-style pose.
Harley-Davidson Director of Styling Brad Richards said:
“Since its introduction in 1957, the Harley-Davidson Sportster has proved capable of constant reinvention, and the Roadster writes a new chapter in that story. We’ve watched our customers take the Sportster in so many different directions. The Roadster is a mash-up of styling genres, but the intent was to build a rider’s motorcycle, a Sportster that’s lean and powerful and connects the rider to the road.”