The next generation of the Harley-Davidson Sportster is here today, with the debut of the 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S.
Teased originally as the Harley-Davidson 1250 Custom, we learned recently that the new bike, with its very modern design, would be designated as the next Sportster, and the name suggests that Harley-Davidson hasn’t shown us the last of this sub-brand’s rebirth.
Starting with things we already knew, the new Harley-Davidson Sportster S is based around the Revolution Max 1250 platform, though tuned for more torque lower in the rev range.
With variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust ports, the Revolution Max “T” motor aims to provide a sporty engine feel no matter where you are keeping things on the tachometer.
This means that peak horsepower is rated at 121hp (90 kW), instead of the 150hp found on the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250. The peak torque figure of 94 lbs•ft (127 Nm) hits at 6,000 rpm, with the redline occurring at 9,500 rpm.
Curb weight tips the scales at 502 lbs (228 kg), though that figure is helped with the small 3.1-gallon fuel tank.
Further down the spec sheet, Harley-Davidson also boasts about the bike’s 34° of available lean angle. These figures make for a bike that is certainly lighter than we were expecting, though the sport rider in us was hoping for some more cornering ability.
Considering that the Sportster’s biggest competition, the Indian Scout, leans over only to 29° though, Harley-Davidson is out-performing the category norms.
There is some technology under the hood as well, which is always a welcomed sight from the Bar & Shield brand.
First off, the round 4″ TFT dash is a clever way to keep things modern, while still holding onto the classic Harley-Davidson lines. It connects to the rider’s smartphone via Bluetooth, to handle calls, music, and navigation.
The Sportster S also comes with cornering ABS and traction control. There are also three pre-defined riding modes for the throttle, with two user-creatable modes as well.
Harley-Davidson’s marketing efforts are focused on connecting the Sportster S to the bike’s lineage of light and performance-focused models, even if that hasn’t really been true of the marque’s most recent history.
The lack of substance to that history lesson might easily be overlooked though, as the Bar & Shield brand has truly made a bike that deviates from the company’s usual fare.
It perhaps says something that the Harley-Davidson Sportster S is the first motorcycle from Milwaukee that really has us excited to swing a leg over a Hog and ride it.
Pricing on the 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S starts at $14,999 MSRP, which seems fairly reasonable from the Milwaukee brand. Look for this new Bar & Shield bike at dealers later this fall.