2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S details leak ahead of reveal

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Harley davidson published information about its first LiveWire-brand model today, but as important as the newly renamed LiveWire One is, we all know this isn’t the most important model the Motor Company will be announcing this month.

No, this distinction belongs to Max Revolution-the powered “High Powered Custom” model that we can now confirm will be called the Sportster S. Certified as a 2021 model, the Harley-Davidson Sportster S will be powered by a modified version of Pan America’s 1252cc liquid-cooled DOHC engine, with a claimed output of 121 hp.

The information comes to us via a Harley-Davidson Vehicle Identification Number decryption guide submitted to the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Association. The VIN decoder confirms the Sportster S name as well as the model code RH1250S (which reflects its connection to the Pan America which has the model code RA1250).

Discuss this story more at our Pan American Forum 1250

According to the VIN decoder, the Sportster S’s engine code is “4”, while the Pan America uses the “S” engine, indicating some differences between the two powertrains. With a claimed power of 121 hp, the Sportster S produces less horsepower than the Pan America, which claims 150 hp. This is probably due to the fact that the Sportster S is tuned for more torque at mid-range. It is not known whether the Sportster S engine will also have variable valve timing.

Even down 29bhp from the Pan America, the Sportster S would still be the second most powerful model in the Harley-Davidson lineup, with a significant departure from the 107bhp of the 1920cc CVO Tri Glide, a just under two-thirds of the displacement.

The VIN document does not provide any details on the chassis, but based on photos released by Harley-Davidson, one can expect a single disc front brake, a high exhaust system with two stacked mufflers on the right and a tubular swing arm.

The name Sportster S is quite telling, however. We previously postulated that Harley-Davidson call it the Nightster, but the actual name is an even clearer indication that it will replace the existing air-cooled Sportster models that we don’t plan to return in 2022. The “S” in the name also implies the existence of a non-model. S.

Traditionally, Harley-Davidson has used S or Special to denote a more powerful version of a model. In this case, we would expect a future Harley-Davidson Sportster to have a less powerful tuning state or, more likely, a smaller displacement. The Revolution Max was originally designed as a modular platform, with four displacements ranging from 500cc to 1250cc. A 975cc version (the displacement initially planned for the shelved Bronx streetfighter) is a likely candidate for the next Sportster model.

We’ll have more information when Harley-Davidson officially announces the 2021 Sportster S on July 13.


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