Harley-Davidson unveils new Sportster ‘Nightster’ based on high-performance V-twin engine

The Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle first joined the line in 1957 as a lighter, faster, more nimble (and less expensive) alternative to the big heavy cruisers offered by the Milwaukee-based company. It was immediately popular and has remained in the product line since those halcyon days after World War II.

But over time, the Sportster was eclipsed in performance and technology by the other bikes in the Harley line, and to some extent it became known as the “Beginner Harley”, a bike that Novice Harley buyers replaced after a while. . It also had a reputation as a “women’s motorcycle” due to its reduced size and lighter weight. But it was no longer fast, had a reputation for buzzing, and in order to keep costs down, it was routinely ignored for the technology and design upgrades that Harley’s “big thumb” bikes received over the years. It all just ended with the introduction of the Harley Sportster Nightster, or simply the Nightster, last week.

The new Nightster, which will start at $13,499, is the latest beneficiary of changes brought about by a refreshed and redesigned Harley lineup under CEO Jochen Zeitz, which seeks to revitalize the American motorcycle icon after years of slow decline. sales and market. share.

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Now packing a short-sleeved 975cc version of the state-of-the-art, liquid-cooled Revolution Max V-Twin and producing around 90 horsepower – more than double the figure of the old Sportsters – the Nightster joins the recently introduced 125. horsepower $15,499 1,250 cc Sportster S halo machine in Harley’s new “Sport” class. Riders looking for old-school air-cooled Sportsters can still find two variants, the Iron 883 and 1200cc Forty-Eight models, in the Cruiser category.

The Nightster is a complete redesign of the Sportster, with the motor as the load-bearing central anchor around which the bike is built. The design simplifies construction, saves weight (the Nightster weighs 481 pounds according to HD) and, more importantly, opens up customization options for owners, which Harley-Davidson highlighted in a seven-chapter video (shown below). below) showing how the Nightster was designed and how custom bike builders around the world were able to modify it ahead of the big reveal.

Along with the powerful new engine, Harley has given the Nightster a comprehensive technology package, including ABS brakes, multiple riding modes, a 6-speed transmission, traction control and an LCD display in the speedometer. In order to keep the weight low in the frame, the gas is actually kept under the Nightster’s seat. The “gas tank” is an air box designed to improve engine performance. Factory color options include black, red, and gray.

The new Nightster and Sportster S bring the Sportster line back to its 1950s premise: a fast, fun and affordable entry into the world of Harley-Davidson. But unlike 1957, the Sportster now has plenty of competition, including from the resurrected Indian enemy and its popular Scout line of lightweight machines that mirror much of the Nightster’s technology and performance. Indian folded in 1953 before being relaunched on a large scale by Polaris in 2011.

The Sportster S is available now and the new Nightster is available for buyers to reserve but should be available this month, according to Harley-Davidson.

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