(Santa Barbara, CA) A popular and classic font paired with modern mechanics and structure. At Harley-Davidson, such a proposal falls into the realm of risk, but it’s what sets the new Sportster Nightster apart.
Posted at 11:45 am
Modern mechanics in a classic silhouette
Underneath his old-generation Sportster 883/1200-inspired outfit, the all-new Sportster Nightster offers nothing but modernity. From its compact and powerful 975cc liquid-cooled V-Twin engine to its innovative “frameless” chassis and ride modes, one of which cuts nearly 30% of the 90 horsepower to better accommodate beginners, the latest Milwaukee brand has it all. Satisfied him excited customs modern. On the other hand, the older 883 Iron’s styled ergonomics and short-travel rear suspension maintain an association—sometimes useful, sometimes not—with old, air-cooled Sportsters.
Nice combination, if a little confusing
For motorcyclists accustomed – for better or for worse – to many of the previous generation of Sportsters, standing behind the novelty’s controls isn’t at first a shock, as everything is more or less in the same place. However, the incredible ease with which the Nightster is lifted from its bolster and the invisible rattle of the all-new V-Twin Revolution Max 975T engine clearly prove that this mount is completely redesigned. And if any doubt persists, throttle curvature will be wiped out, as never before has an air-cooled Sportster delivered such a level of performance.
Significantly improved behavior
If Nightster stands out by combining the classic line and powerful modern mechanics, it also advances in terms of behavior. The surprising feeling of lightness afforded by a lighter, pleasingly narrow engine is due to the lack of a conventional frame (which is replaced by front and rear structures directly attached to the engine that act as a mount for the suspension) and the fuel tank’s offset toward the center of gravity under the saddle. The result is incredible strength and precision in curves – where you can lean more than before – as well as flawless stability. Braking obviously benefits from comfort and is always on an equal footing.
Arrival of the Max Revolution 975T
Like the Pan Americas and Sportster S introduced last year, the Sportster Nightster breaks with the sacred Harley-Davidson tradition by swapping the low-speed, air-cooled V-Twin Evolution with the next-generation, high-speed, liquid-cooled twin-cylinder. His name is Revolution Max. However, the Nightster stands out for being the first model to be powered by a small version of this engine. Cubic at 975 cc, it rotates easily up to 10,000 rpm, twice the speed of the Evolution. It provides ample torque from the first revs and impressive acceleration for the class to which the model belongs.
This new mechanism is not only the biggest difference from the old Sportster, but it also represents the feature that somehow risks tipping the scales for buyers. It wouldn’t be surprising to see American brand loyalists shun the new engine for its smooth, refined character that had nothing to do with the heavy-handed shock of the old V-Twin. Harley-Davidson publicly accepts this fact and is betting that the high degree of refinement of the Revolution Max will – finally – seduce customers who, without diminishing their rhetoric, have expressed a lack of interest in traditional Harley engines.
You don’t notice it at first glance, which is somewhat drawn by the elegant, classic lines of the Nightster, but upon closer inspection, several of its final shortcomings emerge. For example, everywhere, cables and wires that should be out of sight hang awkwardly. We also note the radiator, which can be better hidden, as tradition dictates. Habit. Finally, we see a set of small plastic covers that look a little low. But despite the Sportster’s entry status, it’s still a $16,500 bike.
The case for Nightster is complicated. On the other hand, in addition to the rear suspension designed for beautiful California roads and not for our asphalt tracks, the new one works well: a smooth, supple engine, a solid and precise chassis, great handling, and great accessibility. But on the other hand, many are saddened by the heartbeat and sound death that made Senior Sportsters such a profound experience. This transition to smoothness and refinement, according to Harley-Davidson, may be necessary to attract new customers, and the fact is that it also makes the device more popular. In short, it’s beautiful and drives well, but the mechanical “je-ne-sais-quoi” is gone.
Brand: Harley Davidson
Model: Sportster Nightster
Warranty: 2 years / unlimited miles
Engine: 975cc liquid-cooled twin V-shaped
Transmission: 6-speed, final belt drive
Full fuel weight: 218 kg
Front brakes: single disc with 4-piston calipers, ABS
Rear brake: 1 disc with 1 piston caliper and ABS
Front tire: 100 / 90-19
Rear tire: 150/80 B16
* Harley-Davidson paid for transportation and accommodation.
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