Harley-Davidson Nightster launch review: Love at first ride for the best Sportster yet – Geoff Hill

The Milwaukee agency dropped the Sportster 883 and 1200 final 12 months, then didn’t get it fairly proper with the Sportster S, nevertheless it’s hit the nail on the proverbial with this gem of a motorbike, with lusty efficiency and beautifully agile dealing with

Superb - The Nightster is the best Sportster yet in the model's 65-year history
Superb – The Nightster is the most effective Sportster but within the mannequin’s 65-year historical past

Harley-Davidson Nightster

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When I used to be trundling again from Delhi to Belfast on an Enfield Bullet in 1998, I by no means thought I’d see the day after I’d describe a one-litre bike as an ideal little bike.

Well, that day has arrived with the Nightster, the most recent and most interesting incarnation within the 65-year historical past of Harley Sportsters.

Last 12 months, it regarded for a second as if that historical past was coming to an finish when Harley, strangled by Eurocrats who made it nearly unimaginable for air-cooled engines to cross emission checks, dropped the air-cooled Sportster 883 and 1200.

Then the corporate stunned everybody by saying the 1252cc, 121bhp Sportster S, which regarded good and went like stink in a straight line, however was let down by an enormous, fats entrance tyre which meant it took a hefty shove to get it round corners.

When I requested Harley bods about this, they freely admitted that it was extra about design than dealing with.

Well, they’ve bought it proper this time with the Nightster, a reputation Harley took out and dusted off after final utilizing it on a Sportster 1200 bobber in 2007.

It seems to be like a correct Sportster, for a begin – a motorbike stripped all the way down to the fundamentals of an engine, two wheels and a seat.

Lovely – A motorbike decreased to its most elementary components, it seems to be like a Sportster ought to

Oh, and a gasoline tank which isn’t a gasoline tank, which I’ll get to in a second.

Climb aboard, and that sculpted single seat welcomes your buns just like the concierge of your favorite lodge. As against the seat of the BMW CE 04 electrical scooter which you’ll be studying about in a bit, which seems to be like a plank and seems like one.

Anyway, with my buns gratefully welcomed, that left me free to admire the fabulous bar-end mirrors. If you’re a pervert who likes your elbows, these will be swivelled the other way up.

Perfect – The dinky instrument panel is a beautiful marriage of classical kind and modern perform

The instrument panel is slightly great thing about classical kind and modern perform – small and round, however with all the information you want, together with which of the three modes you’re in, Rain, Road or Sport.

Rain reduces energy by 15%. Sport offers probably the most aggressive energy supply and engine braking, and Road snuggles comfortably in between.

Post haste – The slot within the cowling is so that you can ship postcards to Harley. Honest

There’s a wierd slot within the dinky cowling which Harley claims is for airflow, however is definitely a letterbox so as to ship postcards to Milwaukee saying how a lot you just like the bike.

Even higher, though it’s a compact machine, with a low seat and mid-mounted pegs, it proved solely snug for a spirited morning’s experience even in your common regular 6ft 7ins gentleman motorcyclist.

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The engine’s 89bhp means it may be restricted to 47bhp for A2 licence holders, and whereas it’s not as a lot because the 121bhp of the Sportster S, it’s greater than the piffling 51bhp of the earlier Sportster 883 and 67bhp of the Sportster 1200.

Glorious – Powering out of bends to that deliciously visceral V-twin soundtrack

And it’s a peach. With 89bhp propelling 220kg of motorbike in direction of the horizon, progress even in Road mode is satisfyingly lusty, accompanied by a deliciously visceral snarl from the exhaust to remind you, when you want reminding, {that a} V-twin might be probably the most satisfying sound within the motorcycling world.

With variable valve timing, energy supply is silk-smooth and linear all the best way to 9,000rpm, helped by a light-weight clutch and slick six-speed gearbox which is gentle years away from the clunky Harley contraptions of outdated, on which partaking first gear was like dropping a spanner in a bucket.

Stonking – The 975cc engine is a peach, delivering lusty and linear grunt

But the most effective bit is but to come back. As I discussed above, the gasoline tank isn’t a gasoline tank, however homes the airbox, though the gasoline tank which isn’t a gasoline tank continues to be metal, which shall be excellent news to anybody like me who nonetheless has the magnetic Oxford tank bag I used for that Delhi to Belfast experience.

The gasoline is definitely under the seat in an 11.7 litre tank which Harley claims offers a variety of 148 miles, though I think enthusiastic riders will get 120 or fewer.

Agile – With low weight and a stiff chassis, dealing with is beautifully agile

With that and the low seat making the centre of gravity decrease than a dachshund’s undercarriage, and an engine which is a part of the chassis construction making it stiffer, dealing with is gloriously gentle and agile.

There’s just one brake disc up entrance, nevertheless it’s satisfactory, though the again brake is slightly picket for correct trailing into downhill twisties, of which there have been, by my estimation, 4 and a half trillion on the launch within the hills above Girona in Spain.

At least a slipper clutch means the again wheel received’t lock beneath aggressive downshifting.

Happiness – It’s nice to see a person having fun with his work

Right, time for Sport mode, which made acceleration much more enthusiastic, though on the expense of barely snatchy fuelling at low revs.

Other minor factors are that the entrance suspension is fastened, and the rear manually adjustable, which is barely stunning on a reasonably dear entry to the Harley steady, though on PCP with a 20% deposit, it’s a really tempting £125 a month, and as with all Harleys, a few squillion equipment.

All in all, this can be a very good bike, a pleasure to experience, the most effective Sportster but, and a becoming birthday current from Harley to the motorcycling world on the mannequin’s 65 th anniversary.

Harley Davidson Nightster

Engine: 975cc water-cooled V-twin

Power: 89bhp @ 7,500rpm

Torque: 70 ft lb @ 5,000rpm

Colours: Black; purple; gray

Price: £12,995 black; £13,370 different colors

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