2021 Harley Davidson Sportster S First Ride

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Published on 28 Jul 2021, 15:39
Oppositional Defiance Disorder, we recently learned, affects lots of kids who are so fed up and angry about being criticized for a thing, that they keep on doing that thing just to own the criticizer, even though they know the thing they’re doing is wrong and bad for them. Before psychology, ODD was probably best expressed as cutting off your nose to spite your face. I’m pretty sure ODD is why Harley made the decision to give only the third all-new Sportster since 1957 two (2) inches of rear suspension travel. We coastal elite sporty riders have been bagging on certain Harleys for that lack of rear travel forever, so what else should we have expected from the bad, black t-shirt boys of midwestern motorcycledom?

We can't help but love the completely new Sportster S anyway. Even we coastal elites have to admire the long, low rake of the thing, basking there in the setting sunlight. That Sportster profile, even with all-new components including radiator and a couple of unobtrusive hoses, remains intact and distinct. And it really is nice to be able to swing a leg over it without throwing out a hip when you’re a paunchy 5’8, and to plant both feet firmly on American soil. Makes you feel tall, patriotic even.

While you were admiring the design, the engineering team slid in a fantastic new ripsnorter of an engine that’ll save you the price of a longer rear shock the first time it doesn’t need a valve adjustment, thanks to the hydraulic lifters. Not only is it stupid-fast in the middle part of the powerband where you can most appreciate it, it’s also smooth-running and docile in the non-Sport modes. I think the Revolution Max might not just be my favorite Harley engine, it might be my new favorite motorcycle engine. And the rest of the new Sportster S isn’t far off the pace, including its standard cruise control and heated grips. I take back all the nasty things I’ve said about lame Sportsters over the years. This one makes up for all of them, and it only took H-D 30-some years to get it right.

Read the full comparison review here: motorcycle.com/manufacturer/ha...


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