Harley’s radically-new Sportster debuts in Singapore

Harley goes hard with the new and thoroughly-modern Sportster in Singapore – More details here, prices start at S$39,900 machine

Updated December 17, 2021 with riding impressions
First published December 16, 2021

SINGAPORE – Harley-Davidson of Singapore launched a history-breaking bike yesterday in the form of the new Sportster.

If you’re reading this on Friday, December 17, 2021 then make plans to head out on the weekend as Harley-Davidson of Singapore is having an open house with the new Sportster on Saturday and Sunday (Dec 18-19) from 11am to 5pm.

The new Sportster is history-breaking, not history making because the Sportster has until now been one of the Harleys with the longest history – you could argue that its lineage stretches all the way to the 1950s.

Which was exactly part of the problem. But the 2021 Sportster is all-new and represents the New Harley-Davidson. Hot on the heels of the already successful Pan America adventure bike, the Sportster aims at a younger crowd or one that’s expecting more from their bikes.

The new Sportster (or as we will call it, the New Sportster) looks radically different, with a longer, lower look and modern detailing – seat height is a manageable 734mm. ‘New Harley’ is enshrined in that square LED headlight, but there’s also thoroughly modern touches in the upside down forks, Brembo brakes, bronzed engine and valve covers.

The engine is a 1,252cc V-Twin, but a total departure from before. Related to the Pan Am’s engine and named the ‘Revolution Max 1250T’ it’s liquid-cooled, with variable valve timing and an eye-opening 121hp, almost double the power of the old Sportster 1200.

Harley’s first ever adventure bike has debued and is already a success in Singapore – and our review tells you why

Like the Pan Am, there’s a six-axis IMU onboard which controls cornering ABS and traction control, plus you can select from three ride modes (Road, Rain, Sport), with all the riding info displayed on a classic-looking round instrument panel that’s actually a high tech 4.0 TFT. Like any modern motorcycle, you can hook up a phone or headset via Bluetooth. 

For now, the Sportster S model is the only available variant, H-D says that a lower spec model will be available in future, presumably with less power.

The Sportster is still a retro-inspired modern cruiser though, and in this segment there’s plenty of competition with the incumbent being the BMW R NineT, but also the Ducati Scrambler (800 and 1100), as well as a legion of Triumphs. But if anything, the New Harley New Sportster gives the model the tools to do far better than its overly-retro predecessor. 

But in the meantime it looks like the Sportster is just what the doctor ordered for H-D’s revival, with the Pan Am already selling strongly, the New Sportster could very well do the same.

Riding Impressions

CarBuyer’s own Deyna Chia took a short spin on the Sportster S, here’s what he thought:

We took the Sportster S for a brief test around the showroom, in full-on Singapore traffic and road works. This meant a lot of slow speed, second-gear maneuvers and a short highway blast into fifth gear.

Much like the Pan America, the Sportster’s 1250T engine is approachable and un-intimidating, it’s light-action clutch making traffic crawling a cinch. The engine flywheel felt light and rev happy, and consequently also made the ride feel smooth and unhurried. It’s a big contrast to the old, lopey Harleys of before, as there’s also far less vibration.

Generous twists of the throttle through to third gear really revealed how torquey the engine really was, its 127.5Nm giving plenty of shove for the lightest, most powerful Sportster yet at 229kg (wet). Suffice to say, our grin was pretty wide. Despite the very wide front tyre, the bike handles well, though we did find however that the suspension was firm and a little jarring over broken tarmac. 

The sporty character of the Sportster S is evident in fitment of V-rated (240km/h) front and rear tyres (a first for H-D) and stoppers provided by Brembo, both strong and with good feel. Stay tuned as we look forward to putting Harley’s sportiest Sportster through a full test-ride in early 2022. 

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong