Harley-Davidson Unveils The All-New Sportster S


There’s a new Sportster in town. After getting a look at it via press releases, photos and some ride footage (coming soon), while we wax nostalgic over the long, storied history of the iconic motorcycle, we like what we see with this new iteration. Apparently the first in a whole new lineup of Sportsters, this S model strikes a mean pose that is quite appealing. Traditional styling cues are visible throughout, but that new Revolution Max 1250 v-twin coupled with those 2-into-2 right side high pipes and chopped tail, just strikes a nice pose. Looks fast, even standing still.

Some details from Harley-Davidson:

The Harley-Davidson® Sportster® S model is an all-new sport custom motorcycle designed to deliver a thrilling riding experience and ushers in a new era of Sportster performance. A 121-horsepower Revolution® Max 1250T V-Twin engine puts the Sportster S rider in command of unrelenting, on-demand torque. A taut, lightweight chassis and premium suspension deliver responsive, intuitive handling. From stop light to stop light, and corner to corner, the Sportster S model offers riders extraordinary power and performance and creates a new standard for the most enduring Harley-Davidson model.

An addition to the 2021 Harley-Davidson motorcycle line, the Sportster S will reach Harley-Davidson dealers this fall with a base MSRP of $14,999.

“The Sportster S is the next all-new motorcycle built on the Revolution Max platform and sets a new performance standard for the Sportster line,” said Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO, Harley-Davidson. “This is a next generation Sportster defined by power, performance, technology and style. And it’s part of our commitment to introduce motorcycles that align with our strategy to increase desirability and to drive the legacy of Harley-Davidson.”

Styling Communicates Power

In profile, the Sportster S model appears crouched and powerful. The fuel tank and tail section frame the engine as the predominate centerpiece of the motorcycle. The massive front tire recalls the fenderless front end of a classic bobber, while the tail section, high-mount exhaust and slim solo seat draw inspiration from the Harley-Davidson XR750 flat tracker. The thick inverted forks and wide-profile tires suggest high-performance sport bike.

“Every visual design element of the Sportster S model is an expression of the motorcycle’s raw power,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson vice president of styling and design. “This is a wolf in wolf’s clothing.”

The powertrain is highlighted with a Chocolate Satin finish on the lightweight magnesium engine covers. Textures, colors, finishes and details were selected to give the Sportster S model the look of a custom show bike that just happens to be parked in the owner’s garage.

Amplified Performance

The 1250cc Revolution Max 1250T engine is the mechanical heart of the Sportster S model. This new version of the latest Harley-Davidson liquid-cooled V-Twin engine is tuned to make tremendous torque at low RPM, with a torque curve that stays flat through the powerband – engine performance designed to deliver strong acceleration from a start with robust power through the mid-range. To minimize overall motorcycle weight the engine is integrated into the vehicle as the central member of the chassis. The use of lightweight materials helps achieve a desirable power-to-weight ratio. Ready to ride with the 3.1-gallon fuel tank topped off, the Sportster S model weighs just 502 pounds. A high-mount 2-into-1-into-2 exhaust is designed to produce a pleasing low-frequency tone.

Technology Enhances the Ride

The Sportster S model is equipped with a host of technologies designed to the enhance the riding experience. Three pre-programmed, selectable Ride Modes (Sport, Road and Rain) electronically control the performance characteristics of the motorcycle, and the level of technology intervention. Two Custom modes may be used by the rider to create a set of performance characteristics to meet personal preference or for special situations. Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements by Harley-Davidson®, a collection of technologies intended to enhance rider confidence during unexpected situations or adverse road conditions, are designed to match motorcycle performance to available traction during acceleration, deceleration and braking, in a straight line or while in a turn.

A round, 4.0-inch-diameter TFT screen displays all instrumentation and supports infotainment generated by the rider’s Bluetooth®-equipped mobile device and helmet headset, including music, incoming and out-going calls, and navigation supplied by the Harley-Davidson® App. All-LED lighting includes a Daymaker® Signature LED headlamp designed to produce a homogenous spread of light, eliminating distracting “hot spots.” The headlamp has a distinctive oval or capsule shape that adds style to the front end and will identify the Sportster® S model to other riders and motorists.

Optimized Chassis

The powertrain is a stressed member of the chassis, eliminating the traditional frame, a design that significantly reduces motorcycle weight and results in a very stiff chassis that contributes to precise handling. A welded tubular steel trellis swingarm features a braced design and stamped X-member to further stiffen the chassis, while its shape adds distinctive style to the motorcycle.

The Sportster S model is equipped with fully adjustable, premium front and rear suspension – SHOWA® 43mm inverted cartridge forks and a SHOWA® Piggyback reservoir rear shock. Rear suspension features hydraulic pre-load adjustment using a convenient knob located on the left side of the motorcycle. Lightweight cast aluminum wheels with a staggered, five-spoke design are shod with wide Dunlop®/Harley-Davidson® Series GT503 tires. Premium Brembo braking components produce outstanding braking feel and performance. The single front brake features a new Brembo radial monoblock four-piston caliper and a 320mm diameter disc. The rear brake is a two-piston Brembo caliper and a 260mm diameter disc.

Forward foot controls and a low handlebar put the Sportster S rider in an aggressive posture on the bike. Unladen seat height is 29.6 inches, low enough for most riders to get feet down at a stop. Brake and clutch hand levers are adjustable for reach, to best match rider hand size or preference. The Sportster S model is pre-wired for accessory heated hand grips for added comfort in cool weather, and is equipped with two dedicated power points for heated riding gear (heated hand grips and heated riding gear/apparel each sold separately), plus a USB-C port for charging a phone or other device. An external ambient temperature sensor and a low-temp warning on the display screen alert the rider to changing conditions. Cruise control and a proximity-based security system are standard equipment. The steel fuel tank holds 3.1 gallons.

Paint Colors: Vivid Black; Stone Washed White Pearl; Midnight Crimson

Pretty impressive, based on these details and digits. While Harley and specifically Sportster purists will deride the new bike, we think it’s a wise move on the Motor Company’s part. We’ve always loved the traditional Sportster; still do in fact. But as the industry rapidly evolves, technology pushes innovation forward, and motorcycles are becoming increasingly rider-connected and intuitive, a dramatic upgrade to Harley’s iconic Sportster was overdue in many respects. We look forward to seeing one in person soon, and getting a ride on it. And we look forward to seeing what future Sportsters will fill out the revamped model line. H-D has a winner in the Pan America, we think. Here’s hoping this new Sportster S will make a splash as well.

For more on the Sportster S, visit Harley here:


*All photos by Harley-Davidson, used with permission.


  1. Bob Hadden

    This was inevitable. I know that many of my fellow riders (I’m old) will say no way to this. I will hold my opinion until I ride one. Meantime, I will continue to love and ride my current stable of bikes, which include an ’83 and an ’06 Roadster. I have owned several sportster based bikes and I always will.

    • Rob Brooks

      Agreed. We love the classic Sportsters, but look forward to throwing a leg over one of these new ones too.

  2. Eric Marsh

    I love the dirt track look. If I were looking for a bike in this class I’d take one for a test ride.

    • Rob Brooks

      I’m thinking H-D is taking aim at the Indian Scout lineup with this revamped Sportster. Indian has enjoyed great success in reviving the Scout model, and H-D’s Sportster is their longest running model. To compete and make it Euro 5 compatible, I’m not surprised they finally gave it a makeover.

  3. Jeffery Miles

    You can thank the Indian Scout for pushing the Motor Company into this direction. And a nice direction it is. I like it and would consider it if I wanted a performance cruiser. I like the old Sportster too, but all is not gloom and doom for the purists. There are so many of the old style Sportsters around, they and parts will be available for years to come. Kudos to Harley for going a step further. Kudos to Indian for pushing HD into it.

    • Rob Brooks

      And you know that,…how? Ridiculous assumption based on your preconceived, ill-informed bias.
      I’d prefer to ride it before making any value judgements.

    • Jeff N

      Everyone knows the Sportster’s supposed to be a girl’s bike, right?

      • Rob Brooks

        Jeff, that’s the dumbest thing anyone’s ever posted here. Tell that to any rider in the Sportster/custom subculture. I think they’d differ with you, to put it mildly.

    • B

      I like the Ironhead.

  4. Ted

    I hope that HD builds another iteration of the Sportster with an eye focused on flat track.

    • Rob Brooks

      From what we understand, this is the first in a whole new series of revamped Sportsters. I’d look for a flat tracker too, as well as some models that will be more vintage Sportster-looking.


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