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Harley-Davidson is bringing their lightest cruiser to India soon

The Harley-Davidson Nightster is a hark back at the original Sportster from 1957. Combining classic elements with a modern chassis and engine, the Nighster is one of the lightest bikes H-D’s lineup giving it superior oomph when out on a ride.

May 05, 2022 / 05:41 PM IST
Back in 1957. Harley-Davidson launched the first Nightster, a faster and lighter alternative to the rest of the company’s lineup. Over time, however, the bike started to lag behind its siblings in terms of technology and as such, speed. Now, Harley has decided to resurrect the name with the Nightster being unveiled in the international markets. The kicker: It’s coming to India, too. (Image: Harley Davidson)
Back in 1957. Harley-Davidson launched the first Nightster, a faster and lighter alternative to the rest of the company’s lineup. Over time, however, the bike started to lag behind its siblings in terms of technology and as such, speed. Now, Harley has decided to resurrect the name with the Nightster being unveiled in the international markets. The kicker: It’s coming to India, too. (Image: Harley Davidson)
The Nightster, like we mentioned was a light motorcycle known for its quick, nimble riding dynamics when compared to the burly cruisers that H-D produced. This also meant that the bike was also cheaper than the rest of the lineup and as such turned into a beginner bike. A resurrection, however, also means that there are huge shoes, or in this case, tyres to fill. Luckily, the new Sportster takes on every demand head-on carefully melds together the classic design of a low-slung, upright riding motorcycle with the H-D’s ultra-modern water-cooled Revolution Max engine. (Image: Harley Davidson)
The Nightster, like we mentioned was a light motorcycle known for its quick, nimble riding dynamics when compared to the burly cruisers that H-D produced. This also meant that the bike was also cheaper than the rest of the lineup and as such turned into a beginner bike. A resurrection, however, also means that there are huge shoes, or in this case, tyres to fill. Luckily, the new Sportster takes on every demand head-on carefully melds together the classic design of a low-slung, upright riding motorcycle with the H-D’s ultra-modern water-cooled Revolution Max engine. (Image: Harley Davidson)
The Harley-Davidson Nightster, today, is the second Sportster on H-D’s lineup that features the Revolution Max 975T engine. A derivative of the 1252cc Revolution Max, the 975cc engine uses a smaller bore and stroke measuring 97mm and 66mm respectively. Coupled with a DOHC unit that uses hydraulic lifters on all its valves, the 60 degree liquid-cooled V-twin is capable of producing 90 bhp of maximum power at 7,500 rpm and 95 Nm of peak torque at 5,000 rpm. H-D is known for its long-stroke air-cooled engines and the move to a liquid-cooled engine is a welcome choice. Thanks to this, the output figures on the Revolution Max far dwarfs those from the air-cooled Evolution power plants and the red line on the rev counter is higher, too, at 9,500 rpm. (Image: Harley Davidson)
The Harley-Davidson Nightster, today, is the second Sportster on H-D’s lineup that features the Revolution Max 975T engine. A derivative of the 1252cc Revolution Max, the 975cc engine uses a smaller bore and stroke measuring 97mm and 66mm respectively. Coupled with a DOHC unit that uses hydraulic lifters on all its valves, the 60 degree liquid-cooled V-twin is capable of producing 90 bhp of maximum power at 7,500 rpm and 95 Nm of peak torque at 5,000 rpm. H-D is known for its long-stroke air-cooled engines and the move to a liquid-cooled engine is a welcome choice. Thanks to this, the output figures on the Revolution Max far dwarfs those from the air-cooled Evolution power plants and the red line on the rev counter is higher, too, at 9,500 rpm. (Image: Harley Davidson)
Moving on, transmission duties are handled by the 6-speed gearbox aided by a slip-and-assist clutch. What you should also know is that liquid-cooled engines tend to work just a slight bit differently. The torquey push off the start line is replaced with a smooth glide, but this torque is then brought in higher up on the rev counter allowing for easier, smoother city and highway riding. The Nightster rides on a 19-inch front and 16-inch rear rim combination while suspension is handled by 41 mm telescopic forks up front and dual shock absorbers out back. Braking comes via a 320 mm disc up front with an axially mounted four-piston caliper biting down on it and a 260 mm rear disc stopped by a floating single-piston caliper. (Image: Harley Davidson)
Moving on, transmission duties are handled by the 6-speed gearbox aided by a slip-and-assist clutch. What you should also know is that liquid-cooled engines tend to work just a slight bit differently. The torquey push off the start line is replaced with a smooth glide, but this torque is then brought in higher up on the rev counter allowing for easier, smoother city and highway riding. The Nightster rides on a 19-inch front and 16-inch rear rim combination while suspension is handled by 41 mm telescopic forks up front and dual shock absorbers out back. Braking comes via a 320 mm disc up front with an axially mounted four-piston caliper biting down on it and a 260 mm rear disc stopped by a floating single-piston caliper. (Image: Harley Davidson)
Further, the H-D gets three ride modes: Road, Rain and Sport modes. Each of the modes changes the way the engine behaves by adjusting the engine mapping, traction control system and ABS system to the mode you choose. Additionally, excess rear wheel slip is reduced thanks to the drag-torque slip control. This keeps the bike from sliding around in slippery weather conditions and during hard gear changes. (Image: Harley Davidson)
Further, the H-D gets three ride modes: Road, Rain and Sport modes. Each of the modes changes the way the engine behaves by adjusting the engine mapping, traction control system and ABS system to the mode you choose. Additionally, excess rear wheel slip is reduced thanks to the drag-torque slip control. This keeps the bike from sliding around in slippery weather conditions and during hard gear changes. (Image: Harley Davidson)
When we talk about the design we have to understand what Harley went for. The hark back to the original Nightster is visible in today’s 2022 Nightster, but not entirely. The conventional forks and rear suspension and even the boxed swingarm allow for a more traditional look, but the tightly packed chassis and engine tell a different story. Lines are clean and flow smoothly from the round headlamp unit with its fairing all the way to the chopped off fender at the rear. Speaking of the headlamp, the fairing hides the four inch analogue clock that forms the instrument cluster complete with LCD insert. We wish there was a little more to this, but that seems about it. (Image: Harley Davidson)
When we talk about the design we have to understand what Harley went for. The hark back to the original Nightster is visible in today’s 2022 Nightster, but not entirely. The conventional forks and rear suspension and even the boxed swingarm allow for a more traditional look, but the tightly packed chassis and engine tell a different story. Lines are clean and flow smoothly from the round headlamp unit with its fairing all the way to the chopped off fender at the rear. Speaking of the headlamp, the fairing hides the four inch analogue clock that forms the instrument cluster complete with LCD insert. We wish there was a little more to this, but that seems about it. (Image: Harley Davidson)
The exhaust speaks of a more contemporary design going from two thin pipes originating at the cylinder heads into one chunky unit slung to the side of the bike. The tank itself takes a modern approach, in that, it is not really a fuel tank and just a show piece. The real 11.7-litre tank is hidden under the seat allowing for a lower centre of gravity. Pair this up with the bike’s already low 218 kg kerb weight allows for a very nimble bike and one of the company’s lightest motorcycles. This is also thanks to the engine being a stressed member of the chassis. The Nightster is of course a cruiser and as such has a relatively low lean angle of 32 degrees but thanks to the frame, all of it can be used fairly easily. (Image: Harley Davidson)
The exhaust speaks of a more contemporary design going from two thin pipes originating at the cylinder heads into one chunky unit slung to the side of the bike. The tank itself takes a modern approach, in that, it is not really a fuel tank and just a show piece. The real 11.7-litre tank is hidden under the seat allowing for a lower centre of gravity. Pair this up with the bike’s already low 218 kg kerb weight allows for a very nimble bike and one of the company’s lightest motorcycles. This is also thanks to the engine being a stressed member of the chassis. The Nightster is of course a cruiser and as such has a relatively low lean angle of 32 degrees but thanks to the frame, all of it can be used fairly easily. (Image: Harley Davidson)
All of this translates, finally, to a very Iron 883 like rider triangle. The seat is just 27.8 inches off the ground so reach shouldn’t be a problem, even for shorter riders. The footpegs sit firmly below the knees and the handlebars are positioned just far enough for you to be sitting more upright than a traditional cruiser. This is where the Sportster feels sportier than any of the other cruisers. (Image: Harley Davidson)
All of this translates, finally, to a very Iron 883 like rider triangle. The seat is just 27.8 inches off the ground so reach shouldn’t be a problem, even for shorter riders. The footpegs sit firmly below the knees and the handlebars are positioned just far enough for you to be sitting more upright than a traditional cruiser. This is where the Sportster feels sportier than any of the other cruisers. (Image: Harley Davidson)
The Nightster forms the basis of Harley’s Sportster lineup now, but when looking at the international market, the bike has a number of rivals to compete against. Even in the Indian market, the Nightster will have to go up against its biggest competition from the likes of Indian Motorcycle’s Scout lineup of bikes. The Nightster is all set to go on sale in the United States at a starting price of Rs 13,499. That’s approximately 10.28 lakh in Indian money, but by the time the bike reaches our shores, the price is most likely to go up. A timeline for an India launch has yet to be announced, but we should be seeing the bike here very soon. (Image: Harley Davidson)
The Nightster forms the basis of Harley’s Sportster lineup now, but when looking at the international market, the bike has a number of rivals to compete against. Even in the Indian market, the Nightster will have to go up against its biggest competition from the likes of Indian Motorcycle’s Scout lineup of bikes. The Nightster is all set to go on sale in the United States at a starting price of Rs 13,499. That’s approximately 10.28 lakh in Indian money, but by the time the bike reaches our shores, the price is most likely to go up. A timeline for an India launch has yet to be announced, but we should be seeing the bike here very soon. (Image: Harley Davidson)
Stanford Masters Journalist who writes on automobiles
first published: May 5, 2022 05:41 pm
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