The Rogue is latest version of the Indian Scout platform, delivering a club-style bike to the cruiser party, and the most aggressive iteration of the Scout so far.
The Rogue brings the Scout into a more modern design aesthetic, with a quarter-fairing around the headlight its most obvious distinction from other Scouts. Another difference is a 19-inch cast-aluminum front wheel replacing the 16-inchers on other Scout models.
Its attractive design looks more hip and contemporary, creating a slinkier downward flow to the bike’s profile. Most every component is murdered out in black, aside from a few flashes of brightwork on the engine. Chrome hand levers inside black perches are a mild styling faux pas. Drop-down mirrors from the Bobber lower the Rogue’s profile, and chopped fenders lessen the bike’s visual heft.
The Rogue (code name: Anarchy) continues with the same powertrain as previous Scouts. Its 1,133cc V-Twin rips out 100 ponies thanks to a double overhead-cam valvetrain with four valves per cylinder, and an aluminum frame helps the Rogue scale in at 545 lbs with its 3.3-gallon tank filled.
Gear Up Helmet:Bell Star Jacket:Alpinestars Hoxton V2 Gloves: Alpinestars Celer V2 Pants:Saint Unbreakable Jeans Boots: Alpinestars Grange
“For so many motorcyclists, riding carries a rogue spirit – a bold statement of freedom and individuality that brings riders together – and Scout Rogue delivers that in spades,” commented Aaron Jax, Indian Motorcycle Vice President, at the bike’s press launch in Ventura, a coastal surf town in Southern California.
The Rogue is familiar but distinct. A mini-ape handlebar from the Bobber Twenty places a rider’s hands significantly higher than the Scout Bobber, ending up a few inches below shoulder height. Also noticeable is a new sport-style solo seat with an extended backrest portion, which feels comfier than the Bobber’s and helps hold a rider in place when tapping into the 69ci V-Twin’s 100 horses.
Spinning laps around Ventura’s city streets proved the fitment of the taller 130/60-19 front tire has benefits beyond styling. Its wheel/tire combo is nearly 1.5 lbs lighter than the Bobber’s, and its sharper profile endows the Rogue with newfound agility relative to the squatter 130/90-16 rubber on other Scouts. The bike feels lighter on its feet, both around town and on canyon roads.
The note from the flat-black exhaust is pleasing in its own way, thumping quicker and smoother than traditional narrow-angle V-Twins like Indian’s Chief and any air-cooled Harley. Most everything but the design of the engine is old-school analog – there are no ride modes, traction control, or IMU, just an unfettered throttle that responds exactly as intended. The cable-actuated clutch requires a bit more effort to pull than a hydraulic unit, but it offers precise and predictable releases.
The last time we dyno tested the Scout’s engine, it kicked out 85 hp to the rear wheel, arriving at 8,100 rpm, shortly before its rev limit. Torque peaked at 5,700 rpm with 64.5 lb-ft of twist. Those numbers translate into admirable speed potential when wringing its throttle, pulling willingly from lower revs, and surging to a strong run for the redline.
On the freeway, the Rogue’s plusher seat and modicum of wind protection from the fairing treat a rider better than the Bobber. However, the scant 2 inches of rear suspension travel created a few jarring moments over harsh expansion joints. Otherwise, the Rogue rolls serenely down the highway, with vibes from its counterbalanced motor never becoming obtrusive. Instrumentation is basic. A round analog speedometer has an LCD inset panel that displays gear position, time, and tripmeters. Self-canceling turnsignals and a 12-volt charging port are unexpected conveniences on a such bare-knuckled bike.
Once out in the canyons, the Rogue’s livelier steering is enhanced by the height of the mini-ape handlebars, which encourage aggressive countersteering to bend the bike into corners. As usual, the Scout’s stout chassis resists flexing and feels totally planted up to (and occasionally exceeding) the 29-degree lean angle liberally enforced by dragging footpegs, and then the shotgun exhaust’s lower muffler.
Still, there’s much fun to be had cranking the Rogue over, and our cadre of journalists set a brisk pace on magnificent Highway 33 in the mountains inland from Ventura. Footpegs that scrape early are seldom a concern for many cruiser riders, but your mileage may vary. Brakes are a dull point, performing more than adequately but not quite as sharp as the latest braking hardware on the market. In terms of performance, the Rogue’s most limiting factor is its modest amount of suspension travel.
Sure, low seat heights are nice, but we’d gladly trade a taller seat for another inch or two of wheel stroke and a few extra degrees of lean angle. I’d be tempted to fit a set of fully adjustable shocks with additional travel. Indian’s accessory department sells a pair with 3 inches of travel for $829.99. And if you’d like to carry a passenger, Indian offers a pillion seat ($215) and footpegs ($199.99). The Rogue’s fairing can be fitted to other Scouts, retailing for $350 for an unpainted unit or $530 when painted.
The accessory line also includes a multitude of seats, handlebars, luggage, exhaust systems, and a tachometer with a shift light. Perhaps the most intriguing accessory is the Pathfinder adaptive LED headlight, which replaces the Rogue’s halogen lamp. The $530 headlight activates 15 individual beams inside the lamp’s 5.75-inch housing based on the bike’s lean angle, using patented technology claimed to project light farther and with an improved spread.
Takin’ It Home
The Rogue’s West Coast style adds an interesting and appealing option for those in the market for an American cruiser. If you’re searching for a feet-forward middleweight cruiser and like the way the Rogue looks, it offers strong value.
The Black Metallic version retails for $11,499, the same price as the Bobber but $1,000 less than the standard Scout that includes passenger accommodations. ABS is a $900 upcharge unless ordering color options in matte Black Smoke, Sagebrush Smoke, or Storm Blue, each retailing for $12,899. The two-tone Stealth Gray version lists at $13,399.
Riders on a tighter budget can opt for the Sixty version of the Rogue, which retails for just $9,999 and is nearly identical to its bigger brother. Like Indian’s previous Sixty versions of the Scout, it uses a smaller engine (61ci, 999cc), and its transmission lacks a cog compared to the regular Scouts, with its 5th gear ratio slotting in between the top two gears of the 6-speed Scouts.
Indian says the Sixty motor produces 78 hp and 65 lb-ft of torque at its crankshaft, which isn’t as robust as the 1,133cc mill, but it certainly doesn’t feel underpowered, especially since riding at full throttle is a rare occurrence. The Sixty is a viable option for riders unconcerned with blitzing stoplight grands prix or regularly “doing the ton” on an empty highway.
The base Black Metallic version costs $9,999 without antilock brakes, a $900 option. Titanium Smoke and Bronze Smoke colorways include ABS and retail for $11,399. Among American-made cruisers, the only cheaper one is the Scout Bobber Sixty, which retails for $9,499.
2022 Indian Scout Rogue Specs
Base Price: $11,499 Price as Tested: $12,899-$13,399 (colors w/ ABS) Website: IndianMotorcycle.com Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,133cc (69ci) Bore x Stroke: 99.0 x 73.6mm Horsepower: 100 hp @ 8,100 rpm (claimed) Torque: 72 lb-ft @ 6,000 rpm (claimed) Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch Final Drive: Belt Wheelbase: 62 in. Rake/Trail: 29 degrees/4.7 in. Seat Height: 25.6 in. Wet Weight: 545 lbs Fuel Capacity: 3.3 gals.
Since its debut in 2017, Indian’s Elite program has offered the most premium and feature-packed versions of its bagger and touring models, such as the Chieftain and Roadmaster. For 2022, Indian has unveiled two models: the Challenger Elite and Chieftain Elite.
“From factory-custom details to premium amenities, and advanced ride-enhancing technology, we left no stone unturned when designing our new Elite baggers,” said Aaron Jax, Vice President of Indian Motorcycle. “Whether you prefer the liquid-cooled power and performance of the Indian Challenger, or the more organic growl and unmatched air-cooled power of the Chieftain, these two Elites elevate both platforms with gorgeous custom-inspired design elements straight from the factory.”
Limited to 200 units worldwide, 2022 marks the debut for the Indian Challenger Elite. It offers muscle car-inspired styling and class-leading performance from its liquid-cooled PowerPlus 108 V-Twin, delivering 122 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. Pricing starts at $34,999.
The Challenger Elite’s attention-getting Stealth Gray and Black Metallic paint with Indy Red accents screams American muscle. A red-stitched seat and color-matched Elite badging complete the bike’s performance-inspired design.
With three ride modes, riders can customize the bike’s throttle mapping by selecting Sport, Standard, or Rain. Each ride mode has been engineered with its own distinct traction-control setting to deliver three unique riding experiences.
The Challenger Elite is loaded with premium amenities like Fox rear shocks with electronically adjustable preload, Smart Lean Technology with lean-angle-adaptive ABS and TC, back-lit switches, an Adaptive Pathfinder LED headlight, and LED driving lights. It’s also equipped with an adjustable flare windscreen, select floorboards, and heated grips.
Ride loud and proud with an upgraded, fully integrated 400-watt PowerBand audio system with speakers in the fairing and saddlebag lids. The 7-inch color touchscreen display features the Ride Command infotainment system, which includes detailed vehicle info, Apple CarPlay, GPS with turn-by-turn navigation, a complimentary year of Ride Command+ connected features (live traffic and weather overlays, plus a vehicle locator feature).
The Indian Challenger Elite also includes standard features on the Challenger such as ABS, keyless ignition, tire-pressure monitoring, and remote-locking saddlebags with more than 18 gallons (68.1 liters) of storage.
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2022 Indian Chieftain Elite
The Chieftain Elite was the first Elite model offered by Indian back in 2017, and an all-new take for 2022 will be limited to 150 units globally. It’s powered by the air-cooled Thunderstroke 116, which delivers 126 lb-ft of torque. Pricing starts at $32,999.
The factory custom features Heavy Metal Smoke paint complemented by premium bronze finishes, including the tank’s Indian Motorcycle headdress, saddlebag latches, center console, primary cover, and airbox. Oil-rubbed bronze finishes across the engine’s push rod tubes, horn cover, and cam cover take the Chieftain Elite’s style to an entirely new level straight from the factory.
The Chieftain Elite’s streamlined fairing and slammed saddlebags contribute to the bike’s aggressive stance. In addition, LED saddlebag lights, a two-up comfort seat, low suspension, precision-machined wheels, and premium blacked-out finishes round out its head-turning style.
The Chieftain Elite’s Thunderstroke 116 features three ride modes (Sport, Tour, and Standard) that adjust throttle response and rear cylinder deactivation to mitigate engine heat when idling at a stop.
Like its Challenger Elite stablemate, the Chieftain Elite is packed with premium features, including an Adaptive Pathfinder LED headlight, an adjustable and tinted flare windscreen, select floorboards, rear saddlebag LED lights, backlit switch cubes, and an integrated 400-watt PowerBand audio system.
It’s also equipped with a 7-inch color touchscreen display with Ride Command, a year of Rider Command+ connected features, ABS, keyless ignition, tire-pressure monitoring, and remote-locking saddlebags.
For riders who want to further customize their Challenger Elite or Chieftain Elite, Indian offers a range of style, comfort, and touring accessory upgrades. Indian Challenger Elite riders can add Pathfinder LED Saddlebag Lights, while Chieftain Elite riders can add Pathfinder S LED Driving Lights. Elite riders can also add the ClimaCommand Heated and Cooled two-up seat, color-matched Hard Lower Fairings, a color-matched Trunk, up to 800 watts of PowerBand audio, and items from the versatile Spirit Lake Luggage Collection,
Indian Motorcycle, now in its ninth model year since being relaunched under Polaris ownership, continues to expand its range of American-made V-Twins. Less beholden to tradition than Harley-Davidson, Indian has embraced liquid-cooled engines since the introduction of the Scout for 2015. The air-cooled Thunderstroke V-Twin is still available on Indian’s Chief, Springfield, and Roadmaster models, but radiators are found across the Scout cruiser and FTR street-tracker lineups, and the liquid-cooled PowerPlus 108 powers the Challenger bagger that was introduced for 2020.
Joining the Challenger for 2022 is the new Pursuit, a full-dress tourer that adds a top trunk with an integrated passenger backrest, vented fairing lowers, a Touring Comfort seat, and heated grips. The Pursuit is available in two versions: the Limited with chrome finishes (starting at $29,999) and the Dark Horse with blacked-out finishes (starting at $30,999).
Both versions of the Pursuit are available with a Premium Package ($3,000) that adds electronically adjustable rear suspension preload, Smart Lean Technology, integrated driving lights, and heated seats for both the rider and passenger.
After the Pursuit was unveiled in February and first shown to the public at Daytona Bike Week, Rider got early access to a Premium-equipped Pursuit Limited for a full test.
Power to the People
All of Indian’s liquid-cooled V-Twins share some common elements. They have a 60-degree spread between their cylinders, four valves per cylinder, and high compression ratios. Unlike the DOHC valvetrain on the Scouts and FTRs, however, the PowerPlus 108 in the Challenger and Pursuit models uses SOHC with hydraulic cam-chain tensioners and hydraulic valve lash adjusters.
Indian went all-in with full conventional liquid cooling on the PowerPlus rather than the partial liquid cooling used on Harley-Davidson’s Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight. The frame downtubes on the Challenger and Pursuit wrap around a large black radiator to downplay its presence. Full liquid cooling improves an engine’s thermal efficiency, more effectively manages temperature in a wide range of conditions, and more easily satisfies increasingly stringent emissions regulations. Liquid cooling also improves performance, fuel efficiency, and comfort for the rider and passenger. Heat radiating from the engine was not a problem during our test of the Pursuit. Like other Indian tourers, it has rear-cylinder deactivation that kicks in when the bike is idling at a stop.
Displacing 108 cubic inches (1,768cc), the PowerPlus churns out a claimed 128 lb-ft of torque and 122 hp at the crank. After working its way through the clutch, gearbox, and belt final drive, engine output was 113 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm and 108 hp at 5,600 rpm at the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s dyno. Even though a pair of big 4.25-inch pistons work through a 3.8-inch stroke, the PowerPlus revs eagerly from idle all the way to its 6,500-rpm redline.
The Pursuit Limited with the Premium Package weighs a hefty 925 lbs, but it pulls away from stops authoritatively and lunges forward with quick twists of the throttle. Three ride modes – Standard, Sport, and Rain – adjust the throttle-response map to suit conditions or preferences. When it’s time to just cruise, shifting into the overdriven top gear of the 6-speed constant-mesh transmission turns the engine at a relaxed 2,500 rpm at 60 mph, and cruise control is standard.
We’re In This Together
A big part of what distinguishes the Challenger from the Pursuit is the latter’s top trunk with integrated passenger backrest. A two-up test ride with my wife, Carrie, earned high marks for the passenger accommodations. The wrap-around backrest provides both comfort and security, and we both appreciate the firm-yet-supportive Touring Comfort seat. There are separate seat heating controls for the rider and passenger, with individual buttons on the left side of the seat. The Ride Command+ touchscreen can also be used to activate seat heaters as well as the heated grips.
Carrie also liked the passenger footboards and speakers integrated into the backrest, which allowed her to hear and feel the music when we cranked up the tunes on the 100-watt audio system. What she was less enamored with, however, was the amount of bobblehead helmet buffeting she experienced when the electric windscreen was in the lowest position. That’s my favored position for the windscreen because it allows me to see over the top of the screen while providing wind protection for my upper torso.
Raising the windscreen to its highest position did a fantastic job of reducing turbulence and noise for both of us, though it forced me to look through the screen. With the screen all the way up, there’s an almost eerily quiet bubble within the cockpit, isolating the rider and passenger and allowing the thrum of the engine to be the primary soundtrack. In all, the windscreen has 3 inches of height range, so riders and passengers of different heights and preferences should be able to find a happy medium. On warmer days, opening the vents on the lowers and inner fairing boosts airflow through the cockpit.
The electronically adjustable preload on the Fox rear shock is a convenient, useful feature. On the Ride Command+ touchscreen, the rider can make various selections: Solo or Passenger; No Luggage, Light Luggage, or Heavy Luggage; and Trunk or No Trunk. The rider’s weight can also be set, and preload can be fine-tuned up or down in two increments. The system is user-friendly and makes a significant difference in how the Pursuit handles under different load conditions. (It’s available as a $999.99 accessory upgrade on all 2022 Challenger and Pursuit models.)
Like the Challenger, the Pursuit delivers a comfortable ride and responds predictably and confidently to steering inputs when pushed hard through a series of corners. With 31 degrees of cornering clearance, the footboards rarely scrape the pavement. The frame-mounted fairing takes weight off the handlebar, giving the big tourer a neutral, low-effort steering feel when applying pressure to the grips.
Part of what gives the Pursuit such poise is its modular aluminum backbone frame, which is shared with the Challenger and similar to the one used on the Chieftain. The frame is rock-solid, and despite having hundreds of pounds of engine, motorcycle, humans, and gear trying to twist it out of shape, it remains as unmovable as a mountain. This is the same frame that, by regulation, must be kept in stock form for the MotoAmerica King Of The Baggers series, where Indian’s factory team regularly wins races on Challengers.
A pair of 4-piston Brembo front calipers clamping down on big 320mm rotors and a 2-piston Brembo rear caliper squeezing a 298mm rotor provide prodigious stopping power. The front brake lever is adjustable for reach, but the clutch lever is not. ABS and TC are standard on the Pursuit, and the Premium Package goes a step further by adding an IMU that enables lean-angle-adaptive ABS and TC as well as drag-torque control.
Take It with You
The Pursuit’s top trunk is the same one used on Roadmaster models, and it’s a cavernous cavity that holds two full-face helmets. It’s also lined with durable gray fabric and has a 12-volt power socket. If the Pursuit’s 35 gallons (132 liters) of storage aren’t enough, the trunk has a chrome luggage rack on top for lashing down your kitchen sink. The keyless fob has buttons to lock and unlock the luggage remotely. There are also two small, non-locking storage cubbies in the fairing, and the one on the right has a USB port for connecting/charging a smartphone or thumb drive. Under a flip cover on the dash is another 12-volt outlet, so none of your devices should feel neglected.
Indian’s Ride Command+ is one of the most feature-rich and flexible infotainment systems available. Mission control is the 7-inch touchscreen, which has multiple screens for vehicle info, settings, navigation, music, and more. A button on the left switchgear allows riders to quickly toggle through the screens, and there are five prominent buttons below the screen to directly access specific functions. Vehicle/trip info screens can be customized by moving or swapping out different widgets, so you always have your favorite stats in one place.
Ride Command+ includes tire-pressure monitoring, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay integration (which requires an iPhone and a Bluetooth headset), GPS navigation with turn-by-turn directions and built-in points of interest, and a customizable route builder that allows riders to add up to 100 waypoints. Pursuit owners get a free year of Ride Command+ connected features, which include live traffic and weather overlays, as well as a new vehicle locator feature that works through Indian’s Ride Command mobile app or website (after the first year, a Ride Command+ subscription costs $99.99/year).
Baggers and tourers are big motorcycles that can pack in a lot of performance, technology, and amenities. But without style they’d be like the shy, pimply-faced teenager at the school dance, staring at his shoes with no one to dance with. Going down the road in a big American V-Twin needs to make a visual statement.
Leading the charge is a trim fender topped with an illuminated Indian headdress ornament. The fender hugs a 19-inch Sport Contrast Cut cast-aluminum front wheel, which is paired with a 16-incher out back, and both are shod with Metzeler Cruisetec tires. The Pursuit’s massive, wide-mouth, frame-mounted fairing has a large central LED headlight flanked by LED running lights/turnsignals.
Outboard of the frame downtubes are highway bars and large fairing lowers that provide leg protection and house driving lights (on Premium-equipped models). Toward the rear are tip-over bars just ahead of the saddlebags, and the bags have black-plastic panels that protect their leading edges and lower sides from rock chips and other road debris.
Our Pursuit Limited test bike is painted a lustrous Deepwater Metallic blue (it’s also available in Black Metallic and Maroon Metallic over Crimson Metallic; the Pursuit Dark Horse is available in four other colorways), and it has just the right amount of chrome and Indian badging. The Pursuit’s trunk gives it more visual weight at the rear to balance out the large fairing. Overall, it’s a handsome machine that will make owners feel a sense of pride and confidence when going down the road or parking it on bike night.
It’s About the Ride
With my feet up on the floorboards and my fundament down in the diamond-stitched seat, taking a long ride on the Pursuit reminded me of why we picked the Challenger as our 2020 Motorcycle of the Year. As we wrote in our September 2020 issue:
“The PowerPlus 108 … offers the performance, comfort, and lower emissions that only liquid cooling can provide, and delivers impressive grunt and smoothness with the rumbling character that makes V-Twins so popular. That plus muscular, modern style, an excellent chassis, a full range of available technology, generous wind protection and luggage capacity, and plenty of long-haul comfort make the Challenger a really great bagger.”
The Pursuit advances to the Challenger platform with greater touring capability, improving comfort, convenience, weather protection, and cargo capacity. Equipped with the Premium Package, the Pursuit Limited and Pursuit Dark Horse are fully featured and leave nothing on the table. Still, motorcyclists love to customize their machines. Indian’s accessories include performance upgrades, speakers for the fairing lowers and saddlebag lids, a Pathfinder Adaptive LED headlight, and more.
Passionate V-Twin fans love to debate the merits of air versus liquid cooling, loud versus quiet exhausts, different vee angles, and much else, but the bottom line is that cruising down the road on a big V-Twin touring bike is deeply satisfying. The pulse and relaxed cadence of the engine, the solidity and security of a heavyweight machine, and the go-all-day comfort always feels good and never gets old. Whether it’s a short ride to blow out the cobwebs or a weeklong journey to escape and explore, the enjoyment is a renewable resource, the gift that keeps on giving. Life, liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.
2022 Indian Pursuit Limited Specs
Base Price: $29,999 Price as Tested: $33,749 (Premium Package, Deepwater Metallic color) Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles Website:indianmotorcycle.com
ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-Twin, SOHC, 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,768cc (108ci) Bore x Stroke: 108.0 x 96.5mm Compression Ratio: 11.0:1 Valve Insp. Interval: N/A (self-adjusting) Fuel Delivery: EFI, 52mm dual-bore throttle body x 2 Lubrication System: Semi-wet sump, 5-qt. cap. Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated assist wet clutch Final Drive: Belt
CHASSIS Frame: Modular cast aluminum w/ engine as stressed member & cast aluminum swingarm Wheelbase: 65.7 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/5.9 in. Seat Height: 26.5 in. Suspension, Front: 43mm inverted fork, no adj., 5.1 in. travel Rear: Single shock, electronically adj. for spring preload (as tested), 4.5 in. travel Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm floating discs w/ 4-piston radial calipers & ABS Rear: Single 298mm floating disc w/ 2-piston caliper & ABS Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 19 in. Rear: Cast, 5.00 x 16 in. Tires, Front: 130/60-B19 Rear: 180/60-R16 Wet Weight: 925 lbs Load Capacity: 460 lbs GVWR: 1,385 lbs
V-Twin baggers are regularly at the top of streetbike sales charts, and a perennial leader has been the Harley-DavidsonStreet Glide, with H-D’s Road Glide running close behind. The Glides are revered for the effortless way they trot along American roads accompanied by the loping cadence of their narrow-angle V-Twin motors.
However, there are many Glide owners who put a greater emphasis on performance than on touring ability. The performance-bagger market continues to gain momentum, a trend Harley says is “a new breed of speed.” The incredibly popular King Of The Baggers (KOTB) roadracing series has added more fuel to the performance fire.
To meet this market demand and to capitalize on its KOTB championship title, H-D proffers the new Glide ST brothers, available in Street and Road versions. Touring bikes for a new breed of riders, says the MoCo.
OUT COME THE BIG GUNS
If you’re gonna build a hot-rod bagger, there’s no better place to start than the engine, and so Harley plugs in the biggest gun in its arsenal. The Road and Street Glide STs are fitted with H-D’s biggest production motor, the 117ci Milwaukee-Eight, an upgrade over the 114ci V-Twin found in lesser models. This is the 117’s first appearance in a non-CVO Harley, firing out a tire-shredding 127 lb-ft of torque from its 1,923cc displacement. Harley says the 117 is a value proposition for riders who might otherwise invest in engine upgrades.
Black is the dominant theme, as brightwork is limited to the chrome pushrod tubes, tappet covers, and machined cylinder fins. Matte Dark Bronze finishes on the lower rocker box, timer cover medallion, and the medallion on the Heavy Breather intake provide subtle highlights.
SWITCHIN’ TO GLIDE
The FLHX Street Glide is perhaps the most ubiquitous motorcycle on American roads. Introduced in 2006 as an offshoot of the popular Electra Glide, they are both led by their iconic batwing fairings mounted to the handlebar.
Harley’s FLTR Road Glide was introduced in 1998 as an evolution of the FLT Tour Glide from the 1980s, both using distinctive shark-nosed fairings mounted to the chassis. Other than their fairings, the Road Glide is essentially the same bike as the Street Glide.
The Glide STs are part of Harley’s Grand American Touring lineup, so they naturally include luxury items like a Boom! Box GTS infotainment system with a color touchscreen and navigation, fairing-mounted speakers, a hidden radio antenna, cruise control, and Daymaker LED headlamps. Both Glide STs are equipped with linked Brembo brakes with ABS.
For a sportier, lighter appearance, the STs receive a low-profile tank console and a trimmed front fender, plus a new solo seat that exposes the rear fender but leaves passengers at home. Standard-length saddlebags replace the extended bags used on Special models for additional cornering clearance and to expand aftermarket exhaust options.
Prodigy cast-aluminum wheels feature a Matte Dark Bronze finish to match the bronze engine highlights, while nearly everything else aside from the tins (front end, controls, powertrain, and exhaust) feature blacked-out finishes. For a dash of retro, the Harley-Davidson logo on the 6-gallon fuel tanks is modeled from Harley’s 1912 racebikes, and on black STs, it’s outlined in a gold color that matches the bikes’ bronze finishes.
Both Glides retail for $29,999 in Vivid Black. The Gunship Gray versions are priced at $30,574. Supply shortages due to Covid have forced H-D to exact a $1,000 surcharge.
Optional on Grand American tourers is Harley’s Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements package, formerly called Reflex Defensive Rider System (RDRS). It employs a 6-axis IMU to manage cornering traction control with ride modes, cornering ABS with linked braking, drag-torque slip control, hill-hold control, and tire-pressure monitoring. It’s a $1,025 upcharge.
SWITCHIN’ TO RIDE
The Street Glide is the lighter ST, scaling in at 814 lbs in ready-to-ride form, and its less-expansive batwing fairing adds to the perception. The cockpit is roomy and accommodating, with a handlebar that rises up and sits at an angle. Four analog gauges reside just under the tinted low-profile windscreen, and they’re flanked by a pair of speakers and mirrors integrated at the fairing edges. The touchscreen TFT info/navigation panel sits just above the upper triple-clamp.
The larger fairing on the Road Glide adds visual heft to a rider’s perception, backed up by the bike’s 842-lb curb weight. Here, the vivid TFT touchscreen panel sits front and center just under the low-profile, darkly tinted windshield. The info screen is flanked by a fuel gauge and voltmeter, with a pair of speakers further outboard. A traditional analog speedometer and tachometer pairing reside just ahead of the handlebar mounts. Switchgear on both Glides is the familiar H-D array, including the dual turnsignal buttons.
The 117 fires up with a rumble and the familiar potato-potato thumping from below. The clutch engagement point is easy to ascertain, and, helped by the engine’s immense low-end grunt, you’d need to be a fool to stall the Glides when pulling away from a stop.
Pushrod valve actuation and air cooling suggest a lack of modern technology, but Harley’s M-8 functions extraordinarily well. As its name implies, the V-Twin breathes through four valves per cylinder, and they never need adjusting thanks to H-D’s hydraulic overhead valves. Power from the V-Twin is omnipresent, delivering a satisfying oomph at nearly any engine speed, eventually running out of breath near its 5,500-rpm redline. Rubber engine mounts eliminate harsh vibration from reaching a rider, and there aren’t many other powertrains that roll down the open road as smoothly and effortlessly as this one.
“A pushrod air-cooled V-Twin is our secret sauce,” said Brad Richards, H-D’s VP of design, who rode with us at the launch. “There’s something special about how it goes down the road.” And he’s right.
Suspension consists of a dual-bending-valve 49mm Showa fork paired with emulsion-technology rear shocks and single-knob hydraulic preload adjustment. Harley pursues low seat heights more fervently than any other manufacturer, but the STs buck that trend somewhat by fitting shocks from the Road King to deliver 3 inches of rear wheel travel, up from the Road Glide Special’s 2 inches. Seat height shimmies upward to a still-low 28 inches.
Both STs feel similar when bending into corners, despite the drastically different fairings, banking over easier than you might imagine for an 800-lb bagger. It’s a willing and stable platform while unwinding a twisty road, but let’s not confuse it with a sportbike. Floorboards begin to drag when leaned over to 32 degrees – enough to have fun, but nowhere near the 55-degree leans that KOTB champ Kyle Wyman can achieve on his Road Glide racebike.
Solid braking performance is provided by Brembo 4-piston calipers operating via braided lines and clamping on 11.8-inch (300mm) discs. The single rear brake has the same specs. The front tire is a 130/60-19 bias-ply, while a 180/55-18 resides out back.
There wasn’t an opportunity to fully delve into the Boom! Box GTS infotainment system, but it seems to be well sorted and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Audio quality via the radio is closer to adequate than exceptional.
Ergonomics are very good, but not beyond reproach. The rear brake pedal is mounted rather high, and the Heavy Breather intake intrudes on knee space when raising a boot to apply rear braking. Also, shift action of the 6-speed gearbox is rather clunky. The seat feels supportive for an hour, but it’s not up to the cushy standards of Harley’s other touring models. And while we’re nitpicking, I’d like to see a larger gear-position indicator and adjustable levers on my $30k bagger.
This has been a hotly debated topic among H-D aficionados, with no clear winner aside from subjective judgments on style. In windy conditions, I much preferred the greater stability of the Road Glide, as stubborn crosswinds on the Street Glide’s bar-mounted fairing applied marginal unwanted inputs to the steering. The Road Glide’s triple splitstream vented fairing also delivers smoother airflow around a rider.
That said, the Street Glide is slightly lighter, and its fairing attached directly to the handlebar allows a rider to wriggle his/her way through dense traffic more adeptly. And for some, its batwing fairing is irresistible.
WRAP IT UP
It’s not a surprise to have enjoyed seat time on these new Glide STs. They’re basically the same bikes that we’ve grown to appreciate for their over-the-road prowess and surprising agility but are now blessed with more power and tasteful high-end finishes. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when a $30,000 motorcycle delivers the goods. And the Road/Street Glide STs include a pair of hardshell saddlebags in which to carry those goods more than 220 miles between fill-ups.
2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST/Street Glide ST Specs
Base Price: $29,999 (Vivid Black) Price as Tested: $31,599 (Gunship Gray, Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements) Website:harley-davidson.com Engine Type: Air-cooled, transverse 45-degree V-Twin, OHV w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,923cc (117ci) Bore x Stroke: 103.5 x 114.3mm Horsepower:106 hp @ 4,750 rpm (at the crank) Torque:127 lb-ft @ 3,750 rpm (at the crank) Transmission:6-speed, hydraulically actuated slip/assist wet clutch Final Drive:Belt Wheelbase:64 in. Rake/Trail:26 degrees/6.7 in. Seat Height:28.1/28.0 in. Wet Weight: 842/814 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 6 gal.
The hills are green! Time to up the saddlebags on the BMWR 18 Classic and hit the road.
California has two seasons – green and brown. Green is short, typically lasting only a couple months after winter rains. Come springtime, the rain stops, and the grass and wildflowers enjoy a brief moment of glory before they wither and lose their color. Brown is dry, dusty, and interminable, usually lasting from spring until after the new year. Brown is also the season of wildfires, which have become more intense and widespread in recent years.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the American West’s megadrought – now in its 22nd year – is the driest in 1,200 years. The last time it was this dry was in the early Middle Ages, only a few hundred years after the fall of the Roman Empire. Here in California, the only appreciable amount of precipitation within the past year fell in December, after which the spigot simply turned off. Warm, dry conditions in January and February encouraged green shoots of grass to emerge and wildflowers to bloom earlier than usual.
After eight or nine months of brown, it’s uplifting to see hillsides and fields carpeted with bright green vegetation. Last year was so dry that nothing turned green, so the brown season lasted for the better part of two years. When the green season arrived last year, I knew I had to take advantage of it.
Since its debut in late 2020, BMW’s R 18 lineup has grown to include four models: the R 18 cruiser; the R 18 Classic, which adds a windshield, saddlebags, a passenger seat, cruise control, and driving lights; the R 18 B bagger, which has a handlebar-mounted fairing and hard saddlebags; and the R 18 Transcontinental full-dress tourer. The Classic is the only model we haven’t tested, and it was the perfect choice for a leisurely cruise north through the green hills of California’s Central Coast.
Getting into and loading/unloading the Classic’s 15.5-liter saddlebags is easy thanks to quick-release buckles for the straps and form-fitting drop-in liners, which are open-top tote bags with carry-handles as well as snaps to secure them inside the saddlebags. For those who sometimes prefer a minimalist look, the saddlebags, small passenger seat, and windshield are removeable.
The day before my ride, an erratic winter storm dusted the mountains with snow but brought no rain. On the morning of my departure, it was a frosty 39 degrees, so I dressed in multiple layers and switched the Classic’s heated grips to high. With photographer Kevin Wing in my rearview mirrors aboard our Yamaha Tracer 9 GT long-term test bike, we cruised north on U.S. Route 101 along the coast from Ventura to Santa Barbara. The Classic’s small windshield parts the air smoothly around the rider’s head and torso, but the rider’s hands and lower body remain exposed.
Rush-hour traffic compounded by highway construction motivated us to turn inland and try our luck on State Route 192 through well-to-do residential areas nestled in the foothills of the coast-facing Santa Ynez Mountains. We finally escaped the soccer moms and work trucks on State Route 154, a scenic byway that follows an old stagecoach route up and over San Marcos Pass. We took a break to warm up at Cold Spring Tavern, a former stagecoach relay station that dates back to 1865. Though too early for lunch, it’s a favorite spot for delicious tri-tip sandwiches, chili, and other fare. The rustic stone tavern holds special memories for me. Kevin and I ate there before my very first photo shoot – on a Buell XB12XT – back in 2008.
Strong as an Oak
After crossing the Santa Ynez Valley, we reconnected with U.S. 101 and continued north, riding through the rolling hills of Santa Barbara County’s wine country. The grapevines were still bare, but grass grew between the evenly spaced rows – sometimes kept in check by grazing sheep – and gnarled California oaks stood like giant sentries.
All R 18 models are built on BMW’s Big Boxer platform, with an air-cooled 1,802cc opposed flat-Twin mounted within a tubular-steel double-cradle frame. When we tested the standard R 18, it sent 80 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s dyno, with all that grunt working through a 6-speed transmission mated to a single-plate dry slipper clutch and shaft final drive. Like many heavyweight cruisers, the clutch requires a firm pull (both levers are adjustable for reach). My boot didn’t easily fit under the shift lever, so for upshifts I used the heel shifter.
Throttle-by-wire enables three ride modes – Rock, Roll, and Rain – that alter throttle response, idle character, engine-drag torque control, and traction-control intervention. As the mode names imply, Rock offers more assertive throttle response and a lumpier feel at idle, whereas Roll is more relaxed, and Rain dials things back even further for sketchy conditions.
The R 18 Classic is a long machine, stretching 68 inches between the axles. Add in lazy rake and long trail figures, and the result is a motorcycle that’s happier on straight roads than tight curves. The wide pullback handlebar provides plenty of steering leverage, and the Classic is stable and obedient, but limited cornering clearance and a rear shock with 3.5 inches of firmly damped travel necessitate a modest pace on backroads. Broken, patched, and potholed pavement can be jarring.
After warming up with hot coffee and stuffing ourselves with giant burritos at a Mexican restaurant off State Route 1 near Morro Bay, we wound along Old Creek Road, passing Whale Rock Reservoir and groves of avocado trees before climbing out of a tight canyon and riding through ranchland. Crossing State Route 41, the narrow byway becomes Santa Rosa Creek Road, a narrow, neglected 16-mile stretch of pavement that’s perfect for a BMW GS but a rough ride on the Classic. The road cuts through more ranchland and follows its namesake creek toward the coast.
We spent the night in Cambria, a charming seaside village that’s one of the last places to find food or lodging before riding Route 1 north to Big Sur. Our home for the night was the Bluebird Inn, which for many years was a gathering place for Rider staffers and contributors during the annual summer pilgrimage up to Laguna Seca for the Superbike races. Back then, the Bluebird was owned by the Cooper family, and they’d provide a cooler of beer and snacks for our motley crew. We’d share laughs and stories on the Bluebird’s shaded patio before walking to dinner. The Coopers retired a few years ago, but the family that bought the place has retained the motel’s cozy vibe and friendly atmosphere.
Don’t Feed the Elephant Seals
Kevin and I woke up dark and early to find the seats of our bikes covered in frost. There was no coffee in our rooms, and nothing in Cambria opened until 7 a.m., so we grumbled as we quietly started the bikes and rode north to a parking area right on the coast for some sunrise photos. As we polished the BMW’s chrome and positioned the bike just so, we heard the distinctive barking and fart-like noises of elephant seals.
We walked a few yards to a small bluff to find a pair of juvenile male seals fighting each other on the beach. With no females nearby, this was merely practice for when the males got older and would need to fight full-grown alpha males – which can be up to 16 feet long and weigh 5,000 lbs – to compete for mates.
A little further north, within sight of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, is a dedicated parking area and elevated boardwalk where visitors can view an elephant seal haul-out area. A population of 25,000 elephant seals gathers at various times of the year along an eight-mile stretch of coast. Pups are born in December and January, and in the early months of the year you can see enormous alphas protecting their harem and exhausted mothers feeding their black-furred pups. The adults go months without food or water while on land during breeding season, so mostly they just lie about like giant sausages on the beach.
Backroads & Byways
California Route 1 is world famous, and for good reason. It hugs the rugged coast for hundreds of miles, and the section from San Simeon up to Big Sur and Monterey is as beautiful and challenging as roads get. But in the shadows of well-known scenic roads are hidden gems like Santa Rosa Creek Road.
As we headed south, past the iconic Morro Rock, we left Route 1 and took South Bay Boulevard past the marshy Morro Bay Estuary, and then Turri Road along Los Osos Creek and through rolling ranchland. My favorite road in the area, which I discovered just a few years ago, is Prefumo Canyon Road. It climbs up and over the northern side of the coastal range, briefly turns to hard-packed dirt as it winds through a tunnel of trees, and then becomes See Canyon Road, which twists its way among apple farms and vineyards. It ends at San Luis Bay Road, which soon connects to Avila Beach Road for a short ride to Port San Luis, where an old wooden pier juts into San Luis Obispo Bay.
Our 2021 R 18 Classic test bike is outfitted with a few extras. It has the First Edition Package ($2,150), which includes Black Storm Metallic paint with white pinstripes and chrome-plated levers, covers, fittings, and calipers. It has the Premium Package ($1,450), which includes BMW’s Adaptive Headlight, Headlight Pro, Reverse Assist, and Hill Start Control. And it has the Select Package ($225), which adds heated grips, a locking fuel filler cap, and an anti-theft alarm.
Instrumentation is limited to a single gauge that includes an analog speedometer and an inset LCD, which displays ride mode, gear position, and an info screen that can be scrolled through various functions: tachometer, tripmeters, odometer, voltmeter, fuel economy, average speed, clock, and date. A touring bike in this price range should also provide fuel level and ambient temperature. We averaged 38 mpg from the 4.2-gallon tank, for a range of about 160 miles. The low-fuel light comes on with one gallon remaining.
End of the Road
Two full days in the saddle gave me an appreciation for what the R 18 Classic offers. Its traditional styling, especially the black-and-white-pinstripes First Edition version inspired by BMW’s 1930s-era R 5, fits well within the expectations of many heavyweight cruiser buyers. But with the opposed cylinders of its Big Boxer jutting out to the sides, the R 18 does not conform to the usual V-Twin formula.
The engine has the right sound and feel, and it produces plenty of low-end torque, but the cylinders create a barrier that prevents riders from stretching out their legs. On long rides, there’s limited space for changing hip and knee angle. Due to the placement of the heel-toe shifter, brake pedal, and dual exhaust pipes, the small footboards are also somewhat cramped (at least for size-11 boots). The firm seat is supportive, but there isn’t much room to move around.
Beneath the R 18 Classic’s throwback aesthetic is a fully modern motorcycle with ride modes, cruise control, linked ABS, traction control, and other electronic rider aids. The rhythmic lope of its big Twin, especially in Roll mode, encourages a relaxed, unhurried pace, to slow down and appreciate the view. Enjoy the season of green – and the ride – while you can.
2021 BMW R 18 Classic Specs
Base Price: $19,495 ($18,995 in 2022) Price as Tested: $23,320 (First Edition Package, Premium Package, Select Package) Warranty: 3 yrs., 36,000 miles Website:bmwmotorcycles.com ENGINE Type: Air-/oil-cooled, longitudinal opposed flat-Twin, OHV w/ 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,802cc (110ci) Bore x Stroke: 107.1 x 100.0mm Compression Ratio: 9.6:1 Valve Insp. Interval: 6,000 miles Fuel Delivery: BMS-O EFI w/ 48mm throttle body Lubrication System: Wet sump, 4.2 qt cap. Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated single-plate dry slipper clutch Final Drive: Shaft CHASSIS Frame: Tubular-steel double cradle w/ tubular-steel double-sided swingarm Wheelbase: 68.1 in. Rake/Trail: 32.7 degrees/5.9 in. Seat Height: 28.0 in. Suspension, Front: 49mm telescopic fork, no adj., 4.7 in. travel Rear: Single cantilever shock, adj. for spring preload, 3.5 in. travel Brakes, Front: Dual 300mm discs w/ 4-piston opposed calipers & ABS Rear: Single 300mm disc w/ 4-piston opposed caliper & ABS Wheels, Front: Spoked, 3.0 x 16 in. Rear: Spoked, 5.0 x 16 in. Tires, Front: Tube-type, 130/90-B16 Rear: Tube-type, 180/65-B16 Wet Weight: 805 lbs. Load Capacity: 430 lbs. GVWR: 1,235 lbs. PERFORMANCE Horsepower: 80 hp @ 4,500 rpm (2021 R 18, rear-wheel dyno) Torque: 109 lb-ft @ 2,900 rpm (2021 R 18, rear-wheel dyno) Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gals. Fuel Consumption: 38 mpg Estimated Range: 160 miles
BMW Motorrad Canada has revealed the results of its first-ever motorcycle customization project. The company has partnered with three talented builders from across Canada and given them each a new BMW R 18 as their canvas.
The selected builders are Jay Donovan from Victoria, British Columbia, Konquer Motorcycles from Kelowna, British Columbia, and Augment Motorworks from Toronto, Ontario.
The builders revealed their bikes to BMW Motorrad Canada as well as Roland Stocker, BMW Motorrad Project Manager for the Heritage models. “These projects show how important it is to create bikes that inspire creativity and act as a good base for owners and builders alike,” said Roland Stocker.
Stocker, who was essentially involved in the development of the R 18, traveled to Canada for the reveal. He was not only impressed by the completed bikes, but also by the builders themselves. “The vision, craftsmanship, and quality of work was very impressive, especially considering how young some of the builders are,” said Stocker. “I was very pleased with the result.”
Due to its classic design and extravagant proportions, the R 18 serves as an ideal base for customization work. The centerpiece of the R 18 is its 1,802cc, 2-cylinder “Big Boxer” engine – the most powerful 2-cylinder boxer engine ever used in a production motorcycle.
“We wanted to demonstrate the potential of the R 18 and designed a project to do just that,” said Johann von Balluseck, Director of BMW Motorrad Canada. “We chose builders that would approach this project in different ways in hopes they would give us three very different styles – and that’s exactly what we got.”
The only requirements for the builds were that the custom bikes remain operational and road legal. This summer, the three motorcycles will be included in a national retailer tour, visiting locations all across Canada.
Jay Donovan – R 18 Future Café
The R 18 Future Café is a study in metal fabrication by artisan motorcycle builder Jay Donovan. Donovan’s design began with a desire to reroute the exhaust up and over the cylinder head and straight back, ending under the seat. A fully redesigned tank and upper section in bare, polished aluminum, and chopped front and rear fenders in contrasting black make for a long and sleek look.
Augment Motorworks – R 18 Tattooed Chopper
Nick Acosta from Augment Motorworks has applied the classic American chopper style to the big German boxer, which he has nicknamed “El Boxeador.” Fine, tattoo-themed paintwork paired with a sissy bar, a hand-carved headlight mount, mini ape hanger handlebars, a cocktail shaker exhaust, and a custom seat transform the bike into an instant classic with light-hearted touches.
Konquer Motorcycles – R 18 Diamond Custom
Rob Thiessen and his team at Konquer Motorcycles have taken the R 18 and created a factory custom dragster. Bronze Metallic paintwork and pinstriping, modified front and rear fenders, a custom seat, and a diamond motif throughout create a low-and-long factory custom look. In addition, gold-painted BMW roundels and an electronically adjustable exhaust help tie the new look together.
The 2022 Nightster is Harley-Davidson’s latest offering, resurrecting an old Sportster model name for a new liquid-cooled Sportster variant using a Revolution Max 975T powertrain. It’s similar to the Sportster 1250 S, but it’s dressed in more traditional garb with several classic Sportster styling cues, like the walnut fuel tank shape, round air intake cover, and a side cover that looks like the previous Sportster’s oil tank. The Nightster also uses twin shocks rather than the S’s rear monoshock. What looks like a fuel tank is an airbox cover to ensure adequate breathing for the 90-hp variable-valve-timing V-Twin, while a 3.1-gallon fuel tank resides below the seat. Pricing starts at $13,499 for the Vivid Black version, while color options retail for $13,899. More information can be found in the press release below.
The 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster model starts a new chapter in the Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle story – a leap forward in performance and design while remaining an accessible entry point to motorcycling and the brand. This all-new motorcycle combines a classic Sportster model silhouette with the on-demand performance of the new Revolution Max 975T powertrain and a host of contemporary electronic rider aids and features. The 2022 Nightster model redefines the Sportster motorcycle experience for a new generation of riders.
“The Nightster is an instrument of expression and exploration, underpinned by performance,” said Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President, and CEO of Harley-Davidson. “By building on the 65-year Sportster legacy, the Nightster provides a canvas for creativity and personalization, offering the ultimate platform for customization and expression for new and existing riders.”
New Revolution Max 975T Powertrain
At the heart of the 2022 Nightster model is the new Revolution Max 975T powertrain. It is a liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-Twin with a torque curve that stays flat through the broad powerband – and engine performance designed to deliver strong acceleration and robust power through the mid-range. The length and shape of the intake velocity stacks, combined with the airbox volume, are tuned to maximize performance across the engine speed range. The profiles of dual overhead camshafts and Variable Valve Timing phasing on the intake valves are designed to match the performance of this engine.
Revolution Max 975T Engine Specs
90 hp (67 kW) @ 7,500 RPM
70 lb-ft (95 Nm) peak torque @ 5,000 RPM
97mm bore x 66mm stroke
Compression Ratio 12:1
Hydraulic valve lash adjustment ensures quiet operation and eliminates the need for costly, complicated service procedures. Internal balancers help reduce engine vibration to enhance rider comfort and improve vehicle durability. The balancers are tuned to retain just enough vibration to make the motorcycle feel alive.
The Nightster model pairs a nimble, lightweight chassis with a powerful engine tuned for strong mid-range performance, an ideal combination for navigating urban traffic and charging along curving backroads. Mid foot controls and a low-rise handlebar put the rider in a centered, comfortable posture on the bike. Unladen seat height is 27.8 inches. The low seat height combined with a narrow profile makes it possible for most riders to confidently place feet down flat at a stop.
The Revolution Max 975T powertrain is the central, structural component of the Nightster motorcycle chassis, which significantly reduces motorcycle weight and results in a very stiff chassis. The tail section structure is lightweight aluminum. The swingarm is formed of welded rectangular steel tubing and is an attachment point for the dual rear shock absorbers.
Front suspension is 41mm SHOWA Dual Bending Valve conventional forks designed to provide improved handling performance by keeping the tire in contact with the road surface. The rear suspension features dual outboard emulsion-technology shock absorbers with coil springs and a threaded collar for pre-load adjustment.
Rider Safety Enhancements
The Nightster model is equipped with Rider Safety Enhancements* by Harley-Davidson, a collection of technologies designed to match motorcycle performance to available traction during acceleration, deceleration, and braking. The systems are electronic and utilize the latest chassis control, electronic brake control, and powertrain technology. Its three elements are:
Antilock Braking System (ABS) is designed to prevent the wheels from locking under braking and helps the rider maintain control when braking in a straight-line, urgent situation. ABS operates independently on front and rear brakes to keep the wheels rolling and prevent uncontrolled wheel lock.
Traction Control System (TCS) is designed to prevent the rear wheel from excessive spinning under acceleration. TCS can improve rider confidence when available traction is compromised by wet weather, an unanticipated change in the surface, or when riding on an unpaved road. The rider can deactivate TCS in any Ride Mode when the motorcycle is stopped and the engine is running.
Drag-Torque Slip Control System (DSCS) is designed to adjust engine torque delivery and reduce excessive rear-wheel slip under powertrain-induced deceleration, which typically occurs when the rider makes an abrupt down-shift gear change or quickly reduces the throttle while on wet or slippery road surfaces.
Selectable Ride Modes
The Nightster model offers selectable Ride Modes that electronically control the performance characteristics of the motorcycle, and the level of technology intervention. Each Ride Mode consists of a specific combination of power delivery, engine braking, ABS, and TCS settings. The rider may use the MODE button on the right-hand controller to change the active ride mode while riding the motorcycle or when stopped, with some exceptions. A unique icon for each mode appears on the instrument display when that mode has been selected.
Road Mode is intended for daily use and delivers balanced performance. This mode offers less-aggressive throttle response and less mid-range engine power than Sport Mode, with a higher level of ABS and TCS intervention.
Sport Mode delivers the full performance potential of the motorcycle in a direct and precise manner, with full power and the quickest throttle response. TCS is set to its lowest level of intervention, and engine braking is increased.
Rain Mode is designed to give the rider greater confidence when riding in the rain or when traction is otherwise limited. Throttle response and power output are programmed to significantly restrain the rate of acceleration, engine braking is limited, and the highest levels of ABS and TCS intervention are selected.
The 3.1-gallon lightweight plastic fuel cell is located below the seat – what appears to be a traditional fuel tank forward of the seat is a steel cover for the airbox. The fuel fill is reached by lifting the hinged locking seat. Locating the fuel cell below the seat optimizes the capacity of the engine intake airbox and moves the weight of fuel lower in the chassis compared to a traditional fuel tank location, which results in a lower center of gravity for improved handling and easier lift off the sidestand.
The Nightster model features a round 4.0-inch-diameter analog speedometer with an inset multi-function LCD display mounted on the handlebar riser. All-LED lighting is designed to deliver style and outstanding performance while also making the motorcycle conspicuous to other motorists. The Daymaker LED headlamp has been designed to produce a homogenous spread of light, eliminating distracting hot spots. Combination rear brake/tail/signal LED lighting is located on the rear fender (U.S. market only).
Fresh Design Based on Classic Form
All-new from the wheels up with a look that is lean, low, and powerful, the Nightster model conveys classic Sportster model styling cues, most obviously in the exposed rear shock absorbers and the shape of an airbox cover that evokes the iconic Sportster walnut fuel tank. The round air intake cover, solo seat, chopped fenders, and speed screen recall elements of recent Sportster models, while a side cover that conceals the under-seat fuel tank has a shape similar to the previous Sportster oil tank. The Revolution Max powertrain is the centerpiece of the design, framed by snaking exhaust headers and finished in textured Metallic Charcoal powder coat with Gloss Black inserts. A cover below the radiator conceals the battery and helps the radiator appear less prominent. The wheel finish is Satin Black. Paint color options include Vivid Black, Gunship Grey, and Redline Red. Gunship Grey and Redline Red color options will be applied only to the airbox cover; the front and rear fenders and speed screen are always finished in Vivid Black.
Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories has created a range of accessories for the Nightster motorcycle, designed to enhance fit, comfort and style.
The Nightster model arrives at authorized Harley-Davidson dealerships globally beginning in April 2022. U.S. Base MSRP is $13,499 (Vivid Black) and $13,899 (color options).
Harley-Davidson stands for the timeless pursuit of adventure and freedom for the soul. Go to H-D.com to learn more about the complete line of 2022 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, gear, accessories and more.
The Sportster is one of most iconic and successful Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and it’s one of the longest-running motorcycle models in history. Introduced in 1957 – the same year Wham-O introduced the Frisbee and Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up” topped the Billboard charts – the Sportster was a response to the light, fast OHV British bikes that took the American motorcycle market by storm after WWII.
An evolution of the side-valve KHK, the XL (the Sportster’s official model designation) was powered by an air-cooled, 883cc, 45-degree “ironhead” V-Twin with pushrod-actuated overhead valves. It made 40 horsepower, weighed 495 pounds, and had a top speed around 100 mph, more than enough performance to outrun most British 650s of the day. In 1959, Harley unleashed the XLCH, a 55-horsepower, 480-pound hot rod that cemented the Sportster’s go-fast reputation.
Today, 65 years after the XL’s debut, there’s still an air-cooled 883cc Sportster in Harley-Davidson’s lineup: the Iron 883. Making 54 horsepower and weighing 564 pounds, it has a lower power-to-weight ratio than a ’59 XLCH, and by modern standards, the Sportster is no longer sporty.
YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION
Harley-Davidson puts its air-cooled Sportsters – the Iron 883 and the 1,200cc Forty-Eight – in its Cruiser category. Last year it added a new category – Sport – that includes only one model: the Sportster S. Designated RH1250S rather than XL, the new Sportster occupies a distinct branch of the Harley family tree. It’s built around a 121-horsepower “T” version of the liquid-cooled, 1,252cc Revolution Max V-Twin found in the Pan America adventure bike, and it weighs 503 pounds ready-to-ride. Compare that to Harley’s Evo-powered Forty-Eight, which makes 66 horsepower and tips the scales at 556 pounds.
Both the Iron 883 and Forty-Eight are available as 2022 models, so air-cooled XLs aren’t going away (yet). They appeal to cruiser traditionalists: those who want familiarity and simplicity, and those for whom the look, sound, and feel of an air-cooled 45-degree V-Twin are more important than outright performance.
The Sportster S carves out another niche in the market, appealing to a different sort of buyer: those who want a light, powerful, sophisticated American-made V-Twin. That sounds a lot like the Indian FTR S, the Sportster S’ closest competitor. Both are powered by liquid-cooled, DOHC, 60-degree V-Twins that make about 120 horsepower (factory claims). Both are equipped with ride modes, cornering ABS and traction control, and other modern electronics, and their base prices are $14,999.
But the Sportster S is a low-profile, feet-forward cruiser, whereas the FTR S is a sport-standard with an upright seating position and rear-set footpegs. Not exactly apples to apples. Indian’s Scout Bobber, on the other hand, more closely matches the Harley’s cruiser layout, so we’ve included it here. It’s also powered by a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 60-degree V-Twin, but with less displacement and a lower state of tune than the FTR’s motor. Making a claimed 100 horsepower, the Bobber’s engine output is well below the others, and its only electronic riding aid is ABS (a $900 option), but its base price is $4,000 below that of the Sportster S and FTR S.
These bikes are tightly packaged machines, with bodywork kept to an absolute minimum. They all have radiators, and designers did their best to keep hoses and associated plumbing tucked away. The Scout has a tall, narrow radiator wedged between the rectangular downtubes of its cast-aluminum frame. The sportier FTR and Sportster have shorter, wider radiators with small shrouds on the sides that help them blend in.
More differences are apparent when looking at them parked side by side. With the lowest seat height (by 4 inches), longest wheelbase (by 2 inches), and stacked exhaust pipes that extend just past the trailing edge of the rear tire, the Scout is more slammed and stretched out than the others. And as the most traditionally styled of the three, it has the proportions and stance one expects from a cruiser.
The FTR is at the other end of the spectrum. With the most ground clearance, longest rear suspension travel (by 2.7 inches), and loftiest seat height (by 2.8 inches), it stands much taller than the others. Mirrors perched above the handlebar on antenna-like stalks further add to its height, while the others have bar-end mirrors. Upswept brushed-aluminum Akrapovič mufflers, an exposed rear shock with a red spring, and 17-inch wheels with matching red pinstripes give the FTR the sportiest appearance of the three.
The Sportster has a unique cut to its jib. It has a mix of glossy, matte, and brushed surfaces, and a mix of styling influences. Its high pipes and tidy tailsection are inspired by XR750 dirt trackers. Its pill-shaped LED headlight and chunky tires take a page out of the Fat Bob’s playbook, while its elongated teardrop tank is a big departure from the peanut tanks of other Sportsters. And its tubular-steel trellis frame, swingarm, and license-plate hanger hew fairly close to what’s found on the FTR.
Differences in dimensions and stance affect ergonomics. With its long-and-low profile, 25.6-inch seat height, forward-set foot controls, and minimal pullback to the handlebar, the Scout Bobber puts the rider in a classic “clamshell” seating position with a tight hip angle, even more so for those with long legs. The Scout’s solo seat is reasonably plush, but with one’s legs and arms stretched out, style trumps comfort. As the lowest bike of the bunch, it also has less cornering clearance than the others – just 29 degrees vs. 34 degrees for the Sportster and 43 degrees for the FTR. Boot heels touch pavement first, but on some right turns the bottom of the lower exhaust pipe scraped, leaving an unsightly scar of raw metal on the matte-black finish.
To accommodate its greater lean angles, the Sportster’s forward controls are positioned higher than the Scout’s (Harley offers mid-mount controls as a $660 accessory). Its solo seat is perched 29.6 inches above the pavement, which is on the tall side for a cruiser. The narrow, thinly padded saddle had us seeking relief long before the low-fuel light came on, exacerbated by the fact that the Sportster, like the Scout, locks the rider in place and has minimal rear suspension travel. Of the three, the Sportster has the most cramped cockpit, limiting its appeal among tall riders.
With a sport-standard seating position, the FTR feels altogether different than the two cruisers. The rider sits more upright, with a comfortable reach to the wide handlebar and a moderate forward lean to the upper body. Rear-set pegs put the rider’s feet directly below their hips, opening the hip angle at the expense of more knee bend. Our test riders were unanimous in declaring the FTR the most comfortable of the three, and it felt the most natural at a sporting pace. The 32.2-inch seat height may be a challenge for some, but the saddle has the thickest padding and it’s the only one here that accommodates a passenger (without digging into the accessory catalogs).
THE SOUND & THE FURY
There’s a reason nearly every motorcycle made in America has a V-Twin. The engine configuration delivers a visceral pulse that engages the rider, producing a rhythmic sound that can be both felt and heard. There’s nothing lazy about the 60-degree V-Twins that power these three. At idle, they emit a steady staccato rather than a loping beat. None of the stock exhausts are especially loud, but the Scout’s pipes play a deep rumbling tune that was sweetest to our ears.
The Harley’s Revolution Max engine is the only one here with variable valve timing, which optimizes power delivery across the rev range. Despite the Sportster’s added tech and 49cc displacement advantage over the FTR (1,252cc vs. 1,203cc), when strapped to Jett Tuning’s rear-wheel dyno, they generated nearly identical peak horsepower (116.0 vs. 115.7). Where VVT delivers the goods, however, is in the heart of the rev range – the Sportster makes 5-10 more horsepower than the FTR between 4,000 and 7,000 rpm. The Harley also doesn’t trail off as quickly after the peak as the FTR and it revs out further. In terms of torque, the Sportster clearly dominates the FTR, generating the highest peak (89.0 vs 82.7 lb-ft) and a 5-12 lb-ft advantage from 4,000-7,000 rpm.
The Scout is outgunned by the Sportster and the FTR, maxing out at 85.2 horsepower and 64.5 lb-ft of torque, but its 1,133cc mill is perfectly suited for cruiser duty. What the Scout lacks in sheer grunt it makes up for in simple enjoyment. Unlike the others, it doesn’t have throttle-by-wire or ride modes, and there’s a pleasant analog connection between the right grip and the rear wheel. The Scout is the only bike here without a slip/assist-type clutch, and squeezing its lever requires the heaviest pull. Clutch action is lightest and gear changes are easiest on the Sportster. Compared to the Harley, the FTR felt less refined, with inconsistent clutch engagement (especially when the engine is cold), uneven fueling at steady throttle, and a coarser feel at higher revs.
’ROUND THE BEND
Apart from ergonomics and engine performance, these three bikes offer distinct riding experiences. As the longest, lowest, and heaviest (by 45-50 pounds) of the three, it’s not surprising that the Scout Bobber requires the most effort to steer through a series of tight turns. It rolls on 16-inch wheels front and rear, and the semi-knobby tread on its Pirelli MT60RS dulls response and feedback. Up front, the Scout’s single 298mm disc is squeezed by a 2-piston caliper, with hydraulic fluid sent through an axial master cylinder and braided steel lines. Braking power is adequate, but the Scout’s front lever doesn’t provide the precise feedback found on the Sportster and FTR, both of which are equipped with Brembo radial master cylinders. Furthermore, since it doesn’t have an IMU like the others, the Scout’s ABS does not compensate for lean angle.
One of the Scout’s biggest limitations, which it shares with the Sportster, is a mere 2 inches of rear suspension travel. The Scout has dual shocks that are adjustable for spring preload only, while the Sportster has a single, fully adjustable piggyback reservoir shock with a linkage. Even though the Harley has more premium suspension with better damping, there’s only so much that can be done with so little travel. Few bumps pass unnoticed and big ones can be jarring, unsettling the chassis and sapping confidence, especially on the Scout.
At first glance, one would think that the fat front tire on the Sportster – a 160/70-17 that’s wider than the Scout’s 150/80-16 rear tire – would be an impediment to handling, but it has a triangular profile that helps it turn in. The Harley slices and dices confidently, with reasonably light steering and a solid, planted feel when on the edge of its tires. At higher speeds, however, the added weight of the front tire slows steering. The Sportster feels more eager than the Indians, especially in Sport mode, and it launches itself out of corners.
As part of its 2022 update, Indian sensibly shifted the FTR away from its flat-track origins and amped up its street-readiness. The 19-/18-inch wheels with quasi-knobby tires were replaced with 17-inch hoops shod with grippy Metzeler Sportec M9 RR tires, steering geometry was tightened up, and suspension travel was reduced by more than an inch. The changes made the FTR a better corner carver in every respect. Although the Sportster will quickly pull away from the Scout on a tight, twisting road thanks to its superior power-to-weight ratio, the FTR has a definite edge on the Harley in terms of cornering clearance and braking performance.
With 4.7 inches of travel front and rear, the FTR’s fully adjustable suspension has more leeway than the Sportster’s to absorb the inevitable imperfections on public roads. With more fork and shock stroke to work with, as well as the best damping among this trio, the FTR’s chassis stays more composed, allowing its rider to stay focused on the road ahead rather than avoiding bumps. The FTR also has the best brakes of the bunch, delivering impressive stopping power and feel at the lever. It’s the only bike here with dual discs up front, a pair of 320mm rotors clamped by radial 4-piston calipers. The Sportster makes do with a single 320mm front disc that’s gripped by a monoblock 4-piston caliper, and its braking performance is a close second to the FTR.
COMING OUT ON TOP
This is not your typical comparison test. These three bikes have as many differences as they do similarities, but there are some common threads. They’re made in America by companies that were fierce rivals in the past and became direct competitors again nearly a decade ago. And they have liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-Twins that depart from air-cooled tradition. Beyond that, the threads begin to unravel.
Both the Scout and Sportster carry historic nameplates originally associated with speed, but more recently have come to represent smaller, more affordable cruisers in their respective lineups. The Scout Bobber, a darker, lower variation of the standard Scout, best represents cruiser tradition. Its styling is more elemental than the Sportster or FTR, appearing old-school even though its engine architecture, cast-aluminum frame, and optional ABS are contemporary. The Bobber delivers more performance than most typical cruisers, yet its no-frills spec sheet helps keep its base price to just $10,999–$4,000 less than the others. That’s a trade-off plenty of buyers are more than happy to make.
The new Sportster S, like the Pan America with which it shares the Rev Max engine platform, represents the future of Harley-Davidson. Street Glides, Road Glides, Softails, etc. are – and will continue to be – the bread and butter of The Motor Company’s dominant on-highway market share in the U.S. But today’s motorcycle manufacturers think on a global scale, and high-tech engines and electronics that can satisfy increasingly stringent emissions and safety standards are essential.
There is, at best, a tenuous connection between the Sportster S and the iconic XL line, but H-D hopes its instantly recognizable name will help it succeed in the marketplace. Its fat tires, high pipes, bulldog stance, and mash-up of styling influences won’t appeal to everyone, but there’s no denying the performance of its engine or the capability of its chassis. The Revolution Max V-Twin is the Sportster S’ greatest attribute. Limited rear suspension travel, on the other hand, is its greatest limitation.
As a motorcycle we’d want to live with every day, the Indian FTR S is the clear winner here. Its street-tracker styling either appeals to you or it doesn’t (count us as fans), but from the standpoint of functionality and rider engagement, the FTR S checks all the right boxes. Compared to the Sportster S, the Indian’s engine is weaker in the midrange and feels rougher around the edges, but the FTR handles better, has the best brakes, is the most comfortable, and has standard passenger accommodations. Like the Sportster S, it has ride modes, modern electronic rider aids, cruise control, a USB charging port, Bluetooth connectivity, and a color TFT display, with the added convenience of a touchscreen.
With the FTR platform’s recent update, Indian has had a few years to work out the kinks, and the current iteration is a much better streetbike than the original. In addition to the FTR S tested here, there are three other variants to choose from: the base-model FTR ($12,999), the scrambler-styled FTR Rally ($13,999), and the top-of-the-line FTR R Carbon ($16,999). Harley-Davidson won’t rest on its laurels, and there will surely be updates to the Sportster S and spin-off models in the years ahead.
Last year, Suzuki announced several new or significantly updated motorcycles, including the third-generation Hayabusa hyper-sportbike, the revamped GSX-S1000 naked bike, and the all-new GSX-S1000GT sport-tourer. We’ve tested the Hayabusa, and we’ll get a chance to ride the GSXs soon.
Meantime, Suzuki has announced the return of several popular models for 2022, including the V-Strom 1050XT, V-Strom 1050XT Adventure, Boulevard C50, Boulevard C50T, and GSX250R ABS.
2022 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT
The V-Strom 1050XT is a perennial favorite in the adventure-touring segment, powered by a 1,037cc 90-degree that sends 96 hp and 66 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel, according to our 2020 tour test. It’s also equipped with the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, which uses a 6-axis IMU to inform a full suite of electronics, including ride modes, cornering ABS and traction control, cruise control, and more. The V-Strom 1050XT also has an adjustable windscreen, handguards, a two-piece seat with height adjustability for the rider’s section, an accessory bar, a centerstand, and much more. It’s available in a cool Metallic Oort Gray with Glass Sparkle Black color scheme with blue-anodized tubeless spoked wheels. MSRP is $14,849.
2022 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Adventure
The V-Stroke 1050XT Adventure makes a statement with its Suzuki Champion Yellow and Glass Sparkle Black colorway with silver and blue accents as well as gold-anodized tubeless spoked wheels. Added to the 1050XT’s impressive standard equipment list is a set of Suzuki’s quick release 37-liter aluminum panniers, LED fog lights, and heated grips. MSRP is $17,049.
2022 Suzuki Boulevard C50
Suzuki’s Boulevard line of cruisers has delivered solid value, reliability, and style for years. The Boulevard C50 is powered by a liquid-cooled 805cc (49ci) 45-degree V-Twin that delivers plenty of low-end torque. The C50’s traditional styling includes a kicked-out fork, valance-style fenders, and a staggered, chromed, dual exhaust system. The Boulevard C50 is available in Candy Daring Red (shown) or Solid Iron Gray, and MSRP is $8,609.
2022 Suzuki Boulevard C50T
If you’re interested in a touring cruiser, the Boulevard C50T should be right up your alley. Travel-ready features include a spacious riding position, an aerodynamic windshield, and custom studded saddlebags that match the studded rider and passenger seats. The C50T is available in Pearl Brilliant White with classic whitewall tires. MSRP is $10,059.
2022 Suzuki GSX250R ABS
An entry-level sportbike doesn’t have to look like it. The GSX250R ABS has an aerodynamic full fairing that fits right in with full-sized sportbikes. It’s powered by an approachable but exciting 248cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin, and it has ABS-equipped single-disc brakes front and rear. Riders of any age and experience level will appreciate the GSX250R’s fuel efficiency, nimble handling, and comfortable riding position. It’s available in Crystal Blue with Pearl Nebular Black. MSRP is $4,999.
For more information or to find a Suzuki dealer near you, visit suzukicycles.com.
Indian Motorcycle defied the bagger status quo when it released the liquid-cooled Challenger in 2020. The firm wasted little time proving the PowerPlus V-Twin’s performance potential with a victory at the inaugural King of the Baggers Invitational. In 2022, Indian is back for a second helping, but this time, the company takes the Challenger’s winning formula and adds a dash of grand-touring pedigree with its new Indian Pursuit models for 2022.
Powered by the same 108 cubic-inch, liquid-cooled PowerPlus V-Twin found in the Challenger, the new Pursuit Limited and Pursuit Dark Horse pump out 122 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque (at the crank). While the Pursuit and Challenger share the same power figures, Indian engineers have refined the power delivery for improved low-speed drivability.
The similarities don’t end there though. The Pursuit’s frame-mounted fairing carries over the same blocky design language that made the Challenger such an eye-catcher. However, Indian’s design team adds extra wind protection to the new long-distance tourer in the form of lower leg fairings and a tall, adjustable windscreen. The team further enhances that cushy cockpit with a Touring Comfort seat and heated grips. Combined with the Pursuit’s new power-locking cargo trunk, total storage capacity (with saddlebags) increases to 35 gallons of capacity, enabling long-haul travelers to embark on far-flung adventures.
Tech also improves cockpit accommodations, with a 7-inch TFT display and Indian’s Ride Command+ system putting Apple CarPlay and turn-by-turn GPS navigation at riders’ fingertips. Both the Pursuit Dark Horse and Pursuit Limited come with complimentary one-year Ride Command+ access, including live traffic and weather map overlays, and the brand’s new vehicle locator.
For customers fully committed to pounding the pavement, Indian also offers a Premium Package for both Pursuit variants. The top-of-the-line trim adds an electronically adjustable Fox rear shock, enabling riders to adapt the suspension to various loads directly from the infotainment control system. The electronic preload system is standard on all Premium-trim Pursuits, and the feature can be added as an upgrade to any Challenger from Indian’s parts and accessories catalog.
Along with the up-spec Fox monoshock, the Premium Package includes a Bosch six-axis IMU that manages cornering traction control and lean-sensitive ABS, as well as a heated seat and integrated lower fairing driver lights.
With chrome finishes, the Pursuit Limited retails for $29,999, while the Pursuit Dark Horse’s satin black accents raise the MSRP to $30,999. In Premium Package form, the Pursuit Limited jumps to $32,999, while the Pursuit Dark Horse’s sticker price increases to $33,999.
Of course, Indian’s after-purchase catalog includes a wealth of Pursuit accessories such as storage and audio options for the lower fairings, various Spirit Lake Luggage pieces, LED lighting upgrades, and mid-rise handlebars.