As part of the Harley-Davidson Dirt.Road.Track (DRT) experience, those who attended also got the chance to try out the latest 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster.
Powered by the also new Revolution Max 975T V-twin engine, is the Nightster a bike worthy of the brand's 'bar and shield' logo? It's a good question for 2022, and a good question we will try to answer after having ridden it in Pattaya, Thailand.
What is the Nightster?
In essence, the H-D Nightster represents the latest evolution of the Sportster line-up as well as the Revolution Max powertrain. It's also a bike that is seen as a good starter pack for those who are thinking of getting on the H-D bandwagon, before jumping onto more serious machines - the ones powered by the big Milwaukee-Eight units.
Coming in hot with only 975cc displacement from its new Revolution Max 975T engine, the Nightster is parked under the Sport variant of Harley-Davidson together with its bigger and more powerful sibling, the Sportster S.
In short, the Nightster looks and feels like the good ol' Sportster 883, but paired with a new engine, enhanced electronic riding aids, and levels of comfort and agility, this new 'baby' Harley has huge potential to be truly appreciated by newer and younger riders who are fans of the brand but are still a bit intimidated with some of H-D's bigger offerings.
975cc Revolution Max V-twin engine
As stated above, the new 'baby' or 'gateway' Harley model comes with the smaller version of the Revolution Max V-twin engine found in the Pan America 1250 and Sportster S. Producing 90hp and 95Nm of torque, the Nightster offers a fair combination of smooth cruising capabilities and exciting torque delivery.
The Nightster is also different from older Harleys due to the fact that the engine is also used as a stressed member of the chassis. This means that the front end, rear subframe, and swingarm are bolted directly to the engine, which makes the Nightster a more 'compact, strong, and lightweight' model. In running order, it tips the scale at 221kg - a fair weight for any bike that's just under the 1,000cc mark.
The fuel tank is under the seat?
That's right. In order to keep the bike's mass centralised and down low, Harley-Davidson decided to place its 11.7-litre fuel tank under the seat (between the engine and rear tyre). Even the battery is parked down low in front of the engine to ensure that it stays nimble and agile in the corners and at lower speeds. That 'fuel tank' on top is actually the bike's airbox dressed to look like a traditional fuel tank. Clever.
The Nightster's chassis is also fitted with 41mm Showa dual-bending valve forks upfront (non-adjustable) and dual-rear shocks (preload-adjustable) for better smoothness and riding comfort. There's a 19-inch wheel and 16-inch for the rear to complete its low-riding sporty looks. A bit skinny-looking at that front end, but easy to ride with little to no drama.
Rider Safety Enhancements out of the box
Another area that H-D has been working on to extensively improve is the electronic riding aids. We're glad to know that the Nightster, despite being an 'entry-level' model, also comes with selectable riding modes (Road, Rain, and Sport) for different riding scenarios.
By choosing the different modes, the system will then configure the right levels of power delivery, engine braking, ABS, and traction control accordingly. That way, it keeps things safer and when you're out riding, safer is always more fun because you'll have fewer things to worry about.
The Nightster also comes with Brembo brakes, which had good feedback and enough bite to slow down and stop safely despite the single-disc setup upfront. In other words, it's a Harley that you can comfortably go fast, slow down and stop even if you're a new rider to the segment. No complaints in these areas.
Should you buy one?
Why not? The Nightster looks cool, feels great to ride, is very agile and sensible, but still has that Harley aura despite being a much smaller capacity machine compared to the Milwaukee-Eights.
As a model that represents the new evolution for Harley-Davidson (together with the Pan America and Sportster S), the Nightster can also be seen as a blank canvas just waiting to be customised and personalised - also another ethos of H-D when it comes to freedom of expression and riding performance.
It'll be in the Malaysian market soon, and we have a strong feeling that it'll be priced somewhere between the range of RM85,000 to RM90,000*. That's only an estimate for now, which will be confirmed tomorrow at the Art of Speed Malaysia event (2 July 2022).
All in all, The Nightster is a very decent proposition before moving towards the bigger models like the very beautiful Low Rider ST.
*Price update: 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster priced at RM93,900 as announced during its official Malaysian launch at Art of Speed.