Harley-Davidson brings back the night

Harley-Davidson is replacing its old favorite 883 Sportster with a new liquid-cooled 975cc Nightster.

It is now arriving in Australian and New Zealand showrooms at A$23,995 in black (NZ$25,495) and A$24,300 in gray or red ($26,330).

This is the first of the 975cc versions of the Revolution 1250cc liquid-cooled engines which have been fitted to the new Pan America Adventure Bike and the Sportster S which replaced the 1200cc Sportsters.

Therefore, we can expect a 975cc Pan America version in showrooms soon.

Meanwhile, the “Night” moniker that’s familiar from the old Night Train and Night Rod returns with the entry-level 975 Nightster.

It’s powered by a 975cc version of the Revolution V-twin with 67kW of power, which is huge power from the Pan America with 112kW of power and the Sportster S downtuned to 90kW.

However, the interesting thing is that Harley even names a horsepower rating that they rarely did before the advent of these new engines.

More importantly, the new motor develops 95 Nm of usable torque at just 5000 rpm.

Harley says it has less mechanical noise thanks to hydraulic valve clearance adjustment which also reduces maintenance costs, although I find service intervals are still at 8000km.

The balanced engine also now runs smoother than the choppy 883 Sportsters.

Other features of the bike are mid-foot controls, low bars and a low 705mm seat, which means the rider sits ‘in’ the bike rather than ‘on’ as with the new Sportster S .

Compared to its larger Sportster S sibling, there are no gunmetal accents, the pipes are lower and thinner, and there’s a more conventional round headlight in a mini hood.

Harley says the engine is a structural component of the chassis and the rear section is aluminum, which helps keep weight down, but it still weighs 218kg with a full 11.7-litre tank.

In fact, the “tank” is an airbox, and the fuel is stored in a plastic tank under the seat for a lower center of gravity. There is no fuel cap as such with the filler hidden under the hinged solo seat.

The company again used the proven and reliable Showa Dual Bending Valve conventional 41mm forks and Dual Emulsion Technology shocks with coil springs.

The lean angle is now 32 degrees, which is similar to Softail models.

Company boss Jochen Zeitz describes the Nightster as “a canvas for creativity and customization”, which is usually code for “basic”.

However, Nightster comes with a suite of electronic driver aids, including traction control, torque slip control to prevent rear wheel lockup during downshifts, and three engine modes.

Everything can be controlled via buttons on the handlebars.

The 4.0-inch round analog speedometer is complemented by an integrated multi-function LCD display on the handlebar riser.

It comes with LED lighting, including their literally brilliant Daymaker headlight.

Harley-Davidson Nightster with accessories

As expected, there are a host of dedicated attachments, including taller bars and a passenger seat.

Technical specifications Harley-Davidson Nightster

Price $23,995 A in black ($25,495 NZ), $24,300 A in gray or red ($26,330).
guarantee 2 years, unlimited km
A service 1600/8000km
Engine 975cc Revolution Max
Able 67 kW at 7,500 rpm
Couple 95 Nm at 5000 rpm
Economy 4.5L/100km
Transmission 6 speed, belt drive
Suspension 41mm exposure forks; double shock
Brakes 320mm disc, 4-piston caliper; 260mm disc, single piston caliper
Length 2206mm
Width 836mm
Height 1108mm
Seat 705mm
Wheelbase 1556mm
Tires 100/90-19; 150/80-16 Dunlop HD series
Fuel 11.7L
Wet weight 218kg

About Todd Wurtsbach

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