Motorcycles

Harley-Davidson bolsters the Sportster range with 2016 Roadster

Harley-Davidson bolsters the S...
The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster in Black Denim color
The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster in Black Denim color
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A pair of 43 mm cartridge inverted forks and two floating 300 mm brake disks with two-piston calipers play right into the sport riding image that Harley-Davidson intends for the 2016 Roadster
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A pair of 43 mm cartridge inverted forks and two floating 300 mm brake disks with two-piston calipers play right into the sport riding image that Harley-Davidson intends for the 2016 Roadster
The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster in Black Denim color
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The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster in Black Denim color
Harley-Davidson designed the 2016 Roadster for riders with a sportier taste
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Harley-Davidson designed the 2016 Roadster for riders with a sportier taste
A 4-inch instrument sits the middle of the handlebars, playing right into the 2016 Roadster's stripped-down styling
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A 4-inch instrument sits the middle of the handlebars, playing right into the 2016 Roadster's stripped-down styling
The latest version of the Evolution engine is used in the 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster
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The latest version of the Evolution engine is used in the 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster
The pair of emulsion-type shocks of the 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster are adjustable for preload
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The pair of emulsion-type shocks of the 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster are adjustable for preload
The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster in Velocity Red Sunglo color
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The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster in Velocity Red Sunglo color
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The latest addition to the Sportster 1200 family draws its inspiration from 1960s garage-built customs, and is a proud member of the Dark Custom tribe. Trading its chrome for technical updates, the XL 1200CX is a bare-knuckle Roadster with lots of attitude and some extra grunt to support it.

The basic idea behind the Dark Custom series is to hone select Harley-Davidson models with a dark, Spartan and homemade feel, while encouraging personalization with a thorough after-market parts list. The Roadster joins the ranks of seven motorcycles that trace their roots to some of Harley-Davidson's most iconic families. We have representatives of the Street range (750), Sportster (883 Iron, Forty-Eight, Seventy-Two), Dyna (Street Bob, Fat Bob) and a select member of the S Series with the mighty Screamin' Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine (Low Rider S).

Visually the Roadster bears an acute resemblance to 883 Iron and Forty-Eight, apparently due to their Sportster kinship. So how is it positioned in this team, especially next to the Forty-Eight that shares the same engine and frame platform? The new model is designed for riders with a sportier taste, and Harley-Davidson made sure that all the changes in the bike's running gear point to this end.

The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster in Velocity Red Sunglo color
The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster in Velocity Red Sunglo color

First of all there is a notable shift in the frame geometry, as the Roadster's rake is steeper by 1.2 degrees compared to the other 1200 models. The brand new cast aluminum wheels measure 19 and 18 inches at the front (120/70) and rear (150/70) respectively.

The suspensions are also new, with an inverted set of 43 mm cartridge forks at the front and a pair of preload-adjustable emulsion-type shocks at the rear. A couple of floating 300 mm disks with two-piston calipers is theoretically also in perfect tune with the bike's sporty character.

The choice of taller suspension is intriguing, probably selected in search of more clearance for deeper lean angles. The Roadster can lean down to 31 degrees, but what's more interesting is that according to Harley-Davidson, this is the Sportster with the longest suspension travel – 4.5 in (115 mm) front and 3.2 in (81 mm) rear. An obvious side effect concerns the seat height, which rises to 30.9 in (785 mm) – as we cannot help but ponder what kind of impression will this have on the bike's weight distribution and, consequently, its handling.

The latest version of the Evolution engine is used in the 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster
The latest version of the Evolution engine is used in the 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster

The Evolution 1200 engine is employed in its latest form, with aluminum heads and cylinders for better heat dissipation and less weight. Compared to the other Sportster 1200 models, the Roadster's 45-degree V-Twin enjoys a little more torque a little bit higher, as the maximum value reaches 76 lb-ft (10.5 Nm) at 3,750 rpm (70.8 lb-ft/9.8 Nm at 3,500 rpm for the Fort-Eight). It may not exactly constitute a paradigm-shifting development, yet it is a welcome bonus to an engine renowned for its punchy low-rpm performance in the first place.

Optional equipment includes ABS brake support – probably standard in European versions – and a Smart Security System featuring wireless ignition controlled via a hands-free key fitted with proximity sensor.

The Roadster will start arriving in US showrooms in May at a starting price of US$11,199, while European customers will have to wait an extra month for the new Dark Custom to cross the Atlantic.

Source: Harley-Davidson

View gallery - 7 images
7 comments
7 comments
VincentWolf
Just another American junk bike that leaks oil, gas, fouls the air with loud noises. Hey Harley try making a decent EV bike like the LS218. Put the same drivetrain into a good HD frame with high bars and I'd be a happy camper and proud to drive a Harley but with those greasy, noisy polluting V-twins no thanks.
TerryBigler
Same as before,,gonna need a bigger fuel tank.I have had several sportsters ,have an iron head now, they ride better now than they used to but you still have to stop for fuel every 90 miles,while that's about as long as a normal person can stand on one you still have to take it into consideration,,and they ought to add a reserve to the tank too, cause with most sportys when you get to the bottom you start pushing
Derek Howe
VincentWolf - HD isn't going to make a crotch rocket...that's not the market they cater to. A lot of people love the V-twin, because they love that classic sound, you may hate it, but they love it. I have no doubt that HD will eventually role out an electric bike, they made one a couple years ago, showed it off, I think the range was a pathetic 60 miles or so, but it was just a concept bike. But the electric bike movement is gaining some steam, so I wouldn't be surprised to see HD release a electric bike around 17'-18'.
unklmurray
Every time I see a modern H-D I kick myself for selling my last one.....I saw this one....WHAT an Ugly bike......My last bike had a 6gal coffin tank and was good for longer than you could stand to ride the ''Hard tail,Rigid .....yeah, it had a springer front end and drum brakes,and a suicide clutch with the shifter on the tank.....Yeah it was a 47Knuckle Head......Its in a museum,I should be there 2!!
chidrbmt
VW, you're really outdated with your opinions. All motorcycles today are quite reliable compared with the past and reasonable quiet with factory exhaust. Unless there is a battery break thru,electrics will continue to be marginal. Now if Sportster lost a 100 lbs,then your talking. Looks sharp though.
Martin Hone
Sportsters have had alloy heads and barrels since the Evolution models back in the mid '80's. Good to see they are inching their way to decent suspension and brakes, and the reduction in rake by 1.5 degrees should help steering. When we raced the 883's we jacked the rear end up 3-4 inches with longer socks. Plenty of ground clearance and handled very well for such a heavy bike.
Road tar
I think a lot of people don't have a very accurate view of Harleys. There are a high number of older Harleys running around that people see, no doubt many of them look pretty ratty and not as nice as the newer bikes they see. So, this misperception is applied to all Harleys. The modern Sportster is a too heavy, but very reliable bike.