Harley-Davidson’s New Sportster S is Built to Perform Backed by Iconic Cruiser Looks

Built on the Revolution Max platform, the new 2021 Sportster promises more power, on-demand torque, a lightweight chassis, contemporary tech, and classic style - is this Harley's most enduring model yet?

When it comes to motorcycles, is there a name more iconic than that of Harley-Davidson? This may be a heritage brand from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but they are still creating stylish and seemingly irresistible offerings.

For 2021, one of their all-new bikes is the Sportster S, which is powered by the same engine that impressed critics and fans alike in the Pan America 1250 bike. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what makes the 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S so special.

1. The Revolution Max 1250T Powertrain

This engine is a liquid-cooled V-Twin with double overhead cams and four valves in each cylinder with variable valve timing. What all this really means is that it’s one of the most cutting-edge and sophisticated engines that Harley-Davidson have ever put together.

As we mentioned above, a version of this engine has been used in the past, but this one in the Sportster S has been adjusted to deliver far better low-end torque (94lb-ft overall rating) while still maintaining an impressive output of 121hp.

  • Power: 121 HP / 90 kW @ 7500 rpm
  • Engine Torque: 94 ft-lb (127 Nm) @ 6,000 rpm

Below, some key performance specs for the new bike:

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S
2021 Sportster S. Photo: Harley-Davidson
EngineRevolution Max 1250T
ValvesChain-driven, DOHC, hydraulic self-adjusting lifters, intake & exhaust VVT; four valves per cylinder
Bore4.13 in. (105 mm)
Stroke2.85 in. (72.3 mm)
Displacement76.4 cu in (1,252 cc)
Compression Ratio12.0:1
Fuel SystemElectronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Exhaust2-into-1-into-2; catalyst in muffler
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With riders finding a torque sweet spot between just 3,000 and 6,000rpm, the 227kg (about 500lbs) bike is perhaps surprisingly nippy, accelerating like a sports bike, but all the while maintaining the charm of a classic cruiser. And if you’re new to cruiser bikes, here some great beginner models to consider.

That brings us to the next special point.

2. Iconic Looks

This may be one of the most advanced bikes that Harley-Davidson has produced, but the company knows what its fans and others love in this brand, and that’s the same heritage looks that just scream “Harley.” From the powerful frame to the riders imposing cruising stance; from the black-finished hardware to the 48-type front wheel. There’s no mistaking this is pure Harley through and through.

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S
2022 Sportster S. Photo: Harley-Davidson

Here’s a look at dimensions:

Length89.2 in. (2,265 mm)
Overall Width33.2 in. (843 mm)
Overall Height42.9 in. (1,089 mm)
Seat Height, Laden28.9 in. (734 mm)
Seat Height, Unladen29.6 in. (753 mm)
Static Ground Clearance3.66 in. (93 mm)

3. A Harley Cruiser Built to Perform

Outside of the powertrain, the 2021 Sportster S benefits from Harley-Davidson’s latest drive technology. Featured most prominently are the Cornering Enhanced Drag-Torque Slip Control System, which reduces rear-wheel slip and locking from sudden downshifting; and the Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System, which prevents excess wheel spin while accelerating and uses four drive modes (Road, Sport, Rain, Custom) to optimize traction and account for leaning in bad weather.

Harley-Davidson breaks down their safety features and tech here.

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The suspension system is also a picture of modernity compared to past Sportster models. It features a rear single shock and front inverted forks, both of which are adjustable. The engine and Sportster S chassis are bolted together as one, with the chassis stiffened by a welded tubular steel trellis swing arm with a stamped X-member.

4. Housing the Latest Technology

2021 Sportster S
2021 Sportster S. Photo: Harley-Davidson

The 2021 Sportster S may exude that more classic and traditional Harley-Davidson look, but it further stretches technological bounds through the happy inclusion of numerous other advanced features. First of all, the rider is treated to a 4-inch TFT screen with flawless contrast and readability.

It offers a large digital speedometer surrounded by tachometer, bike status, Bluetooth-powered infotainment and music, incoming call answering, and navigation. There’s also a tire pressure monitoring system on board.

2021 HD Sportster S Price and Release Date: Starting at $14,999

In USD, the 2021 Sportster S is set to start at $14,999 and will be available from the fall. It will also be available in Canada starting at CA$19,999. Those who want to remain in the know should keep one eye on the Harley-Davidson press room and online showrooms. A new sporty age of Harley-Davidson is seemingly upon us.

2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Pictures