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If you ever think about big bulky motorcycles, especially cruisers, the first name that will probably strike your mind is Harley-Davidson.
It has been more than 100 years since the company's inception and still, Harley-Davidson is known to make motorcycles that will turn heads and leave you in a state of awe.
For 2017, Harley-Davidson brings us the 1200cc Roadster. This motorcycle is currently the most sport-oriented version in Harley's Sportster line-up. We took the bike for a spin and here's what we have to say about it.
If you are familiar with the Sportsters design, then the Harley-Davidson Roadster will look familiar to you. But, at first sight, you may misinterpret it for the Forty-Eight because of the shape of the tank.
But, the Roadster does not have a peanut-sized tank, instead, it uses a bigger tank that holds 12.5 litres. Other tweaks done to the bike are - lower mounted handlebars for better handling, mid-set footpegs, chopped fenders and split five-spoke cast wheels.
The new roadster, however, does get a digital-analogue speedometer that has readings for speed, odometer, trip meters, a gear positioning sensor and a clock, while the tachometer is an analogue unit. The only issue here is that you will find it difficult to read the digital meter under direct sunlight.
Powering the Roadster is the same 1200cc, air-cooled, Evolution V-Twin which does its duty on the Forty-Eight and also the 1200 Custom. The engine produces 96Nm of peak torque at around 3500 rpm and is coupled to a 5-speed gearbox. The engine does not heat up much, so, riding in peak traffic should not be an issue.
The engine has a very relaxed nature and is quite in contrast to the sporty blacked-out theme of the motorcycle. It's got a lot of low-end torque and pulls quite well, even at high gears. But, if you want to overtake quickly, you will have to shift down because the power feels slightly sluggish at higher gears.
The clutch feels slightly heavy and changing gears will be a task in heavy traffic situations for some riders. There still are a lot of vibrations at idle, but, eventually, it smoothes out once you get to higher revs. On the open highway, north of 100km/h is the sweet spot for this motorcycle which is apt to cruise.
The shape of the rider's saddle just blends in with the design of the motorcycle and it really holds you in place and prevents you from sliding back. It's comfortable for long rides but, the pillion seat, however, is just for the namesake.
Even short spins around the city are not at all comfortable as the seatslopes towards the rear and the moment you give gas the pillion just tends to slip off because it also lacks a backrest. However, that can be taken care of with the wide range of accessories that Harley has to offer.
Despite weighing 250 kgs, manoeuvring the Roadster is very easy in the city. The bike does not feel that heavy while cornering either. This is thanks to the 43mm upside down forks up front that get triple rate springs and the rear suspension that features preload adjustment.
Braking duties are handled by twin 300mm discs at the front and a single disc at the rear. The Roadster also gets dual-channel ABS that watches your back when you have to brake hard during emergencies.
The bike comes fitted with Harley-Davidson-specific Dunlop tyres and offers a lean angle of 29 degrees, beyond which you will end up scraping the footpegs.
There were a couple of things that disappointed me a bit. One - the suspension setup is quite stiff, which, is helpful when you are at high speeds or carrying speed into corners, but, otherwise when you are in the city the Roadster will make sure that you feel every pothole and bump despite its 150mm ground clearance.
Two - is the way the footpegs are designed and positioned. The pegs are also spread wide out, so every time you stop at a signal or even park the bike in a tight parking spaces, the footpegs will always get in the way of your legs which feels really irritating.
Promeet Ghosh Thinks!
At Rs 9,85,000 ex-showroom (Delhi), the Harley-Davidson Roadster is a sporty cruiser which has a lot of plus points. A couple of them are - super retro looks and handling that it has to offer. Plus, the Roadster is the sportiest motorcycle in Harley-Davidson's Sportster line-up.
The Roadster is offered at a very attractive price, but, the main question arises that, whether Harley will be able to get their customers to accept the Roadster? We think yes, because the little motorcycle has a personality to it and its pretty fun to ride on a daily basis.