The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster Adds Substance to the Sportster
Harley-Davidson's newest bike is proof that things are changing in Milwaukee.
The name Harley-Davidson represents a lot of things. America. Muscle. Chrome. An unwillingness to change or cater. It’s an institution as much as a bike brand. But the times, they’re a changing, and this new Sportster is just the latest in Harley’s turn towards progress.
It's a subtle shift. The 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster doesn't look new. The Roadster name is less than a decade old, while the 1200cc engine is closer to three. So why the fuss? Unlike most bikes in HD’s lineup, this new Roadster is fit with both dual brake discs up front mated to twin piston calipers, and an upside down cartridge fork. Out back sit two gas-charged emulsion coil-over shocks with pre-load adjustability. Translation? It'll turn and it'll stop.
Instead of turning their newest Sportster package into (even more of) a low rider, the trend for several years, the Roadster's suspension actually increases travel and ride height. That means the Roadster will lean over, and even more important, handle being ridden like a bike that can lean over. It also gets a pretty walnut shaped tank, a fancy new cafe-style stepped seat that will accommodate a passenger, a shorty exhaust system, a bobbed rear fender, and cast wheels.
This Roadster is the third bike we’ve seen Harley throw a performance package at, following the Low Rider S and Pro Street Breakout. The Motor Co’s latest attempt looks like it has the chops to fill that spot between the standard Sportys and bigger Dynas, something we’ve always wanted to see. Tradition, with a little flexing.
Go on then Harley, keep making things faster. You have our attention.