In this job, I am lucky enough to have ridden many different bikes. Fast, slow, big small and a lot in between. However, I have never ridden a Harley……until now.
The lovely team that looks after the PR for Harley Davidson reached out and asked if I would like to try their wares and I’m not going to say no to an offer like that.
Harley-Davidson Inc. is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but of course, you all knew that already, what with the Harley brand being one of the most recognisable brands in the world.
Founded in 1903, it is one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression, the other being its historical rival, Indian Motorcycles. Interestingly, Indian Motorcycles were founded in 1901, a couple of years before Harley, making them the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in America. Indian however did have a 60-year break in production.
The 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S is a performance cruiser that delivers an exhilarating ride. It's powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine, the most powerful factory-installed Harley-Davidson engine ever. With 125 lb-ft of torque, the Low Rider S pulls hard through the gears.
About that engine; With a displacement of 1,923 cc, the Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine is the largest and most powerful factory-installed Harley-Davidson engine ever. It produces 124 lb-ft / 168 Nm of torque at 3,500 rpm and makes 105 HP / 78 kW @ 5020 rpm. Based on the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine, the 117 has a number of upgrades that make it more powerful and efficient, Including a larger bore and stroke and higher compression ratio thanks to new high-flow cylinder heads, a new camshaft, intake manifold and 2-into-2 offset shotgun exhaust system plus a host of other tweaks and improvements. The result is a smooth and powerful V twin that is bursting with character and makes quite a statement.
The riding position took a bit of getting used to for me. I’m used to adventure bikes, naked bikes and so on. With the Low Rider S, you tend to sit in rather than on the bike. You sit low down in between the rear mudguard and fuel tank, feet forward, butt down. With a seat height of just 710 mm, it is very comfortable and easy to ride through city traffic. I could flat-foot and even stand up out of the seat if needed. The seat height made manoeuvring as easy as it could be, which is good considering it weighs 308 kg despite not having much bodywork or any luggage to concern yourself with.
Suspension is taken care of by single cartridge 43 mm inverted forks with aluminium triple clamps at the front and a hidden, free piston, coil-over monoshock with hydraulic preload adjustment at the rear.
Stopping is taken care of by twin front discs with 4-piston Brembo fixed calipers at the front and a 2-piston floating caliper at the rear.
Harley has made the dash as simple as it could be. In a world where we are being force-fed a diet of ever-increasing-sized LCD TFT screens and menus on top of menus, the Low Rider S dash is a very welcome departure. They have given you a 4-inch analogue tachometer with a digital speedometer, gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip and range indication. That’s all you need.
The Low Rider S has a sleek and aggressive design. It features a blacked-out finish, moto-style drag bars, and a mini fairing. The bike is also equipped with a number of premium features, such as electronic cruise control, a keyless ignition system, and a security system.
Overall, the 2023 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S is a powerful and stylish performance cruiser that delivers an exhilarating ride. I’ve ridden several other retro cruisers and found them all to be compromised in one way or another. I’m not saying that this is perfect and does everything, but it is a great package and everything works together to deliver a fun ride that is dripping with authenticity. When you ride a Harley you genuinely feel part of something. You can feel the heritage and tradition, you look at yourself in the reflection in shop windows and notice people looking at you.
It’s good to ride too. The suspension was perfect for my weight, and the brakes were very effective and offered great feedback and feel. The gearbox was smooth as long as you didn’t rush the gear changes and it handled well.
I came to this with an expectation, I thought maybe this Harley thing was all hype, but I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hanging up my leathers and turning my back on sports bikes, but it’s a very nice way to get around and you can’t beat the authenticity and feeling of belonging to something bigger.
Torque - 124 lb-ft / 168 Nm @ 3,500 rpm
Power - 105 HP / 78 kW @ 5020 rpm
Tank - 18.9 L
Tyres, Front - 110/90B19,62H,BW
Tyres, Rear - 180/70B16,77H,BW
Tyre, Type - Michelin™ Scorcher™ "31" front and rear (Harley branded tyres)
Seat Height, Unladen - 710 mm
Wheelbase - 1,615 mm
Weight - 308 kg
Length - 2,365 mm
Price - from £19,395
(+MSRP surcharge of £235 + vat due to extraordinary raw materials and transportation costs which is added to all MY23 Motorcycles and Trikes).