The new engine gets a new trim
It's not just available in black!
In the not too distant past Harley-Davidson, one of the world’s oldest motorcycle companies, made a fundamental change to the way they built their engines. They added liquid cooling systems. There were a number of reasons why they did this. The main one was to meet the emissions standards that were looming in pretty much every market across the globe. est. Very few of us could predict what happened next.
The company launched the Milwaukee 8. A new V twin engine that produced more power, ran smoother and cleaner, yet was an undoubted Harley motor. Since then we’ve seen the company put liquid cooled engines in all their models as well as launching several all new bikes. Perhaps the most notable is the PanAmerica, a genuine adventure bike that does quite a good job of upsetting the adventure pack. As well as handing it to Gixxer riders across Molls Gap. What a goon that guy was…
In 2022 as we emerged from the ‘great unhappiness’ H-D added a new machine to their line up. The brand new Nightster was born. The, now much loved 883 had finally been replaced. Regardless of what happened next.
The new bike has that classic Sportster styling, but once again it’s under the tank where all the changes are. The Milwaukee 8 has spawned a number of other ‘blocks’. The Nightster is powered by another new engine, the Revolution Max 975T series. With only 975cc displacement it may seem quite small for a Harley. But it’s another fresh take on the American classic V Twin and it puts out a healthy 90 ponies. More importantly it produces 95 Nm of torque. Until a few years ago that was pretty much the best we could hope for from an engine twice the size from H-D.
In order to get this new Revolution Max engine to perform this well they needed to make a unit that not only ran well in the midrange, they also needed to get real world acceleration. Acceleration of the type that would keep motorcyclists happy. So it isn’t just an older engine with a radiator strapped on, it’s a whole new beast. Using variable valve timing, making a bigger airbox and changing the shape of the intake velocity stacks all make for a whole new experience from the most American of motorcycles.
While they were all this one of the unintended consequences of the development was a significantly quieter engine. It was also pretty much devoid of any vibration. While this made for a significant saving on servicing costs it just didn’t feel like a Harley. The marque, after all, doesn’t have a reputation for subtly! Thankfully the internal balancers have been ‘backed off’ enough to allow that character and feel out.
All of this sits in a new chassis. To compliment the engine the frame is also a new and lighter weight affair. It even has an aluminium sub frame. One of the things that I really liked was the fact that they’ve discarded is that feet forward riding position and used a much more conventional mid set pegs and foot controls. For me, at least, this places the rider in a more centred part of the bike. As a rider I also ‘fall into place’ when I’m underway. The seat, meanwhile, sits quite low. As such it’s very unintimidating and very easy to control, particularly at low speeds.
Its springs are also a new departure. Down the back, while still looking the Sportster part, are a set of shocks that use outboard emulsion-technology absorbers with coil springs. Preloading is simple to adjust thanks to a threaded collar on each one. For those of us who are ‘brand queens’ the great news is that the front end features a pair of 41mm Showa dual bending valve forks. These just add to that excellent new engine and that lighter chassis. After all, what’s the point of power without control?
I love the fuel tank. What looks like the tank is actually an air box cover. The real one sits under the seat and is accessible via a hinge. Hanging the weight this low makes for a friendlier centre of gravity. It holds a shade under 12 litres. The ‘tank’ is a classic H-D walnut shape. The actual tank looks like a classic oil cooler. Very clever and very cool.
The most powerful H-D engine yet
Now because of the way that the bikes electrics are configured a relatively easy fix can reduce the power output that bring the motor back within the parameters set out for riders on A2 licences. The magic part of this is that you can either celebrate by getting a new bike, or having the dealership ‘flick the switch’ and release all the bikes power and torque.
Fitted as standard is the legally mandated, Antilock Braking System (ABS). Cleverly, it’s activated as needed on each wheel. This allows for better control and more feedback when under braking. This is complimented by a new Traction Control System (TCS). Unlike the ABS the TCS can be switched off by the rider. Drag Torque Slip Control System (DSCS), try saying that early in the morning after the staff xmas party, prevents the rear wheel from spinning up. It does this by adjusting the torque delivery. Dropping down through the gears isn’t nearly as dramatic as it usually is.
All of these are tailored to match power delivery through the bikes selectable power modes. There are three, rain, road and sport. The last is the most dynamic and the best fun. Road is what you use when you’re running on reserve and have no idea where the next petrol station is. There’s absolutely no excuse for ever riding in rain unless you’ve been caught in a snowstorm. The same rules apply to any bike ever made. In short, rain mode has the biggest delivery of TCS and ABS, sport mode has the least and road is somewhere in the middle.
A Quality Finish
Its lighting, headlamp, tail light and indicators are all weight saving LED affairs. As we’ve seen on other bikes in the H-D range the ‘clocks’ are an LCD display. This is a multi function piece that sits on the bar riser. Subtle, yet informative with a full media pack available via a smart phone and a comms set in the riders helmet.
Now the new Nightster Special is available. This machine has a pillion set up, in case you get lucky. Cruise control heated grips are also part of the ‘special’ pack. Being the epitome of vanity it’s all about the new colours, the offset reg plate hanger and the headlamp cowl for me.
The air cooled era is over. Long live the newer, cleaner and more powerful liquid cooled one!
Waterford H-D are offering their H-D Nightster Special demo model for sale. It has less than 1,000 kms on the odometer and will run you for €17,830. A saving of €2,000 and you’ll be getting a ’24 reg bike with you as the first and only owner. Talk to Shane on 051 844200 or drop him an email at email@example.com and start living your best life!