Here’s a Sportster that looks like it’s spent a weekend in the Cycle World shop with us—no supervision from the authorities. The 1,203cc Evolution V-twin breathes through a racing-themed oval airbox finished in graphite, the double front-disc-brake setup adds a welcome extra dose of stopping power, and the single combination tach/speedo simplifies appearances while still imparting needed information. Bodywork consists of cutoff front and rear fenders, a tall 3.3-gallon tank with racing stripe, and a fastback-style seat that tucks the rider in low while still providing a perch for the occasional passenger.
Amazingly, the 19-inch front wheel and 18-inch rear wheel match the diameters of the wheels of some top 1970s sportbikes, giving the Roadster a period look—and some extra cornering clearance under that big engine and dual exhausts. And thankfully, the amidships-mounted footpegs and controls suit cruisers and sport riders equally well. It’s hard to believe this much attitude carries a factory fuel-economy estimate of 48 mpg (the same as a 2018 Toyota Prius c), but it does just that.
Likes: Large-diameter wheels, low-profile tires, amidships foot controls, and dual front brake discs prove Harley does know how to make bikes go.
Dislikes: So much heritage, so much baggage. The Sportster still seems like an amalgam of pieces rather than a complete, designed-as-one-piece motorcycle.
Verdict: If you like big motors, Harleys, and twisty roads in equal measures, give the Sportster Roadster a long look.