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CRUISE CONTROL First look: Harley-Davidson Low Rider S and Low Rider ST inspired by ‘bagger’ racing series

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Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST. Photo: Tal Roberts

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST. Photo: Tal Roberts

The 43mm inverted forks on Harley-Davidson's Low Rider ST have a rake of only 28 degrees. Photo: Tal Roberts

The 43mm inverted forks on Harley-Davidson's Low Rider ST have a rake of only 28 degrees. Photo: Tal Roberts

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST. Photo: Tal Roberts

Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST. Photo: Tal Roberts

The Low Rider ST has a ‘bit more road’ thanks to the fairing, panniers and pillion seat. Photo: Tal Roberts

The Low Rider ST has a ‘bit more road’ thanks to the fairing, panniers and pillion seat. Photo: Tal Roberts

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Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST. Photo: Tal Roberts

The design and factory teams at Harley-Davidson have been keeping themselves busy over the winter months putting the finishing touches on the all new Low Rider S and Low Rider ST.

While both new models are cruisers that should, sort of, sit in the Softail family, they are almost in a family of their own. As with several things American, ‘Low Rider’ is a bit of a misnomer. Both Low Rider models sit on slightly higher suspension than anything else in the range, inspired by the Harley-Davidsons used in the the ‘bagger’ racing series in the US.

The new machines are powered by the same engine, in different states of tune, and use the same chassis.

The S model is the more brazen of the pair with a single seat and no luggage, and rather than a fairing it simply has a headlight nacelle. It’s also the one with that little bit more power.

Both machines use the same torque-rich V-twin power horse that is a Milwaukee-Eight 117 cubic inch engine. Just to be clear, 117ci is a 1,923cc engine in new money.

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The Low Rider ST has a ‘bit more road’ thanks to the fairing, panniers and pillion seat. Photo: Tal Roberts

The Low Rider ST has a ‘bit more road’ thanks to the fairing, panniers and pillion seat. Photo: Tal Roberts

The Low Rider ST has a ‘bit more road’ thanks to the fairing, panniers and pillion seat. Photo: Tal Roberts

Thanks to it being a modern Milwaukee-Eight affair, the famed big Harley-Davidson vibration has all but disappeared and it makes a lot less running noise. Thanks to it being partially liquid-cooled, it’s also nicer to the environment so it can be ridden guilt free (almost).

This particular 117ci V-twin engine is the pinnacle of production Harley-Davidson motors, producing 125 foot pounds of torque at only 3,500 rpm. This is facilitated by the high-performance tuned heavy breather intake on the right hand side of the machine which has that classic forward-facing exposed filter. This is what flows clean air into the engine and facilitates the production of lovely mid-range torque. The fact that it makes the bike look cool doesn’t hurt either…

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The 43mm inverted forks on Harley-Davidson's Low Rider ST have a rake of only 28 degrees. Photo: Tal Roberts

The 43mm inverted forks on Harley-Davidson's Low Rider ST have a rake of only 28 degrees. Photo: Tal Roberts

The 43mm inverted forks on Harley-Davidson's Low Rider ST have a rake of only 28 degrees. Photo: Tal Roberts

The engine is also a fixed member of the frame. This makes for a stiffer, better handling chassis. A set of 43mm inverted forks have a rake of only 28 degrees – perhaps not so American – that supply the rider with a package that actually handles. That modified suspension is taller by 12mm and offers a healthy 25mm more travel than any other machine in the Softail family. Perhaps not quite ready to race, but it’s a lot closer.

The two-into-two offset shotgun exhaust is very typical and simply looks like a good place to put something that’s a bit more characterful. What’s very nice is that the dual counter-balancers in the new engine reduce an awful lot of that good old vibration at idle. This offers significantly more comfort for both the rider and the passenger.

The ST model is the one that I want. It offers the rider a ‘bit more road’ thanks to the fairing, the lockable and removable panniers, as well as the pillion seat. That fairing is directly mounted on to the frame and it’s properly vented to reduce buffeting.

The headlamp is a powerful LED unit. The instrumentation is a compact digital display that lives in an inset in the handlebar riser. This gives the bike that custom, “no gauges” look. And yes, more importantly, there is provision for a drop-in optional sound system. The bike will be in dealers shortly, to find out more give Alan a call on 051 844 200 or Derek on 01 464 2211. Prices start at €24,895.

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