2016 was my first year of riding motorbikes. I got my licence the October before, and waited until the March to swing my leg over my debut bike, a 2015 Harley-Davidson Iron.
I loved it.
In the August I then swapped it for another Iron, this time a heavily (visually) customed one that came across like a ninja’s cafe racer. It was awesome and I loved riding it very much, even with the wrist-killing dropped clubman bars on it, and metal grips that froze one’s hands as soon as the weather dropped below summer temperatures (why would you ever make grips out of metal??).
A few weeks ago, I picked up my 2017 ride, a just-registered Harley-Davidson Sportster Roadster with 7-miles on the clock.
After the first half an hour on the bike I realised how much better it was as a riding machine than either of the Irons I’d had the previous year.
This thing is so rideable that it’s insane.
Now bear in mind, if you’re the kind of person who just doesn’t get Harleys, then you might as well not bother reading any further. Other than what I learned on, I have 0-hours riding anything without an H-D badge.
So my point of reference is very limited and very specific. But at the moment I only want to ride Harleys, so I am. They’re my bag. I dig them. Not the HOG thing, or the dudes that think they’re American, but I’m all over this dark custom, buy-one-and-ride-it vibe.
If I had any mechanical knowledge I’d be on a 70s chopper, carving the tarmac like my bud Chris from FTH.
But as a career driven, wife-loving (pictured), husband of three, I don’t have the time, I just need something that I can ride every day and will love me back for it. This Roadster ticks every one of those boxes.
When you pass your test, having a smaller engine makes a lot of sense. You can’t get into too much trouble with one, and they help the bike generally easier to handle. I was always of the mind that ‘I don’t need a big engine,’ but I realise now that that stemmed more from lack of riding experience – i.e. Fear – than a real understanding of what it meant. I’m super glad I didn’t go straight onto a 1200 last year, if for nothing else than the comparison now is little short of mind blowing!
The 1200 in the Roadster is so capable that it makes everything easy that was previously intensive work. Overtaking is a prime example. Cutting through traffic with this engine is another. Pulling out of junctions is so workable – the lower end torque is incredibly useable right from initial throttle twist. It just makes sense.
There’s a saying that once you turn left boarding a 747 – to first class – you can never turn right again. For me riding the 1200 is the same, there’s no turning right, no going back to the 883 for me now.
I love the stance of this Roadster too. I was fortunate enough to go up to a Harley day running out of The Bike Shed last year, and got to sample the Roadster for an hour then. But only living with one reveals the true beauty of the beast.
The dropped bar position gives the look of a tank lift but without one. The USD forks are purposeful, the yokes sitting up right under the bars to constantly remind you of where you are. The twin discs might be slight overkill on a bike of this weight, but they add to the statement of intent that it makes.
The only thing that really bothers me is the lunchbox large air filter, but honestly that’s a small quibble on an otherwise great looking machine.
A mate of mine asked me on Instagram the other day, ‘are you going to chop it?’ And I simply replied ‘no’. Right now, this bike doesn’t need anything other than to be ridden every day.
I’m in love.