Harley-Davidson’s Roadster test ride
- Published On: 7 March 2017
- 3 min read
The new 1200cc Roadster is a sportier alternative to Harley's traditional cruisers.
Harley-Davidson motorcycles bring to mind large cruiser bikes that leave you in the wake of their thunderous exhaust note, as they power down wide-open American freeways. The fact that India doesn’t have the luxury of wide, open freeways, like in the US, hasn't stopping Harley from bringing its 1,200cc Roadster here. The bike gets a few special parts that are not only a first for the bike maker, but also help make it a better motorcycle for Indian roads.
The Roadster is a sportier alternative to the conventional cruiser variants such as the Forty-Eight and the 1200 Custom. And while it does resemble the Iron 883, closer inspection will tell you otherwise. The Roadster comes with a shortened front fender and a chopped rear one and the 12.5-litre tank sits atop a blacked-out engine. The bike’s fuel capacity is certainly an improvement over the minuscule 7.9-litre one on the Forty-Eight, with which it shares its headlight. It, however, does get a partially digital speedometer that has readings for speed, odometer, trip meters and a clock, with the tachometer being an analogue unit. The digital readout is a bit tricky to read under direct sunlight though. The bike is comes kitted with split five-spoke cast wheels.
The bike’s stepped single seat is reasonably comfortable and adds to its classic and aggressive look. Its low-set handlebar resembles the Clubman handlebars, although you’ve got to lean forward a bit to be comfortable. This position keeps things low and helps you change direction quicker. The foot-pegs, however, are still a bit forward set in terms of seating - they’re certainly going to get in your way when you put your feet down at slow speeds.
A slight bump in power could have been complemented its racier looks though. The relaxed nature of the engine is quite in contrast to the sporty appearance of the motorcycle. For quick responses to the throttle, especially when you’re turning, working through the gearbox becomes quite a necessity. The clutch still feels heavy to operate, which will be a hassle when you’re riding in heavy traffic. There’s still a lot of vibration at idle, which smooths out once you accelerate.
The bike even comes with ABS, only for the rear tyre. The cavernous shape of the rider’s saddle comes quite handy when you accelerate rapidly - it really holds the rider in place and prevents them from sliding backwards. The padding on the seat is good, so you’re always comfortable, especially on longer hauls. The pillion seat, however, isn’t the most comfortable, short spins around the city are all it can handle. It slopes towards the rear and there’s this constant fear of sliding off.
The bike’s 1500mm ground clearance can conquer most badly designed bumps, especially the kind that litter our roads.
Harley-Davidson is stepping up the game in India. The Roadster is one of those bikes that is fun to ride but at the same time, sticks to its long Harley lineage. At Rs 9.70 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the base variant, the Roadster is priced quite decently as well.