Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster goes more minimal in Roadster form
New Harley-Davidson XL 1200CX Roadster model is stripped to the essentials of form and function
“Since its introduction in 1957, the Harley-Davidson Sportster has proved capable of constant reinvention, and the Roadster writes a new chapter in that story,” said Harley-Davidson Director of Styling Brad Richards. “We’ve watched our customers take the Sportster in so many different directions. The Roadster is a mash-up of styling genres, but the intent was to build a rider’s motorcycle, a Sportster that’s lean and powerful and connects the rider to the road.”
The new Roadster model joins the Dark Custom line-up with a minimalist design inspired by classic racing motorcycles, current trends in stripped-down, naked custom bikes and a profile reminiscent of racing Sportster motorcycles from the 1950s and 1960s.
“We wanted to give the Roadster some DNA from the high-performance KHR models of the mid-50s, and later Sportsters tuned for the drag strip,” said Richards. “Those bikes had fenders cut to the struts, the small fuel tank, and were stripped to their bare essentials to achieve a singular performance purpose.”
The Roadster delivers modern performance with a combination of new wheels and tyres mated to premium suspension components and an air-cooled 1200cc V-Twin engine that delivers a strong pulse of mid-range torque. The 19-inch front and 18-inch rear Offset-Split 5-Spoke cast aluminium wheels were designed specifically for the Roadster and contribute to its balanced, athletic stance.
“The wheels were inspired by classic laced wheels, and are the most intricate cast wheel we’ve ever created,” said Harley-Davidson Industrial Designer Ben McGinley. “The interlacing spokes shoot outward toward opposite sides of the wheel, creating a dramatic visual effect. These wheels are also very light for their size, which contributes to the Roadster’s handling performance.”
The Roadster’s suspension is enhanced by new 43mm inverted single-cartridge forks with tri-rate springs, gripped in robust triple clamps and rear suspension featuring gas-charged emulsion coil-over shocks and tri-rate springs with adjustable pre-load and offers greater suspension travel than any other Sportster model – 4.5 inches in front and 3.2-inches in the rear. Outstanding stopping power is achieved with dual 11.8-inch floating rotors on the front wheel. The Roadster also comes standard with ABS brakes.
The Roadster puts its rider in an aggressive posture with a new low-rise handlebar and mid-mount foot controls that centre the rider’s weight over the classic profile of the 12.5 Litre Sportster fuel tank.
In keeping with the Roadster’s stripped-down styling, the rear fender has been clipped 1.5 inches shorter than previous bobbed Sportster fenders. The slotted belt guard and muffler shields mimic the lightening holes drilled through race-bike components and a single four-inch diameter instrument tucked low in front of the triple clamp features a sweeping analogue tachometer with an inset digital speedometer. Rear turn signals mounted directly to the fender struts and fast-back seat design give the rear of the bike a tight and uncluttered look.
“The seat’s profile flows into the very short rear fender,” said McGinley. “The cover features a series of pads inspired by an armoured leather jacket, and the rear of the seat is designed as a passenger pillion, to give the Roadster added versatility.”
The Harley-Davidson Roadster model will be offered in four colour choices: Vivid Black with a charcoal denim pinstripe; Black Denim with a red pinstripe; Velocity Red Sunglo with a red pinstripe; and two-tone Billet Silver/Vivid Black with a burgundy pinstripe.
Pricing for the new Harley-Davidson Roadster starts at $19,495 ride away in Australia and $20,250 ride away in New Zealand.