2016 Harley-Davidson RoadsterOnly four months into 2016, and Harley-Davidson continues to unveil new models, including my personal favorite – the Low Rider S. It seems the Motor Company is moving in that minimalist direction yet again with the announcement Monday of its latest addition to the Dark Custom lineup – the 2016 Roadster.The Harley-Davidson Roadster is the latest blacked-out motorcycle to be added to the HD stable. It’s what many people have been asking for – minimalist approaches to the popular lines of the iconic Sportster. No fuss, just simple, straight-forward bikes that can easily be compared to the classic HD racers of old.
“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 Roadster takes center stage in the “Cut Loose” commercial, the third installment of the Harley-Davidson “Live Your Legend” global marketing campaign that shows what Harley ownership is all about in 2016.I’m a big proponent of this move. It shows a marketing effort to move back into the performance V-Twin arena while also paying homage to the styles that many buyers gravitate towards: retro looks without a tacky appearance. Though we haven’t ridden it, the Roadster seems to be a solid addition to the Dark Custom lineup. Here is what you can expect: premium suspension components, an air-cooled 1200cc V-Twin with an emphasis on the mid-range torque, and riding positions that are similar to the racers of the 50s and 60s.“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.”Aside from sporting a 19-inch front and 18-inch rear Offset-Split 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels, the Roaster features low-rise bars and mid-mount controls. All of that spells out pure Sportster performance.“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 that features gas-charged emulsion coil-over shocks and tri-rate springs with adjustable pre-load. This all equals 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 2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster also is available with optional ABS brakes.Everything else about the Roadster has been tightened up. The rear fender has been shortened 1.5 inches over the previous bobbed Sportster fenders. Slotted belt guards and muffler shields were meant to mimic the days when racers were saving weight by drilling out metal. A single instrument display is tucked into the triple clamp area and turn signals mounted directly to the fender struts. This is something that we’ve seen out on the streets for years in the V-Twin community, and now Harley is delivering it to customers out of the box.“The seat’s profile flows into the very short rear fender,” said McGinley. “The cover features a series of pads inspired by an armored leather jacket, and the rear of the seat is designed as a passenger pillion, to give the Roadster added versatility.”The Roadster model will be offered in four color 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.According to Harley-Davidson, the Roadster will sell for $11,999.