There is no doubt that the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST is a prime example of serving red meat to the masses. After watching the West Coast style weave itself into the American V-twin vernacular, The Motor Company knew precisely when to ring the dinner bell.The 1980s FXRT Sport Glide achieved cult status among FXR, Dyna, and Softail devotees hailing from The Golden State, building their cruisers in the FXRT’s image. Suspension capable of sportier aspirations, increased horsepower, and creature comforts via a tidy fairing and luggage are the core customization tenants of any West Coast cruiser. The new Low Rider ST is treating them as gospel right from the factory.
Built upon the lean-and-mean Low Rider S platform, the Low Rider “Sport Touring” bridges the gap between cruiser and bagger in a few simple steps. A svelte frame-mounted fairing, fixed-rate fork springs, and removable hard luggage represent the core changes, simultaneously paying huge practicality dividends. We laid down miles aboard the Low Rider ST to hit you with the Fast Facts.
The FXRT Sport Glide-inspired frame-mounted fairing takes things in a modern direction with its chiseled appearance and solid wind protection. Sitting behind the ample bubble, the fairing and standard six-inch Dark Smoke windscreen work as advertised, creating a cozy, bluster-free cockpit for my 5-foot 10-inch frame. Taller riders might benefit from larger accessory windscreens. H-D designers relied on their wits and computational fluid dynamics to inform every aspect of this new fairing. It features side vents straddling the round LED headlight, not unlike the original, with a Splitstream center vent all work to create an ideal air pocket for the rider. The attention to aerodynamic detail extends to deflectors at the fairing edge, known as Willie Wings among the design team, which redirect air around your legs and reduce drag.
2022 Low Riders break from tradition in that their instrument panels are no longer located on the five-gallon fuel tank. It’s a welcome change, as diverting your eyes from the road to glance at your gauges is less than ideal, even if Low Rider purist feathers are ruffled. The S is equipped with a prominent analog/LCD bar-mounted unit, certainly fitting with the FXRT/P homage that ST achieves. Yet, that bit is absent on the ST. Instead, it uses a utilitarian LCD unit integrated into the handlebar clamp, ala the Street Bob and Fat Boy, to ensure proper airflow through the new central fairing vent. A fuel gauge, gear indicator, and just the basics get you by, but LCD screens are difficult to read in direct sunlight.
Riser backswept handlebars, a solo seat, and mid-controls underline the sport-touring posture of the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST. It all speaks to the sportier pasture that the ST seeks and where its accommodations shine, giving you all the leverage through the wide handlebar and a pleasantly plush seat that locks you in when whacking the throttle open. The compact seating position is a shade more aggressive than your average forward-control sporting cruiser, though still quite reasonable. Mid-controls and a relatively low seat height do have an unintended side effect of closing the distance between those two points, which for my 32-inch inseam does elevate my knees a fair amount. Leggier individuals will want to spring for a taller seat to alleviate some of that knee-bend.
Styling is a huge part of the ST aesthetic, and H-D hit nearly all the marks. The Low Rider zeroes in on an aggressive look through a bevy of blacked-out bits at every turn, supplementing it all with exquisite paint finishes across the board. The lines from the fairing, tank, and through to the tail are worth a few extra minutes spent admiring in the garage. There are a few miscues: Threaded ends of fairing mounting hardware are visible, which could have been addressed with a rubber cap, while the burly-sounding shotgun exhaust hardware is less than stellar. Quibbles for sure, but quibbles nonetheless.
The air/oil-cooled Milwaukee-Eight 117 shines in the Low Rider ST. The limited-edition CVOs, Street Glide ST, and Road Glide ST boast the same V-twin mill; the 117 has noticeably more pep in its step in this lighter 721-pound cruiser application. The claimed 125 ft-lbs of torque at a low 3500 rpm commands your attention, delivering all of its might with lovely immediacy and crisp fueling doles out the power at your whim. There are no ride modes, no traction control—just pure V-twin brawn with a sturdy six-speed transmission.
Performance bits such as the Heavy Breather intake and high-performance cams set it apart from other models, giving this engine an edge against its brethren. There is a noticeable bump in outright performance against the M8 107 and 114 variants, thanks to the aforementioned Screamin’ Eagle parts. You can still whack your shin against the intake while reaching for the rear brake, as is tradition for the forward-facing intake. Counterbalancing keeps offending vibrations at bay, while making sure that everything else is as smooth as can be.
Clamshell saddlebags offer nearly two cubic feet of storage on the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST. The short-lived Softail Sport Glide is no longer with us, leaving its excellent hard bags to the ST in its last will and testament. We’re thankful for them, as they’re genuinely easy to install or remove with the quick-release locking mechanism. The bags are lifted to the heavens for clearance and aesthetic purposes, while staggered on the pipe-side. Sure, you can’t shove a full-face helmet in them, but packing wisely will get you through long trips.
This Low Rider sits a little higher with suspension updates. New to the S and ST is a longer shock with a 56mm stroke bestowing a respectable 4.4 inches of travel that’s alleviated suspension harshness seen on prior generations. Returning to the fold is the same 43mm inverted cartridge fork that has had many ogling the Low Rider S since it first hit the scene. To help compensate for the ST’s additional 72 pounds—fairing, fairing stay, luggage, and brackets—static-rate springs offer extra support. These days, the ride is pleasurable at both ends, soaking up hits well while also staying composed at spirited clips through the canyons.
Improved geometry has its benefits. The trickle-down effect of raising the rear ride height is a cruiser that feels more athletic on its feet. Weight is not only more evenly distributed fore and aft, but the center of gravity is higher, too, letting you leverage those aspects to tip into corners with greater enthusiasm at any speed. The Low Rider ST is the cornering man’s (or gal’s) Harley, enjoying the stability benefits of a long wheelbase and a stout Softail chassis. It takes a hot pace and a fair whack or two from heavy bumps to illicit a minor wiggle from this steed, and that’s something we can all appreciate.
Michelin Scorcher 31 tires are high-mileage rubber. The Scorcher 31 is standard fitment on various H-D models, from Sportsters to baggers and beyond, treading on familiar territory for MoCo fans. Designed to handle heavyweight motorcycles, the Scorcher 31 uses a stiff carcass and harder compound rubber to net impressive mileage figures. While not the last word in grip—mileage-conscious tires rarely are—they’re suitable for a rip in the canyons, too.
Braking power matches the performance vibe. Four-piston calipers and dual 300mm discs will haul this beast to a halt in a hurry, and there’s a good amount of power greeting you at the lever. In the rear, a single-piston caliper and another 300mm rotor make low-speed riding a breeze.
The 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST is expanding the cruiser resume. The West Coast style has extended its reach across the U.S. and around the globe, speaking to riders who wanted more from their American V-twin cruisers. Their demands were reasonable—more performance, improved suspension and handling, and wind protection. That modest list amounts to a multifaceted machine, willing to hit the twisty bits, daily grind, and highway long hauls without flinching. Sport-Touring Americana? Absolutely, and the Low Rider ST presents an authentic American V-twin solution to that category.
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!