Every now and then, a model rolls off the production line that represents two-wheeled wish fulfillment, which in this case is the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S. Launched in 2016 with a moody black and gold visage, the Low Rider S’ journey began with the Dyna family, moved to the modern single-shock Softail platform and, for model-year 2022, FXLRS fans are getting their wish—additional shock travel and performance.
The third-generation Low Rider S furthers its performance-cruiser mission with an updated shock that improves the riding experience and capabilities. At the same time, more punch is felt via the Milwaukee-Eight 117 mill. That’s not all, as it also struts out of the factory with a smattering of functional styling touchups.
Those changes don’t go unnoticed while darting through the urban sprawl or enjoying the scenic routes, and for more on that, we’ll get on with the Fast Facts.
- The 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S feels downright athletic, powered by the mighty Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine. When you’re talking about a relatively lean 679-pound full-sized cruiser equipped with a V-twin flexing a muscular 125 ft-lbs of claimed torque delivered a stone’s throw above idle—good times are afoot. Lovely fueling gives you access to loads of shove anywhere you want, while the extra displacement simply expands an already broad powerband. A robust six-speed gearbox and stout clutch-pull keep in lockstep with the American V-twin riding experience, while fine-tuned counterbalancing ensures that only a charming thrum gets through the noise.
- Screamin’ Eagle performance parts boost the bragging rights. Crucially, we need to understand that M8 engines build on one another. The M8 117 has that extra hit throughout the rev-range that its 114 and 104 siblings lack, yet the character between all three is comparable. What sets the 117 apart are Screamin’ Eagle components, such as high-performance cams and the forward-facing Heavy Breather intake that facilitate a higher state of tune. The intake location has one longstanding issue—a swift move for the rear brake can lead to a nice shin whack.
- Cruise control is a $259 option. Cruise control is a natural standard feature on the fairing- and bag-clad Low Rider ST. At this price point, CC is something I’d like to see on the table, even if the LRS is positioned as a lean-and-mean performance cruiser.
- Styling changes to the instrument and exhaust depart from tradition. Tank-mounted instruments and 2-into-1 exhausts have adorned the Low Rider dating back to its inception. I was never a fan because it forces you to stare downward at the gauges like awkward teenagers at their first school dance. These days, the LRS keeps your head held high to gaze upon the tidy analog/LCD bar-mounted cluster that keeps your attention on the road. Meanwhile, the dual shotgun exhaust leaves classic Low Rider elements on the design studio floor, and the new exhaust sounds throaty once you’ve got the engine on the boil.
- The 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S leans into the club-style with a tight and aggressive riding position. Sizable backswept handlebars and four-inch risers prop you up nicely, accompanied by a comfy new scalloped solo seat, locking your backside in place while the M8 lays down the law. The LRS feels compact and able-bodied from the cockpit, a notion driven home by the mid-controls, allowing your legs to get in the mix while cornering. There is some knee-bend to consider when dealing with a low-slung saddle and mid-controls, though my 32-inseam isn’t at odds with it. Those blessed with height might consider a taller seat to reduce those acute angles.
- Thanks to a new longer-stroke shock, there’s more cushion for pushing in the canyons and beyond. H-D has heard the calls for additional suspension travel and answered them by increasing the shock stroke length, which translates to a ride-quality-improving 4.4 inches of wheel travel—a full inch more than last year. Hits are gobbled up with greater expertise and create a significantly smoother ride. At the opposite end, the lusty cartridge-damped 43mm inverted fork reprises its role with no alternations. Due to the progressive-rate springs in the fork, the LRS is slightly plusher up front than in the rear. The suspenders still help the Softail frame track through corners at a good clip, sorting out rough stuff along the way, but do prefer a measured hand when applying the binders to help deal with the initially soft portion of the fork stroke.
- There are a few additional handling perks when raising a Low Rider S. The LRS has never shied away from the curvy bits of road, and increasing the rear ride height has highlighted that trait. Lifting the rear balances weight distribution more evenly and elevates the center of gravity a smidge, giving you an edge to tip into the curves. Coupled with a wide stance that the lengthy wheelbase generates, this steed holds fast through corners and doesn’t flinch when faced with adversity on the road. Whipping through a canyon and treating footpegs like consumable components is genuinely satisfying while using up that extra 1.3 degrees of lean angle.
- Michelin Scorcher 31 tires will treat you right for miles to come. Anyone in tune with H-D’s lineup will know the Scorcher 31 tires are a common sight among many makes and models, regardless of their shape and size. A firm carcass and harder rubber compound are used to rack up the miles, yet there is still plenty of grip leftover to enjoy the finer points of the LRS in the twisty sections of the highway.
- Solid brakes and ABS are part of the package. We’ve never had complaints about the four-piston calipers and dual 300mm rotors, capable of stopping the LRS in its tracks quite handily, with a robust feel at the lever. A single-piston caliper and another 300mm rotor pull no punches in the back, delivering plenty of power and feel. ABS is standard and can be a bit stern with its lever-pulsing, should you initiate it. Still, I’d much rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
- Improving the breed is what the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S is all about. The folks in Milwaukee capitalized on the West Coast performance-cruiser movement when the Low Rider S launched in 2016. Since then, the namesake has acquired refinements at every step, with this year being no exception. More suspension travel is what many have asked for from our American V-twin motorcycles over the years, and the Low Rider S has delivered, gaining some engine and handling performance, too.
Photography by Don Williams
- Helmet: Arai Defiant-X
- Jacket: Spidi Metromover H2Out
- Gloves: Spidi Clubber
- Jeans: Spidi J&Dyneema Evo
- Boots: XPD X-Village
2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Specs
- Type: Milwaukee-Eight 117 V-twin
- Displacement: 117ci (1923cc)
- Bore x stroke: 4.075” x 4.5”
- Maximum power: 103 horsepower @ 4750 rpm
- Maximum torque: 125 ft-lbs @ 3500 rpm
- Compression ratio: 10.2:1
- Valvetrain: Pushrod, 4vpc
- Exhaust: 2-into-2
- Cooling: Air and oil
- Lubrication: Dry sump w/ oil cooler
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Wet multiplate w/ assist function and hydraulic actuation
- Primary drive: Chain
- Final drive: Belt
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable Showa cartridge inverted 43mm fork; 5.1 inches
- Rear suspension; travel; Spring-preload adjustable Showa shock; 4.4 inches
- Wheels: Dark bronze, Radiate cast aluminum
- Front wheel: 19 x 2.5
- Rear wheel: 16 x 5
- Tires: Michelin Scorcher 31
- Front tire: 110/90 x 19
- Rear tire: 180/70 x 16
- Front brakes: 300mm floating discs w/ 4-piston calipers
- Rear brake: 292mm floating disc w/ 2-piston caliper
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 63.6 inches
- Rake: 28 degrees
- Trail: 5.7 inches
- Seat height: 28 inches
- Fuel tank capacity: 5 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 47 mpg
- Curb weight: 679 pounds
- Colors: Vivid Black; Gunship Gray (+$450)
2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Price: $18,349 MSRP