2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider El Diablo Review [Softail Touring]

As soon as I set eyes on the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider El Diablo, I knew I had to ride it. We had sent Senior Editor Nic de Sena off for our initial test of the new Low Rider ST, and I was anxious to put some time on the modern-day interpretation of the iconic 1980s FXRT. When I saw the El Diablo Bright Red and El Diablo Dark Red Metallic Fade paint on the Low Rider ST, I had my excuse—we needed an El Diablo test!

As a limited edition of 1500, it’s not like Harley-Davidson had a fleet of El Diablos available. Fortunately, I needed just one, and I grabbed it as soon as I could—#1148, as it turns out. The Low Rider ST is an extraordinarily cool motorcycle, and the Low Rider El Diablo’s paint is the cherry on top of the sundae.

Sure, Harley-Davidson added a Rockford Fosgate sound system to the ST when turning it into El Diablo. But, for me, that just adds six pounds to the package—I wear a full-face helmet with earplugs, so try as the 250-watt amp and 5.25-inch speakers might, they aren’t loud and clear enough for me for enjoyable listening when rolling down the road at high speeds—and that’s exactly the kind of riding I had in mind.

After careful consideration, I aimed El Diablo at an area of central California I have not yet had the pleasure of riding—the roads in a triangle with Taft, Buttonwillow, and Tupman as the tips. It’s not a vast area, and most of the routes you see on a map are private oil company roads that are off-limits to the public. Regardless, I loaded up the saddlebags and headed north from Los Angeles.

Initially, El Diablo’s ergonomics don’t scream “Touring!” There’s a reason for that—it’s a transgenre motorcycle. It’s a Softail cruiser that self-identifies as a Grand America Touring bike—some people think of it as a Road Glide Mini, thanks to its frame-mounted fairing. Regardless, it has the Softail single-shock chassis and an inverted Showa fork. It’s definitely non-binary, and doesn’t care what you call it; really, El Diablo is whatever you want it to be.

When I picked it up from the Harley-Davidson Fleet Center in the South Bay of the Los Angeles metropolitan sprawl, I took it for a 50-mile surface street ride—hey, it’s a Softail Cruiser according to the Motor Company, and Low Rider is right there in the name.

It didn’t take me long to get used to the mid-ish foot controls and the fairly high grips. I did have a bit of anxiety about scratching that paint, though. As a result, my lane-splitting was kept to a minimum until I got comfortable. Soon, however, I was enjoying riding a great-looking high-profile motorcycle through the city, getting admiring glances and friendly comments at stop lights. El Diablo is a supermodel in a town of beautiful people.

Handling isn’t exactly light due to the ergos, but it’s not bad. The Milwaukee-Eight 117 is a friendly beast. You can’t complain about 125 ft-lbs of torque at just 3500 rpm, and it’s pushing around about 125 fewer pounds than a standard Road Glide. This motorcycle moves in urban confines.

So, having established its street cred, I hit the open road on the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider El Diablo.

Living near the Newhall Pass, I quickly got a sense of the M-E 117’s massive torque, even at speed. After cruising at a comfortably fast pace through the suburban sprawl, I came face-to-face with the Five Mile Grade—I-5 north out of Castaic, featuring an unrelenting six percent grade.

Dating back almost 90 years, it’s always an exhilarating hillclimb. You have to craftily work your way between Priuses doing the speed limit (at best) in the passing lane, and 18-wheelers struggling in the right two—and sometimes three—lanes. Every time I scale the summit, the challenge is different. Over time, I have found speed to be the solution. Shocking, I know, but the last thing you want is someone overtaking you.

Without any hesitation, El Diablo was more than ready to haul me up Five Mile Grade at whatever velocity I liked. Again, 125 ft-lbs of torque on a 728-pound vehicle means you will not be lacking for grunt. Impressively, I never even considered dropping the 6-Speed Cruise Drive out of top gear, even when I had to back off the throttle to slip through a slot between cars.

Although the 117 tops out a seemingly modest 103 horsepower at 4750 rpm, that was enough for me to ramp up to triple figures on the steep grade and keep El Diablo and me out of trouble. This is a good time to mention the sweet V-twin sound and the 2-into-2 shotgun exhaust.

Swooping through the Tejon Pass at high speeds, El Diablo established itself as a highway motorcycle. It has plenty of roll-on power, even when you’re already well exceeding the speed limit. If you need to get past someone, you can without downshifts.

The frame-mounted fairing cuts the wind just the right amount—you feel the breeze without getting overwhelmed. There are no aerodynamic abnormalities—someone got the job done in the wind tunnel testing.

On the long Grapevine downhill into the San Joaquin Valley, the brakes aren’t needed, as the 117 has plenty of compression deceleration.

Upon arrival on the floor of the San Joaquin Valley, the warmth of the day became apparent as temperatures reached into the 90s. The fairing has an always-open Splitstream-style vent under the windscreen, and a large opening on each side. That airflow, along with the leather/mesh hybrid Cortech Vader jacket I was wearing, kept me from overheating all day long.

On a deserted I-5, I let El Diablo stretch its legs. The cruise control is intuitive, and I set it at around 90 mph. Going much over that, vibration through the footpegs, and to a lesser extent the seat and grips, starts to mar the smooth ride. Still, cruising at 90 should be adequate for most.

Passing Maricopa Highway, I pulled off I-5 at the desolate Copus Road exit. Much to my surprise, a Tesla Supercharger station was under construction on the southwest corner of the intersection. As a former electric car owner, that’s nice, but I’m happy to have a five-gallon tank on El Diablo as I head toward Taft.

I always like hurling through the orchards on Copus Road on weekends; on weekdays, it is jam-packed with trucks, but it’s virtually deserted on Saturday and Sunday. Copus Road takes me to Basic School Road, which inexplicably becomes Gardner Field Road without warning. The odd thing about Basic School Road is that there’s no sign of a school anywhere.

The roads through this area are rough from heavy use. They’re also dirty, as the agricultural trucks are always pulling onto the road from unpaved areas. The long-travel suspension—over five inches in the front and 4.4 inches in the rear—wasn’t bothered by the irregularities, and the Michelin Scorcher 31 tires weren’t spooked by the dirt—at least in a straight line.

Once northwest of the picturesque Y at Cadet Road, Gardner Field Road has some fast sweepers, and El Diablo was happy to accommodate me zipping through them at 90 mph. The chassis is stable and gives no troubling feedback. This motorcycle is fun to ride fast.

I took California Highway 33 into Taft, where I filled up at a Sinclair gas station—I just love the dinosaur. As a kid, I saw photos of Sinclair gas stations in atlases, but there were none in California. It’s great to see the iconic signs now.

This ride was shortly after the death of Loretta Lynn, and a 20-something guy in a Ford F-150 was filling up next to me with his stereo blasting Lynn’s 50-year-old rendition of “Blueberry Hill.” He looked at El Diablo and nodded approvingly.

You can’t go through Taft without making a detour to its Downtown district. There are plenty of historic buildings, including the wonderful Fox Theater on Center Street and the Pioneer Saloon at the corner of 5th and Main. There are a few too many empty storefronts for such an authentic Downtown to be neglected. Fortunately, the city leaders are aware of the challenge and have plans to encourage new restaurant, arts, and auto culture activities in Downtown Taft.

With some sightseeing out of the way, it was time to hit some roads that had eluded my attention. I started with Taft Highway (California Highway 119), which heads north from Taft before turning northeast toward I-5.

Once out of town, I wound up the Milwaukee-Eight 117, which is always a delightful feeling. Just after the 119’s sweeping northeast bend is Elk Hills Road, which was also on my day’s ride list. I almost missed the left-hand turn and had to get on the 300mm front discs hard. El Diablo handled the near-emergency braking without blinking an eye—strong, predictable deceleration was provided.

The highlight of Elk Hills Road is, as you’d expect, Elk Hills. The road has some fast bends as it climbs to the north. El Diablo ate them up nicely. With every curve, it reminded me what a pleasure it is to ride.

At the top is Skyline Road. If there’s a road name that sounds like fun, that’s it. Unfortunately, it’s a private road in each direction, blocked off by Elk Hills Power security.

I stopped to take a photo of the refinery and assorted support facilities from the public road. As I pulled out my Sony A6000, an employee of Elk Hills Power excitedly told me I couldn’t take pictures. I calmly said to her that not only could I take photos, but I was going to take as many photos as I liked.

As you can imagine, that doesn’t sit well with powerless authoritarians. She called in a higher level of security, who pulled up in a truck and parked next to El Diablo and me. I proceeded to shoot the photos I intended to take while the security guy gave me the stink-eye.

Given the view of the grounds provided by Google Earth, it’s difficult to understand why they’re concerned about someone taking a few photos from the public road. However, he said nothing, so I gave him a polite wave after I packed up and rode away. Sadly, for him, he continued to scowl.

Riding down the hill to the north was just as much fun as coming up, as I was greeted by more wide sweepers inviting high speeds. El Diablo encourages me to explore its boundaries, and the limits of the Michelin Scorcher 31 tires. Both handle what I have to dish out, which includes going well past the ton.

My lunch destination is Frosty King on California Highway 58 in Buttonwillow—yes, the small town associated with Buttonwillow Raceway Park, which sits 10 miles to the northeast.

Unfortunately, Buttonwillow suffers from hard times, as do many small towns in California’s Central Valley. Nearly a third of its 1500 people live below the poverty line.

I order my go-to patty melt, fries, and Diet Pepsi combo at Frosty King from the gruff man at the window and take a seat at a shaded picnic table in the 95-degree heat. Really, the heat wasn’t too bad, and I was doing fine at the high speeds I was running on El Diablo. Those fairing vents are perfect when things get warm.

While I dined and reviewed some photos, a few people ordering takeaway pulled in. To a man, they checked out the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider El Diablo. A few asked questions—this is not a motorcycle for someone who wants to fly under the radar. In the end, they all gave their approval. How could they not?

The food was tasty, and I went back to the window to thank the counter guy and the cook for a delicious meal. That earned me a couple of honest smiles. It’s always worth it to show appreciation.

Back on the road, my next destination is 13 miles to the southeast: Tupman—population 134—founded by Standard Oil Company 102 years ago, and across the California Aqueduct from the Tule Elk State Natural Reserve.

Before my ride, I had mentioned my itinerary to my dad. He raised an eyebrow, or at least I think he did, as we were talking on the phone. He related a story from 60+ years ago when he was doing State Water Resources Control Board surveying work for the yet-to-be-built aqueduct. He got a state truck stuck in the sand in Tupman. Some unsavory locals were watching, and expressed no interest in helping him. He ended up abandoning the truck and hitchhiking back to the office—hey, it was the 1960s, and you could still do that.

When he returned with help to rescue the truck, it was missing the front wheels, which weren’t buried. It seems the thieves were too lazy to dig out the rear wheels and steal them. The truck’s interior had been ransacked, though my dad said there wasn’t anything worth taking.

Suffice to say, he told me to be careful in Tupman!

After crossing the California Aqueduct for the fourth time on my ride, I rolled into Tupman on Tupman Road, which is non-intuitively called Emmons Boulevard at the village’s unofficial borders—it’s not an incorporated town. The only “businesses” there are the Post Office and Elk Hills Elementary, which serves kids in grades K-8.

I notice a house decorated early for All Hallows’ Eve and pull over for a photo—El Diablo and Halloween are made for each other, what with the devil’s horns on the fuel tank. The young kids playing basketball in the driveway immediately stop their game to see the guy with the motorcycle. I pull my camera out of the right-side case—love that one-touch latch—to take a picture. Simultaneously, a neighbor pops his head out to see what’s going on.

He sees the motorcycle, and I wave. He waves back; everyone’s happy. As I leave, I honk El Diablo’s horn to the delight of the kids. Disappointingly for me, the horn has a weak toot. Regardless, the kids didn’t mind, and cheers were offered.

Riding southeast out of Tupman, Tupman Road meanders pleasantly along the aqueduct—exactly what I was looking for on this ride.

Crossing Taft Highway (California Highway 119) puts me on Golf Course Road, where I skirt the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area at PWC-friendly Lake Webb, Buena Vista Golf Course, and its surprisingly upscale gated community.

Back on the ruler-straight Taft Highway, I ride through Dustin Acres (population 667) and Valley Acres (population 641) without stopping. There’s not much to see, though Valley Acres Market caught my eye. Apparently, the market serves food, so that’s worth future investigation.

A few more miles tick by, and I’m back to Highway 33 and the West Kern Oil Museum. The museum is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so plan carefully. I didn’t have time to go in, as I had more riding on the menu, and the museum was about to close. What I could see from the outside looked enticing. Taft was built on oil, and Highway 33 through Kern County is known as Petroleum Highway.

As El Diablo and I had been making great time, I added an extra twist to my ride—the Los Padres National Forest. Heading south on Highway 33, I rode quickly to Maricopa, where the 33 commingles with Highway 166. That takes you up from the valley floor, and includes more of El Diablo’s favorites—fast sweepers. I had to make a few quick passes—there are those triple-digits again on the appealingly minimalist LCD dash—and the 117 powerplant had no objections.

I turned at Hudson Ranch Road, and headed south through the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge to Pine Mountain Club. Hudson Ranch Road is a pleasure on any style of motorcycle, with the turns ranging from ultra-high-speed sweepers to tight corners as the elevation increases.

The 90+ degree temperatures I enjoyed in the Central Valley dropped into the 70s as I approached Pine Mountain Club. That necessitated a couple of wardrobe adjustments, but not much. I swapped my mesh t-shirt for a cotton shirt, the vents on my Noru Kodo jeans were zipped shut, and my ancient Tourmaster Gel Cruiser gloves came off, and on went the slightly warmer Associate gloves by Cortech. Along with the Arai Defiant-X with the appropriately retro Number White color scheme and Pro Shade, I was perfectly set for the entire ride.

The ride from Maricopa to the mountain community of Frazier Park via the back way put a stamp on the 2022 Harley-Davidson El Diablo as an ultra-stylish sport-cruiser-tourer.

The ergonomic triangle splits the difference between the three disciplines. Its 63.8-inch wheelbase isn’t excessively long, and its 28 degrees of rake is a successful compromise. The 16-/19-inch wheel combo does better for touring and cruising than sport riding, though the 110mm-wide front tire has enough of a footprint to evoke confidence in well-planned corners.

El Diablo isn’t about riding hard, stuffing it into corners, and then twisting the throttle hard. As good as the suspension, geometry, and cornering clearance are, you can’t ignore the 728-pound curb weight, even with the ABS-equipped 300mm front discs. You have to ride sensibly and smoothly to have a good day. Pilot El Diablo on its terms, and you will enjoy every moment of your flight. Work with it, not against it, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get to your destination.

After 300 miles, I realize that I hadn’t noticed the seat. It’s a Low Rider, so you know it’s close to the ground, even with the generous suspension travel. Even better, my rear end never complained for a moment. Yep, it’s a legit touring motorcycle, despite the Softail chassis.

As you stop along the way on your journeys and people admire your ride, you will be reminded why you went with the Low Rider El Diablo, a $6250 premium over the Low Rider ST. The beautifully designed and applied paint are all about pride of ownership. Yes, there’s the Rockford Fosgate sound system, and that’s great if it enhances your ride. Regardless, El Diablo doesn’t need it to audibly justify its existence—looks, performance, and devil-may-care attitude are its calling cards.

Last year’s Electra Glide Revival and the new 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider El Diablo are two fantastic motorcycles—both part of The Icons Collection and limited to 1500 examples. I’ve now had epic rides on each, so I can’t wait for the next Icon. Bring it on!

Photography by Don Williams


2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider El Diablo Specs


  • Type: Milwaukee-Eight 117 V-twin
  • Displacement: 117ci (1923cc)
  • Bore x stroke: 4.075” x 4.5” (103.5 x 114.3mm)
  • 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; catalyst in muffler
  • Cooling: Air and oil
  • Lubrication: Dry sump w/ oil cooler
  • Transmission: 6-speed Cruise Drive
  • Clutch: Wet multi-plate 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/ single-piston caliper
  • ABS: Standard


  • Wheelbase: 63.8 inches
  • Rake: 28 degrees
  • Trail: 5.7 inches
  • seat height: 28.3 inches
  • Fuel tank capacity: 5 gallons
  • Estimated fuel consumption: 47 mpg
  • Curb weight: 728 pounds
  • Color: El Diablo Bright Red and El Diablo Dark Red Metallic Fade

2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider El Diablo Price: $27,999 MSRP

2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider El Diablo Review Photo Gallery