The best Low Rider to date?
Jumper down. It’s not just a catchy, soundtrack-ready ditty by the Long Beach War funk band that peaked at number seven on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart in the summer of 1975. It’s also the hot hydraulic rod which is described there. And two years after said song was released, it was the name of Harley-Davidson’s first factory-customized motorcycle.
Deployed at Daytona Bike Week in 1977, the FXS Low Rider boasted a 1206 cc V-Twin engine, a top speed of 105.6 mph and a seat height of 27 inches. With extended front forks, it might not have been the best in the corners, but the looks were undeniably cool, and the Low Rider quickly became a best-seller. Various iterations became staples of Harley’s cruiser lineup for the next three decades.
Since 2009, the brand has offered different types of Low Riders. But now it’s summer 22, and there’s a new edition that’s getting about as much attention as the original. The Low Rider ST is different though, as this bike promises to be as nimble as it looks. Having happily ridden a few Low Riders in recent years – through Baja, Mexico in 2017 and more Colorado’s Loveland Pass in 2019 “I was excited to take a little trip, take a little trip, take a little trip and see… what these wheels could do.
Is the Harley Low Rider ST new?
Relatively. The 2022 Low Rider ST hit dealerships alongside its stripped-down sibling, the Low Jumper Slast spring.
What makes the Harley Low Rider ST special?
Harley historians will tell you that the styling of the ST emerged from Southern California, where FXRs, Dynas and Softails are customized into dazzling machines that don’t skimp on performance, thanks to powerful engines, raised suspension for better cornering and high bars for… okay, yeah, it’s mostly for looks.
That vibe carries over to the streamlined Low Rider S, a naked bike with a profile not so different from the Low Riders of yore. But it’s also present in the ST, a friendlier option for road trips thanks largely to a frame-mounted aerodynamic fairing and clever detachable saddlebags.
A nod to modernity, the ST offers a minimalist LCD “tech gauge” integrated into the handlebar riser and attractive options such as a $1,020 Rockford Fosgate inner fairing audio kit, which I have to mention because my test drive had one – and I really enjoyed it. The ST also has cruise control and as old-school as I sometimes like to think I amI also liked this feature.
Both bikes also feature a growling beast of an engine, the Milwaukee-Eight 117, a 1923cc V-Twin packing 103 ponies and delivering 125 lb-ft. torque at 3500 rpm. Of course, one can only appreciate what that means when the rubber meets the road.
How does this Harley ride?
To properly test this bike, I knew I had to do at least one long ride. So, in addition to traveling around the New York area, I packed the saddlebags for a weekend in the DC suburbs where my parents’ and sister’s family reside, about 260 miles from Manhattan.
I also had good background to evaluate it as I have done this trip on various other motorcycles including a Honda CTX700, Triumph Bonneville T-100 and Indian Chieftain Elite. Compared to those three, the ST was the smoothest ride yet.
The main reasons include many features that I have already mentioned. The engine, first of all, is spectacular. I specifically remember previous Low Riders having awesome rumble… so much so that the bars shook and it was hard to shift into neutral, both qualities that get old fast. The beast has been tamed here – it purrs positively as you cruise at a steady pace. Yet when you need lots of gas fast, beating a traffic light or making a daring pass on a two-lane road, all you have to do is flick your wrist and the bike roars, accelerating quickly, even at high speeds. , to get the job done and have fun doing it.
The FXRT Sport Glide fairing also plays a role here. It is not particularly bulky and therefore does not interfere with maneuvering in traffic jams. Still, it helps to split the wind with alacrity, while the raked six-inch windshield offered just enough deflection to go 90 on the highway without feeling assaulted by the power of the air. The frame mounted fairings might look a little funky at first since the headlight doesn’t rotate with the bars, but in my experience the stock LED headlight also provides plenty of illumination at night.
A third item that impressed me were the saddlebags. I was happy to discover that the two removable interior pockets of my Dakine High Roller snowboard bag fit perfectly into these user-friendly compartments, which offer a combined capacity of almost two cubic feet. It meant I could pack for a three-day trip without worrying about strapping anything on the bike or on my back. The bags are positioned well above the exhaust and are thin enough not to affect, like the fairing, close maneuvers.
I learned firsthand when I stopped at a friend’s house in Brooklyn on the way back from DC on what turned out to be a major vacation. The path Of the was one of the busiest I’ve ever been on, but the ST turned out to be so maneuverable that I could do moves everywhere—almost like riding a bike—and get home much faster than expected. It’s worth noting that these bags are also fairly easy to remove when you really want to streamline.
It’s worth noting that, as great as it is to have a bike with the torque, top speed and handling to ride all sorts of roads, it means that very few of those features don’t add up to a general feeling of fun. They add to the happiness with the ST, however. A long continuous road trip can feel like a chore when the miles pile up and your wrist and butt go numb. On this one, the ride was so easy and fun that the trip almost ended too soon.
Something else stands out about this cruiser?
The fairing and panniers probably detract from the look a bit – I always thought naked bikes looked cooler – but not that much. I know this because when I stopped to fill up in a small town in Maryland, three different guys driving pickup trucks stopped to admire the bike and ask me about it. How much their interest had to do with the relative fuel efficiency of a motorcycle versus, say, a Ford F-250, is anybody’s guess.
As I mentioned, the Rockford Fosgate sound system, which integrates quite seamlessly into the fairing, is a rather pricey option. But if you’re going to shell out over $20,000 for a motorcycle, I’d recommend putting on another big one. You control it entirely with your phone, so it’s worth mounting it on your handlebars (I swear by Peak Design bar mountwhich is difficult to install but absorbs shock and releases quickly once in place).
Once you’ve done that and paired, you’ll switch to a pair of 5.25″ woofers and remote tweeters – audible up to around 80 mph – so you can hit the road with your personal soundtrack. In my case, lately it was Hi Satin by the Foo Fighters because there’s no such thing as driving around town fueled by testosterone, gasoline and… disco.
How much does the Harley Low Rider ST cost?
Base price for the Vivid Black version is $21,749, while the Gunship Gray paint job starts at $22,199.
Harley Davidson Low Rider ST 2022
Engine: 1923cc Milwaukee-Eight 117 V-Twin
Gearbox: six-speed manual
Powerful : 103 hp
Couple : 125 lb-ft. at 3500 rpm
Unloaded weight : 721 pounds
Seat height : 27 inches
Top speed: 120mph
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