Harley-Davidson's Nightster brings modern performance to the classic Sportster silhouette.
Brand-new for 2022, the Nightster is designed around Harley-Davidson’s new Revolution Max power plant, which in this case is a 975cc, liquid-cooled V-Twin, called the Revolution Max 975T. The Revolution is a fully modern powerplant that includes a suite of Rider Safety Enhancements and electronics that we first saw on the 2021 Sportster S and its Revolution Max 1250T engine.
Visually, the Nightster is a modern take on Harley’s original version of the bike—that was produced from 2007 to 2012—with a small “Walnut tank” (actually hiding the airbox), mid-mount foot controls and a low-rise handlebar. The Nightster has all the cues the traditionalists are looking for with all the advancements that a new generation of riders demand.
- A more traditional look than the Sportster S
- Modern power meets Harley-Davidson tradition
- Electronic riding aids, including TC, ABS, and ride modes
- Having to listen to the boo birds complain about change…
- What happened to the peanut tank? It’s now called a walnut?!
The Nightster has been out of Harley-Davidon’s lineup for years; and there probably isn’t a single part from a previous-gen Sportster that would bolt onto this new 2022 version.
Harley-Davidson buyers don’t like change, especially when it comes to iconic models like the Sportster. But don’t let anyone tell you that change can’t be awesome. Say what you will, but the Revolution Max 975T engine powering the brand-new Nightster is modern, powerful, and has an electronics suite that modern buyers have come to expect on new models.
Rider aids are managed by the three selectiable riding modes: Road, Sport, and Rain, which then have preset parameters for ABS, traction control, Drag-Torque Slip Control, power output, and response. Housing this new engine is a totally new lightweight chassis, with mid-mounted foot controls, a low-rise handlebar centering the rider into a comfortable riding posture, and an ultralow 27.8-inch seat height. Twin shocks visually bridge the gap to the past and work with a 41mm Showa fork “designed to provide improved handling performance by keeping the tire in contact with the road surface,” according to Harley-Davidson. The Nightster rolls on traditionally staggered 19-inch front and 16-inch rear wheels with blackwall tires.
A bar-mounted, 4-inch round analog speedometer has a multifunction LCD screen inset within to allow navigation of menus. LED lighting includes a Daymaker headlight to blast a hole in the darkness, or help ensure you’re seen on the road. Chopped fenders and speed screen are Vivid Black regardless of which color option you choose.
Three color options are available, including: Vivid Black for $13,499, and Gunship Grey or Redline Red for $13,899.
At the heart of the Nightster is the new 975cc liquid-cooled 60-degree DOHC V-twin, called the Revolution Max 975T. Bore and stroke measure 97 x 66mm with a 12:1 compression ratio. Claimed horsepower is 90 at 7,500 rpm, while peak torque is a stout 70 pound-feet at 5,000 rpm.
The dual overhead camshafts also provide variable valve timing for the intake valves. Hydraulic valve lash adjustment keeps the top end in spec, while counterbalancers help reduce engine vibration. Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection feeds 50mm throttle bodies. Finally, Harley-Davidson claims that “the length and shape of the intake velocity stacks, combined with the airbox volume, are tuned to maximize performance across the engine speed range.”
Built for navigating urban traffic and curving backroads alike, the Nightster uses its Revolution Max 975T engine as a central, structural component of the chassis, which helps keep weight in check and adds stiffness, while an aluminum subframe and steel swingarm complete the package.
The steel “tank” is really a large airbox cover, while the 3.1-gallon fuel cell resides under the rider’s seat, all in an effort to keep the bike’s center of gravity low and help improve handling. The Showa fork does not have provisions for adjustment, while the shocks allow spring-preload adjustment.
Getting the Nightster slowed down is a single 320mm disc clamped by a four-piston caliper up front and a 260mm disc and single-piston caliper on the rear; the system is aided by the aforementioned ABS system.
Fuel economy will be available following future tests of the Nightster.
Mid-mount foot controls are what really defines the rider position on the Nightster, while a low-rise handlebar location provides a sporty hand position, the combination of which should open the door to a fun machine to hit some curvy roads on the weekends.
In a category that is all about confidence and control, Harley-Davidson was sure to keep the seat height to a low 27.8 inches. Combine the low seat height with a narrow seat profile and you have a bike that most riders can flat foot when they come to a stop. Again, confidence and control is everything!
We almost feel like we’re talking about a sportbike or adventure bike here, but it’s a testament to H-D bringing the Nightster and the Sportster in general into the modern age that this bike—like its Sportster S cousin—comes with an entire complement of rider aids. The three modes that determine how the ABS, TC, Drag-Torque Slip Control, and power delivery occur are as follows.
Slightly less aggressive throttle response and midrange power, with more TC and ABS intervention than Sport.
More direct throttle response, lowest level of traction control, and reduced engine-braking.
Throttle response and engine output choked back significantly, while engine-braking is limited, and ABS and TC are set at the most conservative level.
Harley-Davidson offers a two-year, unlimited-mile warranty.
It’s not 1957 any longer, the Nightster is all grown up, and we suspect it will perform accordingly.
|MSRP:||$13,499 to $13,899|
|Engine:||975cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled 60-degree V-twin; 8 valves|
|Bore x Stroke:||97.0 x 66.0mm|
|Claimed Horsepower:||90 hp @ 7,500 rpm|
|Claimed Torque:||70 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 rpm|
|Fuel Delivery:||Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection w/ 50mm throttle bodies|
|Clutch:||Wet, multiple-disc slipper/assist|
|Frame:||Steel trellis frame; aluminum forged mid-structure|
|Front Suspension:||41mm Showa fork|
|Rear Suspension:||Twin shocks, spring preload adjustable|
|Front Brake:||4-piston caliper, 320mm disc w/ ABS|
|Rear Brake:||1-piston caliper, 260mm disc w/ ABS|
|Wheels, Front/Rear:||Cast aluminum wheels; 19 in./16 in.|
|Tires, Front/Rear:||Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series Bias Blackwall; 100/90-19, 150/80-16|
|Ground Clearance:||4.5 in.|
|Seat Height:||27.8 in.|
|Fuel Capacity:||3.1 gal.|
|Wet Weight:||481 lb.|