Starting a review on a negative note is not something that I like doing. However, I did not like Harley-Davidson motorcycles for they didn’t evoke any desire in me. I would’ve continued with this belief until I rode one myself. Yes, it surprises me too.
The weapon of choice to change or at least attempt to change this belief was the 2017 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200. Why did I choose it over their conventional models?
I have a liking for muscular machines that can go fast but aren’t as easy to ride. Something that can’t be easily tamed. And the Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200 suits that tag perfectly well.
The drag styled handlebar, chunky tyres and a peanut sized fuel tank might read oddball, however, look at it from front and you will have an instant grin. The retro styled round headlight is like a tribute to the old school feel. It gets a single pod instrumentation wherein the Speedo is displayed prominently. Additional info such as trip, distance to empty and gear selector are shown on a digital screen. One can’t afford to ignore the Milwaukee etched on the handlebar, tracing the source of the brand. The 1200cc mill is finished in matte black with chrome detailing. The contrast looks amazing. Another aspect that I liked about the Roadster 1200 is the way they have styled the rear fender. Sleek and well defined and also holds the twin lights. Further, the badass looking rear tyres look as if fitted from a hot-rod drag racer.
I got to agree the 2017 Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200 won me in looks, even though I tried nitpicking with the oddly positioned foot pegs. The 1200cc motor that is offered on the Roadster also does duty in the H-D Custom. It is the new Milwaukee motor from Harley.
After some getting used to the riding position, the foot pegs are a pain, I got the motor started. And that slow thump of the motor makes you want to sync it with your heart beats. Poetic? Yes, try it yourself and prove me wrong.
The cafe racer like riding position is something that I really liked. It is not as aggressive as some of the supersports and not completely old school. It sits somewhere in the middle. Put it into first and you can hear the loud thud. With a gentle twist, the 1200 is rolling on the street. The motor offers a linear power delivery so the bottom end does tend to feel lazy. It might also want you to push the throttle hard to make the motor rev close to the redline for it to make enough juice.
At lower engine speeds, you will feel each and every vibrations caused by the surface and the motor. But the same reduces when the engine catches upor speed. The surface vibrations stay, more on that later. The motor feels reasonably smooth and thankfully doesn’t vent out heat when in traffic, a major advantage if you are looking at commuting with it. Maintain a speed of 130kmph and you won’t be complaining of anything at all.
The ride quality of the 2017 Harley-Davidson is manageable if you are riding on well paved highways. Though the Roadster gets scew type adjustable rear forks, it doesn’t nullify the disturbances caused by the surface. However, it’s not all that bad. Take it around twisties and you would realise the true potential of this machine. No, you won’t be scraping your knees but will surely get a high by a bike of this weight and size. The stiffer suspension setup is ideal for throwing it around. And it is decently flickable.
The final question… Should you..? My perception of Harley-Davidson has changed totally and now I actually want to ride more of them. The Roadster is like a Camaro/Mustang on two wheels. Liking it is a subjective choice but you can’t ignore it. Get it to make a strong statement.