The Low Rider S is back, just with an added bit of Softail goodness, as Paul found out on the recent Australasian launch in Sydney.

The Low Rider S has been the performance version of the Low Rider since it first joined the range as a pre-Dyna FXR model in the eighties. Described as the “Rider’s Harley”, the combination of the big block motor, sharper steering, aggressive riding position and twin rear shocks have also made it the go-to bike for the latest generation of stunters.

Modern Interpretation

With the Dyna discontinued in 2017, the Low Rider S has been reborn around the excellent Softail chassis. Yep, the twin shocks are gone, but all the fruit is still there including a sharper steering head angle (28-degrees) and the mind-bending 114 cu-in Milwaukee 8 powerplant.

Performance was at the forefront of the designer’s mind when penning the new model, as Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson® Vice President of Styling and Design explains. “We’ve applied that coastal style and performance-first attitude to the Softail chassis to create a Low Rider S that’s more powerful and agile than ever, with a heavy dose of tough-as-nails attitude.”

Motocross-style handlebars on four-inch risers was the first nod to the California-inspired Low Rider S Dynas of the past, putting the rider in an aggressive riding position. With all signs of shining chrome swapped out for black to make the Low Rider look as aggressive as the rider feels, there’s a small fairing added to complete the look. The single seat is another nod to the Dyna version, with the ultra-low 673mm saddle height likely to make this popular with those looking for a low ride. Twin clocks on the tank are also part of the Low Rider S design, although actually taking the time to look down at them is hard when you unleash the full fury of the 114.

Hold On!

How they’ve managed to make this motor so smooth and refined yet produce such arm-stretching power is beyond me, but from cracking the throttle open above idle the 114 pulls and pulls, continuing its surge all the way towards the redline. With 155Nm of torque on tap, anything above 3,000rpm sees the Low Rider S head for the horizon, making you thankful for the twin-disc brake set-up at the front (which works well) and the ample ground-clearance from the high-mounted footpegs.

The riding position is a curious mix when you first slide into place, but once you start upping the pace and hooking into corners, it all makes sense. It’s like the Low Rider S is giving you all the best bits of the current FXDR (which goes like stink and handles just as good), just with the classic and understated looks of the Softail. You could almost say the Low Rider S is a ‘sleeper bike’, that could easily be overlooked and discounted by those not in the know. That is until they tried to keep up…

For the full review, check out Issue #186 of Bike Rider Magazine – in stores on October 28!