The Roadster - Harley's New Stripped Down Dark Custom

A new model from Harley-Davidson which reaches back to a classic style rides out a day before Harley-Davidson releases its first quarter financial results.

As if the timing wasn’t enough to strike a wry smile, the marketing of the Harley-Davidson’s Roadster ‘inspiring a new generation of riders to take to the streets’ certainly should.

Regardless of all this, this new model joins the Harley-Davidson Dark Custom lineup has a new addition. Harley-Davidson’s Roadster is a minimalist, fastback design inspired by classic racing motorcycles.

“Since its introduction in 1957, the Harley-Davidson Sportster has proved capable of constant reinvention, and the Roadster writes a new chapter in that story,” said Harley-Davidson Director of Styling Brad Richards. “We’ve watched our customers take the Sportster in so many different directions. The Roadster is a mash-up of styling genres, but the intent was to build a rider’s motorcycle, a Sportster that’s lean and powerful and connects the rider to the road.”

This new model is riding straight for the spotlight with the Roadster starring in “Cut Loose,” the third commercial in Harley-Davidson’s ‘Live Your Legend’ global marketing campaign.

Showing how riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle can enable riders to create deeper bonds and share richer experiences with friends and family. ‘Live Your Legend’ campaign ads include snapshots of life-enriching moments, as well as the unique and unforgettable bonds of friendship that riders develop by riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

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2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster - Source Harley-Davidson

As the newest member of the Dark Custom lineup, Roadster combines modern performance and retro-inspired styling with premium suspension components, an air-cooled 1200cc V-Twin engine that delivers a strong pulse of mid-range torque and a profile reminiscent of vintage racing motorcycles from the 1950s and 1960s.

“We wanted to give the Roadster some DNA from the high-performance KHR models of the mid-50s, and later Sportsters tuned for the drag strip,” said Richards. “Those bikes had fenders cut to the struts, the small fuel tank, and were stripped to their bare essentials to achieve a singular performance purpose.”

The 19-inch front and 18-inch rear Offset-Split 5-Spoke cast aluminum wheels were designed specifically for the Roadster and contribute to its balanced, athletic stance. The Roadster puts its rider in an aggressive posture with a new low-rise handlebar and mid-mount foot controls that center the rider’s weight over the classic profile of the 3.3-gallon Sportster® fuel tank.

“The wheels were inspired by classic laced wheels, and are the most intricate cast wheel we’ve ever created,” said Harley-Davidson Industrial Designer Ben McGinley. “The interlacing spokes shoot outward toward opposite sides of the wheel, creating a dramatic visual effect. These wheels are also very light for their size, which contributes to the Roadster’s handling performance.”

A lowered handlebar gives the Roadster a racing look while optimized steering geometry has been designed for a responsive, confidence-inspiring ride.

Roadster’s suspension is enhanced by new 43mm inverted single-cartridge forks with tri-rate springs gripped in robust triple clamps and rear suspension featuring gas-charged emulsion coil-over shocks and tri-rate springs with adjustable pre-load and offers greater suspension travel than any other Sportster model – 4.5 inches in front and 3.2-inches in the rear. Outstanding stopping power is achieved with dual 11.8-inch floating rotors on the front wheel. The Roadster is available with optional ABS brakes.

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2016 Harley-Davidson Roadster - Source Harley-Davidson

In keeping with its stripped-down styling, the Roadster’s rear fender has been clipped 1.5 inches shorter than previous bobbed Sportster fenders. The slotted belt guard and muffler shields mimic the lightening holes drilled in race-bike components, and a single four-inch diameter instrument tucked low in front of the triple clamp features a sweeping analog tachometer with an inset digital speedometer. Rear turn signals mounted directly to the fender struts, a side-mount license plate and fastback seat design give the rear of the bike a tight and uncluttered look.

“The seat’s profile flows into the very short rear fender,” said McGinley. “The cover features a series of pads inspired by an armored leather jacket, and the rear of the seat is designed as a passenger pillion, to give the Roadster added versatility.”

Speaking of looks, the Roadster features custom tank graphics and the two-up seat is designed with ribbed detail and minimalist styling.

The Roadster model will be offered in four color choices: Vivid Black with a charcoal denim pinstripe; Black Denim with a red pinstripe; Velocity Red Sunglo with a red pinstripe; and two-tone Billet Silver/Vivid Black with a burgundy pinstripe.

Carrying a starting MSRP of $11,199, this model will be held up during the press conference when Harley-Davidson discusses its financial results. From the pricing to the raw design, everything about the motorcycle is meant to attract new and younger riders, both of which Wall Street has laid down as Harley-Davidson’s challenge for its future success.

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