Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Returns Stronger, Easier Than Ever – Ride Review

Harley-Davidson Low Rider S - MOTORESS Vicki Gray
Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Returns Stronger, Easier Than Ever – Photo Credit: Tal Ben-Izhak

The Harley-Davidson Low Rider S returns to the product line-up for 2020 after a three year break – last produced in 2017. Some believe it was one of the best models they ever made. This was underlined to me during my ride, when a man shouted at me from his truck window exclaiming – “that’s the best bike Harley ever made!”  I found that indeed the Low Rider S is a winner.

When taking it off the side-stand its light-weighted-ness became obvious, followed by an easy fit into its lush seat. Firing it up and moving off to that “first impression” kilometre, the exciting pull-away torque definitely made for smiles! There’s no confusion about feeling you’re on a cruiser. The Low Rider S has plenty of attitude and resembles the model from the 80s – based on the Dyna platform. It retains that beach cruiser style. You could say, it’s a combination of a Softail but with luxury features. Features such as the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine, a Softail frame that has a two degree steeper ball head angle to let the engine steer quicker.

Given the dry weight of 295 kilos / 650 lbs, most riders, new or seasoned will find it easy to put this advantage to work. And combine this with the added confidence for any rider via the Low Rider S double brake discs (unlike other models single brake disc).  As a rider who expects performance, no matter the style or speed, I was very happy to this added adjustment.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider S - MOTORESS Vicki Gray
Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Returns Stronger, Easier Than Ever  – Photo Credit: Tal Ben-Izhak

My Favourite Standout Features

All Black Finishes

  • Forks, triple-clamp, riser and handlebar, and rear fender supports in Matte Black
  • Mufflers and exhaust shields in Jet Black
  • Powertrain, primary cover, and tank console are finished in Wrinkle Black
  • Derby cover, intake, and lower rocker covers in Gloss Black
  • LED lay-back tail lamp has a smoked lens

Cast-Aluminium Wheels finished in Matte Dark Bronze and wrapped in Michelin Scorcher 31 tires.

High Handlebars- Raised Controls. Handlebars are wide and easy to reach. Plus these allow for increased radius for corner and tight turns. They’re also in keeping with the “Sons Of Anarchy” styling as apparently the former Low Rider S is known as Anarchy 2 at the factory

Lush Solo Seat. Fit me like a glove and was easy to slip into you. I do think this will be a challenge for longer bodies and you might need to make some foot-peg adjustments.

The Low Rider S Factory Custom Looks. A easy to wrap your grip around, one-inch diameter motocross-style handlebar on four-inch high straight risers, colour-matched mini fairing and solo seat.

Updated rigid-mounted Milwaukee-Eight 114 (1868cc) engine that produces 119 ft/lbs of torque at 3000 rpm. This is a huge upgrade from the 2017 Low Rider S and its Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110. The engine features a dual internally counter-balanced system that reduces engine vibration but maintains that familiar Harley-Davidson rhythm.

Improved Handling At Speed. The inverted front fork design stiffens the front end for improved steering input –and intending to keep the front wheel planted. Plus it has a reduced fork rake to 28 degrees from the 30-degree rake of the former Low Rider model.

Dual Front Brembo 4-piston Calliper Brakes with a 300 mm floating disc. Great to see on the 2020 Low Rider S and big upgrade over the single disc on the base Low Rider model. ABS comes standard.

Rear Suspension positioned for enhanced travel and response. Suspension is managed by a single shock with emulsion technology and spring-preload adjustment in the rear and a 43mm inverted front fork. The rear shock is at an optimised angle between the frame and swingarm.

Noteworthy

The narrow bars look cool but decrease leverage, yielding steering effort that is deliberate, not flickable. I wouldn’t call the handling nimble or easy. I felt you need to be deliberate and ready to control on steering inputs at speed and doing small turns. This requires experience from a rider which a new rider may not be well practised in.

The tank-top tachometer is a challenge to read, sitting as it does not far in front of a rider’s belly, and heat from the exhaust is felt in on a rider’s right boot and calf.

I felt a bit more vibration on the Low Rider S handlebars which might be due to the higher handlebar risers. I also noted vibration to the mirrors which commonly blurs the rear view behind.

Harley has done its best to give the Low Rider S some ground clearance to accompany their claim of “performance-first attitude”. They raised the mid-mounted foot pegs. But even though small things make big difference as I say, this featured wasn’t really that noticeable.

The 2020 model has more power and better handling over the previous model, the 2017 Low Rider S, which was a Dyna. If you recall, Harley discontinued the Dyna line-up for 2018 and migrated many models over to Softail chassis.

 “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.” says Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson Vice President of Styling & Design.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider S - MOTORESS Vicki Gray
Thumbs up! Harley-Davidson Low Rider S – – – Photo Credit: Tal Ben-Izhak

Who Is The Low Rider S For?

Really, anyone into cruiser style riding would be very happy with the performance of the new Low Rider S. there are a lot modern day features for safer riding. Note that its solo seat rather declaims fun for one rider. If you plan to take a passenger you can opt for customization and even then you might want to limit the distance you ride with a passenger simply due to comfort.

The size of the engine may affect insurance rates for a new rider but worth investigating and of course the price point for a new rider might be steep.

Commuter, short trips and any former fan of the Low Rider S will be happy with this model.

Specifications Harley-Davidson Low Rider S 

  • Type: Milwaukee-Eight V-twin
  • Displacement: 114ci (1868cc)
  • Maximum torque: 119 ft/lbs @ 3000 rpm
  • Valve train: Pushrod, 4vpc
  • Exhaust: 2-into-1
  • Cooling: Air
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Clutch: Mechanically actuated assist-and-slip
  • Primary drive: Chain
  • Final drive: Belt

Dimensions & Capacities

  • Wheelbase: 63.6 inches
  • Rake: 28 degrees
  • Seat height: 690mm / 26.5 inches
  • Fuel tank capacity: 18.9 L / 5 Gal.
  • Dry weight: 295 kg / 650 lb

Chassis

  • Frame: Mild steel w/ cast aluminium swingarm
  • Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable single-cartridge inverted 43mm fork; 5.1 inches
  • Wheels: Cast-aluminium
  • Tires: Michelin Scorcher 31
  • Front tire: 110/90 x 19
  • Rear tire: 180/70 x 18
  • ABS: Standard

Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Colours: Vivid Black; Barracuda Silver (My test ride)

Suggested Retail: Low Rider S Price: $17,999. USD / $23,599. CAD / € 23.500 EU

Visit your local Harley-Davidson dealership to find out more or to take one out for a test ride!


Photo’s taken during this review by Tal Ben-Izhak | Party Pix Canada

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