Corrective perspective: riding the Sportster S for 24 hours straight

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I call it “Jen vs. Indians”. (Note: This title was not approved by Jen Dunston.)

Here we are talking about the Harley-Davidson Sportster S. Last week we published review of “one gas tank”. Jen is about a brand new, more powerful liquid-cooled Sportster S that now has a nameplate from 1957. Our “one tank” reviews are mostly quick, second opinions from one of our riders about the motorcycle we have already reviewed before. Thus, the authors are encouraged to share their subjective opinions as the basics have been covered earlier. In the Sportster S, Jen liked many things: from its amazing (if polarized) look to the easy-to-use interface and its powerful, straightforward performance, similar to dragging a bike.

One thing she didn’t like was ergonomics. The front controls, reaching for the steering wheel and the meager stroke of the 1.5-inch rear suspension made the trip, which soon became painful. Good for a short cruise, but like this Indian scout Beaver Jen also considered lately this is not the bike I would like to spend all day on. Based on the comments, most readers seem to agree.

Meanwhile in India …

It’s funny how traversing the hemisphere gives a different perspective.

In India, legions of small motorcycles are bustling about on the roads. Hero MotoCorp, the largest motorcycle manufacturer in India, sells far more of its Splendor models up to 125cc per year in India than Harley-Davidson sells all of its motorcycle models combined worldwide. Hero is also the exclusive distributor of Harley-Davidson in India, and their creators are coming up with exciting ways to showcase new HD models such as recent video from a trip to the top of the world across Panamerica.

So what to do to demonstrate Sportster S? Take it on a long trip. Incessantly, even.

This is what a team of five riders did on the Hero’s oval test track, driving 3141 kilometers (1952 miles) in 24 hours to set a new Indian record.


To be fair, the Indian experiment did not completely disprove the local belief that the Sportster S is less than ideal for long distances. Five riders shared time on the bike, making highly controlled 100-kilometer (60-mile) crossings. And the distance, of course, would have been greater had it not been for the need for 31 pit stops in 24 hours. This stylish 3.1 gallon fuel tank on the Sportster S will only take you so far before it feels thirsty again.

So it’s not as simple as we, the soft, tearful Americans and our first world problems, as opposed to the “Five Hard Racers and Harley-Davidson Sportster S” when we borrow India’s Harley-Davidson statement. After all, I still believe in what I believed in before. I still agree with Jen that the Sportster S ranks high on the list of motorcycles I would choose to ride on the Iron Butt (even lower than senior sportster). I also still firmly believe that you can ride long distances, ride off-road or ride alone or whatever on many motorcycles, even though many people tell you that “you can’t do that ». Finally, it’s still true that no matter how popular it is, you’re not going to drive nearly 2,000 miles in 24 hours on Splendor.



Corrective perspective: riding the Sportster S for 24 hours straight

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