2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S first ride review

Usually, the words ‘Low Rider’ don't quite match Harley-Davidson’s image. But things are a little different when there’s an S in there.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider S - Togpear Magazine India
Harley-Davidson Low Rider S (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Harley-Davidsons have always been a deeply fascinating subject for me. Right from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, when Arnie rides around in his massive Fat Boy looking for John Connor at the mall. It made me wonder, could I ever ride a Harley-Davidson in my life? And then the answer came a few weeks back. Jokes apart though, I was quite excited to ride the Low Rider S. That overall black-theme and short handlebar give the S a custom bike feel to it. Harley-Davidson, which has been around in India for 11 years, knows the kind of motorcycles its customers are looking for. The Low Rider S sets itself apart from the cruisers, tourers or streets. Not only on the basis of its looks but also the kind of experience it provides from a riding standpoint.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Review - Topgear Magazine India
(Image: BBC TopGear India)

First off, the Low Rider S has an upright riding position with mid-mounted foot controls, which primarily means it’s meant to be ridden long distances without much hassle. The drag-style handlebars further enhance the handling capabilities compared to the standard Low Rider model. All in all, though, this is meant to be a cruiser for those looking for something other than chrome all around. Harley has made sure they add a distinct flavour to the S, and it shows. The little screen at the front, the dials on the tank and the single-seat all come together rather well on the Low Rider S. Nothing really looks out of place. However, there could’ve been more colour options on offer. Right now, there are just two – Vivid Black & Barracuda Silver. Nonetheless, the S starts to feel even more special once you swing your leg around the large frame of this motorcycle. You’ll find yourself sitting low to the ground and that handlebar stretched out in front of you. However, it has to be said that the seating position can be uncomfortable for some. But once you hit the starter button, that huge Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin engine brings a smile to your face instantly as it roars to life with a deep rumble.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Review - Topgear Magazine
(Image: BBC TopGear India)

Once you hit the open road, it’s clear that the Low Rider S is meant to cruise effortlessly. Although, doing that for too long can be a little taxing, thanks to handling-bias handlebars and seat position. However, the inverted forks, rear mono-shock and slightly reduced rake angle (from standard Low Rider) make the S a lot more friendly with regard to manoeuvrability. Out on the open highway though, the chassis does an incredible job at keeping the bike extremely stable at high speeds. Factor in the massive push from that V-twin motor and riding on long straight roads with slight bends is an absolute joy. Even the specially made tyres from Michelin keep the grip levels high on the tarmac. But, if you decide to take things slowly, as you should, it won’t be much of an issue.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider S Motor cycle Review - Topgear Magazine
(Image: BBC TopGear India)

Furthermore, the cast-aluminium wheels look fantastic and provide great stability. The dual-disc brakes also do a reasonably good job of bringing the massive Low Rider S to halt. But, I personally feel where S really shines is its combination of good looks with great performance. This isn’t a bike you just want to cruise in for hours, this is a cruiser you want people to see you taking for a spin. Everywhere I went with this motorcycle, people turned and stared, some even giving the customary thumbs up to the big ol’ Harley. The Low Rider S makes you feel as special as it is, and that is certainly a very commendable trait.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider Speedometer - Topgear Magazine
(Image: BBC TopGear India)

Chances are that those purchasing a Harley-Davidson motorcycle don’t really need anyone to change their mind. In fact, so cult-like is the following for Harley’s in India, there are riders in the thousands coming out to strut their stuff with pride. And it’s not just in mid metropolitan cities, it’s everywhere! That’s what makes the Harley-Davidson brand so special in India. They aren’t isn’t just looking to bring the motorcycles they’re known for but also they also look to experiment and bring out a product like the Low Rider S, which adds an individualistic flavour to the usual formula. In closing, even though I wasn’t on a Fat Boy, I felt just as cool as Arnold Schwarzenegger did, and that’s all that matters.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider - Topgear Magazine
(Image: BBC TopGear India)

Specifications:

Engine – 1,868 cc, v-twin cylinder
Power – 91.7bhp
Torque – 155Nm
Transmission – six-speed manual
Weight – 308 kilograms

Price: Rs 14.69 lakh (ex-showroom) onwards

For – Looks, torque-heavy engine, straight-line stability
Against – Turning radius, weight

Photography: Jassi Singh