2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S: Crazy Change

Derryn Wong
2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - side shot of bike

After decades, Harley’s classic model mutates into a modern, muscle-styled streetbike with properly sporty results in Singapore

2022 Harley-Davison Sportster S

Flexible, powerful engine
Good handling and components
Muscle bike styling

Limited range
No classic Harley noise and vibes


The last time the Harley-Davidson Sportster was this new, the world had just entered the Cold War, greaser style was in, and Marlon Brando was the hot thing in Hollywood. You might have picked that up when you looked at the photo of the bike and thought, “THAT’S a Sportster?!”

You could say the backdrop of the Sportster and Harley was Baby Boomers with bucks to spend on something to distract themselves from nuclear Armageddon. Funny how history works that the spectre of nukes is back, and a totally reinvented way of distracting us from that appears too. 

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - rear shot tailpipes rear wheel

We covered the launch of the new Sportster in Singapore earlier this year, which came after Harley’s revolutionary (for it) and very competent adventure bike, the Pan America, all of which ring in big changes for motorcycling’s longest-lasting brand. 

H-D: History Defined

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - side shot lengthwise

The HD Sportster has been around for 65 years – since 1957- and has been largely the same except for minor styling and engine evolutions in the interim. Whilst the Sportster (in XR750 guise) has seen legendary racing success on the flat track, the production model has seen itself outclassed by more modern competition in terms of technology and motoring capability. 

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - headlight

That’s all changed now with the 2021 Sportster S. 

Visually the Sportster S’s muscle cruiser looks remind us of the V-Rod series, as it’s long and stretched-out though lots of this is styling magic: It’s some 175mm shorter than the sizeable V-Rods, and only 40mm longer than before.

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - front low shot

Harley hasn’t totally abandoned heritage, see the high-mount exhaust, familiar tail cowl, chopped front fender, all referencing past Sportsters. But you might think that with the major elements looking very new, and different: For example, the square, full LED headlight, as seen on the Pan Am and Fat Bob.

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - rear high shot

The circular dashboard is now a high tech 4.0-inch TFT, which displays everything from Riding Mode (Rain, Road, Sport, User A and User B), tyre pressure, battery voltage and navigation  – GPS map provided FOC by connecting the HD app in your phone to the bike via Bluetooth. Connecting my phone to the bike was painless, and changing music can be done via the right-hand control.

Engine of change

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - Revolution Engine 1250T
Revolution engine is aptly named

The Sportster’s previous Evolution engine (introduced in uh…1986) has been pruned out of the family tree at last, and this bike sports the properly new, modern Revolution Max 1250T engine. 

It’s water cooled and has variable valve timing, similar to the 150hp unit found on the Pan America 1250, but makes less power (120hp) and 10 percent more torque between 3000 to 6000rpm – hence the ‘T’ in the name. That’s a nice, proper figure for horses and already 31hp more than the XR 1200 X, the most powerful Sportster previously. 

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - rolling shot on the road

The new Sportster feels punchier and more rev-happy than the V-Rod, bringing the Sportster S closer to mid-weight roadsters like the BMW F 900 R and Ducati Monster in straightline speed, in contrast to the more laidback pace of modern retro/ cruisers. 

It’s a smooth engine, as V-twins go, shudder-free even at low rpms, and it pulls hard throughout the rev range, fuel mapping spot on with no dead spots or lurching on roll-offs.

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - rolling shot side rear

For a more relaxed ride, set the engine mode to Road and short-shift into sixth gear – cruising at 90km/h it sits around 3000rpm. We however preferred riding it hard: Putting the bike in Sport mode liberates what feels like 30hp more, as shown by leaving it in fourth gear and blasting the torrent of seamless torque right through to the 8,000rpm redline.

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - rolling shot side

The only things lacking are the soundtrack and the vibes (ironically), which could be a deal-breaker if you love that classic Harley experience. The Sportster is stealthy by Harley standards, the high slung pipes emitting a baritone note when cruising, becoming a dignified bark when pushed hard, and popping quite pleasantly when the throttle is closed. 

Sportster S in the Esses

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - cornering shot dynamic

The engine is only one part of the puzzle, and it’s clear the Sportster is engineered like a modern bike. At 228kg wet, it’s just seven kilos heavier than the BMW R NineT, and a rather mad 40kg lighter than it used to be. Properly-specced components include a fully-adjustable Showa inverted fork and monoshock, and Brembo brakes, although the single front disc brake is a bit of a letdown here. 

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - front brake disc brembo

A major styling point is the wide front tyre – a 160 section unit – which does mean a little less pointability at low speeds. But above 20km/h, it’s more than fine. We emptied two tanks of fuel putting the Sportster S through a series of twisty and switchback roads, fast sweepers, on the highway and arterial roads, across bumpy, greasy and coarse grained tarmac, and were pleasantly surprised. 

The bike remains communicative and planted while cornering at speeds that would’ve twisted the old Sportster’s flex-y cradle frame into knots, and this confidence allowed us to use the rear tyre to its very edge.

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - TFT sport mode

In another quantum leap, the Sportster has a very modern safety setup with a six-axis IMU, cornering ABS and traction control, and the single disc brakes were more than sufficient in stopping the bike.

Built for speed though less so comfort

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - rolling shot side view
Sportster’s forward mount controls are obvious here. Mid-mount optional

The ride however was jarring over speed humps and broken tarmac, the rear wheel seemingly running out of travel. No surprise given the styling, and the rear wheel travel is a paltry 50mm and front around 90mm. 

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - tailpies
Side-mounted pipes do add a little heat to your right leg

With a low seat height of 753mm, forward controls and a low-rise handlebar, we found the riding position of the Sportster S to be natural and undemanding, unlike the ridiculous stretch of the Night Rod Special. The thin padding did cause a bit of discomfort after about an hour on the saddle, but otherwise, we found ergonomics to suit us really well, making the bike feel smaller than it was, and making parking the bike quite easy. 

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - engine shot low

About half of all new Harleys sold in Singapore are Sportsters, and the popularity of the Sportster S has continued that tradition. Having spent nearly a week with the bike, we can see Sportster owners and even ex-owners like ourselves, drawn to the new model. We had a blast. It’s a thorough update in all departments, and perhaps the only bugbear would be the small 11.8L fuel tank. This runs empty just over 100km if you’re throttle happy like we were.  

Conclusion: History or…?

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - tailpipe tail section

Diehards will argue that the Sportster S is too modern, lacks soul, needs twin shocks. For them, we’d suggest they look out for the Sportster 975 that’s rumoured to be out in the second half of 2022. 

Since its launch here in December 2021, over twenty Sportster S have been sold here, with stocks mostly committed to customers even before arriving.  

Ozzy Osbourne sang: “Heirs of a cold war, That’s what we’ve become/ Inheriting troubles, I’m mentally numb”. Those troubles have forced the Sportster to quieten down, lose the vibes and  become a proper, high-performance roadbike with very modern specs. To those dedicated to H-D history, it’s crazy, but to everyone else it’s crazy in a good way. 

 2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S

2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S Review - CarBuyer Singapore - gas tank engine side
Engine1,252cc, V-Twin 
Power121hp at 7500 rpm
Torque127 Nm at 6000 rpm
Gearbox6-speed manual
Wet Weight228kg
Seat Height 753mm
AgentHarley Davidson of Singapore 
Price S$42,900 (without COE and Insurance)
Verdict The Sportster is finally Sporty – ditching decades of history/baggage turns Harley’s entry-level model into a proper sporty roadster. 


H-D harley-davidson motorcycle sportster Sportster S

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CarBuyer – Revolutionizing The Online Car Marketplace In Singapore

Buy Used And New Cars Online
Start your car buying journey with CarBuyer as we connect you seamlessly to the industry’s best CaseTrust-SVTA accredited car dealerships. As a one stop car online portal you can now buy your new ride, be it a pre-owned car or a brand new car from trusted dealers all over Singapore, all in one place. Our ever expanding listing of quality and covet-worthy cars, new and second hand, from both owners and trusted car dealers, will leave you spoilt for choice. Refine your search by vehicle type, registration year, price, mileage, engine type, transmission, annual depreciation value and more to find the car that best suits your needs, taste and lifestyle. You can even search for your car by dealer or directly by owner.

Sell Your Car In An Instant With Confidence
We all know how selling a car in Singapore can be a daunting task especially for a first time car seller; from trying to get a valuation for your car, finding a trusted dealer, to getting the best quote on your vehicle. CarBuyer understands the hassle and even the costs involved and have as such partnered with Huawei to develop a FIRST in Southeast Asia AI car valuation tool that is able to provide a car’s resale value at the snap of a finger. Backed with a consortium of trusted CaseTrust-SVTA accredited car dealers you can be assured that you are getting the best price for your vehicle and do not have to worry about any hidden costs.

The Ultimate Car Shopping Experience Online
CarBuyer platform is the first of its kind to be backed by Huawei’s Artificial Intelligence and cloud computing, enabling it to be able to offer users transparency and enhanced security, all with the one aim of enhancing customer experience. So come on over to buy and sell used cars online at the best prices at CarBuyer Singapore. Connect easily with dealers in real-time via our online video call feature, or schedule a test drive when you’re ready. Have some questions? Get them answered instantly with our chatbot moderated by our responsive team. Stay in the loop with our car-related tips, reviews and news. Learn the ins-and-outs of your car, as well as global and Singapore’s car updates at your own pace.