The evolution and revolution of sports stars, the oldest name in the industry

When I was waiting for Harley-Davidson to unlap the new Revolution Powered Motorcycle yesterday, one of the biggest questions in my head was whether it was called a sports star. Indeed, it was.The· Sportster S represents a new direction for the line, And that’s not a small thing.

What is your name? Now, how many new cars on the market today have the same nameplate and were in production before I was born? Please tell me your name. Only sports stars come to mind. It dates back to 1957 and has built dozens of variations since then, but it has only received one revision as important as what sports stars saw yesterday, and the latest liquid-cooled revolution engine is out of date. Air-cooled Evolution V-Twin that has been a sports star for a quarter of a century.

I’m not a historian and I’m not trying to write the definitive history of a sports star. Other authors have already done that. But a quick look back at the history of sports stars, yesterday’s Sports Star S is a bit more contextual.

The sports star won “sports” by that name when it was announced in 1957 (shown in the photo above). Performance has improved compared to the Harley-Davidson K model. This included the latest features of the time, such as swingarm rear suspension, telescopic forks and footshifts. Sportster has added an overhead valve. From off-road kitted sports stars to flat trackers to the 1977 XLCR cafe racer destined to become a cult classic, there were many variations.

The XR750 Race Bike is the best motorcycle in the history of AMA Pro Racing and was initially based on the Sportster engine. Harley-Davidson photo.

The Sportster was also the basis for the XR750, manufactured by the Harley-Davidson race team in 1970. Renewed with an aluminum alloy engine two years later, the XR750 has dominated flat track racing for years, making it the strongest motorcycle in AMA professional racing history.

A major change in Sportsters was brought about in 1986 with the introduction of the Alloy Evolution engine to replace the old Ironhead V-Twin. The new engine is cooler, quieter and more reliable, and the hydraulic valve adjuster has significantly reduced maintenance. Initially sold with displacements of 883cc and 1,100cc, the larger version has grown to 1,200cc. I don’t know if thousands of Evo Sportsters have sold, but one of them was purchased by me, the only Harley-Davidson I’ve ever owned. The same Evo engine was also readjusted and used for years to power Buells.

Harley Davidson Evolution Sportster
Over the last 35 years, a huge number of Evo Sportsters have been sold and owners have transformed them from touring mounts to homebrew adventure bikes. And some of us made some upgrades and ran around them more or less the way the factory made them. Harley-Davidson photo.

In 2004, the Sportster engine was fitted to rubber, and fuel injection took place shortly thereafter. But as sports stars enter the 21st century, the line’s focus is on styling, improving the performance of motorcycles that, despite being the first half of the name, left the intent of “sports” long ago. It never happened. My 1990s sports star was certainly never fast, but with mid-control and some suspension upgrades, I seem to be suffering from just running it 40,000 miles and striking the unfriendly leaning forward of the pose. I didn’t feel it.

Harley Davidson XL1200X48
In recent years, the focus of the Sportsterline has been styling rather than performance. With 1.6-inch rear suspension travel and a weight of over 550 pounds, the XL1200X Forty Eight wasn’t the bike everyone bought because it wanted the best performance. Harley-Davidson photo.

The new Sportster S brings more sport to the line with a significant increase in power and its advanced electronic rider aid. Many have tuned the XL1200 Sportsters for higher performance, but eliciting 120 horsepower from one in a street-possible format, as reported by the new Sportster S, is a major challenge.

However, despite higher performance, Sportster S Harley-Davidson still relies on style crutches. Front tires that resemble a personal buoyancy device, very limited suspension travel, high exhaust, forward control-all of this means that Harley doesn’t yet have the nerve to compete for performance without returning to the bin. I understand. Reliable styling clues that MoCo has mined for years. Harley-Davidson executives, however, have virtually promised more sports stars to come, and they wanted to get the first attention-grabbing version out there. Therefore, we hope that new sports star models that will appear in the future will deliberately remove some of the options that go beyond functionality and add more “sports” to sports stars.

Harley Davidson Sportster S
The Sportster S brings a new level of power and electronics to the line, yet foam rather than functionality in critical areas such as very limited suspension travel and front tires selected for appearance rather than agility. Give priority to. Harley-Davidson photo.

In any case, I’m happy that Sportster’s name still remains. Older models that were no longer available in Europe due to failure to meet emission limits were delayed in replacement.

The sports star was here before me, and I want to think it’s still there after I leave. The evolution and revolution of sports stars, the oldest name in the industry

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