Ah yes, the question that some of us have been wondering and asking, especially since the two are priced quite closely here in Malaysia. The big bro Sportster S can be yours from RM99,900, while the recently-launched ‘new kid on the block’ Nightster made its debut earlier this month at the 2022 Art of Speed Malaysia with a price tag of RM93,900.
975cc or 1,250cc?
As mentioned in our previous article covering the Harley-Davidson Dirt.Road.Track experience in Pattaya, Thailand, both of these models (and the Pan America) represent the new age and evolution of the ‘bar and shield’ brand.
The H-D Sportster S comes ready with the 1,250cc Revolution Max 1250T V-twin engine that produces 121hp and 125Nm of torque. Its little bro, the Nightster, is not half bad with 90hp and 95Nm of torque on tap thanks to its slightly smaller Revolution Max 975T V-twin engine. Very much different from the powertrains you’re used to seeing in the older Harley models.
Simply put, both of these bikes can offer that H-D riding experience up to a certain point, but if it’s more power you’re looking for, then the Sportster S is the way to go. On the short front straight at the Bira Circuit, some of us clocked in at 180km/h. Yes, it can handle the tortures of track riding.
What if you’re new to H-D?
The Sportster S is meant for those with a fair bit of experience on bigger bikes, it can be quite intimidating for newer riders. Solely because of this reason, the Nightster was born – a model that can hopefully bring in some new and younger blood into the picture.
As a Harley bike, the Nightster is more approachable thanks to its slightly lower power output as well as overall nimbleness and agility. It’s a relatively easy bike to pick up and ride, and newer riders won’t have to struggle much (or for long) to truly enjoy what the bike has to offer.
Plus, the electronic riding aids available in the Nightster (and even the Sportster S) allow for more forms of control like power delivery, engine braking, ABS, and traction control based on the available riding modes.
Want to ride ‘santai’ or ‘sporty’?
We can wholeheartedly agree that both the Nightster and Sportster S can handle the usual ‘santai’ ride, more so on the Nightster. This beauty we can logically see as a badass daily bike to commute to and from the office.
The Sportster S is a more serious machine because it’s essentially a sports bike in cruiser form, and it demands respect and experience before you can truly jump the gun (and come out safe on the other side). It’s one hell of a machine to cruise along the highways, even on all the winding B-roads of Malaysia.
But, if it’s a bike that can fairly handle all riding situations with little to no drama, the Nightster is the safer bet. It’s smoother in my opinion, and it still has that grunt of a Harley, despite being the new ‘baby’ of the family.
‘Mencari Konklusi’ – Nightster or Sportster S?
While both bikes are priced relatively close, the question that you should always ask yourself is what is the bike going to be mainly used for. If it’s a daily that you’re looking for that can have some fun during the weekends, go for the fuss-free Nightster.
If you’ve been riding for a while and you’re looking for something that’s more serious in terms of power and rideability (but not for daily commute), the Sportster S can surprise you in more ways than one, even in track conditions (just get the optional mid controls if you’re planning to rip through corners).
There is, however, another choice if you want something that’s a bit more versatile – the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 (photo on top). It’s the brand’s first-ever adventure-tourer with the same engine as the Sportster S, but outputs 150hp and 127Nm of torque. With this bad boy, you can even go off-road.