What’s it like to attend the Harley-Davidson Dirt.Road.Track (DRT) media experience in Pattaya, Thailand? A whole lot of riding compressed into one hectic yet eye-opening day.
Organised by Harley-Davidson APAC (massive thanks for the invite), we were there to sample its latest 2022 models, particularly the Pan America 1250 Special, Sportster S, and the model that I personally believe will be a hot-seller, the all-new Nightster.
2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster
There were other 2022 models present on the event grounds located at the Bira Circuit, namely the Road Glide ST, Street Glide ST, and the Low Rider ST. All of these models were recently launched in the Malaysian market, except for the Nightster (but we have a feeling that we won’t have to wait very long for that).
There were also some 2021 models to help press members experience the differences. Like the name of the event, the sessions were separated into three – Road mainly for the Nightster and ST models, Track for the Sportster S, and Dirt for none other than the Pan America 1250.
First impressions on the Nightster?
Lucky for me, I managed to get my hands on the Nightster first for the Road portion of the ride. As expected, it was a smooth experience with a good balance between Harley-Davidson’s heritage and their future of more modern bike offerings.
The Nightster is a good bike for those looking into entering the H-D brand thanks to its ease of rideability, manageable performance, and of course, the design DNA of retro Sportsters.
In short, it’s a lot smoother and safer to ride thanks to its new 975cc Revolution Max engine and electronic riding aids, but it still has that classic torque grunt (not much, but it’s there). Just need to know which gears to ride for different riding experiences.
2022 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special
How about the Pan America?
It wasn’t long before we were called to participate in the second session involving some dirt, mud, and offroad terrains with the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250. This was a bit intimidating due to the fact that any offroad riding requires a lot of physical strength (which I have neglected since the first MCO).
We got a taste of both the 2021 and 2022 Pan America 1250 Special, and it was indeed a fun experience despite being super physically demanding. I only had a short stint on the Pan America when it was launched in Malaysia last year, and it further cemented the fact that H-D did one hell of a job for its first-ever adventure-tourer.
Capable of some very spirited riding on the road, it was also a formidable choice when it comes to handling offroad terrains. Despite tipping in at 258kg (kerb), the Pan America is powerful, versatile, and intelligent for all riding occasions. Two thumbs up for the Pan Am. It’s the smartest bike in the current H-D fleet, and it shows.
2022 Harley-Davidson Sportster S
Sportster S in the track?
The last portion involved the H-D Sportster S and the very reason why the event was set at the Bira Circuit. Truth be told, my first experience with the Sportster S last year was a bit of a letdown solely because the ride down from Genting was too short and traffic was annoying.
This time around, the open track showcased what the Sportster S had to offer – plenty of power and surprisingly, a fun bike to ride in the corners. Pushing it harder as one would normally ride on the open road, I was able to understand and appreciate the idea involved in the production of the Sportster S – a sport bike in a cruiser form.
With its Revolution Max 1250T V-twin engine (similar to the Pan America, but tuned to deliver more torque in the mid-range), 121hp and 125Nm of torque were more than enough to fly down the straight before applying the brakes and entering the corners with confidence. It would’ve been better with mid-mounted controls as the forward foot controls meant that I had to hold on for dear life as that massive torque kicked in.
It’s probably the only bike that can handle the pressures of track riding, unless you’re into the MotoAmerica’s King of the Baggers. If that’s the case, some heavy modifications on any of the three 2022 ST models should do the trick. Out of the box, the Sportster S gets a new level of respect from me.
Conclusion on the 2022 models?
In a nutshell, the Harley-Davidson Dirt.Road.Track media experience showed us two different offerings for two different groups of H-D fans. The first group caters to the hardcore fans of the brand. Those that are constantly looking for that iconic ‘big engine, big torque’ can still appreciate the efforts put into the three ST models and the 1,923cc Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine.
Then there’s the other three with their Revolution Max powertrains – the Pan America, Sportster S, and Nightster. These are the bikes that can pull in some of the newer and younger crowds into the brand, including those who are into riding offroad and track.
It’s honestly a good move from H-D as it satisfies the ‘needs and wants’ of the many and hopefully, retain its status as an iconic motorcycling brand for another century to come.
As a point of reference, below are the prices for the 2022 models in Malaysia.
2022 Nightster – estimated RM85,000-RM90,000 (to be launched in early July)
2022 Sportster S – RM99,900
2022 Pan America 1250 Special – RM125,900
2022 Low Rider ST – RM125,900
2022 Road Glide ST – from RM176,900
2022 Street Glide ST – from RM182,900