The return of the Low Rider S moniker to the Harley-Davidson stable represents another step along the company’s ‘More Roads to Harley-Davidson’ initiative and the introduction of 100 new models during the decade ending 2027. A comprehensive review of this latest HD offering is scheduled for an upcoming issue of Inside Motorcycles, but we simply couldn’t wait to bring you these initial thoughts. – Ed.
San Diego, California may be known for its miles of beaches, warm weather and world-famous zoo, but all it takes is one ride on the roadways along nearby Palomar Mountain to leave you counting the days until you can return. Fortunately, an invitation from Harley-Davidson Canada to test out their all-new 2020 Low Rider S brought with it the chance to once again experience these roads, which are among some of the best in North America.
Walking across the street from our downtown hotel on the first morning of the trip, the assembled group of moto-journalists caught our first glimpse of the 2020 Low Rider S. As the 11th model in the brand’s re-imagined Softail lineup, certain similarities are obvious, but at the same time this new model also stands apart from the crowd.
With a seat height of just 673 mm (26.5 in) the Low Rider S is built close to the ground. A beefy inverted front fork, combines with raised handlebar and a mini speed screen to provide a front-end look that foreshadows the aggressive intentions of this new model. Blacked-out finishes offset by unique matte bronze wheels (19-inch front, 16-inch rear) round out the overall visual feel.
A look at the remaining specifications of the Low Rider S, confirms that this motorcycle has been designed with performance in mind, starting with the 1,868 cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin engine producing a claimed 119 ft-lb of torque that promises to propel the 308 kg (679 lb) Low Rider S with authority. A reduced rake of 28 degrees is incorporated to improve handling while dual front disc brakes and ABS provide stopping power.
A quick stretch of freeway heading out of downtown San Diego was the perfect place to experience the acceleration of the Low Rider S and it did not disappoint as I found myself thankful for the shape of the solo seat which prevents the rider from sliding off the back. While the mid controls place the rider in a position that may feel odd for riders who are used to forward controls, the overall comfort of the ‘Harley-esque’ ergonomics is all-day comfortable.
Moving into the seemingly endless series of corners that make this area a rider’s dream, the Low Rider S made it easy to pick up the pace as it responded willingly to inputs allowing itself to be easily maneuvered from side to side, then holding solidly on the selected line.
At the end of the day, back in San Diego, a ride along the ocean, provided the opportunity for that moment when you can’t help smile in your helmet. Based on the number of heads that turned to check out the Low Rider S as we rode by, this new model is destined to create a lot more smiles.