The Most Affordable Harley-Davidson Motorcycle In 2024 - SUV VEHICLE

The Most Affordable Harley-Davidson Motorcycle In 2024

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Summary

  • The Harley-Davidson Nightster is the smallest Sportster in the company’s lineup.
  • Despite a lack of traditional Harley engine character, the Nightster offers agile handling.
  • Basic safety features and unique styling make the Nightster a good choice for new riders.



Say what you will about them being heavy or slow, Harley-Davidson makes charming motorcycles. These bikes are known for their loud V-twins, hefty weight, comfort, style, and oodles of low-end grunt. But all of it often comes with a stonking sticker price not many of us can afford. Fortunately, H-D has recently started thinking a lot about luring in a price-centric demographic with bikes that you don’t have to sell your house for. The biggest example of this right now is the Nightster.

The Nightster is part of the Sportster family, which has been in business since 1957. But this one (along with the Sportster S) is unlike any other Sportster that came before it. Gone are the crude character and old-school underpinnings. This one is modern, with a liquid-cooled engine, agile handling, and rider aids. Also, it’s one of the best middleweight cruisers you can buy today.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from Harley-Davidson and other authoritative sources, including Motorcycle News and Motorcycle Online.


Related
10 Pictures That Illustrate The Evolution Of The Harley Davidson Sportster 

Harley-Davidson’s middleweight cruiser has gone through many changes over five decades

Enough Power And Agility To Keep You Entertained

Power Output: 91 HP @ 7,500 RPM

The Harley-Davidson Nightster is powered by the Revolution Max 975T V-twin engine, which produces a flat torque curve with decent acceleration and mid-range punch. But don’t think of this as just a downsized Revolution Max 1250T engine; this one gets VVT on the intake. The engine is rev-happy and most of the power is located high up the rev range.

This in turn means it lacks the low-end explosive character often associated with H-D engines. It’s smooth and whirry and almost feels too sterile. It’s unlike older Sportster engines, which felt thumpy. No, it’s not a bad engine, but you may find it difficult to form an emotional bond with it. Plus, this one does not produce the signature potato-potato exhaust note!


Engine Highlights

  • It’s a liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-twin
  • Intake velocity stacks and airbox volume are tuned to maximize performance across the rev range
  • Unlike the 1250, which features VVT on both cams, this engine only uses VVT on the intake side
  • The dual overhead camshafts and VVT phasing are designed to boost performance
  • Hydraulic valve lash adjustment eliminates the need for valve clearances and ensures quiet operation
  • Internal balancers reduce vibrations and improve engine reliability
  • Balancers are also tuned to retain enough vibrations to make the bike feel more characterful

Engine And Performance Specifications

Engine Type

Revolution Max 975T liquid-cooled, DOHC, V-twin, VVT

Displacement

59.5 cu in (975cc)

Compression Ratio

12:1

Torque Output

72 LB-FT @ 5,750 RPM

Claimed Fuel Economy

52 MPG

Tank Range

216 miles

Top Speed

120 MPH


(Specs sourced from Harley-Davidson and Motorcycle News)

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Why The Nightster Is The Perfect Harley-Davidson For Beginners

The Harley-Davidson Nightster has all the elements that make it an ideal beginner’s bike, with a bit of spice.

Charming Handling With Urban Comfort And Likable Aids

The Revolution Max V-twin is housed in a nimble, lightweight chassis with a light aluminum tail section and welded rectangular steel tube swingarm. Everything floats on beefy Showa Dual Bending Valve conventional forks and dual rear shocks with preload adjustment. To improve agility, the fuel tank is located under the seat, and what appears to be the fuel tank is the airbox cover.

Yep, it ain’t much, but the results are still remarkable. The motorcycle promises to be light, agile, and handle much better than its curb weight would suggest. You can even be a bit rough with it in the corners, where the only thing you’d have to be careful about is the ground clearance. Even the old-school conventionally mounted Brembo brakes can slow you down well.


The ergonomics and dimensions also make the Nightster a terrific urban cruiser. The seat is low, and the profile is narrow, allowing even shorter riders to flat-foot at stoplights. Once you get going, the riding triangle is neutral and comfortable. The only complaint here would be the rear shocks. Their travel is low (as it is on a cruiser), so you don’t have enough to soak up big bumps.

Finally, there’s the electronics. This bike gets all the basic safety rider aids you’d expect from a contemporary cruiser, including dual-channel ABS, traction control, and drag torque slip control (DSCS). Unfortunately, none of the rider aids are angle-responsive. You also have three modes — Rain, Road, and Sport.


Chassis And Dimensions Specifications

Frame Type

Tubular steel trellis

Lean Angle, Right

32 degrees

Lean Angle, Left

32 degrees

Front Fork

41mm Showa conventional forks with aluminum triple clamps

Rear Shocks

Dual outboard, direct-acting emulsion technology shock absorbers with coil springs and preload adjustment

Wheels

Aluminum cast, satin black

Front Tire

100/90 x 19

Rear Tire

150/80 x 16

Front Brakes

Axially mounted 4-piston Brembo caliper, 320 mm disc

Rear Brakes

Floating single-piston caliper, 260 mm disc

(Specs sourced from Harley-Davidson and Motorcycle News)


Pretty Enough To Hold Your Attention (At Most Times)

2024 Harley-Davidson Nightster static profile shot
Harley-Davidson

Think of a Sportster and an image will form in your mind: minimalistic, walnut tank, and a lean fly line. The Nightster is the same, albeit in a modern interpretation. The design blends classic styling with modern cues, and it looks gorgeous. The long and low stance, cool wheels, and bobber-ish elements make the bike stand out from the crowd.

But there’s a dark side to the Nightster’s design. At first glance, it comes off as a well-finished, well-built product, but a close visual inspection may disappoint you. The bike is covered in plastic panels and it isn’t your typical American metal vibe.


Design Highlights

  • Exposed rear shocks, airbox cover, and walnut fuel tank are a throwback to older Sportster models
  • Solo seat, chopped fenders, and speed screen hark back to recent Sportster models
  • Under-seat fuel tank is neatly concealed with side covers
  • Revolution Max engine is the centerpiece of the design
  • Snaking headers are finished in a Metallic Charcoal powder coat
  • Panels under the radiator hide the battery while making the radiator less obvious
  • Gorgeous wheels are finished in Satin Black

Wait, There’s A Cheaper Harley-Davidson

2023 Harley-Davidson X 440 Full
Harley-Davidson

Have we been lying to you about the most affordable Harley-Davidson? Nope. The Nightster remains the cheapest Harley you can buy in the US, but on the other side of the world, there’s a cheaper H-D. We’re talking about the X 440, an entry-level roadster that recently went on sale in India. This bike is the fruit of Harley-Davidson and Hero MotoCorp’s partnership.


Sure, it may not be a true Harley, thanks to its lack of V-twin engine and cruiser proportions. But it has managed to shake the segment in India nonetheless. It’s got a Harley-ish design, inspired by the XR1200 and other Sportsters, alongside class-leading torque figures.

It retails for INR 2,39,500 ($2,879), which is ridiculously cheap for a Harley. But this is not on sale in the US. The company has also not hinted about it arriving at US shores any time soon. So, while it may be the cheapest Harley-Davidson, you can’t get one.

In Case You Want Something More Special

Starting MSRP: $11,999

2024 Harley-Davidson Nightster cruising at night
Harley-Davidson


The Harley-Davidson Nightster isn’t a bad motorcycle; it’s peppy and fun. But it might not be the replacement for the Sportster 883, as Harley-Davidson claims. But if you are willing to spend $13,499, you will get your hands on TopSpeed’s Best American motorcycle of 2024, the Nightster Special.

The Nightster Special fixes some of the drawbacks of the standard Nightster with a few nifty upgrades. The styling is updated with a new headlamp cowl, decals, and badging; the latter is a throwback to the ‘70s Sportsters. The bike also comes with a pillion seat, handlebar risers, cruise control, TFT display with Bluetooth connectivity, and TPMS as standard.

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2023 Harley-Davidson Nightster vs Nightster Special – Which One Should You Buy?

The Harley-Davidson Nightster has been stripped down in 2023, which doesn’t bode well for its value-for-money prospects

Nightster vs The Rivals

As for rivals, the Nightster has two American rivals, the 2024 Indian Scout Sixty and the 2025 Scout Bobber. The Scouts look much better, thanks to their classic styling, and are well-finished products. In the performance department, the Scout Bobber outperforms the Nightster, and both leave the Scout Sixty far behind.


The 2024 Scout Sixty retails for $11,749, and the 2025 Scout Bobber starts at $12,999. The Bobber may offer more bang for your buck, but its poor rear suspension and underpowered brakes are worth considering before deciding. The Nightster’s suspension, despite being short-travel, works better, at least comparatively, as the linked review suggests.

All in all, we may have some complaints about the Nightster. But for being the cheapest Harley-Davidson cruiser, it’s quite good with redeeming qualities, like unique styling, a powerful engine, and agile handling. It would be properly engaging for new riders, which is precisely its intent.

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