2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster - story fullscreen Fullscreen

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster

All new from the ground up, the Nightster has classic Sportster DNA with a lean and powerful look

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Harley-Davidson looks both forward and back on its newest addition to the new Sportster lineup, the Nightster. The basic Sportster silhouette remains intact, but everything else was subject to the MoCo’s efforts to remain competitive in a progressively high-tech market. A new powerplant and high-end ride-quality electronics put this newest Sportster far beyond the previous models with the same name.

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster Design

  • All LED lighting
  • Four-inch round gauge w/ multi-function LCD display
  • Bullet-style fairing
  • Blackout treatment
2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster
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2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster
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The seat is hinged, and will flip up to reveal the fuel filler while the actual fuel tank is low in the frame and just forward of the rear wheel to keep the center-of-gravity nice and low.

Before we talk about the Harley-Davidson Nightster, let’s look at its roots. Harley’s Sportster line first saw light of day way back in Ironhead days of 1957 – or even as early as 1952 if you count the flathead-powered K Model that actually started it all. Built as a response to the threat posed mainly by British mid-size sportbike-like bikes, the Sportster line saw continuous production up through current day. An Evolution-powered Sportster hit the streets in 1986, and is only just now being repowered with the new Revolution Max 975T.

The overall look remains much the same with minimal fenders and blackout treatment that lends it a custom air. A bullet-style fairing adds a café-tastic flavor to the mix, and interestingly enough, the fairing comes with a vent molded right in to smooth out the upper edge of the rider’s wind bubble, no doubt.

Around behind the fairing is another nod to the old school in the single, round, four-inch gauge that handles all of the instrumentation and higher electronic features. A low-rise handlebar pulls the pilot forward into an aggressive riding posture, kind of like a drag bar, but leaves room to push off for a more comfortable upright position. You can go ahead and pencil me in as a fan of the bar-end mirrors too, for both the clean look and the custom vibe they add.

The switchgear in the handlebar housings handles all of the electronical yummygoodness and ride-quality controls, since there’s no touchscreen in this model family. (Yet?) Fit and finish are top notch, as are the blackout touches and single splash of color on the fuel tank-shaped airbox. In profile, the airbox structure pays homage to the original teardrop design, but with some harder corners that add an edgy element to the look. It comes stock with a solo saddle, so you’ll have to go out of pocket if you want to share the fun with a friend.

Seat height comes in at 27.1 inches, laden, providing you have at least 180 pounds of body weight to squat the rear shock down to its operational height. Otherwise, the seat rests at 27.8 inches high. The seat is hinged, and will flip up to reveal the fuel filler while the actual fuel tank is low in the frame and just forward of the rear wheel to keep the center-of-gravity nice and low.

LED lighting covers all the bases to ensure maximum two-way visibility, plus the headlight rocks a signature position light feature to set it apart from the rest of its ilk. Mid-mount foot controls finish out the control triangle to put the rider in a commanding, balanced riding position.

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster Chassis

  • Stressed engine frame
  • Showa Dual Bending Valve forks
  • Nimble, lightweight chassis
  • ABS
2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster
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2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster
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Chassis geometry makes for a nice compromise between agility in the corners and stability everywhere else, and it works with the low center-of-gravity to encourage deep dives in the bends.

Mild steel makes up the steering head and yoke-style, rectangular-stock swingarm on the Nightster, but the tail frame is welded-up aluminum members. That’s right, it has a headstock that bolts onto the engine, and much like the rest of the world, it uses the drivetrain as a stressed member that displaces a large chunk of framework. It looks like the downtube/cradle era is over, at least amongst the new Sportster family models.

RWU Showa forks float the front end, and while they aren’t adjustable, they do benefit from Showa’s Dual Bending Valve technology to deliver a ride that is far superior to vanilla stems. Out back, the dual coil-over shocks run with a mechanical spring preload adjuster, but you’ll have to get down and put a spanner on it to do so.

The steering stem sets a rake angle of 30 degrees with 5.4 inches of trail for a nice compromise between agility in the corners and stability everywhere else, and it works with the low center-of-gravity to encourage deep dives in the bends. Wheelbase is nearly as long as the “big” bikes at 61.3-inches long, so this Sportster doesn’t suffer from the “little bike” feel associated with the family.

You get 32 degrees of lean to both sides, which is typical for the platform, but it ain’t enough. I know I can drag my jiffy stand on deep left turns without even trying and my main ride has the same lean-performance figures, so keep that in mind. Despite its name, it still ain’t a sportbike by modern standards.

Cast-aluminum wheels round out the rolling chassis with a satin black finish, and come lined with Dunlop H-D Series Bias Blackwall hoops in a 100/90-19 ahead of a 150/80-16. The rubber comes with an “H” rating that will handle speeds up to 130 mph, far more than the governor that limits the top speed to 112 mph will allow.

The factory was feeling optimistic about its brakes and went with a single front disc up front and a four-bore Brembo binder, while out back a single-pot Brembo caliper takes care of business. ABS comes as part of the Rider Safety Enhancements package that is now stock across the Sportster line.

Frame: Stressed-member, high strength low alloy steel trellis frame; stamped, cast, and forged junctions; MIG welded; aluminum forged mid-structure
Swingarm: Mild steel, rectangular tube section, stamped x-member; MIG welded
Front Suspension/ Travel: 41mm SHOWA® Dual Bending Valve conventional forks. Aluminum fork triple clamps/ 4.5 in. (114 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Rear suspension is dual outboard, direct-acting (no linkage) emulsion technology shock absorbers with coil springs and a threaded collar for pre-load adjustment/ 3 in. (76.2 mm)
Lean Angle (J1168) Right/Left: 32° / 32°
Rake (steering head): 30°
Fork Angle: 28°
Trail: 5.4 in. (137 mm)
Wheels: Aluminum cast, satin black
Wheel, Front: 2.5 in. (64 mm) x 19 in. (483 mm)
Wheel, Rear: 4.25 in. (108 mm) x 16 in. (406 mm)
Brakes, Front: 320 mm floating rotor; axially mounted, 4-piston caliper
Brakes, Rear: 260 mm solid uniform expansion rotor; floating, single piston caliper
Brakes, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS): Standard
Tires: Dunlop® Harley-Davidson Series Bias Blackwall
Tire, Front: D401F 100/90-19 57H
Tire, Rear: D401T 150/80B16 77H

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster Drivetrain

  • New Revolution® Max 975T all-in-one powertrain
  • 90 hp & 70 lb-ft of torque
  • Flat torque curve & broad powerband
  • Ride modes & switchable traction control
2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster
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2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster
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Typically, H-D's run an undersquare, or long-stroke, layout, but this new oversquare ratio contributes to the higher revolutions and greater horsepower output than ever before on a Sporty.

ABS is the start, but not the end, of the rider-safety goodies on the Nightster. Also included in the base package is the switchable Traction Control and Drag-Torque Slip Control System to complete the protection for the rear contact patch whether you’re accelerating or engine braking. Selectable Ride Modes complete the package with a trio of power-delivery modes that let you dial in throttle response to fit the prevalent conditions.

The Revolution Max 975T powerplant made the latest evolutionary jump along with the rest of the Nightster. It’s a liquid-cooled mill that utterly eliminates the cooling fins of old for a very different looking and modern engine. The 97 mm bore and 66 mm stroke is unusual in its oversquare layout. Typically, H-D’s run an undersquare, or long-stroke, layout, but this new ratio contributes to the higher revolutions and greater horsepower output than ever before on a Sporty.

The 12-to-1 compression ratio is also pretty spicy, but a necessary evil to get the 90 ponies out of the engine. Horsepower tops out at 7,500 rpm while the 70 pounds of grunt fully develop at a smooth five grand. Like its predecessor, the new Sportster engine comes as an all-in-one unit with the six-speed transmission.

Engine: Revolution® Max 975T, Chain-driven, DOHC, hydraulic self-adjusting lifters, intake VVT; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 3.82 in. (97 mm) x 2.6 in. (66 mm)
Displacement: 59.5 cu in (975 cc)
Compression Ratio: 12:1
Engine Torque (J1349): 70 ft-lb (95 Nm) @ 5,000 rpm
Power: 90 hp (67 kW) @ 7,500 rpm
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Air Cleaner: Downdraft intake, tuned velocity stacks, washable filter media
Exhaust: 2-into-1; catalyst in header
Lubrication System: Semi-Dry Sump
Primary Drive:Gear, 49/89 ratio
Final Drive: Belt, 80/34 ratio
Clutch: Mechanical, 8 plate wet, assist & slip, 1090N
Transmission: 6-speed
Gear Ratios (overall): 1st: 12.21, 2nd: 9.022, 3rd: 6.994, 4th: 5.641, 5th: 4.731, 6th: 4.131

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster Price

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster
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2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster
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MSRP on the 2022 Nightster is $13.5k with abundant blackout and customer bobber styling.

H-D offers its Nightster in a trio of paint packages with prices to match. Of course, there’s a Vivid Black package at the bottom of the pile with a $13,499 sticker and white graphics on the tank-shaped airbox. The Gunship Gray version sports black graphics, same as the Redline Red version, and either can be had for another four bills, but be aware that the ’color’ only appears on the airbox cover. Blackout treatment is nearly complete across the board regardless of color package, and this applies to the front fender, rear fender, and bullet fairing as well.

Model: RH975 Nightster™
Warranty: 24-month unlimited mileage
Service Interval: First 1,000 miles (1,600 km), every 5,000 miles (8,000 km) thereafter
Color: Vivid Black, Gunship Gray, Redline Red
Price: Vivid Black: $13,499, Color: $13,899

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster Competitors

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster
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2020 - 2022 Indian Scout Bobber Twenty
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Longtime domestic foe Indian Motorcycle competes for its own piece of the action with its own sporty entry, the Scout Bobber Twenty.

Indian Scout Bobber Twenty

2020 - 2022 Indian Scout Bobber Twenty Exterior
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The Bobber can be had with or without ABS, but that's the only electronic fandanglery you can expect as Indian has no answer for H-D's rider electronics, at least not in this bracket.

I chose this bike for my head-to-head because of its generous blackout treatment, custom features, and engine type to name a few. As for the custom looks, the small headlight nacelle and apehanger handlebar set the stage quite nicely with heavily bobbed fenders that are reduced in size even more than the H-D’s sheet metal. Bar-end mirrors are another constant across the board, as is the solo seat that comes on the stock version.

Indian powers its entry with a liquid-cooled V-twin engine, much like its counterpart, though it packs in more cubeage. This increase in size leads to an increase in power with 100 ponies and 72 pound-feet of torque on tap against the Harley’s 90/70. The Bobber can be had with or without ABS, but it looks like that’s the only electronic fandanglery you can expect as Indian has no answer for H-D’s rider electronics, at least not in this bracket.

That leaves the MoCo in an enviable position, even though the Scout Bobber Twenty is a skosh more accessible at $12,499 for the black finish, but pricier in the top end with a $13,899 sticker on its two-tone package.

Read our full review of the Indian Scout Bobber Twenty.

He Said

“Well, it was only a matter of time before the Sportster line got a serious rebuild, and it looks like H-D made the transition fairly well. There’s a definite modern look melded nicely with Easter Eggs from the past to tie this bike in with its family tree. The water-cooled engine isn’t surprising, but it does change the overall look of the thing to make it visually different enough from its forebears.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The original Nightster came in in the mid 2000s amid a Harley field awash with lots of chrome and bling. As a mid-year release, the Nightster came into the Sportster lineup looking like nothing else out there. No chrome, no bling, it was the anti-Sportster – still down in that affordable, entry-level price range, but dark and sophisticated and appealing to folks that were looking for something different in a very bobber/custom vibe. The new Nightster is a big style shift for Harley bringing in a new era of chassis and engine design, and redefining the cruiser.”

2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Revolution® Max 975T, Chain-driven, DOHC, hydraulic self-adjusting lifters, intake VVT; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 3.82 in. (97 mm) x 2.6 in. (66 mm)
Displacement: 59.5 cu in (975 cc)
Compression Ratio: 12:1
Engine Torque (J1349): 70 ft-lb (95 Nm) @ 5,000 rpm
Power: 90 hp (67 kW) @ 7,500 rpm
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Air Cleaner: Downdraft intake, tuned velocity stacks, washable filter media
Exhaust: 2-into-1; catalyst in header
Lubrication System: Semi-Dry Sump
Primary Drive:Gear, 49/89 ratio
Final Drive: Belt, 80/34 ratio
Clutch: Mechanical, 8 plate wet, assist & slip, 1090N
Transmission: 6-speed
Gear Ratios (overall): 1st: 12.21, 2nd: 9.022, 3rd: 6.994, 4th: 5.641, 5th: 4.731, 6th: 4.131
Chassis:
Frame: Stressed-member, high strength low alloy steel trellis frame; stamped, cast, and forged junctions; MIG welded; aluminum forged mid-structure
Swingarm: Mild steel, rectangular tube section, stamped x-member; MIG welded
Front Suspension/ Travel: 41mm SHOWA® Dual Bending Valve conventional forks. Aluminum fork triple clamps/ 4.5 in. (114 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Rear suspension is dual outboard, direct-acting (no linkage) emulsion technology shock absorbers with coil springs and a threaded collar for pre-load adjustment/ 3 in. (76.2 mm)
Lean Angle (J1168) Right/Left: 32° / 32°
Rake (steering head): 30°
Fork Angle: 28°
Trail: 5.4 in. (137 mm)
Wheels: Aluminum cast, satin black
Wheel, Front: 2.5 in. (64 mm) x 19 in. (483 mm)
Wheel, Rear: 4.25 in. (108 mm) x 16 in. (406 mm)
Brakes, Front: 320 mm floating rotor; axially mounted, 4-piston caliper
Brakes, Rear: 260 mm solid uniform expansion rotor; floating, single piston caliper
Brakes, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS): Standard
Tires: Dunlop® Harley-Davidson Series Bias Blackwall
Tire, Front: D401F 100/90-19 57H
Tire, Rear: D401T 150/80B16 77H
Dimensins & Capacities:
Length: 86.9 in. (2,206 mm)
Overall Width: 32.9 in. (836 mm)
Overall Height: 43.6 in. (1,108 mm)
Seat Height, Laden/ Unladen: 27.1 in. (688 mm) / 27.8 in. (705 mm)
Wheelbase: 61.3 in. (1,556 mm)
Fuel Capacity: 3.1 gal. (11.7 l) w/ 0.8 gal. (3 l) reserve
Oil Capacity (w/filter): 4.75 qt. (4.5 l)
Transmission Capacity: N/A
Primary Chain Case Capacity: N/A
Coolant Capacity: 2.22 qt. (2.1 l)
Dry Weight: 462 lb. (210 kg)
Curb Weight: 481 lb. (218 kg)
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 922 lb. (418 kg)
Gross Axle Weight Rating, Front/ Rear: 353 lb. (160 kg) / 595 lb. (270 kg)
Fuel Economy: 52.4 mpg (4.5 l/100 km)
Electrical:
Battery: Sealed, maintenance-free, absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery, 12V, 12Ah, 225 CCA at 0°F
Charging: Three-phase, 45 Amp system (300 Watts @13 Volts, 1,200 rpm, 585 Watts max power @ 13 Volts, 2,250 rpm)
Starting: 0.9 kW electric with direct drive starter motor engagement
Lights (as per country regulation):
└ Headlamp: All LED headlamp, low and high beam with signature position lighting
└ Tail/Stop: All LED rear lighting
└ Front Signal Lights: LED Bullet Turn Signals
└ Rear Turn Signals: LED Bullet Turn Signals
Gauges: 4-inch viewable round gauge area analog display with, Speedometer, L/R turn Indication, Traction Control Indication, Coolant Temperature Alert, ABS alert, Fog Lamp Indication, Battery Voltage Alert, High Beam Indicator, Low Fuel Indication, Rear-ABS Disabled Indication, Failure-Indication Alert, Neutral Position Indication, Low Tire Pressure indication, Check Engine Light indication, Oil Pressure Alert, Service Indication.
Auxiliary Lamps: N/A
Electric Power Outlet: N/A
GPS System: N/A
Reverse Gear: N/A
Details:
Model: RH975 Nightster™
Warranty: 24-month unlimited mileage
Service Interval: First 1,000 miles (1,600 km), every 5,000 miles (8,000 km) thereafter
Color: Vivid Black, Gunship Gray, Redline Red
Price: Vivid Black: $13,499, Color: $13,899

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson

50 New Harley-Davidson Models In Five Years?
- image 788828

Read more Harley-Davidson news.

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
About the author

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