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Why the Nightster is the best Harley-Davidson for beginners

Harley-Davidson’s new Nightster model has all the makings of the ideal beginner bike. With its accessible power, modern tech features, and classic Harley styling, the Nightster strikes the perfect balance for new riders.

Nightster Blends Old and New

The Nightster brings together the best of Harley’s past and present. It retains the classic Sportster silhouette with its compact size, 19-inch front wheel, and chopped rear fender. Yet under the hood, the Nightster packs Harley’s newest Revolution Max engine, ditching the old air-cooled V-twins of yore.

This 975cc liquid-cooled powerplant gives the Nightster a healthy bump in power over the outgoing Sportster 883 and 1200 models. But it’s not as intense as the full-size 1250cc motor found in the Sportster S. With 90 horsepower and 70 lb-ft torque on tap, the Nightster ‘s engine provides ample motivation while remaining easy to handle.

Manageable Power Delivery

The RevMax motor’s power curves make the Nightster very forgiving for new riders. There’s abundant low-end torque right off idle, allowing you to get going smoothly without needing to rev it out. But it’s not so extreme that it’ll get away from you.

Once on the move, the engine has a predictable, linear delivery that builds smoothly into a satisfying mid-range rush. Peak power arrives high in the rev band beyond 7,000 rpm, but you don’t need to wring its neck to enjoy brisk acceleration. Overall, the Nightster serves up a very accessible and confidence-inspiring powerband.

Nimble Handling and Braking

With a low seat height of 27.8 inches and compact dimensions, the 481-pound Nightster is maneuverable and easy to handle at low speeds. It maintains that flickable nature once underway too, letting you change direction with little effort.

The front suspension offers 4.4 inches of travel to soak up bumps. While basic, the non-adjustable fork works well for this style of bike. Out back, nearly 3 inches of shock travel keeps things stable. The Nightster stops with authority thanks to big, 320mm front discs gripped by radially mounted 4-piston calipers.

Packed with New Rider Aids

Today’s riders expect modern amenities even from classic-styled bikes like the Nightster. So Harley equips it with rider aids to boost confidence and safety. ABS and traction control come standard and work unobtrusively to avoid skids and keep the Nightster planted in slippery conditions. You also get three selectable ride modes.

  • Rain maximizes ABS and traction control while limiting power output for ultimate stability.
  • Road smooths out throttle response and power delivery for everyday riding.
  • Sport opens the taps on the RevMax engine while reducing electronic intervention.

For everyday commuting and backroad cruising, Road mode strikes the best balance. But having Sport on tap lets you unlock the Nightster’s performance potential when conditions allow. These tunable aids make the bike well-suited for developing skills.

Aggressive Styling with Vintage Touches

While thoroughly modern under the skin, the Nightster’s styling highlights Harley’s heritage. Design cues like the bobbed rear fender, teardrop fuel tank, and single round headlight evoke old-school Sportsters. But you also get tasty modern details like the license plate bracket doubling as a passenger peg and the ribs on the airbox cover.

Overall, the Nightster cuts a lean, muscular profile that looks fast even when standing still. For new riders, it provides that timeless Harley vibe and road presence. And you can easily customize the look with bolt-on parts and accessories down the road.

Premium Features for the Price

Starting at $11,999, the Nightster delivers strong value compared to other Harleys. The base model still comes well equipped with premium touches like all-LED lighting, light-cast aluminum wheels, an analog/LCD combo gauge, and two-tone paint.

Opt for the $12,999 Nightster Special and you get even more toys including a color TFT display with Bluetooth, a tire pressure monitoring system, and cruise control. So there’s no need to pile on options to get the features that new riders expect.

Ideal Ergonomics for Around Town or Short Jaunts

The Nightster’s rider triangle works for a wide range of sizes while remaining comfortable. The mid-mounted foot controls, low handlebar, and crawled-up seat emulate the classic Sportster perch. For riders under 6 feet tall, it provides an active, engaged riding stance perfect for urban commuting or backroad rides.

Longer tours are possible but might get taxing due to the lack of wind protection. If you want a bike for all-day adventures, stepping up to something like the Street Glide or Road King makes more sense. But for newer riders, this bike offers a versatile fit.

Easy to Personalize Down the Road

One of the best parts of buying a Harley is customizing it over time to match your style. And the Nightster’s modular frame design makes it a blank canvas for bolt-on modifications. Swapping parts like the handlebar, seat, and exhaust lets you put a unique stamp on it.

And you can build riding skills as you adapt this bike to your needs. As a new rider becomes more confident, enhancing the performance and stance can be a rewarding progression. So the bike grows with you, keeping things exciting year after year.

The Verdict: An Ideal Intro to Harley

For riders looking to enter the Harley family, the Nightster hits a sweet spot. It provides big-twin power and posture without being overbearing. With modern chassis and tech, it’s got contemporary appeal. Yet vintage styling nods to Harley tradition.

The Nightster is a motorcycle built to last, providing endless miles of enjoyment. For new riders, that journey begins with its combination of accessibility, classic cues, and custom potential. It’s a Harley purposely created to bring new blood into the brand. And for that mission, the Nightster looks like a rousing success.

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