2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST Road Test and Review

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We went out for a splash in the puddles on the new 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST, to see if this Sports Touring version of the Low Rider is really the bike you want

Details
Manufacturer:
Category:
Custom
Price:
£ 19995
Overall
Not rated

IT’S cold and wet. The roads are twisty and there is no traction control to help gather up any acts of over-exuberance. Normally a press launch under those kinds of conditions strikes fear into any bike journo’s heart. Not this time though, as on the press test of the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST, I was actually quite looking forward to it.

You see, I have a strange fascination with big, torquey, low-tech V-twin cruisers, especially when you throw in a twisty coastal road and some rain. Every corner exit brings with it a chance to slide the bike around, and what’s more fun than getting a big old motorcycle out of shape on a wet road?

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What is the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST?

The new Low Rider ST is looking to capitalise on a wave of enthusiasm around the H-D brand and its slugfest with rival Indian in the King of the Baggers race series. The KoTB burst onto the scene in 2021 and proved that you don’t need featherweight prototype bikes to create an enthralling race series. And that’s not to say that the KoTB bikes aren’t trick, quite the opposite in fact, and with big names flocking to the series, it’s been an absolute hit across the pond.

King of the Baggers

Like the bikes that compete on the track, the Low Rider ST features a traditional ‘Bagger’ stance, with a vast front fairing, stacked tailpipes, and high-level panniers mounted above the exhaust. The pannier layout is done on the track to help the race bikes reach the desired amount of lean angle, and it's something the ‘jacked’ stance of the ST mimics perfectly.

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Beneath the skin the bike is much the same as the stock Low Rider S, meaning the engine and suspension are very similar. Really it is all about that tall bike SoCal styling and the extra comfort that comes from having that expansive front end.

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2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST price and colours

The ST comes in at £19,995 for the Vivid Black option and £20,435 for the Gunship Gray option. For that you get two-channel ABS, an immobiliser, and cruise control. Unlike the stock 2022 Low Rider S, the ST gains a neat handlebar-mounted LCD dash that’s fairly small but contains all the info you’ll need for a bike like this.

You also obviously get the frame-mounted front fairing and the lockable panniers that are just about enough for a two-person weekend away.

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2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST handling

I last rode a Low Rider S in 2021, when we squeezed in a mid-lockdown loan from Harley for a couple of weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed its rough and ready, point and squirt dynamics. The ST is a very different proposition. It’s still got all the shove off the line like the Low Rider S, although with more of its weight carried up high it’s a flowing machine to ride. It’s around 20kg heavier than the stocker, but that shifts the centre of gravity up, making it feel more different as you tip into a turn. It’s not cumbersome at low speed, as with some of the really heavyweight US tourers, and once up to speed, it handles surprisingly well for a 327kg machine. The suspension also seemed plusher than I found on the stock S model, although I couldn’t find any information to indicate that it’s differently set up. It could be the extra weight of the bike just creating the impression of a more planted and plush machine.

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Like any of the big cruisers on the market, the 30-degrees of lean angle quickly gets used up, and with its mid-set footrests, you’ll need to make sure the ground doesn’t grab your boot and pull it from the pegs!

The brakes are twin 4-pot calipers that offer a substantial amount of stopping power. The lever will require a fairly hefty four-fingered squeeze to get the bike stopped from speed, but the hardware at least is all good. What is slightly antiquated in its operation is the ABS. It’s a two-channel system, which in itself is fine, although on the bike I rode it felt a bit agricultural in its operation. If the ABS hadn’t been called into action for a while, the front wheel would audibly lock up for a split second before the ABS system would intervene.

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After a handful of dry miles, the threatening-looking sky unloaded with a deluge of fairly epic proportions. Not one to let a bit of rain dampen my spirits, I actually look forward to a wet ride on a bike like this. It provides you with the opportunity to unleash the party piece of any V-twin cruiser – power slides! With its long and low stance, a cruiser is a perfect machine to throw some shapes with on a wet road, and the ST is no exception. With an endless amount of torque on offer, you’re never more than a degree or two of lean angle and a twist of the throttle away from tail-happy fun and endless giggles.

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2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST comfort

With its panniers and front fairing, the Low Rider ST is a bike that many riders will look at as a short-distance tourer. Weekends away, trips to bike events, exploring the UK, and maybe further afield. With that in mind, comfort is key. It’s a tale of two halves on that front. The seat is super low, meaning paddling the bike around is a doddle, although after a couple of hours in the saddle I did start to feel some aches creeping in, especially around my hips. The upper-body ergonomics are great, with the bar position keeping your arms in a comfortable and neutral position.

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With the weather on the launch going downhill rapidly, it did at least give me a chance to check out the protection of the new bike. It’s a fairly expansive front fairing, that is frame-mounted meaning the forks pivot within the fairing and the entire unit always points forward. The screen is a cut-down affair, although as the entire unit is mounted fairly high on the bike, my head was well within the bubble at motorway speeds. The size and positioning of the fairing do afford you plenty of wind protection, although the various vents that would be a blessing on a hot day do allow some rain to stream through. If anything, it’s your legs that catch most of the wet weather, although as it stands there aren’t any leg shields available for the bike from the H-D parts website.

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Wet legs aside, the ST is a much more comfortable companion over the standard Low Rider S. The new fairing is very good, and even comes with some optional screens that allow you to either remove it altogether or go for a taller touring screen. It makes motorway miles a doddle, and once H-D adds some leg shields into the mix, it should be spot-on.

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2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST verdict

With just £1,500 splitting the new 2022 Low Rider ST and its Low Rider S sibling, the extra kit and protection make the bike look like a damn good deal. In truth, it actually is. You’ve got a more usable bike at the end of the day, and one that arguably looks better thanks to that new front fairing.

Granted it seems like a bit of a pain that you have to delve into the accessory catalogue to gain any two-up potential – and a Sundowner will set you back more than £350! That said, the Low Rider range is all about the style of the SoCal cruiser. It’s a bike created in a world where function plays second fiddle to form, and with its KoTB aesthetic in full effect, you really can't ignore this thing.