2022 Harley Nightster Sneaks Modern Engineering Into A Classic Silhouette

April 19th, 2022 by Kurt Spurlock

HD gave us a first look at the new 2022 Harley Nightster this week, and we’ve gotta say, it’s one of the most exciting new developments we’ve seen out of Milwaulkee since the Pan America launch last year. It’s also the third hog to receive the brand’s new Revolution Max V-Twin engine design (albeit in an all-new 975cc configuration) and considering the fact that all future Sportsters will inevitably follow suit with the Nightster layout, it may also be the most important bike the brand has produced in decades. 



2022 Harley Nightster Highlights

Before we dive into the details of the new Nightster, take a moment to just give it a good once-over with your eyeballs. This is an important step, because although the new Nightster is packed with much of the same modern tech as the polarizing new Sportster S, it doesn’t advertise it.

In fact, were it not for the Nightster’s prevalent forward-mounted radiator (and the telling absence of push-rods), you might easily mistake it for just another updated Iron 883 or Harley Fourty-Eight, and therein lies the magic of the new model: It still looks like a proper Sportster. Here’s how they did it.


The Gas Tank Isn’t Actually A Gas Tank

One of the most iconic parts of any true Sporty is the classic “peanut” shaped gas tank. With the new Sportster S, Harley chose to forego that feature, but the signature tank still rides high on the Nightster’s frame. The tank is noticeably compact, yet the Nightster boasts a full 3.1-gallon fuel capacity because fuel is actually stored beneath the seat. 

This adaptation serves two purposes for the new Nightster: For one, it lowers the machine’s overall center of gravity, which should improve handling and stability, and also allows the “tank” itself to function as a sizeable airbox to improve power delivery without interrupting the machine’s classic lines. 



The Engine Is Now Part Of The Frame

Although the Nightster’s silhouette still screams classic Sportster, the conventional cradle frame has been scrapped entirely. Instead. Harley opted to use the new Revolution V-Twin engine as a stressed member, and built the rest of the frame and components around the engine itself. 

Harley did a clever job of hiding this detail in the Nightster’s design, but the dividends should be plain to see. Motorcycles using the engine as a stressed member benefit from increased chassis rigidity, which translates to sharper handling for the rider. 



Revolution Max 975T Engine

The new Nightster is the first motorcycle in the Harley Davidson lineup to receive the new Revolution 975T motor, a scaled-down version of the massive 1250cc engine found in the new Pan America and Sportster S models. This new powerplant shares the same liquid-cooled 60-degree layout of the larger model, as well as the same variable valve timing system and (our favorite) the maintenance-free hydraulic valve adjustment tech. 

This fully modern engine comes with three selectable ride modes (rain, street, and sport), and in its most aggressive setting, puts down about 30 more horsepower than the current 1200cc Evolution motor despite a 225cc displacement gap. It puts down nearly identical torque figures as well with 70 ft-lbs on tap, although it makes them as a significantly higher 5,000 rpm.


Posted in New Model Release