2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST Review30.08.2022
Harley-Davidsons can be described as Jeeps in the motorcycle world. You either get them, or you don’t. And I won’t lie, I have always been in the “don’t” group. Although I have been impressed and intrigued by Harley’s latest efforts to branch out, such as the Livewire or the Pan America Specials, the big V-twin cruisers which defined the company have not done anything for my heart. The R 18 by BMW, which attempted to make a Harley traditional, was a failure.
When the chance presented itself to review the new 2022 Low Rider ST Harley-Davidson model, I accepted it with both bemusement and morbid curiosity. I was fully prepared to hate it, with all its chrome and tassels, and the outrageously loud exhaust.
The delivery van arrived and rolled it. I realized that I had let my preconceived notions get in the way of reality. The only chrome that was visible on the bike was the pushrods and levers. Although it was large, the bike looked almost slimmer due to its low, long stance. The combination of the solid gray paint and flat black everything else didn’t look pompous or overbearing. It was just plain mean.
This sloppy look helped conceal the many shield and bar logos. The H-D signage can be found everywhere. It’s even printed on the belt and embossed in tires. It was a little difficult for someone like me to understand, especially since I don’t consider myself a member.
It is not easy to understand the core concept of this bike. It works like this: Take the 2022 High Rider S, a stripped-down performance cruiser. Then add a larger fairing and bags to make it a true touring machine, like the Street Glide. This bike seems to be cutting too much into an already narrow section.
Keep watching, Milwaukee’s minds know what they are doing. Harley-Davidson’s ST was inspired by California custom cruisers. They were low, fast, and didn’t forget their bags. The ST comes with a pair of slim saddlebags. They are not large enough to hold a helmet, at least not mine, but they can be used to carry clothes and miscellaneous items for weekend trips. They’ll likely be carrying a few work coveralls and perhaps a couple of adult beverages for after-hours. But if you prefer to roll with less bulk, they can be removed in seconds using a simple latching mechanism.
A slim fairing is located in the front. It looks very similar to the Road Glide, but it is much smaller. This provides some respite from highway speeds, but not a cocoon. The high, mid-mounted pegs allow your feet and legs to float in the breeze while the rest of the bike is parked on them. The bars are meanwhile on high risers. These two touchpoints match a low, single saddle. This forces you into an arms-up, feet forward, position that will make you want to run down Highway 1.
Instead, I used it to cruise up the New York State Thruway as well as a half-round around Lake George. Although I had missed Americade by a few days, it was still a good thing. I prefer empty roads to spectacle. As the local DOT crews really are doing their job, I had to pass a series of mangled and torn roads before I could get to the highway. I must have seen at least a dozen “motorcyclists use extreme care” signs.
It was not necessary to worry. The ST glided effortlessly over the ridged, grooved pavement with no wobble or weave. It also soaked up any bumps and transitions without making me leave the saddle. The bike maintained that stability on the highway. It was solid in crosswinds, even while being passed by a trailer with a long distance to go and a very short time to get there.
That non-adjustable fairing was too uncomfortable for me. I am 6’4″ tall, but have short legs. My height means that I am tall and my helmet was buffeted by the wind. Although closing the vents of my helmet did reduce some of the strangely loud vibrations, an additional inch of windscreen would have been better.
I was surprised by the loudness of those vibrations. The Milwaukee-Eight’s 117 V-twin, fed by Harley’s “Heavy Breather”, intake, sounds very civilized. It only lets out a low, raspy bark when it unleashes all its 103 horsepower, and 125 pound-feet torque. This figure is available at 3,500 RPM, but the transmission has plenty of twist, so you don’t have to worry about changing gears too often.
It shifts very smoothly, which is a shame. The brakes are also great, feel great, and have ABS backing. However, there is no traction control so be aware of where and when to use that throttle. The rear tire was spun up unintentionally multiple times, but with 720 pounds of American steel to accelerate it, you can forgive it for losing grip every now and again.
Although I wasn’t taking it easy, I managed to get a solid 50 MPG during my ride. This is a theoretical maximum range of 250 miles for the 5-gallon tank. The digital gauge on the tank is extremely unpredictable. It was full after I rode it for almost 100 miles. It showed fuel light after 30 miles, dropping from 30% to just flashing it in less than 30.
Another complaint is the Rockford Fosgate sound system that integrates into the fairing. The Low Rider ST bars are very simple and integrate well with the handlebar clamp. The bike has very few controls.
All media must be controlled via your phone, even volume. This can be a bit tricky while riding. To test the speakers, I queued up a Lizzo and turned up the volume. Then, it was time to hit the road. Her beautiful pipes couldn’t hold a candle to the Low Rider ST’s. I couldn’t hear anything at speed so I stopped at a rest station to adjust the volume. The music was so loud I realized I was a nuisance as I pulled up. I was given a dirty look by a road-tripping family who wanted to enjoy their sandwiches on picnic benches. I couldn’t believe I could make the sound system louder so I turned it off. Sorry, Lizzo.
I have to admit that I don’t like motorcycle speakers. This experience has only made me more hateful. It’s not a major flaw and it’s still an option. I won’t hold that against the bike.
The Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST may seem like another half-shade in Harley’s already crowded lineup of products, but it’s a motorcycle you can enjoy looking at and riding. It’s practical enough to be more than a toy. It’s enough to make it easy for me to finally buy it.