2023 Harley-Davidson Nightster Special First Look Preview

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Because the night belongs to lovers (or riders): Bring either one with the newly standard passenger seat.

Because the night belongs to lovers (or riders): Bring either one with the newly standard passenger seat. (Harley-Davidson/)

The Nightster officially gets more Special, with a capital “S.” Hello, Nightster Special.

In a nutshell, here’s your entry-level Sportster without the name. Twin shocks, a lower ride height, and a shorter wheelbase mean this is your point of entry to Harley-land. The 2023 Nightster Special builds on the impact the Sportster S and Sportster Nightster made a year or two ago.

The shock of the new 60-degree 975cc liquid-cooled V-twin engine has worn off, but it’s worth repeating: It’s still a big deal. Officially, it’s called the Revolution Max 975T. Unofficially, it’s basically a rebirth of Milwaukee’s soul. Hydraulic valve lifters, a claimed 90 hp at 7,500 rpm, and 70 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm add up to a great value prop for newcomers.

So what’s new? A pillion seat is now standard plus the 4-inch speedo is now a TFT, navigated by hand controls. As such, it displays infotainment options available when paired with a Bluetooth-equipped phone and headset. It goes without saying navigation (finally) is made possible via the H-D app and voice instructions.

Unpainted cast aluminum wheels are now of a 14-spoke design slightly reminiscent of the classic BMW Motorrad “snowflake” mags. Plus, wheels include Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Handlebar and 5-inch riser move the controls 2 inches up and 1 inch back for a more upright riding position.

The Nightster Special also gets Brembo brake components for the unchanged 320mm and 260mm discs, front and back. Riding modes remain: Road, Sport, or Rain. Remember those 90 ponies? There’s standard ABS, a Traction Control System, and H-D’s Drag-Torque Slip Control System to keep watch over overambitious wrists and fingers. Just like last year.

Official color names haven’t been released, so let’s say there are four color schemes available. There’s gloss black, matte black, a muted yellow, and a dark blue. Each is finished off by a yellow, orange, and red striped badge design inspired by Harley’s AMF-era. Specifically, it evokes the classic 1976 peanut tank design. Tough year for Harley, but fine year for America.

On paper, it should be easy to introduce exciting and/or new tech to new riders. Without preconceptions based on previously owned bikes, it’s ground zero for future forward design concepts. Get past the dearth of chrome and conspicuous vibration, and they’ll ride one of the better products the Bar & Shield has put out in the last 15 years. Sales figures from the second year/second-gen Nightster will show whether buyers agree.

This year, Motorcyclist made a resolution to include more quotes from The Motor Company’s well-crafted press releases. So in conclusion, “This new middleweight contender amplifies the Nightster motorcycle riding experience with a host of style, convenience, and technology upgrades.”

As of this writing, MSRP and availability is TBD.

Contemporary Bar & Shield pairs with AMF-era badging on the 2023 Nightster Special.

Contemporary Bar & Shield pairs with AMF-era badging on the 2023 Nightster Special. (Harley-Davidson/)

The Nightster Special’s redesigned 14-spoke wheels now feature a Tire Pressure Management System.

The Nightster Special’s redesigned 14-spoke wheels now feature a Tire Pressure Management System. (Harley-Davidson/)

The Nightster Special, in an unnamed matte black finish.

The Nightster Special, in an unnamed matte black finish. (Harley-Davidson/)

The Nightster Special, in an unnamed gloss black finish.

The Nightster Special, in an unnamed gloss black finish. (Harley-Davidson/)

The Nightster Special, in an unnamed dark blue finish.

The Nightster Special, in an unnamed dark blue finish. (Harley-Davidson/)

The Nightster Special, in an unnamed yellow finish.

The Nightster Special, in an unnamed yellow finish. (Harley-Davidson/)

2023 Harley-Davidson Nightster Special Technical Specifications and Price

PRICE TBD
ENGINE 975cc, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 60-degree V-twin
BORE x STROKE 97.0 x 66.0mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 12.0:1
FUEL DELIVERY Electronic fuel injection
CLUTCH Wet, multiplate
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/belt; 49/89 ratio
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 90 hp @ 7,500 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE 70 lb.-ft. peak torque @ 5,000 rpm
FRAME Steel trellis frame; aluminum forged mid-structure
FRONT SUSPENSION Dual 41mm Showa fork
REAR SUSPENSION Dual shock/springs, preload adjustable
FRONT BRAKE 4-piston caliper, 320mm disc
REAR BRAKE 1-piston floating caliper, 260mm disc
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR Cast aluminum; 19 in./16 in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR TBD
RAKE/TRAIL 30.0°/5.4 in.
WHEELBASE 61.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 27.1 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 3.1 gal.
CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT 481 lb. (based on 2022 Sportster Nightster)
WARRANTY TBD
AVAILABLE TBD
CONTACT harley-davidson.com