2011 Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow Review
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New riders drawn to the Harley-Davidson brand were previously offered the “883 Low”, an approachable cruiser equipped with an 883cc powerplant and a suitably squat seat. The iconic bike, though more stylish than its competitors and compact enough for beginners, also had a stiff ride, curtailed suspension travel, and a range-limiting 3.3 gallon fuel tank.
Enter the Motor Company’s 2011 lineup, and the Sportster SuperLow is one of three new motorcycles to join Harley-Davidson’s offerings. Replacing the 883 Low, the SuperLow addresses concerns that surfaced from customer and dealer feedback. By incorporating smaller and lighter wheels—eighteen inches at the front and seventeen inches at the rear—the SuperLow’s revised suspension is able to boost travel to 4.26 and 2.12 inches, respectively. This Sportster rides on new Michelin Scorcher radial tires specifically designed for the SuperLow, and Harley engineers say they applied refinements to the bike’s geometry from lessons learned during the XR1200X’s suspension tuning. The SuperLow also receives a re-shaped handlebar for easier reach, a new solo seat with a bucket shape and thicker foam, and a 4.5 gallon fuel tank for greater range.
With a saddle that sits only 25.5 inches above ground (26.8 inches unladen), most riders who climb aboard the SuperLow should feel confident at the helm. Flat-footing is possible for a broad swath of inseam measurements, and mid-mounted foot controls and easy to reach handgrips sharpen the bike’s impression of being small enough to be manageable. The v-twin cranks to life with that inimitable Harley bark, and clutch effort is low as you click the substantial feeling shifter into gear. The engine’s torque peak of 55 ft-lbs arrives at a relatively early 3,500 rpm, and there’s a decent amount of power on hand as the SuperLow accelerates from a standstill. But the real revelation’s in the ride, which turns out to be surprisingly plush when it comes to coping with potholes and freeway joints. Gone is the jarringly taut suspension of its predecessor; the SuperLow negotiates most urban road surfaces confidently, with a nicely modulated balance between control and compliance. This low riding cruiser won’t be confused with a softly sprung touring bike any time soon, but its recalibrated suspension does make significant strides towards real-world usability.
On a lengthy stretch of highway connecting the Oregon towns of Newberg and Pacific City, the SuperLow performed rather well for touring duty, offering a more comfortable ride quality than we’ve seen in any past Sportster model. Though vibrations make their way through the footpegs at highway speeds, saddle comfort and confident straight-line dynamics prove a boon for long distance rides. But when the road gets twisty, the SuperLow takes on a distinct disadvantage; with “soft” lean angles of just under 25 degrees (which becomes steeper if you take into consideration when “hard” parts like exhaust pipes make contact), the tradeoff for the SuperLow’s accommodating seat height is a tendency to scrape pegs, which gets wearisome on winding roads.
But for beginners who don’t plan on attacking the twisties all that often, the SuperLow proves to be a capable and comfortable bike, which, at $7,999 in black, also happens to be the cheapest Harley-Davidson model in their 2011 lineup. There may be sportier motorcycles aimed at new riders, but if you’re seeking a newbie-friendly bike that exudes low-slung cool, that peg-scraping tendency just might be easy enough to overlook once you’ve experienced the SuperLow’s other attractive personality points.
In keeping with our proven format – we present the review from three separate perspectives: 1) a Beginning Riders , 2) an Intermediate Rider , 3) and an Expert Rider . We hope you find this format helpful…. The Harley-Davidson SuperLow Review for Beginning Riders - Click Here . Harley-Davidson SuperLow review for Intermediate Riders- Click Here . Harley-Davidson SuperLow review for Expert Riders- Click Here.
The Harley-Davidson SuperLow was built for beginners, and new riders benefit most from its revised ergonomics and re-engineered suspension. Throwing a leg over a bike with a low, 25.5 inch saddle height is confidence inspiring, and lifting the 563 pound SuperLow off its side stand is surprisingly easy. Sharper handling makes it manageable at lower speeds, which is usually the most problematic scenario for beginning riders. New riders will also learn to appreciate the SuperLow’s smooth ride and long range thanks to its 4.5 gallon tank—though the bike’s peg-scrape tendencies will limit their learning curve for canyon carving.
The SuperLow’s 883cc v-twin engine produces enough power to satisfy more advanced riders, though they may find its relatively low redline somewhat counterintuitive if they’re accustomed to motorcycles with a higher rev ceiling. Though the SuperLow’s newfound nimbleness appeases more aggressive riders, frustration might set in once they stray past the straightaways.
While expert riders shouldn’t encounter too much frustration while riding the SuperLow in a straight line, curvy roads will almost certainly encourage creative ways to coax just a little more lean angle out of the diminutive bike. Some peg-scraping can be avoided by lifting your feet and allowing the spring-loaded pegs to push up at the feelers, but remotely spirited riding will inevitably lead to contact with harder parts, like the staggered exhaust pipes on the right side. Expert motorcyclists intent on buying a Sportster who seek a modicum of spirited riding are encouraged to investigate other models, like the all-new-for-2011, performance-enhanced “XR1200X”.
The 2011 Harley-Davidson SuperLow is a new Sportster variant priced at $7,999 in Vivid Black, $8,289 in Cool Blue Pearl, and $8,4099 in Merlot Sunglo/Vivid Black or Birch White/Sedona Orange. The SuperLow is powered by an air-cooled, fuel-injected 883cc (or 53.9 cubic inch) v-twin paired with a 5-speed transmission. Fuel capacity is 4.5 gallons, and fuel economy is estimated at 45 mpg city, 60 mpg highway. Suspension consists of 39mm Showa forks with 4.26 inches of travel, and dual pre-load adjustable rear coilovers with 2.12 inches of travel. Compared to the outgoing“883 Low”, the SuperLow’s wheels have decreased an inch in diameter to eighteen inches at the front, and seventeen inches at the rear. Front brakes are a 292mm disc, dual-piston setup, while the rear is equipped with a 260mm disc, single-piston unit. The 2011 Harley-Davisdon SuperLow includes a 24 month, unlimited mileage warranty.
Go to the “2011 Harley Davidson SuperLow” Overview Page