:: 5 ft. 7 in., 160 lbs., 30 in. inseam
Harley's new design mandate seems to be, "black and low," and it must be working; they've sold a ton of Dark Customs from the outset, with most of those being Sportsters. I can dig the curb appeal; the Harley kills the Shadow on sheer style. But the Sportster takes a big deduction right off the bat for (lack of) suspension. Unlike Bartels, when the road got bumpy, I didn't have to think twice about fleeing for the safety of the Shadow's bouncy springs. The Harley needs some serious suspension mods to make it tolerable for me, and guess what? I wouldn't be buying a $7999 bike if I had $9,000 in the first place. I prefer the machine that fits me right off the bat, with less stuff to fix. Ironically, that happened to be the taller Honda. Unfortunately, the RS is littered with plastic bits and some less-than high-tech components, so I'd dish out higher marks if it was priced oh, say $300 less. The powerband is tame and the brakes are so-so, but overall, the RS is a blast to ride. With light steering, decent handling and balance, it's a machine you don't have to learn to ride well. I'd jump on it over the Harley without hesitation. Which is kind of a shame, because if they made Sportsters regular-sized again, it'd be a much tougher decision.