Harley-Davidson has announced the end of EVO Sportster production, with the last machine running off its production line earlier this fall.
The Sportster line has been part of Harley-Davidson’s lineup since the 1950s, and the MoCo will continue to build Sportsters. The new Sportster S, built around the Revoution Max engine, offers Harley-Davidson fans a muscular roadster for the 2020s. But the air-cooled EVO line is dead now, after a production run since 1986.
In the mid-’80s, the EVO V-twin succeeded the Ironhead engine in the Sportster series. The Ironhead Sportster had a spotty reputation; some users had great luck, but others disliked the engine’s quirks and found them unreliable.
That wasn’t the case with the Evolution Sportsters. The air-cooled engine was easy to live with, and easy to upgrade. For most of its run, Harley-Davidson offered the engine in 883 and 1200 variants; riders could upgrade the smaller engine to the larger capacity with inexpensive stock parts, and aftermarket suppliers like S&S let riders to go even farther.
The Sportster was easy to adapt to new roles. In early years, Harley-Davidson offered low-slung versions of the Sportster, and then branched out to other variants. We had the sporty XR1200 roadster (and a CSBK roadracing series based around that). More recently, we had the fat-tired 48 Special and the Iron 1200, with groovy ’70s styling. See those reviews below:
You might still be able to buy an EVO Sportster new, if you look around, but not for long. The air-cooled EVO will soon go the way of the XLH Sportster that starred in Along Came Bronson, with the new liquid-cooled Sportster S, which is a lot more expensive. The next low-priced Harley-Davidson models won’t be V-twins, and they won’t be made in the US. They’ll be Chinese-built parallel twins, if indeed that project ever actually makes it into production.