When it comes to fast motorcycles, Harley-Davidson isn’t usually the first manufacturer that springs to mind.
However, in the last decade or two, Harley has been on a mission to produce high-performance V-twins that aren’t the lumpy, thundering, tractor-like cruisers of the old days.
The latest Revolution engine in the liquid-cooled Sportster is a sure sign of more powerful, sporty bikes to come from one of the oldest brands in motorcycle history.
Harley’s Wrecking Crew is back in force taking the flat track by storm, and you are bound to find a Low Rider S on a drag strip somewhere ready to rumble with a Hayabusa.
With all that said, let’s take a look at some of the current fastest Harley-Davidson motorcycles available.
Fastest 2023-Model Harley-Davidson Motorcycles
Harley-Davidson is known for developing engines that spread across their model lines, with several models sharing the same engine unit.
The engine might be tuned slightly differently, and the culmination of parts for the finished product can make the end model something like a performance-focused street bike or an easy-going tourer.
Some people will say that the bigger the engine, the faster the bike—well, as you can see, that isn’t always the case.
The all new liquid-cooled Revolution Max 1250T is a 1,247-cc, 60-degree V-twin, and while down on torque it produces significantly more power and a higher top speed than the Milwaukee-Eight 117, 1,920-cc engine.
What you will notice is that the Harley models that share the same engine will perform roughly the same. Variations in speed come from other parts used and the bike’s weight.
The Pan, Sportster, and Nightster are all significantly lighter than the heavy tourers, so despite having smaller engines, their performance specs are much better.
Now let’s look at the top five fastest Harleys in more depth.
Pan America 1250
The Pan America was announced in 2018, and the controversial release came in 2020.
Since then, tempers have cooled, and the flames that fueled the “it’s not a Harley” argument seem to have simmered down.
The Pan is a straight-up Adventure bike with 8.3” of ground clearance, a 5.4-gal. fuel tank, cornering ABS and traction control, along with five pre-programmed ride modes.
These features make it a serious contender in the adventure market.
Not only that but the new liquid-cooled Revolution Max engine produces 150 hp and a top speed of 141 mph.
The power is spread across the range to ensure you have enough low-end power when fighting trails in the dirt and equally enough top-end power so you can fly across states to get to the next destination.
Despite being a big bike, H-D kept the weight down by using the engine as a structural member of the chassis, which also increases strength and improves the balance.
The Pan isn’t a traditional Harley, but you will be pleasantly surprised by the agile handling, keen performance, and rideability of the bike in all riding scenarios.
- Engine: Revolution Max
- Max power: 150 horsepower
- Max torque: 128 Nm
- Top speed: 141 mph
- Curb weight: 540 lbs
- Current MSRP: $17,699
Harley decided to hit the public with another shock: the air-cooled Sportster was to be pulled from the lineup and replaced with a modern liquid-cooled Sportster S.
Now, if you’re like me, you were in arms about this decision since the Sportster was over 60 years old and simply an institution in motorcycle legend.
The only way I have been able to accept the “new” Sportster is by thinking of it as a completely new beast. Once you do that, it is quite easy to fall in love with the new bike; it is a piece of phenomenal engineering from Harley.
The performance specs speak for themselves and frankly beat anything that any custom air-cooled sportster could come close to.
The engine is the same Revolution Max 1250T that powers the Pan America, but it has been slightly tuned down to make sure the power is down low, where it is more usable for the everyday rider.
It looks sporty, it feels sporty, and it sounds sporty—think along the lines of the V Rod, the Ducati Diavel, or the Yamaha V Max, and mix it with an old-school flat tracker.
It isn’t quite as big as any of those, but it has the same style, the stretched-out muscle-bike design ready to take on any Japanese sports bike, even if it is just in attitude.
- Engine: Revolution Max 1250T
- Max power: 143 horsepower
- Max torque: 127 Nm
- Top speed: 143 mph
- Curb weight: 502 lbs
- Current MSRP: $16,399
Street Glide ST
A more traditional-style Harley, the Street Glide ST is the pinnacle of comfort, style, and performance.
Powering the bike is the biggest Milwaukee-Eight engine, the 117. This 1,920-cc V-twin is the ninth-generation big-twin engine from Harley, and it doesn’t disappoint.
The engine has been tuned on the ST model for high performance, which results in a top speed of just over 130 mph.
A true bagger in design, mainly intended for the solo rider, the Street Glide is a stunning machine, slung low, with a very West Coast stance. It is loaded with attitude.
As part of the touring collection, you get all the features needed for comfortable long rides, including the classic batwing fairing, cornering ABS and traction control, Drag-Torque Slip Control, hill-hold control, and the Boom! Box GTS infotainment system.
With the Street Glide ST, you have the best of both worlds. You can load up the bike and head out across the country or strip it back and target the nearest drag strip to test both the bike and your skills.
- Engine: Milwaukee-Eight 117
- Max power: 106 horsepower
- Max torque: 170 Nm
- Top speed: 130 mph
- Curb weight: 814 lbs
- Current MSRP: $29,999
Low Rider S
Following the Street Glide ST, we have one of my favorite Harleys of all time, the Low Rider S.
It is now loaded with the same Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine as the Street Glide.
The Low Rider S is one of the best-styled Harleys to date. It is understated, moody, low-slung, aggressive, and, for many, the perfect canvas to make your own.
The bike is 135 pounds lighter than the Street Glide ST yet houses similar power, the result of which is a bike that has sports bike-style agility.
If you want to try and get your knee down on a Harley, then the Low Rider S is the one to give it a go on. Mid-mount controls, raised drag bars and the upright riding position means you have ultimate control over the bike to really put it through its paces.
The Low Rider S is the ultimate street Harley, with all the low-down torque needed for riding around city streets but enough power to open it up on the back roads and chase the red line.
- Engine: Milwaukee-Eight 117
- Max power: 103 horsepower
- Max torque: 169 Nm
- Top speed: 120 mph
- Curb weight: 679 lbs
- Current MSRP: $18,199
The Harley-Davidson Breakout disappeared from the US lineup for a few years, but now it is back and better than ever, equipped with the big 117 V-twin engine.
The Breakout is a flashy hot-rod, covered in chrome with a narrow, tall front wheel to give the back that slammed look.
Harley has equipped the bike with a Heavy Breather air intake, which forces more air into the engine for impressive mid-range torque.
Despite being a Softail chassis, the Breakout has a distinct Hardtail look, throwing back to bikes of yesteryear.
There is something about the Breakout that has a distinct factory-chopper look to it, and with the original ethos of choppers being stripped back, high-performance V-twins, the Breakout’s performance specs line up with the aesthetics.
Forward controls and a stretched back low-down riding position put you into the headspace of looking for the coolest bike spot just to ride through and be seen.
- Engine: Milwaukee-Eight 117
- Max power: 101 horsepower
- Max torque: 166 Nm
- Top speed: 120 mph
- Curb weight: 683 lbs
- Current MSRP: $20,999
Pre-2023 Fast Harleys
Despite making some incredible touring motorcycles and being the benchmark for cruisers, Harley has made some pretty fast motorcycles during its time.
The FXDR 114 was released in 2019 and remains Harley’s most powerful V-twin to date.
It emerged as a drag-style custom bike, deliberate in its design, purposefully brutish, and different from what we had seen before.
The chassis and bodywork emphasized the fact that the FXDR was a performance bike, a true power-hungry monster that was taking no hostages.
With a 0–60 time of 2.5 seconds, the FXDR wasn’t playing when it comes to serious performance.
The Fastest Harley of all Time
As it stands, the fastest Harley of all time from stock is the custom FXDR 114 with a top speed of 160 mph and a crazy 0–60 time of 2.5 seconds.
With new technology, a move to liquid-cooled engines and new performance parts being produced all the time, it is likely we will get to see more impressive fast Harleys in the years to come.
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All images via Harley unless otherwise stated.