Church of MO: 2001 H-D FXSTD Deuce Vs. BMW R1200 C Phoenix

John Burns
by John Burns

Twenty years ago, MO sometimes read more like Calvin & Hobbes as it attempted to find its way in the print-dominated moto-media world, except it was often Calvin (Kim) & Minime (Brent Avis): Two lads with various friends, real and imagined, wandering around the LA landscape on motorcycles, attempting to make sense of the world with very little in the way of adult supervision, and even less in the way of budget. It wasn’t a bad way to go there for a while. Then again, a lot of it wouldn’t fly in the modern world. This week’s Church of MO: Softail Deuce vs. BMW R1200C Phoenix.

Swing low, sweet chariot…

Torrance, California, January 7, 2001

“Dayam foo, dat shiznit is TIGHT! What iz dat? Itz a Harley, right?”

“Uh, yea… It’s a Softail Deuce.”

“A Deuce? Shi*, dat shi* iz DOPE!”

In typical fashion, Minime beat HackFu to a “rustic” diner. As he was removing his gear, a “local” had approached him in regards to the motorcycle he was riding. We join the conversation already in progress.

“Uh, sure… its, um, dope.”

They proceeded to discuss international politics and the slumping Blue Chip, when…

“Oh, TRIP, whass dat?”

Our friend had spied HackFu turning into the parking lot, navigating carefully between strategically placed oil puddles and cigarette butts.”Oh, thats a Beemer. It’s an R-twelve-hund…”

“Fo real? I din’t know bee-em-dub made cruisaz…”

A cruiser? BMW? We all knew what the “C” in R1200C stood for, but we had never given it much thought. We’ve always imagined the 1200C to be more “standard” than “cruiser.” We had a slight revelation when we rode it, though. And seeing it parked next to the Motor Company’s preeminent cruiser, the Deuce, we realized something vitally important: The R1200C is a damn fine cruiser.

You’ll have to forgive us. We view most BMWs the same way a Formula One tire changing crew member views the air-hose to his impact wrench: Reliable and dependable. Nothing really fancy, but an integral part of our livelihood, regardless. The Phoenix iteration of our 2001 R1200C was, as our new friend put it, “all dat’n mo!”It sho, er, sure was.

Not that we’re saying the Deuce is a big slouch. With 61.1 hp, it does pretty well for itself. Cruisers have a reputation for being ill-handling, heavy, bad-braking piles of second-rate, chromed steel. Harsh? Yes. The truth? Probably. These new machines have proved otherwise, though. The BMW’s performance can be rationalized by its German heritage. But what about the Deuce?

And, as many gawkers and would-be-tire-kickers would ask, “which one is the best?”

Harley-Davidson FXSTD Softail Deuce When we first rode the Deuce in the Fall of ’99, we instantly saw qualities that made this model stand out from the rest. The Twin-Cam 88B motor, fuel-injection, tight chassis and, more importantly, the subtle styling cues, showed us that Harley-Davidson could incorporate modern design philosophies while maintaining their unmistakable bloodline. Pardon the clichŽ, but this was the Harley-Davidson for the new millennium.The Deuce’s tenure at MO only proved that statement. The bike’s smooth and reliable engine kept us happy except for one problem, this being slightly less oomph than we’d expect from a big, burly V-twin. No matter, we’ll be resolving that issue momentarily (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). The captain’s seat has a “scoop” design that our taller riders found comfortable. The pillion seat, while sparse, was adequate enough for short jaunts through the city. Longer journeys will more than likely require different seating arrangements or an on-call proctologist. Thankfully, the counter-balancers on the rigid-mount 88B motor work wonderfully at keeping the vibes at more than pleasant levels.

The Deuce’s handling proved stellar for bike of its stature, but we found braking performance to be somewhat lackluster. The addition of another caliper and disc to the chromed fork legs would slow things down far better. Which brings us to complaint number two: The front forks are extremely soft compared to the rather well set-up rear. Unfortunately, brake dive and vague front-end feedback became the rules of the road. Granted, to most cruiser fans, these issues would be a mere pittance. But we’re comparing the H-D to a BMW remember? 2001 BMW R1200C Phoenix

The engine is typical BMW fare. Its air/oil-cooled, four-valve, fuel-injected, boxer-twin is satisfactory for all but the most power-hungry cruiser fan. Although the engine does display some buzz, it is in no way intrusive to the general riding experience. Power spooled on quickly and smoothly with the redline approaching too quickly for some of our more spirited riders. The noises coming from both the engine and exhaust proved to be trance-inducing, putting us in a Zen-like state with the surrounding motionscape. In sharp contrast, the noises from the Deuce made us feel like we were part of the bike, one step removed from our surroundings.

John Burns
John Burns

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3 of 8 comments
  • Michael folk Michael folk on May 25, 2021

    i ride a rt1100 and a v-rod --the rt i rode it across the nation --spent 9 weeks on the road and liked it pretty good --the v-rod i have ridden it across the nation 3 times now and like it a lot as well so both fill the bill --the v-rod is faster than the rt but the rt will keep up some what --so i will ride both of them as long as i ride --i also have a 73 super glide and a 2014 twin cam but it lacks speed and comfort so it dont leave town

  • Gunny 2shoes Gunny 2shoes on May 26, 2021

    i wonder which one has a higher resale now?

    • 12er 12er on May 26, 2021

      C's are coming out of the woodwork lately. Are people updating to the R18? I don't know what is up but in the last month I've met two owners and seen 5 on Craiglist (around the $4-5k mark). Where as I didn't see one at all for over a decade. Looks like you can pick up a Deuce for around $6-7k so Harley is still holding out on resale but definitely not the 10-12k that used Harleys used to go for. At least of the C's the Phoenix was kinda cool looking. The CL, aka "Tarantula" good lord, my eyes...