Harley-Davidson turns 120 next year, which naturally means we’re getting some special Anniversary Edition models. Thanks to new vehicle certification data from Australia, we can confirm that the Heritage Classic 114 and the Fat Boy 114 will be receiving 120th Anniversary Editions.
Twenty-five years ago, every Harley-Davidson review was laced with phrases like “for respectable older folks” and “aimed squarely at Harley’s newest riders: wealthy men over forty”… also, “not a bike for most women or smaller men.” Maybe all that was accurate in 1997, but now that we’re all respectable old gender-neutral weaklings, it’s quaint to look back and wonder how we ever got along with a tiny 1340 cc H-D? Egads man… and when will H-D bring back the Springer front end?
Perhaps what I love the most about the English language is its flexibility, how you can bump disparate words together and create something with an entirely new meaning. When it comes to motorcycles, the words sport and touring bring to mind two very different kinds of motorcycles. Sporting motorcycles place an emphasis on handling, acceleration, and braking, while touring bikes tend to focus on cargo capacity, rider comfort, and long-range capability. Butt those words together, as in sport-touring motorcycle, and you get a spectrum of bikes that ranges from sportbikes with bags to tourers that can corner better than you think they should. The reality of sport-touring motorcycles is that most favor the middle ground, compromising both sporting capability and touring chops, to create a supremely flexible motorcycle. What happens when you throw a third word into the mix? What would you expect from a sport-touring cruiser? Well, the folks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin have done their level best to define this category of motorcycle with the 2022 Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST.
Earlier this year, Harley-Davidson revealed a new Low Rider ST featuring a FXRT-inspired fairing. Initial reaction to the Low Rider ST was very positive, with Jochen Zeitz, Harley-Davidson chief executive officer, claiming in Harley-Davidson’s Q4 earnings call “demand was so high for this bike that we sold out our first consumer allocation in 10 minutes.”
Perhaps no other manufacturer harnesses the power of its history better than Harley-Davidson. But more than being able to tap into the company history, Harley is equally in tune with the custom scene and unique builds its loyal fan base has pumped out over the years. The 2022 Low Rider and Low Rider ST are perfect examples of Harley blending its heritage with the custom scene, all while adding modern twists.
Last week, Harley-Davidson announced its first batch of 2022 models, listing several models that are returning mostly unchanged, except for new paint and graphic options. A few models were conspicuously absent from the announcement; most of them, like the Iron 1200, were discontinued. The lone exception was the Low Rider S, which we reported would be announced on Jan. 26 with some updates.
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.
You want more Harley content, you got it. Render unto MO what is Caesar’s. In this mercifully short, action-photo free H-D Springer Softail review from 25 years ago, Fortune’s son guides us along the road to simpler times, on a bike that’s “good as long as the road is smooth, and the distance to travel short.” Amen.
Harley-Davidson announced its 2021 Softail lineup, highlighted by a new Street Bob 114 and a slightly refreshed Fat Boy 114. Joining them for 2021 are the Softail Slim, Softail Standard, Fat Bob 114, Heritage Classic, Heritage Classic 114, Low Rider S and Sport Glide. Confirming our earlier reporting, the Softail models being dropped for 2021 include the Low Rider (non-S version), Deluxe and FXDR 114, while the Breakout 114 will only be offered in some markets (but not the U.S.). We also expected the Street Bob to be discontinued, but that turned out to be half-true, with the Street Bob 114 replacing it.
Several months ago, Harley-Davidson announced plans to reduce its model lineup by 30% as part of its Rewire and Hardwire business strategies. More recently, the company revealed it will announce its 2021 models online in a “ virtual launch experience” on Jan. 19. The question, then, is what current models are on the chopping block, and which models will return?
In my 24 years of road testing motorcycles, I can count on one hand (with fingers left over) the number of bikes I’ve tested that I genuinely disliked, and in the case of the 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard, the list has grown by one. Take an otherwise solid motorcycle, give it an abysmal riding position, and it is possible to create a machine that sucks all the joy out of riding, which is saying something since the Softail platform, updated in 2018, is typically quite amenable.
We first learned about the impending release of the 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard thanks to the excellent sleuthing of MO’s Production Editor, Dennis Chung, who dug the information out of the dark recesses of the CARB website. Only ten days later, Harley confirmed the Softail Standard, and now, as we take delivery of one for the full MO-review treatment, we thought you might like a little information about the newest member of the Softail family.
Harley-Davidson appears set to add another cruiser model to its lineup, with the addition of a new Softail Standard. This development comes to us thanks to an updated executive order from the California Air Resources Board which certifies a 1746cc 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard, along with a Stage 1 upgrade.
That’s “S” for Sport. The last one of these we rode was a 2016, when it was built upon the now-defunct Dyna platform, ie., twin shocks out back. This 2020 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S is new from the nubs up. It’s now built upon the new Softail frame that debuted in 2018, with a single shock cantilevered under the seat, and joins ten other 2020 Softail models.
A drag racer crossed with a fighter jet. That’s the claim. That’s some pretty serious marketing-speak coming from our friends in Milwaukee. The FXDR 114 is something like a mashup between the Motor Co.’s dearly departed Dyna and V-Rod model lines. A brutish power cruiser that can still thrill when the going gets twisty. How does it hold up to those claims? Well, we went to Harley-Davidson’s hometown to find out.
I’ll go ahead and start with this: I’ve never been a fan of the Low Rider. Clearly that puts me at odds with tons of Harley-Davidson buyers. The Low Rider has been popular with both customizers and riders who prefer a more compact riding position (read shorter). I am neither. With this in mind, I’ll dive into what my time with the 2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider was like.
The changes made in the 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail line were so numerous we couldn’t fit them in one article! To read about the hows and whys of the changes, check out “ Harley-Davidson Introduces All New 2018 Softail Line.” This article is strictly an adjunct to that text which is intended to let you know what happened to each individual member of the completely revamped Softail line. Strap on your helmet; this is gonna be quite a ride.
When Harley-Davidson released its updated 2017 touring line with the new Milwaukee-Eight engine, it didn’t take any insider information to figure out that the new powerplant would eventually propel all of Harley’s Big Twins. Well, that time has arrived with the announcement of the Motor Company’s 2018 model lineup. While the engine upgrade itself isn’t much of a surprise, the way HD chose to craft an all-new Big Twin chassis around the Milwaukee-Eight is huge news. We’ll let Paul James, Manager, Product Portfolio for Harley-Davidson explain:
Harley-Davidson has utilized the CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) line as a way to fly the corporate flag of what is possible with a production Harley and the Motor Company’s Parts and Accessories department. So, except for the CVO-exclusive paint schemes and the new technology that is often debuted in the high-end line, owners have been able to build for themselves the bulk of a CVO with their own bikes.
Well, ahh, basically we were just looking for an excuse to tool around on H-D’s swell new FSXB Breakout for a while, and decided to bring one of our favorite cruisers, the Victory Gunner, along for the ride to see how things stack up between these American cruisers. In the powertrain departments, at least, both big V-Twins are representative of their makers’ current offerings.
This week, Harley-Davidson announced its 2015 models, including four CVO – that’s Custom Vehicle Operations to the rest of us – models to carry the banner of the most premium motorcycles the company manufactures. To this rarefied atmosphere, the Motor Company brought three models based on the touring chassis ( CVO Street Glide, CVO Road Glide Ultra, and CVO Limited) and one Softail-based model, the CVO Softail Deluxe. While it is notable that all four models are touring bikes, the Softail is more of a light-duty tourer that can easily be stripped of its windshield and saddlebags to become a boulevard-focused motorcycle.
Cruisers have always been about the essence of motorcycling, stripping motorcycles down to their core: an engine, a seat, a pair of wheels and little else. Naturally, when thinking about the essential elements of motorcycling, thoughts of the open road come to mind. The dream of packing just what you need on your bike and pointing the front wheel towards destinations unknown looms large in many cruiser riders’ hearts.