By Dain Gingerelli, photos by Riles & Nelson
So there I was, thinking, “The Super Glide has been a member of the Harley family for quite some time now.”
Let’s switch now from my deep, mind-blowing, metaphysical thought process to facts: it was back in 1971 when Willie G advised the rest of The Motor Company’s crew that it might be a pretty good idea if the guys in the shop stripped down an FL to create what amounted to a sportier Big Twin model. He even suggested removing the fat FL fork, with its bulky tin covers, and replacing that assembly with — gasp! — the spindly front end from a Sportster. And to further balance the styling equation, he suggested pirating the XL’s ungainly and unorthodox, yet stylishly flamboyant, boat-tail seat/rear fender section from the previous year, grafting it onto the bastardized FL chassis as well.
“We’ll call the new bike the FX,” reasoned Willie and the boys. Their reasoning was logical, too, because the bike was essentially half FL and half XL: F from FL and X from XL. Somebody in marketing even suggested a special and exclusive moniker, which begat the Super Glide label.The 1971 FX Super Glide’s 74″ Shovelhead engine was kickstart-only, too; it wouldn’t sprout its electric leg until 1974 with the introduction of the FXE, a model that outsold the FX by about two to one. Within several years few, if any, Harley customers wanted a kicker Big Twin at all. Not many FX customers were enamored with that boat-tail fender section, either, and by 1973 a more contemporary, wafer-thin banana seat atop a conventional rear fender brought the FX’s styling closer to what people expected a motorcycle to look like during those halcyon days when nobody flinched if you walked into the room sporting hip-hugger bellbottoms, and a spastically colorful, psychedelic shirt with love beads, platform shoes, and an afro.
Forty-three years later, I can happily report that clothing fashion has changed, and the FX line remains anchored by the FXDC Dyna Super Glide Custom. But what many enthusiasts fail to appreciate is that the styling of today’s Super Glide Custom closely parallels the lines of the FX that Harley offered exactly 40 years ago. Locate a photo of that ’70s bike and compare it to this 2014 FXDC, and you’ll see the family resemblance, right down to the form-flow seat, staggered exhausts, and laced-spoke wheels. But the similarity ends there, because today’s Super Glide customers are treated to a bike that is, literally and figuratively, decades beyond the original FX and FXE.
“At the $13,199, the FXDC costs less than any other Big Twin model in H-D’s lineup.”
Besides the optional antilock braking system (ABS) and chromed, aluminum, laced-spoke wheels as equipped on our test bike, customers can order the latest Super Glide with Harley’s Smart Security System with hands-free fob or with solid or two-tone colors (all offered, of course, for additional pricing on top of the FXDC’s $13,199 base MSRP). The really big news this year, however, is the 103″ Twin Cam engine that comes standard on the 2014 Super Glide Custom. For the past couple of years, the FXDC and FXDB Street Bob were the only two Big Twin models to retain the TC 96 while the rest of the fleet was blessed with the newer TC 103. Although the 96″ engine proved adequate for propelling either of the two lighter-weight Dyna models down the highway, the 103″ certainly made a difference in how much quicker our 2014 FXDC performed over previous Super Glide Customs we’ve ridden during the past few years.
The Dyna’s TC 103 checks in with slightly more torque than the TC 96. At 3000 rpm, the 103 belts out 98.8 ft-lbs. (9.6:1 compression ratio) over the 96’s 94 ft-lbs. (9.2:1), giving the 2014 model expectedly better passing power. In our March 2012 review of the FXDC, our test bike accelerated from 60 to 80 mph (fifth gear) in five seconds flat, while our 2014 did the same sprint in 4.2 seconds. A similar spread occurred in the second gear roll-on from 20 to 50 mph, with the 2012 model consuming four seconds on the stopwatch while the 103-powered 2014 took 3.1 seconds.
Otherwise, the Dyna Super Glide Custom remains unchanged for 2014. That means the 648-pound bike takes about 30′ to come to a complete stop from 30 mph, and fuel consumption of 40-plus mpg (Harley claims 43 mpg) will let you cover more than 200 miles after you top off the 5-gallon gas tank with fuel. The stacked and staggered mufflers emit a mellow, yet deep, sound, and the advertised 26.3″ seat height (with 180-pound rider) means that most FXDC riders will get both boots flat on the pavement at stops.
Even though the Custom has what equates to shortened suspension, there’s surprising cornering clearance when leaning the bike into turns. The ride is pleasant and rewarding over smooth road surfaces, but the suspension’s insufficient damping (especially rebound) gives way to the rear shocks bottoming over harsh bumps in the road. Suspension travel is advertised at 5″ front, 3.1″ rear, and the only adjustment is in the shocks’ spring preload settings.
Overall, the 2014 FXDC maintains a tradition that blends straightforward styling cues with a no-nonsense mechanical package. The result is a motorcycle that delivers basic, yet efficient, performance under most conditions you’ll encounter on a public roadway, and the sum total might make you think twice about what kind of motorcycle you really need. And should you have second thoughts about whether or not this 1970s-style motorcycle is for you, just give the FXDC’s $13,199 price a second look. This bike costs less than any other Big Twin model in the lineup. That’s truly worth thinking about. AIM
This article originally appeared in American Iron Magazine issue # 314, published October 2014. To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com. Follow American Iron Magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here.To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.