NEW BIKE REVIEW • by Dain Gingerelli
It’s a bling thing
One thing’s for sure about the FLSTN Softail Deluxe: It isn’t subtle. Chromed and polished parts abound on this boulevard bomber, and when you factor in the wide whitewall tires and optional Hard Candy paint job – our test bike wears the flamboyant Gold Flake option – you roll up on nothing short of an eye-catching custom cruiser. This bike’s styling hits you like a jackhammer. Indeed, our bike never went unnoticed when I pulled into parking lots or gas stations. Eyes stared, curious minds inquired, and wannabe Harley riders cast coveting glances at the gold FLSTN. The Softail Deluxe is that kind of bike.
It had been two years since we last rode a Softail Deluxe (issue #312), so it was time for another visit. There have been some notable changes to the FLSTN during the past 730 days. Foremost, the 2016 model checks in with electronic cruise control, and the High Output Twin Cam 103 engine package as standard features. A new force-feed air filter cover, emblazoned with 103 High Output script and capped with a cool stainless steel wire-mesh screen over the mouth, replaces the ham-can inspired cover found on the 2014 bike, and twirling inside the right-side cam chest cavity are a pair of sticks with more aggressive lobes to bump peak torque from 97.4 ft-lbs. (at 3000 rpm) to 100.3 ft-lbs. (also at 3000 rpm).
Although there’s little, if any, noticeable difference in the seat-of-the-pants feel from the 2014 model, Harley tells us that the High Output engine’s new cam timing, assisted by the new air cleaner, makes it more agreeable when teamed with a free-flow exhaust, such as those from Harley’s Screamin’ Eagle arsenal or other quality aftermarket systems. The logic behind this is simple; since Harley owners typically upgrade their bikes’ exhaust systems anyway, why not give the masses what they want in the first place? And that’s a cam grind that remains EPA-legal yet delivers the goods in terms of snappy acceleration, the motivating factor behind installing a free-flow exhaust system in the first place.
The High Output engine’s performance seems most advantageous in the upper rpm range, where the engine wants to breathe more freely. Comparing roll-on acceleration times with the 2014 model, the High Output 103 scooted us from 60-80 mph in fifth gear slightly quicker, doing so in 4.3 seconds compared to our 4.4 time in 2014. Not a tremendous difference, but logic says that if you include a quality exhaust system in the mix, that time will be even better.
Harley touts 42 mpg for the High Output engine, same figure boasted by the 2014 model with the “standard” TC 103″. And that fuel consumption figure is about right, as I constantly achieved 40 or so mpg from our 2016 FLSTN. Factor in the fuel tank’s 5-gallon capacity, and you have a riding range of about 200 miles.
For the full ride review, custom bike features, tech stories and more,
CLICK HERE American Iron Magazine issue 334
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