2017 FLTRXS Road Glide Special Review

by Dain Gingerellli

I was highballing north on US 395 along california’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Harley’s cruise control doing most of the work, when the slow-moving tractor-trailer up ahead forced me to reduce speed. I should point out, too, that this was no ordinary Harley-Davidson. I was riding a 2017 FLTRXS Road Glide Special, and its electronic odometer revealed that the Milwaukee-Eight engine had only recently been broken in by the crew at Harley’s West Coast fleet center. The big 107″ V-twin was loafing along at about 85 mph, the bike’s standard cruise control feature subbing for me while I relaxed and rested behind the RUSHMORE-inspired fairing. Life was good—until the big rig impeded our headway.

I gently applied the Reflex Linked brakes to cancel the cruise control command, hauling the speed down to about 60. A few cars approaching from the opposite direction prevented me from overtaking the slow-moving rig right away. Moments later an opening in the traffic set me free, so I purposely twisted the right grip, feeding raw gasoline and fresh air into the eight-valve engine’s thirsty combustion chambers. The single-cam engine liked that, and our speed increased proportionally until the Road Glide Special quickly found its new place on earth ahead of the lumbering big rig. Life was, once again, good for me.
Let me be clear about another point: I didn’t downshift to fifth gear while overtaking the truck. This new engine has torque (I almost feel guilty about not spelling that with a capital T!) in spades, making downshifting optional under most riding conditions. Harley claims 111.4 ft-lbs. at 3250 rpm, a figure that’s actually only a few ft-lbs. more than what the Twin Cam 103″ generated. What the 2017 figures fail to reveal is that the new Milwaukee-Eight’s torque curve is much broader than the 103″ engine’s. And I like the new torque curve. A lot.

AIM’s editor, Steve Lita, pointed out the technological highlights of Harley’s new engine in issue 341, and in issue 342 he gave a glimpse of what the new baggers that cradle the engine in their RUSHMORE frames are like. Now I’m going to tell you about what I consider to be the best bargain among those baggers: the Road Glide Special.

This bike has it all, and the marketing folks at Harley pretty much pegged it with the FLTRXS’s mission statement: “Long on features, comfort, and attitude.” Indeed, and beyond the standard RUSHMORE and new Milwaukee-Eight features, the Special sports Harley’s big Boom! Box 6.5GT touch-sensitive screen that’s positioned between the inner fairing’s two large speakers and right beneath the easy-to-read analog instruments.

Truth be told, though, I rarely use the infotainment feature. Oh, I’ll dabble with the navigation option now and then to save myself from being totally lost during an adventure, but otherwise I prefer to enjoy the drone of the engine’s exhaust note while racking up the miles. And what a sound the 2017 Road Glide Special’s new mufflers produce, a deep, rich, mellow tone, one that bikers have enjoyed for years. Harley engineers were able to attain this new, throatier sound by exorcising some of the mechanical-noise demons from the engine, primary drive, clutch, and transmission. Less clanging noise there creates a vacuum of sorts that can be filled with more decibels from the exhaust system, the end result a motorcycle with a noise factor that, in addition to complying with federal decibel regulations, sounds genuinely cool. Welcome to the 21st century of motorcycle engineering and marketing; the Road Glide Special clearly stands at the forefront of this new philosophy.

Enough about the features, let’s talk about the Road Glide Special’s comfort. I’m on record in past bike reviews stating that I love touring aboard Electra Glides. I still like those batwing fairing bikes but, in truth, when it comes to absolute comfort, this RG Special fits me like the proverbial glove. My 5′ 8″ frame and 30″ inseam are well-matched to the bike’s ergonomics. I can flat foot stops at traffic lights thanks to a claimed seat height of 25.9″ (laden), and the reach to the handgrips is relaxed and natural. The seat’s bucket shape is form-fit to my derriere, and the tinted stub windshield mixed with the fairing’s RUSHMORE ducting allows just the right amount of wind blast to entertain me without pounding me. The small winglets at the base of the aerodynamically shaped shark-nose fairing help with that, and because the High Output engine doesn’t have the Twin Cooled liquid-cooling option, there are no fairing lowers to further isolate me from the elements so I don’t feel like I’m wrapped fully in a cocoon. I’m on a motorcycle.

Now let’s discuss the Special’s attitude. There are two key elements to a bagger: it must be capable of toting a reasonable amount of gear for extended rides, and it must look cool in carrying out its mission. The RG Special’s two lockable saddlebags boast a claimed 2.3 cubic feet of storage capacity, and while I can’t exactly describe just what that equates to in real-world gear, I can say that I was able to pack three days worth of personal inventory plus my camera gear for the blast up US 395.
And the FLTRXS looked cool—you know, attitude— while making the run up 395. Start with the paint. Vivid Black remains the standard color for the base model, which places MSRP at a rather cool $23,999. Our test bike sported the Hard Candy Custom paint option (three new color choices are on tap for 2017, two of which are Hard Candy Custom colors), which boosts price to $26,999. Yeah, it ain’t cheap, so determine just how much attitude you want, and then set your budget.

No matter the color option, though, all Road Glide Specials ride with the same cool chassis features, giving each bike a stance that shouts Attitude! The parts mix includes the 19″ (front) and 16″ (rear) Enforcer cast aluminum wheels with Brembo calipers and Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series tires. The bike’s stance is further set by a lowered suspension that features Harley’s updated specs. Claimed front suspension travel is 4.6″ front, 2.1″ rear.

New for 2017, the 49mm fork legs are filled with Showa Dual Bending Valve (SBDV) technology to smooth the ride up front. Out back you’ll find a pair of coil-over spring shocks with hand adjustability to set preload. As a unit, plus the low-profile tires (130/60-19″ front, 180/65-16″ rear), the suspension sets the Special nice and low, the way a bagger should be. There’s a small price to pay, however, as shortened suspension means there’s less up-and-down travel to absorb some of the bumps in the road. To be sure, the new suspension technology works well over smaller road holes and frost heaves, but a series of repetitious bumps challenges the damping rates; expect some chatter or jack hammering at times.
For the most part, though, the ride remains controlled and rather refined. Moreover, after spending all day in the saddle, I never felt fatigued or beaten. I always looked forward to the next day’s ride. And for me, that and the attention to detail and attitude are what make the FLTRXS so special for me as a bagger enthusiast. AIM

2017 Harley-Davidson Breakout First Ride Review Video

American Iron Editor Bryan Harley on the 2017 Breakout

Sometimes it’s fun to get lost in the desert on a Harley. 

The 2017 Breakout delivers a tried-and-true Harley-Davidson riding experience. Low-slung in a stretched frame, riders straddle a wide tank and reach for the wide drag bars in a punched out riding position. Drop the clutch and there’s an explosion of power, the electronic throttle control dialed and quick to respond. Between the 21” tall front hoop and burly 240mm rear resides an authoritative High Output Twin Cam 103B engine. The front is kicked out at 35-degrees while the bike skirts the ground at 4.3 inches. Straight line hustle is what the Breakout’s all about.

Then there’s those wheels. The 21 spoke Turbine Wheels are some of the finest that come out of the factory. Just the right amount of machining accentuates the highlights on the otherwise black hoops.

We rambled around the edges of the desert on the 2017 Breakout, braving the broken roads around Ocotillo Wells and weathering the winds of the Salton Sea to bring you this first ride video review. Come along for the ride, then be on the lookout for more analysis in a future issue of American Iron Magazine.

2017 Breakout Stats – 39.26 mpg  Weight – 699 lbs. (310.5 front, 388.5 rear)

Vivid Black – $19,299
Color – $19,699
Custom Color – $20,249
Hard Candy Custom – $20,499
ABS Option – Standard
Security Option – Standard
California Emissions – $200
Freight – $390

Length – 95.7 in.
Seat Height, Laden – 24.7 in.
Seat Height, Unladen – 25.8 in.
Ground Clearance – 4.3 in.
Rake (steering head) (deg) – 35
Trail – 5.7 in.
Wheelbase – 67.3 in.
Tires, Front Specification – 130/60B21 63H
Tires, Rear Specification – 240/40R18 79V
Fuel Capacity – 5 gal.
Oil Capacity (w/filter)- 3.5 qt.
Weight, As Shipped – 678 lbs.
Weight, In Running Order – 707 lbs.

Engine – Air-cooled, High Output Twin Cam 103B
Bore – 3.87 in.
Stroke – 4.374 in.
Displacement – 103.1 cu. In.
Compression Ratio – 9.6:1
Fuel System – Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)

Primary Drive – Chain, 34/46 ratio
Gear Ratios (overall) – 1st 9.311
Gear Ratios (overall) – 2nd 6.454
Gear Ratios (overall) – 3rd 4.793
Gear Ratios (overall) – 4th 3.882
Gear Ratios (overall) – 5th 3.307
Gear Ratios (overall) – 6th 2.79

Exhaust – Staggered, straight cut chrome mufflers with gloss black muffler shields
Wheels, Front Type – Gloss Black Turbine with machined highlights
Wheels, Rear Type – Gloss Black Turbine with machined highlights
Brakes, Caliper Type – 4-piston fixed front; 2-piston floating rear

Engine Torque Testing Method J1349
Engine Torque – 99.5 ft-lb
Engine Torque (rpm) – 3,000
Lean Angle, Right (deg.) – 23.4
Lean Angle, Left (deg.) – 23.4
Fuel Economy: Claimed Combined City/Hwy 42 mpg

2017 Harley Fat Bob First Ride Video Review

It sure looks the part. Thick black chunks of Dunlop rubber front and back, sharp-looking black machined aluminum slotted disc wheels, drag bars, burly Tommy Gun exhaust and a High Output Twin Cam 103 engine. Yup, the 2017 Harley Fat Bob looks the part. But does its get-up-and-go match its hot rod disposition?

During our tenure with the 2017 Fat Bob the Dyna averaged 39.605 gallons. It tipped our scales laden at 701.5 pounds at a front-biased 325 pound front to 376.5 pound back. First gear tops out at 45 mph at just under 5800 rpm while second taps out a hair below 65 mph. In sixth gear, the motorcycle exerts little stress on the engine as it settles into a loping cadence at a paltry 2370 rpm.

The model we tested was equipped with ABS, a $795 option. Harley’s current anti-lock braking system doesn’t have the same disconcerting pulse at the pedal as it did when Harley first launched its ABS. The dual discs on the front are powerful without being grabby, but overall stopping distance is still pretty long.

While a full review is in the works, check out our 2017 Harley Fat Bob First Ride Review video to find out more in the meantime.

2017 Fat Bob Stats – 39.605 mpg.       Weight – 701.5 lbs. (325 front, 376.5 back)


Vivid Black – $16,049
Color – $16,449
Custom Color – $16,999
ABS Option – $795
Security Option – $395
California Emissions – $200
Freight – $390

Length: 94.5 in.
Seat Height, Laden: 26.1 in.
Seat Height, Unladen: 27.2 in.
Ground Clearance: 4.9 in.
Rake: (steering head) (deg) 29
Trail: 4.9 in.
Wheelbase: 63.8 in.
Tires, Front Specification: 130/90B16 67H
Tires, Rear Specification: 180/70B16 77H
Fuel Capacity: 5 gal.
Oil Capacity (w/filter): 3 qt.
Weight, As Shipped: 673 lb.
Weight, In Running Order: 701.5 lb.

Engine: Air-cooled, High Output Twin Cam 103
Bore: 3.87 in.
Stroke: 4.38 in.
Displacement: 103.1 cu. In.
Compression Ratio: 9.6:1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)

Primary Drive: Chain, 34/46 ratio
Gear Ratios (overall): 1st 9.311
Gear Ratios (overall): 2nd 6.454
Gear Ratios (overall): 3rd 4.793
Gear Ratios (overall): 4th 3.882
Gear Ratios (overall): 5th 3.307
Gear Ratios (overall): 6th 2.79

Exhaust: Chrome, “Tommy Gun” 2-1-2 collector exhaust with dual mufflers
Wheels, Front: Gloss Black Cast Aluminum Wheel w/ Laser Etched Graphics
Wheels, Rear: Gloss Black Cast Aluminum Wheel w/ Laser Etched Graphics
Brakes, Caliper: 4-piston fixed front, and 2-piston torque-free floating rear

Engine Torque: 99.5 ft-lb
Engine Torque (rpm): 3,750
Lean Angle, Right (deg.): 30
Lean Angle, Left (deg.): 31

2016 Harley XL1200CX Roadster Review

2016 Harley Roadster first ride

Gingerelli took the test bike on his favorite 50-mile loop, an assortment of cambered and off-cambered turns mixed with contorting S’s and sweepers, and it’s roads like that where the Roadster shined.

CX in the city, a roadster for the road  –  by Dain Gingerelli 

According to Harley-Davidson’s promotional literature the new XL1200CX Roadster is aimed dead-square at young riders, often termed Millennials. But tell that to the older guy — think Baby Boomer—who cast an envious eye on the Roadster, with its Velocity Red Sunglo paint shining brilliantly, which I had just fired up in the parking lot. And for the record, I’m of the Baby Boomer generation, too, and I rather enjoy this Sportster.

The older guy said nothing, though. He just stared, transfixed by the bike, soaking up the sum total of its parts and color. A chromed, low-slung handlebar catches the eye first, and behind it sits the familiar 3.3-gallon peanut-style gas tank; folks on Juneau Avenue now deem it a “walnut” tank, although if we’re going to break from tradition, I’m for calling it a “pecan” tank, even if it might send the wrong message as to its exact function and use.

So, there we were, standing in the parking lot with the older guy still wistfully gazing at the bike while I nonchalantly let the Roadster’s rubber-mounted 1200cc engine (Millennials and Baby Boomers alike would never refer to a Sportster engine in terms of cubic inches, although for the record the 1200 qualifies as a 74″) warm up, chugging and singing out the proverbial potato-potato-potato cadence that all Harleys are known for. I especially enjoy the XL1200CX’s exhaust note, a result of the new free-flowing shorty mufflers that create an unmistakable baritone burble, so unlike the wimpy, semi-flatulent sounds that resonate from most stock bikes today.

2016 XL1200CX Review

In his 2016 Roadster review Gingerelli said the suspension’s spring and damping calibration are well-matched to soak up bumps in the road better than any other Sportster.

Satisfied with the engine having oil in all its internal nooks and crannies, I sought first gear — an easy task, as Harley engineers have used every conceivable trick in their toolbox to minimize clutch lever pull effort on Sportsters, so when you snick the five-speed tranny’s shift lever up or down, your foot is rewarded with a positive click — and rode away. As the engine’s rpm rose to a crescendo, the exhaust note only got better, no doubt prompting the older guy’s pulse to quicken even more. I have no idea whether or not that Baby Boomer eventually bought a Roadster on account of that little episode, but The Motor Company is hedging its bets that Millennials will use similar sidewalk experiences to decide that it’s time to step up and make a purchase. The betting, too, is that the deal includes a new Roadster. As one Harley spokesman, Michael Spaeth, who heads the marketing team that put Millennials in the Roadster’s crosshairs, recently stated on a public radio broadcast: “…the new Roadster that we just launched [is] really targeting that kind of urban demographic.”

So, what sets this XL apart from all others in the Sportster stable? Plenty, really, even though the XL1200CX, rated at 549 pounds dry, shares the same basic platform in terms of frame and engine with the other 1200 models. Besides that drooping handlebar, you’ll see that the Roadster rides on all-new, blacked-out cast aluminum wheels wrapped with Dunlop/Harley-Davidson rubber, and this is the only Sportster rolling with an 18″ rear wheel and tire. The front 19″ wheel is supported by a 43mm inverted fork — the only one in the Sportster lineup — that has triple-rate springs calibrated to its Premium cartridge damping system. The rear shocks are based on this year’s new nitrogen gas-charged units for Sportsters, which have threaded collars to precisely adjust spring preload to suit your weight and riding style. Moreover, the fork and shocks offer a claimed 4.5″ and 3.2″ of travel, more than any of the suspenders found on the other Sporties.

The suspension’s spring and damping calibration are well-matched to soak up bumps in the road, too; clearly better than any other Sportster does. The Roadster’s suspenders are less prone to bottom out, too, and the ride transmits less road surface feedback through the custom-formed seat and rubber-wrapped folding footpegs.

Things aren’t quite as pleasant at the handlebar, though. Simply, the handlebar is too wide, measuring about 32″ from end to end, which forces you to assume a riding position that makes you feel as though you’re ready to do a pushup. Here’s my fix: by nature, any Harley’s purpose in life is to be modified, and by that right I’d change the bar to better suit my riding needs. There’s enough room to shorten the bar at both ends without disrupting space for the hand controls, so I’d clip about 1/2″-3/4″ from each end. That would slightly raise the angle of your torso in relation to the steering stem, improving the rider triangle in the process. Doing so would also relieve some pressure from your wrists and hands while pulling them in for a more definitive “feel” of the front end when cornering (think road racer ergonomics).

2016 Harley Roadster engine

The 2016 Harley Roadster features a rubber-mounted, air-cooled, 1200cc Evolution engine. Harley rates the Roadster’s engine torque at nearly 10% higher than the rest of the XL1200 lineup.

A by-product of clipping the handlebar also means a narrower bike, essential for splitting lanes or filtering forward through an urban jungle’s stop-and-go traffic. And from a cosmetic standpoint, shortening the handlebar would reduce its gull-wing effect in relation to the bike’s styling lines.

For the most part, though, there’s not much customization necessary to make the Roadster look cool. The fenders have been bobbed to the extreme, so they’re shorter than those on any other Sportster; the belt guard and muffler heat shields have racer-like slots for a sportier look; the taillights are integrated into the turn signals that are posted onto the bare-bones rear fender struts, and the license plate attaches to Harley’s signature Dark Customs left-side mounting system. Staring back at you is a 4″ electronic analog tachometer with built-in digital read-out speedo and gear indicator. All minimalist features that are popular with urban bikers.

And then there’s the seat. Positioned 30.9″ off the deck, it’s styled in the spirit of all café racers. The seat’s rear hump helps position you in the rider’s triangle, and you’ll notice a grab strap on the rear portion. That’s for a passenger (DOT law requires the strap), making this a two-up motorcycle. The upholstery is designed to mimic body armor that’s so popular among Millennials today, but, more to the point, the seat is so darn comfortable, yet slender enough for using body English when leaning left and right while cornering on your favorite back road.

For the full ride review, custom bike features, tech stories and more,
CLICK HERE American Iron Magazine issue 339

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital

2016 Victory Hammer 8-Ball Review

2016 Victory Hammer 8-Ball

The 2016 Victory Hammer 8-Ball wears its fat backside well, the 250mm rear a longstanding feature of the Hammer.

A drag bike for the street

It’s ok. You can admit it. You sometimes catch yourself riding your motorcycle from stoplight to stoplight pretending to be an NHRA pro drag racer. Clutching as fast as you can and banging up through the gears is always fun, but what’s even more fun is doing it on the right motorcycle. After much serious research, I believe I may have found that motorcycle in the Victory Hammer.

Right off the bat, the Hammer doesn’t conform to the usual format of a motorcycle that tries to be as many things as possible and fit as many people as possible so that it can be marketed to as many people as possible. Victory makes other motorcycles that suit the needs of the all-around rider (and the marketing department), but the Hammer series, the 8-Ball tested here and the newer S, is for a specific type of rider whose first add-ons aren’t going to be a windshield and saddlebags. The Hammer is a street cruiser that can take on any challenger at any stoplight or any local bike night.

Victory's Hammer looks sharp dressed in the 8-Ball treatment.

Victory’s Hammer looks sharp dressed in the 8-Ball treatment.

Swing a leg over the 26-1/2″-high seat and the bike’s drag racer stance begins to make its presence known. The pullback handlebars require a healthy forward lean (even for my 6’1″ frame), while the foot controls are comfortably forward for cruising, yet still allow for a confident knee bend. It’s not quite the extreme clamshell positioning found on other muscle cruisers, but it represents the best of both worlds. Your upper body can tuck in confidently while your legs can rest practically ahead of you.

Although it’s not quite clear to the eye at first, the Hammer also rocks another key cruiser trait in that it’s equipped with passenger equipment in the way of footpegs and a back seat. Lifting the plastic café racer bump seat cover reveals the second seat. There’s no place to stow the plastic cover, so if you think you might get lucky, just leave it at home. And just like that, the purpose-built Hammer displays a dose of practicality as it becomes a two-up cruiser. Actually, a quick glance at Victory’s complete cruiser lineup finds the Hammer 8-Ball and S as the only cruisers to come factory-equipped with passenger equipment. The level of comfort on either seat isn’t anything to write home about, but that likely isn’t a top priority for the Hammer rider. The seat looks cool since it flows perfectly with the lines of the bike instead of appearing slapped on as an afterthought, and the comfort is plenty for typical riders.

Hammer 8-Ball wheel

I just can’t get enough of the looks of a blacked-out inverted front end on a hot muscle cruiser,” said American Iron Garage Editor Tyler Greenblatt.

Although the Hammer’s design follows that of fast straight-liners, the suspension and chassis were designed for the kind of twisty roads most riders like to spend time on. The Hammer, once again, is the only Victory cruiser to sport that killer inverted front end with 5.1″ of travel and superior rebound and damping abilities. And I just can’t get enough of the looks of a blacked-out inverted front end on a hot muscle cruiser.

For the full ride review, custom bike features, tech stories and more,
CLICK HERE American Iron Magazine issue 340

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital

Victory Hammer 8-Ball Speedo

Victory keeps it clean and simple with an analog speedo mounted dead center.

Our First Ride Impressions of Harley’s New Milwaukee-Eight

Cornering on the 2017 Milwaukee-Eight-equipped Road King felt more agile than ever.

Cornering on the 2017 Milwaukee-Eight-equipped Road King felt more agile than ever.

American Iron Magazine editor Steve Lita was fortunate enough to get in a day of riding on the new 2017 Harley-Davidson Touring models featuring both versions of the new Milwaukee-Eight engine; standard 107″ and CVO models equipped with the 114″ version.

The first thing you notice when you start up the new Milwaukee-Eight is, well, the precise and consistent starting. Thanks to a new automatic compression release and a more powerful starter motor, the engine comes to life every time without a hitch or a hiccup, which can’t be said for Twin Cam models. Once the engine settles to life at a calm 850 idle rpm, you’ll recognize the traditional Harley rumble, albeit a little smoother. Don’t get me wrong, this engine is not sewing machine-boring, it still has that chugging cadence to it.

The 107" Milwaukee-Eight, staying true to Harley's Big Twin tradition while leaping forward.

The 107″ Milwaukee-Eight, staying true to Harley’s Big Twin tradition while leaping forward.

Click the bike into first gear and release the clutch, and you’ll be pleased with the easier feeling on your left hand. Roll on the throttle easy, the Milwaukee-Eight smoothly pulls this heavyweight up to speed. But gun the throttle, and get ready for an aggressive bark from the stock exhaust. Thanks to less drivetrain noise and the added cubic-inches, the exhaust emanates an aggressive tone. After my first ride I commented to Harley engineers how much I liked the sound of the bike.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to a timed acceleration course, but suffice it to say the seat-of-the-pants-feeling under hard acceleration was that the new bikes pull away from a stop or roll on at speed harder than before. This Milwaukee-Eight pulls hard all the way to the 5500 redline, and I found the rev limiter many times when not judiciously watching the tach. I felt consistent thrust all the way up the tach range without the power petering off. It just pulls, pulls, pulls, and then smack! You’re on the limiter. Step up to the larger 114″ Milwaukee-Eight, which is available only in the CVO models, and get ready for a kick in the butt over the 107″ version; you will definitely feel the difference in power output.

And the 114" Milwaukee-Eight, a CVO-only option that will blow your socks off.

And the 114″ Milwaukee-Eight, a CVO-only option that will blow your socks off.

All of that is great for straight-line riding, but what happens when you throw the new Touring models into a curve? Much improvement has been made to this line of bikes, and the new 2017 models can handle some twisties better than ever before. New front fork updates feature SHOWA Dual Bending valve (SDBV) technology, which is similar to current cartridge fork inserts, but more adept for mass production use. Out back is a hand-adjustable SHOWA emulsion shock. Turn the adjustment knob 23 times to allow for 25mm of total adjustment. No more worrying about blowing out air shocks. Confidence in riding through corners at high speed is greatly increased.

The 114" CVO Touring Model handles better than you could imagine for a Big Twin.

The 114″ CVO Touring Model handles better than you could imagine for a Big Twin.

My overall riding impression of these new Milwaukee-Eight-powered models is that Harley has taken all the right feelings and emotions of the previous engine and refined them, doing so with new high-tech components. The looks of the engine are right. It’s not some foreign, radical departure. Yet under the skin, the internal components work in better harmony than before. I think of this engine as a well-sorted Big Twin. It’s better than you ever thought the Big Twin family could perform.

For the full first ride review of the all-new Milwaukee-Eight Touring models, pick up a copy of Issue #342. In Issue #341, on sale 9/13, we give you everything you need to know about the new engine platforms.

2017 Indian Chieftain & Roadmaster First Ride Review

2017 Indian Motorcycle Ride Command System

The Indian Motorcycle Ride Command System features a 7-inch capacitor touchscreen teamed to a fast processor. (Barry Hathaway Photos Courtesy of Indian Motorcycle Co.) 

Biggest. Fastest. Most Customizable.

These words are running through my head as I sit roadside pushing buttons on the Indian Roadmaster’s new infotainment system trying to decide what I want to see on the display of my split screens. Seeing how a 5,000 foot climb to the Blue Ridge Parkway lies before me, I opt for the digital compass that has an altimeter so I can chart my ascension for the left half. On the right I run the motorcycle’s navigation system so I can chart my course through these marvelous ribbons of asphalt in the Appalachians. I bump the volume up a couple of notches on the music I’m streaming through Wi-Fi to set the tone for a spirited ride up the mountain. Welcome to the 21st Century Indian tourers.

During the presentation of its 2017 heavyweight motorcycles, Polaris’ President-Motorcycles Steve Menneto said that while Chieftain and Roadmaster sales were good, the bikes lacked one essential part consumers wanted. That missing part was a multi-functional, state-of-the-art infotainment system. Count us among those who scratched their heads wondering why Indian’s touring motorcycles didn’t come with nav as a standard feature. Now we know why. Indian was already in the process of developing it, and just like its motorcycles, the company doesn’t rush to launch something until they’ve got it right. In order to one-up its competitors, the Indian Motorcycle Ride Command System reportedly has the “biggest screen, fastest processor, and is the most customizable.”

To assess these claims, let’s peek at some of the primary features of the Indian Motorcycle Ride Command System and Harley’s Boom! Box Infotainment System. The Indian features a 7-inch capacitor touchscreen with an 800 X 480 pixel resolution while Harley’s Boom! Box is offered with either a 4.3-inch or 6.5-inch high resolution touchscreen. Both systems can be linked via Bluetooth and have voice activation, the Indian featuring “Voice Activated Call” and “Voice Activated Siri or OK Google” through a headset while voice-operated commands of H-D’s 6.5-inch Boom! Box system controls “mobile phone functions, media, radio tuner, navigation, and help.” Navigation comes standard for both Indian tourers while Harley’s navigation system comes standard only on models with the Boom! Box 6.5GR system. The Indian audio system is 50 watts-per-channel (100 watts on Chieftain; 200 watts on Roadmaster) while audio output on the Harleys is 25 watts-per-channel through either a two-channel or four-channel system.

2017 Indian Motorcycles 7-inch touchscreen

The 7-inch touchscreen of the 2017 Indian heavyweight motorcycles is mounted close to the rider and the fairing has been stretched a tad to accommodate it.

While the two systems are definitely comparable, what sets the Indian apart is its ability to customize screens and the amount of features it offers. There are eight screen options total, including Vehicle Status (tire pressure, voltage, engine hours, oil change), Vehicle Info (speed, fuel range, RPM, gear position), Trip 1 (fuel range, miles, average fuel economy, instantaneous fuel economy time, average speed), Trip 2 (fuel range, miles, average fuel economy, instantaneous fuel economy time, average speed), Ride Data (heading, moving time, stop time, altitude, altitude change), Audio, Bluetooth and Map/Navigation. The 7-inch digital display is flanked by two analog dials, a speedo and tach, each with small digital windows at the bottom of the dials. The tach window includes a gear indicator and an odometer, while the speedo has a digital fuel gauge. Radio controls can be accessed either from the display or through the pad on the left control housing on the handlebar. There is also two finger triggers on the back of the control housings to accept and decline navigation functions displayed on the screen, green on the right for accept and red on left for decline. The screen can also be turned off altogether if riders just want to kick back and enjoy the ride.

Look for the full ride review of the 2017 Indian Chieftain and Roadmaster in an upcoming issue of American Iron Magazine.

In the meantime, be sure to check out plenty more custom and classic motorcycle features, tech stories, events and more in past issues of  American Iron Magazine

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital


Screen Size: 7”
Pixel Count: 800×480
Number of Buttons: 5
Brightness: 1000 Nit’s
Touch Screen: Two-Finger Capacitive
Glove Touch Screen: Swipe and Pinch to Zoom

Maps: (turn by turn with 3D birds eye view)
Point of Interest List
Point of Interest Search
Address Search
Audible Route Notifications
Show List of Nearby Gas Stations Upon Low Fuel Indication

Clock from GPS
Consumer Adjustable Clock
Ambient Air Temperature

Customizable Information Displays
Vehicle Information (From CANbus)
Trip Information
TPMS Display
Output power per channel (RMS), 50W (External Amp)
Display User Interface Customization (Main Screen Field Data Selection)

Radio Control from display
Radio Control from handlebars
AM, FM & Weatherband
iPod Control over USB (no old iPods with 32 pin connector)
Songs from USB flash drive
USB Song Shuffle
Bluetooth Audio
Album Art

Driver Smartphone Bluetooth Capable
Driver Bluetooth Headset

Phonebook Download (Bluetooth )
Incoming Call Notification
Incoming Call Friendly Name Display
Place a call from phonebook
Dial a number to call
Voice Activated Call (with headset)
Voice Activated Siri or “OK Google” (with headset)
Incoming Driver Text Notification
Incoming Driver Text Friendly Name Display
Send a quick text from driver device (Android only)
* Smartphone must support this feature

2017 Indian Chieftain bagger

It’s easy to see why the Chieftain bagger is a big seller for Indian Motorcycle Co.


Engine Type: 49˚ V-Twin
Transmission: 6-speed/constant mesh/foot shift
Battery: 12 volts / 18 amp/hour, 310 CCA
Bore x Stroke: 3.976”x 4.449” (101mm x 113mm)
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Compression Ratio: 9.5 : 1
Cooling System: Air / Oil
Displacement: 111 cubic-inch / 1811cc
Exhaust: Split dual exhaust with crossover
Final Drive: Belt, 152 tooth
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal / 20.8 ltr
Fuel System: Electronic fuel injection, closed loop/54mm bore
Oil Capacity: 5.5 qts / 5.20 ltr
Primary Drive: Gear drive wet clutch
Torque (claimed): 119.2 ft-lbs at 3000 rpm

Front: Telescopic fork, 46mm diameter, 4.7 in. / 119mm travel
Rear: Single shock 4.5 in. / 114mm travel, air adjustable

Dry Weight: 828 lbs / 376 kg
Ground Clearance: 5.6 in / 142mm
GVWR: 1,385 lbs / 630 kg
Length: 101.2 in. / 2571mm
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.9 in. / 150mm
Seat Height: 26 in. / 660mm
Wheelbase: 65.7 in. / 1668mm

Brake System Type: Individual front and rear control with ABS
Front: Dual 300mm floating rotor with 4-piston calipers
Rear: Single 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper

Front Tire: Dunlop Elite 3, 130/90B16 73H
Front Wheel: Cast 16” x 3.5” with tire pressure monitoring
Rear Tire: Dunlop Elite 3 180/60R16 80H
Rear Wheel: Cast 16” x 5.0” with tire pressure monitoring

Thunder Black Pearl $23,999
Silver Smoke $24,499
White Smoke $24,499
Wildfire Red over Thunder Black $25,199
Star Silver over Thunder Black $25,199

Thunder Black $28,999
Burgundy Metallic $29,599
Willow Green over Ivory Cream $30,399
Thunder Black over Ivory Cream $30,399
Steel Gray over Thunder Black $30,399 US

*Does not include California emissions.

2016 Harley Low Rider S First Ride Review

2016 Low Rider S Review

NEW BIKE REVIEW by Tyler Greenblatt  Photos by Riles & Nelson

There’s fast, and then there’s 110” Screamin’ Eagle Dyna fast

You know you’re in for a fun ride when fleet center manager Alan has to replace all the ground-down footpegs on the test bikes from the previous day’s grouping of motojournalists. I promised to take care of the fresh pegs on the new 2016 Low Rider S when my day came to ride it, unlike the local Los Angeles hooligans who had been riding that day. After about 30 seconds of riding the FXDL-S, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to keep my promise.

Walking up to the S for the first time, it takes a second to recognize it as actually being a Low Rider as so much is physically different between the two machines that share a name. Gone is the chrome and metallic look from the original Shovelhead Low Riders. The back half of the rear fender is noticeably missing, and the handlebars are entirely different. At first glance it looks more like something coming out of a Southern California custom shop than a factory Harley. That defining look is the first complete bike to be headed up by H-D Director of Styling Brad Richards, who started at Harley just over a year ago and whose name you’ll be seeing a lot.

2016 Harley Low Rider S

The Low Rider S is equipped with “Premium Ride nitrogen gas-charged emulsion shocks and a Premium Ride cartridge fork.”

The split, five-spoke Magnum Gold cast aluminum wheels look as though they were pulled from the 1982 FXSB, while the gold tank badge was pulled directly from the 1977 XLCR. The drag bars, speed screen, side-mount license plate, bobbed rear fender, and deep-scoop solo seat are all modern takes on the traditional high-performance Harley.

It’s impossible to discuss high-performance Harleys without making mention of the legendary FXR motorcycles of the 1980s and ‘90s, which mixed a stiff, triangulated frame and sporty suspension with a rubber-mounted Big Twin. FXRs have grown in popularity in the past few years, and with that resurgence came a subsequent rise in Dyna interest. But today’s twin-shock enthusiast isn’t looking for the same chopper-esque feel of Willie G’s Shovelhead FX creations. The name of the game today is speed, around corners as much as in a straight line, and the ability to stop. The 2016 Low Rider S delivers on all fronts.

2016 Harley Low Rider S Screamin' Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine

The latest addition to Harley’s Dyna range is equipped with the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine, a forward-facing Screamin’ Eagle Heavy Breather performance intake and Fat Bob-style 2-into-2 exhaust.

The Low Rider S sports a set of premium adjustable emulsion-type shock absorbers at the rear and a premium ride cartridge fork suspension at the front, good for 2.13″ and 5.1″ of travel respectively. Although rear travel seems short, the premium adjustable shocks held their own while carving California’s canyons for over 100 miles. Unlike typical stock shocks, these didn’t bottom out once on me, and they kept the rear of the Dyna tracking through turns as if it were on rails. The improvement in the front isn’t as obvious, but undoubtedly aids in the bike’s road manners.

The Low Rider S sports 28-1/2-degree left- and 27-1/2-degree right-lean angles, which leaves some lean room to be desired, although as I found out you can go right up to and past the pegs around turns. In fact, after about an hour of spirited riding, your pegs should be worn down enough to increase those angles. Any new buyer should just consider footpegs a regularly replaceable maintenance item thanks to the 4.1″ of ground clearance. That low center of gravity and 27″ unladen seat height also make the S easy to control and predictable even when sparks are flying. The sticky Michelin Scorcher tires still have some tread left once you run out of bike, which further improves confidence.

2016 Harley Low Rider S first ride

Tyler cracks the throttle on the 2016 Low Rider S and said he likes the Twin Cam 110 platform in this Dyna. 

Wait, there’s more! For the full ride review, custom bike features, tech stories and more,
CLICK HERE American Iron Issue 338

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital

Harley Low Rider S Dyna

“Riders have been asking when Harley-Davidson would build another aggressive, performance-based bike like the legendary FXR models,” said Harley-Davidson Director of Styling Brad Richards.

2017 Victory Octane First Ride Review

2017 Victory Octane 1st Ride Review

NEW BIKE REVIEW • by Steve Lita

OK. So let me get this straight. You want me to pin the throttle and dump the clutch, right?” Those were my words to the stunt riding duo of Joe Vertical and Tony Carbajal at the Victory Octane press launch. Joe and Tony were our guest hooligan event directors for the day. Ironic that we were practicing hard motorcycle launches at a press launch, I thought. Their response to my question? A resounding “Yes.” So that’s what I did aboard the new 2017 Victory Octane. And the result was a high-revving blast-off with plumes of smoke dissipating from the Octane’s rear tire as I fishtailed down the back straight at Orlando Speedbowl. Our test day, held a few days before Daytona Bike Week, included agility testing on a gymkhana course, practicing burnouts and the aforementioned rolling burnouts, and finally drag race test runs down the quarter-mile strip. Not your average evaluation of a new model motorcycle. But the Octane is not your average cruiser. It’s more like a cruiser that thinks it’s a sportbike, actually.

While I was riding the Octane around the back roads of Florida, I kept trying to think what I could compare it to. In the realm of American-made muscle cruisers, I could think of only one, the V-Rod, and expanding my thoughts to manufacturers of non-American machines I could only think of one other: the Star VMAX. Quite frankly, when considering the real-world scenario of what I could have the most fun on without breaking the bank, the answer kept returning to one point: Octane!

Steve Lita Burnout 2017 Victory Octane

The 2017 Victory Octane press launch included some Hooligan 101. Looks like Lita learned fast.

Sure, both of those other models are a hoot to ride and plenty capable of leaving dark strips on the pavement themselves. But I don’t ever recall riding any V-Rod that offered the agility or the pared-down muscle car feeling of the Octane or left as much spending money in my wallet as the Octane. How much is the Octane, you ask? Try on $10,499 and see how it fits. Fits me just fine.

The formula is as old as hot-rodding itself: big engine times small/lightweight chassis plus few amenities equals Ya-Hoo! Carroll Shelby did it with the little Cobra way back in the ’60s, and it still works today, even on two wheels. Actually, given modern efficiencies in manufacturing, materials, and systems such as fuel injection, the formula works even better now.

Providing the muscle in this muscle bike is an 1179cc, liquid-cooled 60-degree V-twin, Victory’s first crack at a liquid-cooled engine. It utilizes dual overhead cams with four valves per head and a 60mm throttle body equipped induction system to create a 104 hp output and 76 ft-lbs. of torque. That’s more horsepower than any other Victory motorcycle up to this point. The short-stroke engine allows higher engine rpm and a quick-revving engine response more akin to a sportbike than a conventional V-twin, and the modest 10.8 to 1 compression ratio should allow the Octane to live happily on common street-grade gasoline. The smooth shifting six-speed trans sends power to the short geared rear sprocket via a belt drive. It’s amazing to me that the belt can withstand the punishment that the engine produces, but it does. That’s modern technology for you.

2017 Victory Octane Wheelie

Lightweight and powerful, lofting the front wheel of the 2017 Victory Octane doesn’t take much.

You’ve probably been muttering “Just how fast is it?” since you read about our little excursion to the drag strip in the first paragraph. Victory’s usually optimistic press blurbs say the Octane can do the quarter-mile in 12 seconds and blast from 0-60 mph in less than four seconds. Well, this ain’t no bull. I saw a fellow moto-journalist rip off a 12.05, and we heard about a pro rider dipping in the high 11.90s. Me? After a couple practice runs, I was able to muster a 12.40. Guess I need a little more practice on those hard launches and finding the proper shift-points (and a few more salad lunches). Not bad for a cruiser, with a not-the-largest-V-twin-out-there 72ci engine. Thanks to that law-abiding, wide-open throttle testing, I can also tell you the Octane pulls all the way to redline. Power doesn’t peter out at the high end of the tach. It just keeps pulling until you’re bouncing off the rev-limiter, hence the need for more shift point practice on my part.

For the full ride review, custom bike features, tech stories and more,
CLICK HERE American Iron Magazine issue 337

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital

2016 Harley-Davidson FLSTN Softail Deluxe Review


2016 Harley FLSTN Softail Deluxe

Nostalgic styling, bright candy colors and more chrome than a 1959 Cadillac. That’s the 2016 Harley FLSTN Softail Deluxe.

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).

2016 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe

The 2016 Softail Deluxe’s ride remains smooth and purposeful with 5.1″ of travel in the glide fork and 3.4″ of rear wheel travel.

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.

2016 Softail Deluxe details

The 2016 Softail Deluxe is all about classy details, from the chrome fender trim and badge to the whitewall tires.

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

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital