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

Harley In The Snow – Heck Yes With A Sidecar

So what’s a ride to do when the snow falls and sticks to the road? How about strapping a sidecar onto your Harley and bundle up for some winter fun.

That is what I did here in New England.

Classic Harley & Sidecar In The Snow

Classic Harley & Sidecar In The Snow

Granted, you have to be careful od slipping and sliding your Harley around on the packed snow and ice. And if salt is used on the roads, that can be a big problem too.  Up here in Vermont, where I have a vacation cabin in the woods, there is no salt.

If you are curious about this rig, it is a 1930 Harley V and Harley sidecar. I found it a few years ago sitting in a basement, where it had been for several years. We pulled it out and brough it to Retrocycle in Boonton, NJ. We removed the sidecar and put it aside as we focused on the antique Harley. We went through it top to bottom and followed the progress in the pages of our all-tech American Iron Garage magazine last year.

It did not take much to get it sorted out and runnign well. Then we re-installed the sidecar and got it registered. Now I can ride this rig pretty much year round. There are a few issues with sidecars, 1. They take up a lot more storage space. 2. The do not lean into turns, so you have to steer them with the handlebars. 3. You need to keep in mind how far the sidecar spreads to the right – especially when parking and riding close the the curb or trees.

Classic 1945 Harley-Davidson 45″ Flathead

45 flat profile1

1945 Harley-Davidson 45″ Flathead

By Jim Babchak, photos by Don Kates


Harley-Davidson’s 45″ flatheads are one of the great mainstays of any antique motorcycle gathering, on any given weekend, in any part of our great country. That’s because these indestructible, rugged, and reliable motorcycles were made in great numbers, were easy to maintain, ran well even in the worst of tune, and represented a fun and inexpensive way to get into motorcycling. They are as revered today as they were 82 years ago when they joined the 1929 lineup in the form of the RL.

45 Flatheads run the gamut from stripped-down bobbers to fully restored hardtail springers, with Class C racers, and ham-and-eggs bikes thrown in as well. I particularly love the ham-and-eggs bikes, those great old machines that are built from parts that often carry a Servicar G model engine and reverse transmission slung into a two-wheeler frame. 45 consoleWhenever I see a 45″ machine, I smile, and because of the surplus parts made for the WWII effort (original spares are still available, and reproduction parts as well), these wonderful old machines will continue to run well into the next millennium and beyond!

Even with the large number of surviving 45s out there, seeing one restored to the level Dwight Weisz’s featured American Iron Classic is rare indeed. In fact, when I was forwarded the studio images of this pristine 1945 Harley, I was blown away by its level of detail and overall perfection. Dwight is the fourth owner of this machine and can trace its ownership all the way back to the original owner who purchased and rode it around the Wilton, North Dakota, area back in the 1940s and ’50s. A friend of Dwight’s named Gary Bosch was the second owner, and during his tenure, the bike sat in a bike shop and was scavenged for parts. Circumstances forced him to sell it, and George Kulish was to become its third owner. Again, the bike languished with no movement toward its redemption. Now, apart and contained in four large cardboard boxes, it was again sold in 1990. Here, the story takes a great turn for the better, although not right away.

Dwight obtained the bike and was full of energy and enthusiasm, setting the goal of restoring the bike over the next two years. But, as you know, the best-laid plans can get waylaid as life intercedes. He describes the bike as looking like “the Scarecrow from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ just after the monkeys were done with him.” In 1994, a new home purchase meant the bike had a place to rest in the basement, and Dwight spent a lot of time researching and getting to know the machine. Parts were “collected and corrected” in preparation for its restoration. Bruce Palmer’s book How to Restore Your Harley-Davidson became a guidepost and work began in earnest in the late 1990s.

45 engine1Carl’s Cycle Supply in Aberdeen, North Dakota, rebuilt the motor to factory specs. Mike Rauser of Midway Harley-Davidson rebuilt the carburetor, transmission, and wheels and was a great help with his time and advice. Jim Grenz of Tempe, Arizona, painted the sheet metal, and, oh, what a beautiful job he did; although it was not without some pain and suffering! It seems Dwight obsessed over the color for two years, to the point that everyone was tired of hearing about it, but he finally made his decision, and it was all worthwhile as this key element really defines the bike. It is a Candy Metallic Green from House of Kolor offset against Ford Sea Foam Green panels. Leery at first of the Dead Man’s Curse (which states that any bike that is green will be lost in the background, and the rider run over and killed because of said lack of visibility), all now agree it is breathtaking and spot on.

All the black you see on the machine was done at the North Dakota State Penitentiary (gotta keep the boys busy!), and the chrome is by Brown’s Plating. Once all the parts were done, everything made its way back to Dwight’s home, and he began reassembling it all. 45 fenderThis painstaking process took months, and you can imagine the level of meticulous detail and caution it took to complete this undertaking. Dwight rewired the bike with an exact replica cloth wiring loom and harness, and every nut and bolt is as original.

The results speak for themselves, and again, I have not seen this level of restoration on a 45″ machine in a long time. The endgame was never to create a show bike, but only to “get it right.” That said, Dwight was talked into showing it. At its first outing at the Freedom Riders Motorcycle Show in Bismarck, North Dakota, it took four firsts: Best In Class, Peoples’ Choice, Judges Choice, and Best Paint. Wow! That’s a lot of firsts! Word got around, and soon Dwight was invited to all the shows in the surrounding states.

The bike is ridden occasionally and runs as good as it looks, but the vision is for it to be passed down through many generations of Weiszes in the future. AIM

45 rear 3-4

This article appeared in the March 2012 issue of American Iron Magazine. To order a back issue, visit Greaserag.com.

Laconia Rally News: Team American Iron To Race Classic Handshift Indian Motorcycle

If you are planning on attending the Laconia Rally in June you might consider swinging by the New Hampshire Motor Speedway to check out the classic motorcycle racing Saturday June 14 and Sunday June 15, 2014.

Among the classic racers will be our very own Buzz Kanter, Editor-in-Chief of American Iron Magazine, coming out of a 35 year retirement to road race a 1937 Indian Sport Scout handshift racer on the track. He plans to complete in at least two classes each day – the challenging tank shifter class, and the Pre-1950 class.

Buzz will be racing the ex-Butch Baer 1937 Indian Sport Scout. He will be wearing a Bell helmet, and Vanson leathers and using Spectro oils in the racer. There will be a number of classic and vintage motorcycle races on Saturday (USCRA)and again on Sunday with the FIM’s North American Vintage Road Racing Championships. You can purchase tickets the day of the races for the stands or up-close and personal in the racer pits. For more information please visit www.race-uscra.com.

Pewter Run New England Classic Motorcycle Event

It’s with great pleasure we continue to celebrate the first fifty years of motorcycling in America, with the 2013 annual Pewter Run, on September 29th 2013. We will return to the Historic 1774 Nathaniel Rolfe House preserved by the Penacook Historical Museum at 11 Penacook St. Penacook, NH. This autumn we will welcome our brothers in vintage arms from the Kickstart Classic.

Pewter Run Poster

Buzz Kanter and the crew from American Iron Magazine and RoadBike will join us Sunday to celebrate the Pewter Run and The Kickstart Classic, sponsored by BAKER Drivetrain, GEICO, Spectro Oils, and Wrench, Ride Repeat® as they journey across New England. This very historic setting is in the heart of rural New England with its many historic villages, fine homes, old inns and winding country roads. The Pewter Run loosely patterned after two international “vintage” motorcycle events, the “Motogiro d’Italia” and the English “Branbury Run”. The Kickstart Classic and the Pewter Run are open to all makes and models of classic motorcycles.

The premiere “first of its kind” AMA sanctioned event is organized and hosted by the USCRA (United States Classic Racing Association), Americas oldest vintage motorcycle racing organization.  The route will wind its way approximately fifty miles through the back roads of New Hampshire and eventually back to the start for a gala social gathering and cookout celebrating early motorcycling.

The Pewter Run is a timed, non-speed, reliability road event for motorcycles built prior to 1959. Participants will follow a designated route at a low (25MPH) average speed where checkpoints will confirm their reliability and progress. Participation classes will separate the motorcycles into age categories for scoring. Pewter replicas will be awarded for completing the event in the prescribed time plus an allowable percentage. For complete event information, rules, classes and an entry form, visit Pewter Run.


1909 Vintage Harley Police Motorcycle, The earliest police model in existence

At the dawn of the last century, Harley-Davidson recognized that its rugged and reliable motorcycles were perfectly positioned to service law enforcement. Back then, good mobility was vital, and a single-cylinder Harley-Davidson provided that at a time when our country was just beginning to make the transition from the horse and carriage to motorized transportation. Easy to operate, economical to use, and a form of transportation that allowed widespread access to remote areas that needed policing, the earliest Harleys fit the bill. The archives state that the first sale of a Harley to a municipality for police work occurred in 1908, and Detroit was the first customer. From that humble beginning, Harley has expanded its efforts and focused on the law enforcement market to great success. Today, in the United States, over 3,400 police departments ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Worldwide, Harleys are used in over 45 countries, to keep the peace.

Our featured bike is an amazing, all-original 1909 Harley-Davidson police motorcycle owned by our good friend and amazing motorcycle enthusiast John Parham. It’s part of his vast collection of rare antique machines and one of my favorites for many reasons. It’s all original, and it’s also the earliest known Harley-Davidson police motorcycle in existence. That says it all.

The bike was sold to the La Crosse, Wisconsin, Police Department where it spent many years in service to the community. It passed through a few additional owners until it had outlived its usefulness and was then disassembled, put in boxes, and stored indoors for decades. It was then rediscovered,
reassembled, and donated to the La Crosse Historical Society. With no place to display it, the bike was then loaned to the local Harley-Davidson dealer who displayed it in a showcase for many years. Many people wanted to buy it, including John, but it was not for sale, and it remained on display for all the world to see. The La Crosse Historical Society was in need of cash to restore a local landmark building, so it decided to sell the machine to finance that restoration. A few collectors were aware it was on the market, but the price was steep due to its rarity and desirability. However, John was able to step up and become its next caretaker.

If you look the bike over carefully, you can see how well-preserved the machine really is. Complete down to its core, this motorcycle wears all its factory parts; its tall stance and proud heritage speak volumes about its journey through time. The paint, although worn, is all original and the La Crosse Wis PD designation resides in a small rectangular area outlined by factory pinstripes. The lettering was probably done by a local sign painter employed by the city. Wis of course stands for Wisconsin; this was long before the advent of the two-letter state designations we’ve all come to know and recognize.

The year 1909 was the first for the redesigned frame that incorporates a second top bar for added strength. The gas tank was also redesigned as a three-sided affair, a marked improvement over the 1908 frame and strap tank design. A metal toolbox first appeared that year, and beefier components like the front forks make the ride smoother and the chassis sturdier. The 28″ wheels put the rider up on a perch; and the 3.00″ clincher tires, though shaky by today’s standards, were state of the art back then. The handlebars have the cables running through them with the left grip used to retard and advance the spark and the right grip to control the throttle. This setup would last for decades. The single-cylinder motor has a bore of 3-15/16″, displaces 30″, and pumps out a claimed 4 hp! Power is transmitted to the rear wheel by a leather belt drive, and the clutch is activated and deactivated by the belt tightening handle on the left side of the bike. The rear brake is a coaster brake design, similar to what you probably had on your first bicycle. The bike retailed for $210, expensive by standards of the day, but well under what a car cost in the same period.

Harley also introduced its first V-twin in 1909, but that would disappear from the lineup the following year and return a few years later, remaining the heart and soul of a Harley-Davidson to this day.

Two colors were offered in 1909: Renault Gray with carmine striping and Piano Black. Together with their nickel-plated cylinders and assorted hardware, they were striking machines at the dawn of motor transportation.

There was great optimism during this period, and motorcycling in general was gaining favor. Production numbers continued to climb for all brands, and it was anyone’s guess as to who would dominate the two-wheeled trade in 1909. Indian was becoming a powerhouse back East, and other brands were entering the field on a regular basis. It was an exciting time in the business, punctuated by innovation and advancement.

In 2010, John was invited to display the 1909 police bike at the world-famous Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance. The bike is on loan to the National Motorcycle Museum, John being the museum’s founder. So, anytime you’re in Anamosa, Iowa, stop by and view this amazing time capsule from the dawn of cycling. Thank you, John, for your continued stewardship of this great machine and for putting it on display for all to enjoy and appreciate. AIM

Words by Jim Babchak, photos by Pam Proctor

Story as printed in American Iron Magazine.

Del Mar Classic Motorcycle Concours Returns

The wonderful Del Mar Concours near San Diego, CA is returning after a 7 year break. The new tag for this classy show for classic and vintage motorcycles is Celebration Of The Motorcycle. The event, on October 15, 2011,  will benefit the Susan G Korman and other local San Diego charities.

Meet classic motorcycle racers and other celebrities including Bobby Hill, Dick Klamfoth and Bill Tuman.

The judging classes include:

  • Class 1 – American Production 1901-1929
  • Class 2 – American Production 1930-1965
  • Class 3 – American Production 1966-1977
  • Class 4 – European Production 1901-1952
  • Class 5 – European Production 1953-1964
  • Class 6 – European Production 1965-197
  • Class 7 – British Production 1901-1945
  • Class 8 – British Production 1946-1962
  • Class 9 – British Production 1963-197
  • Class 10 – Japanese Production 1957-1969
  • Class 11 – Japanese Production 1970-197
  • Class 12 – Competition 1901-1949
  • Class 13 – Competition 1950-1977
  • Class 14 – Preservation 1901-195
  • Class 15 – Bobbers to 197
  • Class 16 – Modified/Experimental 1901-1954
  • Class 17 – Modified/Experimental 1955-197
  • Class 18 – Custom Post-1977 (limited entries
  • Class 19 – Production Post 1977 (limited entries
  • Class 20 – Side-Car to 197
  • Class 21 – Scooters to 1977
  • Class 22 – CAFÉ all years

For more information on the event please click on http://www.celebrationofthemotorcycle.com/

Too Old To Race Antique Harley Motorcycle?

So, I ask you how old is too old to race in a vintage motorcycle event? A few weeks ago I was looking at my plans and realized I would be able to attend the annual Mountainfest event held in Morgantown, WV the end of July. I have been invited a number of times and have heard it is an outstanding event with something pretty much for everyone into motorcycles – new and old.

My initial plan was to drive down to Maggie Valley, NC with my adventure buddy Jim Sims to the Wheels Through Time Museum to visit my good friends Dale and Matt Walksler. The main objective is to rebuild Selma, the 1915 Harley I rode on last years Motorcycle Cannonball.

1926 Harley J classic model motorcycle

While there I was also wanted to rebuild a 1926 Harley I’d picked up last year. It had been on display in a recently out of business bar. So I had no idea how long it has been since last run. But I suspected it has been several years and who knows what we might find when we start working on it. 

1926 Harley "mix & match" motorcycle as purchased

It looked cool but I was pretty sure it was a put together bike with parts from slightly different year. The photos above show how it looked the day I got it last year. After pulling off a few items, including the speedometer I needed on another bike, the incorrect horn and the rare fork brace (also for another bike) then bike has been sitting in my storage for a year.

Initially I thought we’d simply do whatever needing doing to get it running and properly sorted. Then someone mentioned the Vintage Grad Prix race on the closed off streets of Morgantown, WV as part of the Mountainfest. Hmnnnn, a lightbulb went off in my head. What would it be like to get this ’26 Harley sorted and running properly, then strip it down as a vintage racer? This is what a lot of the folks did in the 1920s and ’30s. They would ride to the event, pull off the lights, fenders, luggage rack and other parts and go racing. Then, after the race they would bolt everything back on and ride home.

So my question is how old is too old for the motorcycle (not me) to be raced on a closed street circuit in the heart of Morgantown, WV? Is a 1926 Harley too old to race at 85 years old?

I called Dale and told him what my thinking was and he called back later in the day and said he was on board for it. So, Jim Sims and I are off to Wheels Through Time tomorrow morning  to see if we can make this plan a reality. If so you will be able to see we through the stripped down 1926 Harley J racer around the streets of Morgantown next Sunday, read about it in print in the pages of American Iron Magazine, and possible see a video on the Wheels Through Time web site. Either way, please wish us luck.

Mountainfest Motorcycle Event in Morgantown, WV

The Mountainfest motorcycle rally will be held in Morgantown, WV the last weekend of July. Lots going on there including custom and classic motorcycle shows, live concerts and other various motorcycle-friendly shows and events.

If all goes according to plan, American Iron Magazine’s Buzz Kanter is planning on racing a 1926 Harley twin on the closed off streets of Morgantown in the Vintage Grand Prix Sunday morning. Watch for coverage in future issues of American Iron Magazine on how this bike was built (by Buzz and the Wheels Through Time museum crew) and how it did in the event

The 2011 Motorcycle Kickstart Classic

Join American Iron Magazine and our colleagues at RoadBike for the inaugural Kickstart Classic, a two-day, 293-mile tour from the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina to the Barber Vintage Festival at the Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama. Sound simple enough? Well, here’s the kicker: all the lead motorcycles must have a functioning kickstarter, and that’s the only starter to be used for the duration of the tour. All makes, models, and years of bikes are welcome — but those that use electric starters will be relegated (not regulated) to the back of the pack.

The party starts with an all-day open house at Wheels Through Time on Wednesday, October 5. At 10 am the next day we ride to Rome, Georgia for a visit to Panhead City, the famous vintage Harley emporium. We’ll get to Barber Motorsports Park by lunchtime on Friday October 7 — just in time for the start of the 7th Annual Barber Vintage Festival. Word has it we may also get to do a lap on the track!

Stay tuned to www.RoadBikeMag.com for more details!