2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse First Impressions

Perched beneath the big guns on the deck of the mighty battleship USS Iowa, Indian Motorcycle was flexing a little muscle of its own, the 2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse. The blacked-out treatment suits the big bagger well, injects it with a little more “rock & roll.” If Indian’s seeking to broaden their customer base and attract a younger demographic using essentially the same platform, it’s surprising how something as simple as a new color can do just that. Because during our adventure up the California coast, more often than not it’s been younger guys coming over to check it out, heads nodding and thumbs up. Mission accomplished.

“There’s an attitude difference and that’s really what the Chief Dark Horse lineup is all about,” said Indian Motorcycle’s External Relations Manager Robert Pandya.

In addition to making millenials drool, Indian designed the Chieftain Dark Horse “to be our most customizable platform.”

2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse ride review

We’ve rumbled around California and up to Oregon, logging 1000 miles in five days, to test out the 2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse.

“We’re starting to see a lot of custom baggers come out off of this platform,” added Pandya.

The Indian Chieftain Dark Horse has custom appeal right off the showroom floor. The distinctive fairing looks sharp in black, the treatment accentuates the swoop of the valanced front fender nicely, and the chief’s face under the ebony Indian headdress shines like a beacon at night. Indian trimmed down the electronically adjustable windscreen just a tad and slapped on a wide, studded solo seat with a cush contour and thick padding. The list of factory Indian aftermarket accessories is extensive, from apehanger handlebars to saddlebag speakers to performance parts.

An Indian Chieftain Dark Horse that had already received the custom treatment by Hollister Powersports sat next to the stock bike on deck to further demonstrate its customization potential. While the taller 21-inch RC Components front hoop, the lights frenched into the rear, trimmed-down stock front fender and custom paint required some expertise, the rest of the transformation was achieved with factory accessories. Rey Sotelo, Hollister Powersports General Manager, has seen Indian Motorcycles come full circle. He was one of the figureheads of the Gilroy Indian team who didn’t have the engineering and resources its current owner, Polaris Industries, does. Sotelo said it was a privilege getting to be the first to put the custom treatment on the Indian Chieftain Dark Horse.

2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse test

‘Merica! American Iron tests out some American iron, the 2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse.

Our journey aboard the latest Chieftain began at the motorcycle’s press launch in San Pedro. From there, it was a lane-splitting blast up the 405 and Highway 101 to Pismo Beach. In Pismo we met up with the Why We Ride group for a scenic spin of the California coast on our way to Carmel for the Quail Motorcycle Gathering. After that, we charted a course for California State Routes 9 and 35, a wonderfully twisty strip in the Bay Area on our way to the popular biker hangout Alice’s Restaurant. Then it was over to Dublin to Arlen Ness Motorcycles to get the Chieftain Dark Horse its first 500 miles service job and to get the infernal “Change Oil Now” indicator to shut off. We polished it off with a blast up I-5 to Oregon, logging just over 1000 miles in five days. We’ve run it over just about every type of road, from fast sweepers to snaking ribbons of asphalt to highway miles. So far we’ve averaged 38 miles-per-gallon on the Indian Chieftain Dark Horse, but our journey’s not over yet.

Did we mention this particular bike we’re testing has the Thunder Stroke Stage 1 Slip-On Exhaust Kit, Thunder Stroke High Flow Air Cleaner, and Stage 2 Performance Cams? While you’ll have to wait for the full ride review in an upcoming issue of American Iron Magazine, right now all we can say is “Oh, snap!” Until then…

Be sure to check out back issues for other motorcycle reviews, custom bike features, tech and DIY articles and plenty more good stuff at Greaserag!

The Indian Chieftain Dark Horse called "The Redeemer"on the deck of USS Iowa.

Hollis Powersports built “The Redeemer” to demonstrate how a few fairly easy changes can transform the 2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse. 

2016 H-D FLD Dyna Switchback Review

H-D Switchback road test

NEW BIKE REVIEW by Dain Gingerelli 

Some motorcycles are best defined with a single word. The 2016 FLD Dyna Switchback is one of those bikes, and the best description for it is “versatile.” In fact, versatility is what led to the name Switchback, because owners can, by removing the quick-detach windshield and saddlebags, switch back from a touring bike to a cruiser in a matter of seconds. I’ll go one step further, though, suggesting that the Switchback also presents itself as a worthy all-around motorcycle, one you can log countless miles with during daily commutes or for cross-country travel. Yet if you venture onto a winding, twisty road, the Switchback rewards you with responsive handling, braking, and power, allowing you to feel comfortable in its contoured saddle all the while. That’s true versatility.

Even so, the Dyna Switchback has gained a reputation of sorts for being a lightweight motorcycle, one best reserved for newbies and women riders. Hardened Harley riders cite a few reasons, chief among them being the FLD’s relatively light weight (696 pounds, claimed dry weight), a wheelbase that’s a couple of inches shorter than any of the bigger FLH Electra Glides’ 64″ hub-to-hub span, and a friendly 26.1″ seat height (with a 180 pound rider on board) that allows anybody taller than Tom Thumb a favorable chance to flat-foot it during stops.

Short of its low seat height, though, the Dyna Switchback is every bit the full-on, long-distance motorcycle that any of the original Duo-Glide models happened to be when they ruled the roost for long-distance riding. As proof, let’s travel back in time to 1958, the year for the first Duo-Glide, Harley’s original touring model with front and rear suspension. According to most sources, the Duo-Glide, powered by a Panhead engine, weighed 648 pounds, and its 16″-diameter balloon tires were spread exactly 60″ apart. Interesting — those dimensions are comparable to the Switchback’s specs.

Spin our time machine’s needle forward 10 years and the FL — now powered by a Shovelhead engine and called the Electra Glide thanks to an electric start system that was added in 1965 — weighed a mere 680 pounds. By 1972, Harley had added enough styling and touring accessories to bulk up the bike to about 720 pounds, but those specs still cast yesterday’s Panhead- and Shovelhead-powered FLs in a league closer to the Switchback than to the FLH we have today.

If you’re still not convinced that the Switchback is a full-on touring motorcycle, consider what some of the magazine editors wrote about the Electra Glide of yore. The editors for Supercycle magazine offered this about the 1972 FLH in their March 1973 issue: “It is quite a feeling sitting on such a large hunk of machinery. First time FLH riders are somewhat reluctant to take it off the stand. It just doesn’t feel like anything else you’ve ever ridden — and it isn’t like anything else you’ve ever ridden.”

For the 2016 Harley Switchback  full ride review, custom bike features, tech stories and more,
CLICK HERE American Iron Magazine issue 333

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital

2016 Indian Motorcycle Scout Sixty Ride Review

2016-Indian-Scout-Sixty-5NEW BIKE REVIEW by Dain Gingerelli
Peaceful smoke signals be damned! Indian Motorcycle is on the warpath to establish itself as a key player in the American motorcycle market. The tribe tripled its number last year with the introduction of three more models – the Scout, Roadmaster, and Dark Horse – and 2016 brings another addition to Indian’s brave new world. Meet the Scout Sixty, a motorcycle that’s bound to make new friends among a growing legion of Indian owners and enthusiasts.

People already familiar with the Scout might look at the new Scout Sixty and state the obvious: “It looks just like the Scout. There doesn’t appear to be any difference between the two bikes.” And, of course, those people would be correct in that assumption because the Scout Sixty does look much like the Scout. They even share the same identification tags, and you won’t see any “Sixty” script on that model, either. Close scrutiny, however, reveals that the Scout Sixty has less chrome and fewer sexy bare-metal machined surfaces on its engine cases and cylinders. Ditto for its black cast-aluminum wheels, and the Scout’s cast-aluminum frame is finished in a roughneck charcoal gray compared to the Sixty’s more conventional black coating, although both share the same design and dimensions. There’s also a difference in handlebars; the Scout has a chromed bar on black risers, the Scout Sixty has black on black. The seats are noticeably different, too: The Sixty’s pillion is covered with black vinyl, while the Scout’s passenger quarters are finished in the classic Desert Tan leather, although both solo seats are about 25.3″ off the deck.
2016-Indian-Scout-Sixty-9
So what gives? Why the big deal about the Scout Sixty? The big deal concerns its smaller retail price, $8,999, versus the Scout’s $11,299. And that’s a big deal because Indian Motorcycle hopes to recruit new riders with this price-leader model.

Obviously, achieving that $2,300 price spread required some cost cutting, and to do that, engineers were told to eliminate some components of the original Scout design. In a nutshell, the major cuts, in addition to the cosmetic changes mentioned above, include trimming engine size from 1133cc (69″) to 999cc (61″) and eliminating one set of cogs from the Scout’s six-speed transmission.  And, yes, the bike got its name from engine size, and we can only guess that Sixty had a better ring to it than Sixty-One.

Both of those cost-cutting steps were actually planned by Indian’s engineering staff long ago. When Indian Motor­cycle mapped out the original Scout’s corporate mission statement, it also decided that the new model would serve as the basis for a future price-leader model as well. Taking that route allowed the bean counters to amortize the research and development expenses between both models, thus allowing them to price the new Sixty an incremental amount less than the standard Scout’s 2016 MSRP of $11,299.


Reducing engine displacement was a rather straightforward process, using cylinder sleeves with smaller bore diameters – 2.898″ versus 3.661″ – to gain the sub-1000cc goal. According to Indian, the meatier cylinder walls account for the Sixty’s extra four pounds (claimed dry weight of 542 pounds) over the Scout’s dry weight of 538 pounds. Although the induction system retains the same 60mm throttle body, the ECU was remapped to compensate for the Sixty’s decreased combustion chamber size. There’s good news at the exhaust end, too; the Sixty’s stacked chromed mufflers resonate the same low burble that’s familiar from the Scout.

For the full ride review, custom bike features, tech stories and more,
CLICK HERE American Iron Magazine issue 333

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital

2016 Harley Fat Boy S Ride And Review

2016-Fat-Boy-S-42016-Fat-Boy-S-2NEW BIKE REVIEWby Dain Gingerelli
Here’s a quick quiz for Harley aficionados: when is a Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) model not really a CVO model? Answer: when it’s a 2016 FLSTFBS Fat Boy S or FLSS Slim S.

And Harley’s two new S model Softails certainly are big news for one very big reason: both bikes are powered by the vaunted Screamin’ Eagle 110″ engine package, the same powerplant typically reserved only for CVO bikes. As a bonus, the S model upgrade also includes electronic cruise control and Harley’s exclusive security system ignition as standard features that otherwise are options for the base-model FLSTF Fat Boy and FLS Slim.

Of course, nothing in life is really free, and in this case, adding the big S to the model name adds $3,000 to the Fat Boy’s MSRP — the FLSTFBS’ $19,699 versus $16,699 for the FLTFB (Vivid Black models in each case). The spread for the Slim’s MSRP is slightly more at $3,600 (Vivid Black). Remember, though, the price of the S includes the security system and cruise control that, when ordered separately, are worth nearly $1,000 retail. So in the case of our feature model, the Fat Boy S, it’s like upgrading a 103″ Beta engine for about $2,000. Good luck finding a dealer that will perform a comparable engine upgrade for anything near that price, and keep in mind that the full factory warranty applies, too.

2016-Fat-Boy-S-5There are a few other identifiable features that separate the Fat Boy S from the standard Fat Boy or even the Fat Boy Lo besides the S being what Harley terms “the darkest Fat Boy ever.” Foremost, you won’t find much chrome or polished parts on the S. Black is the order of the day, and the upper tins and fork lowers, even the mufflers, have distinct blacked-out finishes. Adding to the Dark Custom
persona are the Fat Boy’s iconic dish aluminum wheels that have black centers highlighted by machined rim surfaces.

However, these blacked-out features take a backseat to the all-black engine. Foremost, the oval Screamin’ Eagle Ventilator air cleaner cover, sporting faux carbon fiber inserts, has the words Screamin’ Eagle on the surface. Let your eyes scan left or right from there and you’ll see those same words again, this time on the cylinder heads just beneath the 110″ engine’s distinct blacked-out rocker covers.

But it’s what’s inside that really counts, and if you had a big red S on your chest, X-ray vision would let you see through the black engine cases of the Fat Boy S to view the 4″-bore pistons in each cylinder that, when combined with the Twin Cam’s standard 4.374″ stroke, yields 110″ (in metric-ese that’s 1801cc) displacement. The cams have slightly more aggressive shapes to their lobes, too, all in the interest of bigger performance. No other Softail model, with the exception of the Slim S, offers that.

Read the full review, pick up American Iron issue 330.

2016 H-D Road Glide Ultra Ride and Review

2016-Road-Glide-Ultra-22016-Road-Glide-Ultra-7NEW BIKE REVIEW • by Dain Gingerelli
It’s back! after a two-year hiatus, harley’s fltru Road Glide Ultra rejoins the Touring lineup, reporting for duty and sporting the same Project RUSHMORE amenities and upgrades — right down to the Boom! Box audio system and GPS touchscreen feature — found on the other FL models.

The FLTRU’s long-distance prowess shouldn’t have surprised me, either; only minutes after plopping my fanny onto our Road Glide Ultra’s soft and cushy saddle, I was reminded that this bike is indeed meant for all-day touring. That, of course, prompted me to plan my own all-day ride on our Cosmic Blue Pearl model, and so I mapped out a course taking me to the lower desert here in Southern California, looping home 300 miles later.


Word was out that a couple of SoCal’s hip street artists — Bandit and Spamoni — had recently finished an installation piece at Salvation Mountain, a noted landmark situated a few miles east of the Salton Sea in Imperial Valley, so I decided to see for myself, using that as my turnaround point. The man-made mountain, composed of adobe mud that’s been colorfully painted, was created by the late Leonard Knight to convey his message to the world about God. Leonard began his project in 1984 when he originally settled in Slab City, an apocalyptic-like community of ramshackle structures and rickety motor homes adjacent to what eventually became Salvation Mountain. The makeshift city and funky mountain proved to be the perfect destination for my ride on the new Ultra.

For this full ride review pick up American Iron Issue 331.

2016-Road-Glide-Ultra-specs

2016 H-D Sportster Forty-Eight Ride Review

2016-Harley-48-review-32016-Harley-48-review-7NEW BIKE REVIEWby Dain Gingerelli
Two things you should know about the 48 and all other Sportsters in Harley-Davidson’s 2016 lineup. First, Harley harbors no plans to relinquish rights to the XL model now or anytime soon. Despite focusing much of its energy and resources during the past three years  on Project RUSHMORE technology for Touring models, there’s still a need for the smaller, sportier XL bikes in dealer showrooms. Secondly – and as proof that Harley is serious about its XL models – the 2016 Sportsters sport some much welcomed updates. And so, to paraphrase Mark Twain: the reports of the Sportster’s death are greatly exaggerated.


In fact, just the opposite holds true for the XL lineup, and to re-energize interest in this year’s models Harley engineers put new spring into the Sportster’s step. Literally, new spring, because this year’s Sportsters check in with new suspension front and rear, creating what amounts to a gentler, friendlier motorcycle to ride. Oh, all of the Sportsters still retain the rough, raw-bone edge that’s earmarked the model since its inception in 1957, but the fact remains that improved suspension has smoothed out the ride for 2016.

For this full ride review pick up American Iron issue 332.

2016-Sportster-48-specs

New Model Preview – 2016 Victory Magnum X-1

322-22-2_12016 Victory Magnum X-1

Ingredients for a sound performance

text by Dain Gingerelli
photograph courtesy of Victory Motorcycles

With all the noise that came from Polaris Industries’ Indian camp this past year or so, it was only a matter of time before the other motorcycle company from Minnesota broke its silence. And when Victory Motor­cycles decided it was time to be heard, the ruckus came in a big way: a new Magnum-based bagger that pipes 200 watts of audio amped into 10 speakers. Let’s hear it for the Magnum X-1!

“This bike is built to shatter the sound barrier,” says Brandon Kraemer, Victory’s product manager, during the X-1’s special sneak preview at an audio-video studio in Simi Valley, California, last January. Kramer was speaking in figurative terms, of course. His words were aimed at those 10 speakers — six of which reside in the fairing dash, the remainder in the bag lids — that are poised and ready to broadcast whatever tunes you deem worthy of playing through the onboard audio system. For the most part, the sound system’s controls are the same as those on the standard Magnum because the X-1 is essentially a reissue of that model, but with bolder acoustics and a wilder display of paint graphics (Victory describes the red pinstripes as Electric Red), and contrast-machined components that include an all-new 21″ black billet front wheel design. There’s also a sun-bright, smoke-tinted LED headlight that can practically melt your retinas to light the way.

322-22-1

Kraemer’s reference to the sound barrier explains the Magnum’s X-1 moniker, too. The first man to break the sound barrier was US Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager, and he did so back in 1947 piloting the experimental rocket-powered aircraft Bell X-1. Victory’s new Magnum X-1 won’t necessarily take you near Mach 1, but people at Victory are hedging their bets that the 200-watt audio system is loud enough to break another sound barrier, of sorts. You want loud tunes while you ride? The X-1 will deliver, claimed by Victory to be four times louder than a standard Cross Country. And, to drive home that fact, the folks from Victory parked one of the new bikes in the acoustically rich sound studio where they cranked up the volume. Simon and Garfunkel’s classic “Sounds of Silence” most certainly was not on the play list. Indeed, the Magnum X-1 might be the vanguard of future models from the Minnesota-based motorcycle company because Polaris is poised to ramp up Victory’s role in how it markets motorcycles. Victory Brand General Manager Rod Krois explained that the motorcycle community should expect even more diversity between Indian and Victory models in the future, with America’s oldest brand (Indian) taking the lead in producing designs heavy on heritage while Victory will develop and produce what Polaris calls “performance and muscle” — cruisers and baggers such as the X-1.

322-22-4“We are investing in motorcycles,” Krois explains to motorcycling’s gathered fourth estate, and any doubt about that was left on the table when that same day Victory announced that it was going NHRA Pro-Stock racing. With ambitions to crack into the hotly contested quarter-mile drag racing arena, Victory is teaming up with S&S Cycle to develop an engine and dragster for two-time NHRA champion Matt Smith and his wife/co-rider Angie to compete in the Pro-Stock class this year.

“We’re going to take on Harley,” one Victory spokesperson confides. And his words will be verified by the time this issue of American Iron Magazine hits the newsstands because the NHRA season will already have begun with the first race at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

322-22-5No doubt the American V-twin landscape is becoming more and more interesting as time goes by. On one front, we’ve now got more than one American-made brand battling at NHRA race tracks, and we’ll have American baggers vying on the chorus line to see which bike is the loudest. So far the Magnum X-1 has top honors from Victory’s camp. And you can be a part of the magic, too, by underwriting the X-1’s MSRP to the tune of $24,499. AIM

This article originally appeared in American Iron Magazine issue # 322, published June 2015. To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com.
 
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New Bike Review – 2015 H-D Dyna Low Rider

324-18-42015 H-D Dyna Low Rider

Versatility of a Swiss Army knife

text and photography by Dain Gingerelli

Here’s a recap of my workweek: after meddling with various tasks in my office Monday morning, I snuck out on the FXDL Dyna Low Rider for lunch at the big-box store, otherwise known as Costco. I’m an easy mark for Costco’s hot dog and coke combo, especially at the price, a buck fifty. I also can’t pass up an opportunity to get out of the office to ride bikes like the Low Rider, so the prospect of munching on that dog and coke sounded even more appealing as I saddled up.

In fact, my whole week went much like Monday.  Tuesday, I rode the Low rider through nearby Silverado Canyon in California to check if the US Forest Service had opened the gate to the dirt road leading up the Saddleback landmark. My best friend and I were planning a ride up that hill on our dual-sport bikes; if the gate was open, we would ride up the following weekend. It wasn’t open, but I still took the opportunity last tuesday to enjoy lunch on the way home at the Silverado Cafe, always a treat. The Low Rider waited patiently outside, its sidestand down, while I dined on a greasy, delicious burger inside.

I began writing this review first thing Wednesday morning, but soon enough, I reasoned that I probably should put some more miles on the Dyna to really “get a feel” for what the bike is about, so off I went, southbound on Interstate-5, taking me past Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. It’s a pleasant ride, with wide, sweeping vistas of the blue Pacific Ocean to my right, and the route takes me past the Basilone Road exit, named in honor of Marine Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism at the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. Later during the war, he was awarded the Navy cross for his heroics at the Battle of Iwo Jima where he lost his life in further combat. I always pay my respects to the sergeant with a moment of silence from the saddle whenever I pass that exit. The Dyna Low Rider was in full stride, too, the Twin Cam 103″ engine purring smoothly the soothing din from its collector exhaust ever so discernible above the wind blast around my Arai helmet. It was as if the Low Rider knew that this particular gunny sergeant deserved respect.

And on Thursday, I heard about a new wall mural by street artist Bandit, so I rode the Dyna to nearby San Clemente to check out his handiwork with the spray cans, and now it’s Friday morning, and I’m staring at a deadline for this bike review. I’ll admit, too, that it was easier today to leave the Low Rider in my garage because its rear Michelin Scorcher “31” tire had, at some point during my week’s travels, developed a slow leak. Good excuse as any, I guess, to get back to work.

The Dyna Low Rider has a way of doing that, distracting you from everyday life. The bike is so congenial to all manner of street riding that you’ll feel confident taking it anywhere and everywhere there’s pavement. care to carve through a canyon, following the serpentine road as it snakes left to right? Not a problem because this Dyna’s steering is deliberate and precise, especially considering the FXDL’s cruiser roots date back to 1977. The Michelin rubber — 100/90-19″ up front and 160/70-17″ on the rear — do a fine job of gripping the asphalt, so you never feel off balance.

Like what you see? The full article is in American Iron Magazine issue # 324, NOW ON NEWSSTANDS! To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com.
 
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New Bike Review – 2014 H-D FXDC Super Glide Custom

SuperGlide1One of The Motor Company’s longest-standing models

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.SG 3-4 rearThe 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.

SG cockpitThe 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.

SG ridingOverall, 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.
 
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2015 H-D Road Glide Special – Preview

RoadGlide ride

On The Road Again

By Dain Gingerelli, photos by Pam Proctor

 

The collective sigh of relief emanating from South Dakota’s Black Hills last August was justified. The occasion marked the return of the Road Glide to Harley-Davidson’s lineup, and fans of the shark-nosed model were delighted to see the 2015 version rolling through the streets of Deadwood when Harley-Davidson unveiled the updated Touring bike.

Missing in action for 2014 when The Motor Company first unveiled its Project RUSHMORE collection of Touring models, the Road Glide returns with plenty of improvements for 2015, making this the best Road Glide yet. It includes all the major features found on the revamped 2014 Electra Glide platform. Fittingly, the reveal took place near Mt. Rushmore, located within the epicenter of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. There are two 2015 models, the Road Glide (the base model, if you will, with a starting MSRP of $20,899 for Vivid Black) and the Road Glide Special (boasting additional features that boost MSRP to $23,199). I had the opportunity to spend the bulk of the Sturgis rally aboard the Special, and I can tell you that the model lives up to its name.

RoadGlide1First, a quick rundown of the RUSHMORE features shared by both: the 103″ engine received the High Output upgrades that boost torque to 104.7 ft-lbs. at 3250 rpm, and the chromed air cleaner cover, emblazoned with the 103 signature logo, shares the same new shape that marks all RUSHMORE models. The compression ratio is set at 9.7:1, and the rest of the powertrain retains the usual chain primary, Cruise Drive six-speed transmission, and belt final drive found on every new Big Twin. The fork now boasts the hefty 49mm fork legs and reinforced triple trees found on RUSHMORE models, and Brembo brakes — 300mm rotors pinched by two four-piston calipers up front and one in the rear — whoa the 849 pound (claimed wet weight) Road Glide. The Special also includes the RUSHMORE-bred Reflex Linked braking system with ABS as part of the package. Harley claims suspension travel for both models to be 4.6″ front and 2.1″ rear, the difference being that the Road Glide relies on air adjustability while the Special has the mechanically adjustable rear suspension for more precise damping and spring preload. The claimed seat height for both models is set at 27.8″ (unladen).

Naturally, too, both new Road Glides are equipped with the easy-open saddlebags. These lockable bags have slightly wider mouths for more convenient loading and unloading of gear, one-touch latches and a total capacity of 2.3 cubic feet. RoadGlide fairingTwo additional smaller, yet surprisingly spacious, storage bins with easy-open lids are found in the fairing, and that’s also where you’ll find many of the Road Glide’s other new features.

At a glance, the shark-nose fairing looks much like the wind cutter found on previous Road Glide models…

 

So how’s the ride? Pick up your copy of our November 2014 issue to read the rest of our review!

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