2015 Indian Scout Ride Review – Preview

2015-Indian-Scout-previewNEW BIKE REVIEW by Dain Gingerelli

Noah Webster and company can add a new definition to the word overachiever to their lexicon. And the definition is exactly three words long: Indian Motorcycle Company. Consider that less than three years after mother ship Polaris Industries purchased the left-for-dead carcass of a company in early 2011, the first three Indian preproduction prototypes (Chief Classic, Vintage, and Chieftain) appeared in the metal at the 2013 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. By October of that same year, the first production models were on dealer showrooms, waiting to be sold. Less than a year later, the Roadmaster (see AIM issue #315) appeared. Overachieving, indeed.

But then the overachieving got kooky, because to kickstart the week-long Sturgis rally for 2014, Indian unveiled the all-new-for-2015 Scout at what was certainly one of the wildest new-model launches in memory.

For our full ride review and photos pick up American Iron Magazine‘s
November issue #316.

The PRINT EDITION hits newsstands October 14.
Subscribe and receive the next issue weeks before it goes on-sale.

The DIGITAL EDITION is available for instant download TODAY!

2015 Victory Motorcycles New Bike Specs – Preview

2015-Victory-Motorcycles-previewNEW BIKE SPECSby Steven Wyman-Blackburn

The fact that Polaris industries’ first venture into the motorcycle world turned 15 years old last year is a pretty big deal. Victory’s base of operations is rooted in a country that prides itself for developing some of motorcycling’s firsts (some argue best) products, and putting them on the shelf among the oldest brands in the industry.

Having to roll out against such competition, Victory had to shout loudly in order to be heard. Victory’s 3/20-of-a-century celebration in 2014 was spearheaded by an anniversary edition of its Cross Country Tour model (a motorcycle which, as Victory made sure to proclaim, sported the largest-ever storage space at 41.1 gallons). This was soon followed by the continuation of the Ness series with Arlen Ness checking off the Cross Country bagger from his Ness/Victory bucket list. However, this bike received extra attention from all three Ness generations — another industry first.

For our complete New Victory specs and photos pick up American Iron Magazine‘s
November issue #316.

The PRINT EDITION hits newsstands October 14.
Subscribe and receive the next issue weeks before it goes on-sale.

The DIGITAL EDITION is available for instant download today!

Motorcycle News: New 2015 Indian Roadmaster Revealed, Ridden and Reviewed

2015-Indian-Roadmaster-1Over the years our urge to explore and travel long distance on two wheels remained, but somewhere along the way our expectation of comfort and functionality from our motorcycles evolved . And various OEM and aftermarket manufacturers are more than happy to offer us shiny new machines and accessories to keep us happy, safe and smiling. One of them is the recently reborn Indian Motorcyle company, which unveiled three impressive new motorcycles at last year’s Sturgis Rally & Races.

2015-Indian-Roadmaster-2Let me introduce you to their next new model – the 2015 Indian Roadmaster. It would be easy to dismiss it as last year’s Chieftain with lowers and a trunk. And in a way you’d be correct, but there is more to this 2015 Indian. They include the chrome fender tips, recontoured windshield, and front and rear highway bars. And, less obvious, are features to increase your creature comforts like the electrically heated grips and seats.

2015-Indian-Roadmaster-3So, you might be asking, what’s the deal with the new 2015 Indian Roadmaster and how does it perform? In a phrase, I like it. Start with the smooth and plentiful power delivery of the ample 111 cubic inch Thunderstroke engine. Pass that power through the exceptionally smooth six-speed transmission and you have a powerful and smooth set up ideal for around town or hitting the highways. Like all full size touring motorcycle these days, the Indian Roadmaster looks big, yet it handles like a much smaller machine.

You can read the rest of Buzz Kanter’s ride review of the 2015 Indian Roadmaster in issue #315 of American Iron Magazine in print (subscribe at PRINT SUBSCRIPTION, or on-line at DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION)

Ride Review – 2014 Harley-Davidson FLSTN Softail Deluxe

softail riding

Making Nostalgia New Again

By Dain Gingerelli

Photos by Riles & Nelson

 

Nostalgia has a way of picking you up by your pant cuffs, turning you on your head, and shaking yesterday right out of your pockets. It happens more subtly, though, if you ride a Softail Deluxe, aka FLSTN — and the N doesn’t stand for Neluxe, either.

The N was initially attached to the FLST family name in 1993 to create the FLSTN Heritage Softail Nostalgia, a bike that gained the unenviable nickname “Cow Glide” because its seat and saddlebags had genuine black-and-white Holstein calfhide inserts to give it a touch of, well, nostalgia. Practically oozing chrome from end to end, and sporting an old-time, two-tone paint scheme, the Nostalgia offered Harleyites a quick trip down memory lane to the glory days of Hydra Glides and Panheads. The following year, Harley stylists scaled back on the Nostalgia’s excess, stitching all-black leather inserts into the saddle for a more conventional look. By 1996, the FLSTN became known as the Heritage Softail Special until it was dropped the following year to make way for another nostalgia-based model, the FLSTS Heritage Springer. It wasn’t until model-year 2005 that the FLSTN officially returned to the lineup, this time in the form of the Softail Deluxe. For the past nine years, the FLSTN has retained essentially the same styling features that made it a favorite among certain enthusiasts in 2005, with year-to-year updates applied mainly to the drivetrain, paint, and such.

The 2014 Softail Deluxe resembles what was first offered nearly 10 years ago, although the optional wild and flamboyant Hard Candy Voodoo Purple Flake paint job is something you couldn’t find on any FLSTN until recently. Actually, the wild purple paint scheme you see here (the FLSTN is also available with optional Sand Pearl/Canyon Brown Pearl in addition to the standard solids and two-tones) is a product of Harley-Davidson’s Hard Candy Custom color program, a recent upgrade list that allows Harley customers to personalize certain new models such as the FLSTN at the dealer level. Fittingly, candy and metalflake colors created by the Hard Candy Custom paint crew have their roots in the 1950s when auto painters like Larry Watson, George Barris, Joe Bailon, and Von Dutch began experimenting with wild colors for their custom cars. Thanks to Watson and Von Dutch in particular, the colors spilled over into the motorcycle arena, and by the 1970s Art Himsl, Ron Finch, and others were applying candy, metalflake, and pearl toners to their custom motorcycle paint jobs. softail4The quality and application of the Hard Candy Custom paint jobs are on level with reputable custom paint shops today, making this upgrade a bargain for people who don’t have a custom painter nearby.

Yet, while the Hard Candy Custom colors remain an option, ABS is a standard feature for the 2014 Softail Deluxe. Single front and rear rotors measuring 11-1/2″ in diameter are pinched by four-piston and two-piston calipers (front and rear respectively) to deliver a 30-mph panic-stopping distance of 33′. Hand lever and foot pedal feedback remain positive and linear while slowing the 695-pound (claimed dry weight) Deluxe during normal riding, and the classic chrome bell covering the front hub’s right side remains a styling trademark for nostalgia-based FLST models with glide front ends. Perched atop the fork is a nostalgic 7″ ball headlight. Our test bike has traditional hubs laced to chrome steel rims that are wrapped with Harley-Davidson Series Dunlop wide whitewall tires to further the nostalgia theme. Tubeless chrome aluminum rims are optional for the FLSTN, while tire sizes remain MT90-16″ front and a slightly wider MU85-16″ rear for either selection.

Perhaps the FLSTN’s trademark feature is the abundance of chrome that’s found throughout. We’ve got chromed beer can covers on the fork uppers, a chromed tank console with electronic speedometer housing, a chromed luggage rack that’s especially handy and useful for toting odds and ends during day rides, chromed engine covers, chromed oil bag, chromed highway bar and lights, chromed handlebar pullback risers, and the list goes on to make this one of the shiniest bikes in Harley’s lineup.

softail cockpitThose pullback risers create another hallmark feature found on the Softail Deluxe, and that’s a seating position favoring people built low to the ground. The risers place the traditional stainless steel handlebar closer to the rider, and the low seat (24-1/2″ high with a 180-pound rider on board) tapered up front to assist riders when placing both boots firmly on the pavement at stops. When coupled with the stylish and spacious footboards, the FLSTN represents a Softail that inspires confidence for short riders and new riders alike. For comparison, I stand about 5’8″ and, in truth, the FLSTN’s cockpit feels too confining. Replace the pullback risers with stand-up risers, and I’m guessing the rider triangle formed by the handlebar/seat/footboards would be more suitable for me.

But one thing that FLSTN riders of all sizes and experience levels will enjoy is the solid-mount, internally balanced Twin Cam 103″ engine’s power delivery. Harley claims 97.4 ft-lbs. torque at 3000 rpm, which is enough to launch the Softail Deluxe smoothly and quickly off the line. The stacked shotgun mufflers deliver a DOT-legal, yet deep, resonating tone, and with fuel mileage averaging between 38-45 mpg (Harley, with the EPA’s blessing, touts 42 mpg), you’ll go about 200 miles before refilling the 5-gallon gas tank. Roll-on performance from the air-cooled engine is about what you should expect from any of Harley’s Big Twin-powered models. Our 20-50 mph sprint in second gear netted a time of 3.5 seconds, and 60-80 mph in fifth took 4.4 seconds. Click the heel/toe shift lever to put the six-speed Cruise Drive transmission into top gear and the engine lopes along at a relaxing 2600 rpm while cruising 70 mph, verifiable by thumbing the gear indicator command with the rocker switch on the left hand control. Nice, and much better than any Hydra Glide could have delivered 60-some years ago.

softail soloNo doubt, the FLSTN’s styling projects a link to yesteryear when Big Twin Harleys were known for their eccentric lines and lavish chrome trim. But with the blink of an eye and a twist of the FLSTN’s throttle, you easily find yourself back to the present as electronic fuel injection, ABS, and modern suspension prove that a lot has changed since the days of the Hydra Glide, reminding us that nostalgia isn’t necessarily reality. The Softail Deluxe is proof of that. AIM

 

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of American Iron Magazine. To order a copy, please visit Greaserag.com.

 

New Bike Review: 2014 VRSCF V-Rod Muscle

Vrod1

Using Aluminum to Pump Iron

By Dain Gingerelli, photos by Riles & Nelson

 

Sometimes you need to apply bully tactics to get certain things done. Consider Harley’s marketing for the V-Rod: in the years following its 2002 launch, V-Rod sales floundered. The all-silver, dish-wheeled power cruiser that looked like it was chiseled from a single chunk of billet aluminum never caught on with the Harley crowd. Subsequent iterations using the 60-degree, liquid-cooled, double-overhead cam V-twin engine also underwhelmed potential buyers, including the younger bike crowd that the V-Rod was intended to capture in the first place. The solution for improving V-Rod sales, suggested someone in Harley’s marketing department, was to apply some strong-arm tactics — you know, muscle — to the market.

And so, for model year 2009, Harley-Davidson did just that with the VRSCF V-Rod Muscle, a variation of the metric model that boasted a bolder, brawnier stance. The Muscle was a chest blow to the industry, and when enthusiasts regained their collective breath, many customers agreed that the V-Rod’s new look was becoming of its name. Consequently, V-Rod sales gained strength and momentum, and the Muscle has been pulling its fair share of the load for Harley-Davidson ever since.

To achieve the new look Harley injected steroids directly into the V-Rod’s body panels. The Muscle’s signature V-Rod faux gas tank is wider and beefier, and racy mesh-screen vents replaced the caricature front louvers found on the original model. Interestingly, the bulky radiator shroud behind the fork was given a cleaner, leaner look, and both wider fenders were bobbed; the demonstrably wide rear fender shrouds a massive 240mm Michelin Scorcher 11 radial tire. Beefy handlebars that are intricately cast from aluminum shore up the equally massive-looking inverted fork, and, to help balance the visual aesthetics, the V-Rod’s familiar stacked mufflers were rerouted, one per side, with styling to mimic the big cans seen on a Corvette L-88 from the muscle car era 40-some years ago.

V-Rod 4Indeed, the fork’s 43mm inverted legs and triple trees also look as if they were whittled from solid billet aluminum, and to underscore the bike’s racy appearance, all but the EFI throttle cables and hydraulic brake and clutch lines are routed within the handlebars. Notice, too, that there are no ungainly turn signal stalks protruding like antlers from the fork legs — the billet-looking mirror stems serve as housings for the amber LED turn signal lights that double as running lights for greater visibility. Similar stealth-like concealment of exterior illumination is found at the rear, where integrated LED taillight and turn signals are form-fit to the arching fender. You get the impression that the guys manning the CNC machines played a role in sculpting the three-face instrument cluster, too. Positioned at the top of the steering stem are three overlapping analog gauges that, from left to right, include the 10000 rpm tach (but engine redline is set at only 9000 rpm), 150-mph speedometer (the Muscle won’t reach that speed, but the numbers staring back at you are impressive nonetheless), and fuel gauge (especially important when considering the bike’s fuel range — more on that later). The reset button for the electronic odometer/trip meter/clock is found at bottom center of the instrument housing. It’s somewhat of a stretch when reaching for the odo’s reset button and handgrips, for that matter, because the Muscle’s bucket-like seat positions you rather far back on the frame. And while the seat’s abbreviated backrest offers ample support — especially during hard-charging, off-the-line launches, which the Muscle does with gusto — foot and hand controls are placed well forward, creating a clamshell riding position much like a member of the 101st Airborne making a jump behind enemy lines. Seat height is set at 25.6″ (with a 180-pound rider), and the combination promotes the seating posture you expect from a power cruiser such as this. That’s not to say that it’s the most comfortable riding position, though; your lower back will begin to feel the stress after about an hour or so in the saddle. That seat time equates to about two-thirds of a tank of gas, because the V-Rod delivers 30-or-so mpg. Harley advertises 37 mpg (combined city and highway), but our test figures penciled out to a low of 27 and a high of 32 mpg. Tank capacity is advertised at 5 gallons, and you’ll find the fuel filler under the flip-up seat.

V-Rod 3There’s a reason for those somewhat dismal fuel mileage figures. Horsepower requires btu (British thermal units), and to raise those you need to burn plenty of high-octane gasoline in the Muscle’s motor. The Muscle delivers its fuel through electronic sequential port fuel injection that’s nestled under the faux tank. The four-valve heads pack the fuel charge within 1247cc (76″) worth of cylinders that have an 11.5:1 compression ratio. With a bore and stroke of 4.130″ and 2.835″ respectively, the Muscle revs fast, delivering 87 ft-lbs. of torque at 6750 rpm. Power delivery is seamless from as low as 2000 rpm up to redline, although the slick-shifting five-speed transmission encourages you to liberally select gears for the occasion. A slipper clutch (officially marketed as Assist-and-Slip, or A&S) reduces the effects of engine braking during downshifts, and clutch pull at the lever is rather light, offering positive feedback, too.

But when you grab a fist full of throttle, you’ll leave those facts and figures, and possibly your stomach, at the line. All that matters is how wickedly quick the V-Rod Muscle can be, with plenty of punch in any gear. Our second-gear roll-ons generated a time of 2.6 seconds from 20-50 mph, which is only a tenth of a second quicker than our 60-80 sprint in fourth gear. These acceleration times for Big Twins are generally about a second or so apart, favoring the 20-50 sprint. Why the tight spread with the Muscle? Transmission gear ratios are a key factor. Simply, fourth gear at 60 mph (4500 rpm) puts the engine near its torque band so the rear tire is already feeling the effect of horsepower. On the other hand, the lower gears are fairly steep, keeping engine rpm low so it takes a millisecond longer for the 1,247cc engine to spool up to power.

Regardless, the engine’s power is delivered smooth and strong, and once up to cruising speed, the Muscle produces a pleasant ride with little vibration present. Complementing the engine’s smooth power delivery is suspension with evenly matched spring and damping rates for an overall controlled ride. Suspension travel is advertised at 4″ (front) and 2.9″ (rear), so expect to bottom out on bigger bumps and ruts, with more positive feedback under less stressful road conditions. Steering geometry suggests a slow-steering bike. With rake and trail set at 34 degrees and 5.6″ respectively and the huge 240mm-wide tire pushing from behind, the Muscle, indeed, requires initial muscling on the hand-grips during turn-in for corners. V-Rod 1BThe big tire also promotes a slightly unsteady feel while holding a curvy line on a twisty road, but if you maintain a reasonable pace the 640-pound (dry weight) bike feels manageable and steady. You’ll gain equal confidence while braking because the Muscle comes standard this year with ABS (anti-lock braking system). And with three (two front, one rear) four-piston Brembo brakes coupled with two rather large tire contact patches (tire sizes are 120/70ZR-19″ front, 240/40R-18″ rear) the Muscle can stop quickly. Our 30-0 panic stops measured 22′, and feedback through the brake controls is smooth and positive.

Boasting raw-bone styling and sizzling acceleration matched with dazzling deceleration performance, a MSRP of $15,849 (Vivid Black; $16,174 for solid colors such as our Charcoal Pearl test bike and $16,384 for two-tones), and ABS as a standard feature, the Muscle represents the best bargain ever for a V-Rod. AIM

 

This story originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of American Iron Magazine. To order a back issue, visit Greaserag.com.

HARLEY EXCLUSIVE! First Ride Harley Street 750

Harley_Street_750_4Harley_Street_750_1American Iron Magazine was given an exclusive sneak preview of Harley-Davidson’s new Street 750 last week, and our first ride on this international model, which is also available in the US, was rather revealing. First, we should point out that our ride was aboard a special preproduction model, so developmental changes are still in the works at this point, and what will ultimately be offered in showrooms could differ a bit from what we rode.

The Street will be offered with a choice of engines (what Harley terms the new Revolution X engine) — the 750 and the smaller 500 for Harley’s Riding Academy rider-training program that select dealers host. Our guess is that the 750 will find favor with actual customers on these shores because both models share the same chassis platform, the only difference being in engine size. Bigger is better. It’s the American way.

And the 749cc engine that’s nestled in the Street’s steel-tube frame offers smooth power delivery practically from the moment you twist the throttle to open the Mikuni electronic fuel injection’s single 38mm throttle body. Power is seamless, and Harley claims 44.3 ft-lbs. torque at 4000 rpm. Roll-on power is good, even in sixth (top) gear, but the Street especially rewards its rider with robust acceleration in the lower gears, which is to be expected since Harley bills the model as a bike “for an urban environment.”

To that end, Harley designers gave the Street a well-padded seat that’s 27.9″ off the deck, narrow handlebars for filtering through traffic during those in-town stoplight crawls, and minimal trail (4-1/2″) for snappy steering response. The front and rear two-piston disc brakes offer a vague, wooden feel during hard-braking situations. Sources at Harley tell us that engineers are still working with suppliers concerning specific brake pad material that will be on the final models when sales begin later this spring, so hopefully the problem will be resolved by then.

Harley_Street_750_3Harley_Street_750_2The Street’s suspension felt adequate for urban riding, delivering a rather smooth ride over most road conditions we encountered. The urban jungle is teeming with potholes and other irregularities in the road surface, so good spring and damping rates were paramount in the bike’s development.

Overall, the fit and finish is impressive, although some of the control switches are made of plastic, necessary for keeping a low MSRP. Count on the production models to live up to Harley’s standards.

Finally, let’s get back to the Street’s 749cc engine. Even though the Street is intended for life in the city, we took our test bike out to a country road to stretch its legs. Without effort — and with me sitting bolt upright in the saddle, a comfortable place, I might add — our preproduction bike easily registered 100 mph on its round, analog speedometer. An abbreviated fuel mileage run netted 47 mpg (Harley claims 41 mpg), and that figure included the WFO 100-mph run.

The Street should be in showrooms soon. Our guess is that this bike could lead to various subcultures embracing the Harley family. In particular, look for youthful café racer and street tracker hot rods to evolve from this new Dark Custom. More importantly, though, look for a lot of new riders to use the Street to embark on their own journey into the world of two-wheel fun.

Review By Dain GingerelliPhotos by Alfonse Palaima

Our full ride review will be in issue #311, which hits newsstands May 27 and reaches subscribers a little earlier.

 

Harley 2014 Motorcycles With New Air And Precision Cooled V-Twin

14-hd-electra-glide-ultra-limitedhd-project-rushmore-engineWe have boots on the ground at Harley’s 2014 model launch in Denver, CO., and see that H-D’s added more than just a re-badge and paint scheme option this year. The motor company has introduction a brand new air and precision cooled powerplant to run some of their larger touring bikes.

Harley’s new 2014 Ultra Limited features the company’s new Twin-Cooled™ High Output Twin Cam 103™ engine, Reflex™ Linked Brakes with ABS, electronic cruise control, Security System, unique two-tone paint schemes, premium Tour-Pak® luggage rack, premium, plush removable luggage liners and heated hand grips as standard features.

There’s also a 110 cubic inch version of the new engine available in the CVO Limited.

We’re putting some miles on these 2014 Harley’s, and will have full reviews of the new bikes soon in an upcoming issue of American Iron.

14-hd-cvo-limited

2013 Super Glide Custom New Bike Review

2013-Super-Glide-Custom-12013-Super-Glide-Custom-3When I pulled up to my father’s house and showed him the 2013 FXDC Super Glide Custom with its 110th Anniversary trim, he immediately fell in love with it. It’s got chrome in all the right places; the gas tank, seat, and fender flow perfectly into each other, and those laced wheels tie the whole thing together. He’s a guy who bought his perfect, bone-stock Harley-Davidson years ago and has had no desire for another until he saw this bike. Now I generally don’t like the same bikes as the AARP crowd, so I knew something was terribly wrong in the universe as I, too, had fallen in love with the Super Glide Custom.

How could it be that the muscle cruiser I’d just spent hours going balls to the wall, backroads blasting on appeals to my dad? Did he suddenly become cool? Did I mysteriously get old? Wait, don’t answer that. I was intrigued by this bizarro quagmire and decided that the only way to come up with the answer was to do some more testing.

Out on the highway, the Super Glide Custom is a completely different animal. I quickly discovered its attraction to a more — let’s say relaxed — population. With an overall length of just over 92″ and a 64″ wheelbase, this bike tracks straight and true. A variety of well-thought-out features help it cruise along comfortably. The 19″ front wheel and its 100/90-19″ Michelin Scorcher 31 makes for a solid, stable dynamic and still has enough meat to carve corners. A 160/70-17″ Scorcher 31 wraps the rear wheel, which is also a nice all-around setup for touring and performance riding.

The drivetrain is where the Super Glide Custom really shines. It, along with the Street Bob, are the only two Big Twins in the lineup that use the 96″ Twin Cam. This 650-pound cruiser is one of the lightest in the lineup. I noticed the most pulling power between 2000 and 4500 rpm, but the lightweight Super Glide Custom has plenty of power to rip all the way to redline. The 27.9″ unladen seat height, which only sinks about an inch with my 170 pounds, is high enough to see what’s going on in front of you but low enough to put you in a controlled position behind the engine. This makes the Super Glide Custom feel remarkably comfortable at speeds over 75 mph. And up until then, too.
Going back to the theme of the Super Glide Custom’s dual roles, the smaller engine sucks up less gas from the 5-gallon tank than Harley’s other Big Twin models. During high rpm usage, I still managed to stay above 40 mpg, and for day to day mixed use, I massaged about 45 out of the bike. When filling up, be careful when you get to the top, as the fuel will quickly bubble over. If the pump stops at $12.84, you’re better off just leaving it there.

2013-Super-Glide-Custom-42013-Super-Glide-Custom-2The six-speed Cruise Drive transmission is another huge factor in not only getting good mileage but in overall drivability. The tranny is quiet throughout the rpm range; there’s no whirring or whining since H-D added a helical-cut fifth gear a few years ago. I rarely use the 1:1 ratio sixth gear, as the acceleration below 75 mph is lacking. I’d rather run fifth gear a little high and have power to maneuver. That said, you can shift into sixth at around 65 without lugging the motor, but I recommend a downshift if you want to overtake that tractor-trailer carrying hazardous waste. Shifting is smooth, the gears grab firmly, and the clutch pull is light but provides good feedback. Neutral is easy to find every time — hot, cold, rainy, plague — which is something I can’t say about all Harleys. The Super Glide Custom is also one of the best-sounding bikes out there. The 2-into-2 chrome staggered exhaust system is pretty loud for a stock bike and has a great high-rpm scream. It actually sounds like a Harley is supposed to! The problem is that it reduces the lean angle to 29.5 degrees on the right side, which leaves you just shy of being able to fully let the bike rip around corners. The 30.9 degree left-side lean angle is just enough more to make left turns a whole lot more fun than right turns. Don’t think I’m knocking the bike though; it’s still one of the best handling Big Twins in the entire lineup. That’s what Dynas are for!

2013-Super-Glide-Custom-sidebarI’ve always been a fan of the 49mm Dyna front ends. Neither too light nor too heavy, it’s the handlebars that change the way the bike reacts. This is also where the Super Glide Custom becomes more of a highway cruising machine. The mini-pullback bars are a nice medium between drags and buckhorns. Minimal leverage is required to steer the Super Glide, and lane changes are as easy as a barely noticeable push. With forward controls, this would be a highway-only machine. However, the well-placed mid-controls allow the rider to sit in a more upright position for handling quick turns. At 6’1″, I had plenty of room left in my arms and legs to transition from leaning back and racking up miles to sitting upright for more spirited riding.

Our Anniversary Edition test bike came equipped with ABS, which I got to take advantage of my first time in the saddle. I had to stop short on a section of dusty highway. I took it easy on the brakes at first because it goes against everything you’ve learned to squeeze hard on a slippery road. I quickly realized the ABS could handle it and I went all out on the lever and pedal. Sure enough, you can feel it working the same as a car, and the Super Glide Custom came to a perfectly straight stop. Doing the actual work of the braking system is a fixed four-piston caliper with floating 11.80″ rotor up front and a floating two-piston caliper with 11.50″ rotor in the rear. When not in emergency situations, the Super Glide Custom can still really plant when you get on the brakes. It’s not enough to do a stoppie, but the brakes are well-suited to handle the cruiser’s 1,085-pound GVRW.

2013-Super-Glide-Custom-5The Super Glide Custom comes in a variety of colors at different prices. Vivid Black starts at $13,199, and Big Blue Pearl or Chrome Yellow Pearl is $13,599. The beautiful two-tone combination Ember Red Sunglo/Merlot Sunglo is priced at $13,929. The special anniversary edition two-tone setup is included with the entire anniversary package that you can read about in the sidebar. The base price of the Super Glide Custom is up $199 this year. It all works out, though, as the FXDC comes stock with a two-up seat, passenger pegs, and a classy chrome strip on the battery box that cleans up the ugliest part of any Dyna.

I spent a couple of months living with the Super Glide Custom, and I’ve come to understand its attraction for riders of all ages and riding styles. It’s as enjoyable to ride whether you’re going cross-country on Interstate-80 or blasting down the Cherohala Skyway. The FXDC is one of the most versatile bikes in the Harley lineup, and, factoring in its price, it’s apparent why at least some iteration of it has been in showrooms since 1971. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s an AARP discount for new Harleys, not that I can take advantage of that for awhile. AIM

NEW BIKE REVIEW
By Tyler Greenblatt • Photos by Tucker Radecki

The New Harley-Davidson Breakout, Aggressive Styling & Gritty Attitude

Harley-Davidson-2013-Breakout-2The 2013 Harley-Davidson® Breakout® motorcycle is an urban prowler, a bike ready for a midnight ramble to the roadhouse or a rib joint rendezvous with the crew. Green light? Crack the throttle to deliver a muscular dose of American V-Twin torque and etch the asphalt with a fat rear tire. The Breakout will be long gone, along with its rider’s inhibitions.

With authentic swagger that turns heads in traffic and a proud stance certain to draw a curb-side crowd on bike night, the Breakout is presented as a premium model in its segment with distinctive finishes and specific components not available on other Harley-Davidson bikes. Long and low-slung, the Breakout features a 240mm rear tire visually balanced with thick forks and chopped fenders, while a shaved tank console and a drag handlebar keep the profile low. A Twin Cam 103B™ powertrain and other components are trimmed in gleaming chrome and gloss-black paint.

Like the acclaimed 2013 Custom Vehicle Operations™ (CVO™) Breakout® model that precedes it, the Breakout features styling that’s smooth, tight, and intended to showcase the engine and the tires.
“With Breakout we got down to motorcycle essentials, which means emphasizing the powertrain and the wheels,” says Harley-Davidson Styling Manager Kirk Rasmussen. “The black and chrome engine visually pops out of the center the bike, and then to maximize the impact of the tires, the fenders are chopped. We wanted a lot of rubber showing to give the Breakout a tough, muscular look.” The Gasser wheels are new and specific to the Breakout, according to Rasmussen.

“We’ve always loved the gasser-style drag racing wheels from the 1960s and ‘70s,” says Rasmussen. “Our wheels are loosely inspired by those classics. Each wheel has 10 half-round spokes. The gloss-black powdercoat is machined away on alternating spokes and the rim edge to expose the aluminum under the paint.” A gloss-black finish is also applied to the new cast aluminum oil tank, as well as fork lowers, brake rotors, muffler shields and the handlebar.

“To lower Breakout’s overall profile, we placed the speedometer on the handlebar riser,” says Rasmussen, “and topped the fuel tank with a black leather strip that covers the seam, and a  chrome-plated pod that’s just high enough to conceal necessary wiring and vent lines. The handlebar is a new curved drag bend that which I think feels aggressive when you ride.”

The Softail® chassis mimics the clean lines of a vintage hardtail frame, but utilizes rear suspension control provided by coil-over shock absorbers mounted horizontally and out of sight within the frame rails. The Breakout is available with ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) and the Harley-Davidson security system as a factory-installed option.
Harley-Davidson-2013-Breakout-1
Key Breakout Features
• The Twin Cam 103B™ engine with 103-cid (1690cc), counter-balanced and rigid-mounted within the frame, is rated at 95.5 ft. lbs. of torque at 3000 rpm. The engine is equipped with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI), and Automatic Compression Release (ACR), and is mated to a 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission.

• The powertrain is finished in black powdercoat with chrome covers and gloss-black shields over chrome dual-staggered mufflers.

• Gasser-style 10-spoke cast aluminum wheels are finished in gloss-black powdercoat with machined highlights; 8 by 18-inch rear and 3.5 by 21-inch front.

• Floating front and rear brake rotors have gloss-black carriers.

• Front and rear fenders are chopped. The front fender location and bracket are specific to the Breakout. The rear fender is shaped and positioned to fit close to the 240mm tire. One-piece forged aluminum rear fender supports are highly polished.

• The front end spreads 49mm forks approximately 1.75-inches wider than previous FX Softail models to allow fitment of a 130mm front tire. The fork lowers and headlight bucket are finished in gloss black.

• New Single-Rib Cast Aluminum Oil Tank is finished in gloss black.

• A five-gallon fuel tank is topped with a black molded-leather strip and a low-profile chrome cover.

• The two-piece seat features a passenger pillion that may be removed without tools for solo riding and to fully expose the rear fender. Laden seat height is 24.7 inches.

• An all-new wide drag-style handlebar is finished in gloss black. The speedometer is mounted on the chrome pull-back handlebar riser.

• The side-mounted license plate and combination stop/turn/tail lights leave the wide rear fender uncluttered.

• The glass-filled fuel tank medallions and graphics are exclusive to the Breakout.

• Available solid colors include Vivid Black, Big Blue Pearl and Ember Red Sunglo.

For more information, visit Harley-Davidson’s website at www.harley-davidson.com.

2013 FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo Harley Motorcycle Review

2013-FLSTFB-Fat-Boy-Lo-Harley-1As i told you last month in my dyna Street Bob review, Harley-Davidson did the press launch of its new models a bit differently last year. Instead of having the event before Sturgis, H-D did it right after and took us on a spectacular, three-day ride through the Cascade Mountains and into Canada to test the new bikes. What a great way to do a bike review!

However, unlike the Street Bob, which got a major makeover for 2013, the Fat Boy Lo (MSRP $16,799-$19,499) is exactly the same as the 2012 version, except for the 110th anniversary colors and badging. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things to go over. So, as I usually do, let’s start with my favorite part of a motorcycle, the powertrain. According to H-D specs, the 103″ (1690cc) counterbalanced motor puts out 97.5 ft-lbs. of torque at 3000 rpm (at the crank). What’s also the same (thankfully!) is the EFI system, which is still seamless in its operation, no matter the altitude, outside temperature, or any other variables that come up on a ride. H-D has this system dialed in nicely. And though the Dynas I test rode had an odd engine vibration (rough spot?) that showed up when the engine was between 2300 and 2900 rpm (it’s at its worst at 2500), that’s not an issue on the Softails. Though definitely on the quiet side, the exhaust note from the Lo’s over and under shotgun pipes has a nice sound. And as you can see, the mufflers and muffler shields have the same satin-chrome finish as the primary cover and some other components, while the header shields are flat black. There’s no news regarding the primary system and transmission, either. As always, clutch action is smooth and clean, and the Cruise Drive six-speed shifts smoothly with a clunk. And, yes, it’s still hard to find neutral most of the time when the tranny is hot and the bike is stopped. As for the bike’s overall gearing, H-D also has this dialed in. I always had plenty of power when I wanted it, and there are no annoying gaps between gears.

2013-FLSTFB-Fat-Boy-Lo-Harley-2As I said in the headline, the Fat Boy Lo is one of my favorite models. In fact, it’s the one I always ask for when I rent a bike for a tour and don’t need saddlebags. I enjoy riding this machine or its brother the standard Fat Boy. They’re essentially the same bike, but with slight changes made for those of short stature, such as yours truly (5’4″ with a 30″ inseam). The Lo has an unladen seat height of 26.4″ (670mm) and 4.8″ (122mm) of ground clearance. The standard Fat Boy has an unladen seat height of 27.1″ (690mm) and 5.1″ (130mm) of ground clearance. If you’re more interested in laden seat height stats, the Lo has a laden seat height of 24-1/4″ (616mm), the Fat Boy 25″ (635mm). While that half-inch or so doesn’t seem like a lot, it can get you flat-footed when you don’t have a lot of leg to work with. Especially when you add in the Lo’s narrow-cut seat.

So what’s it like to ride the Lo if you’re not a short stack? My 6’1″ assistant editor, Tyler, had this to say, “My height put my knees pretty high, up to my elbows, which shifted my weight back. That meant I wasn’t able to put as much weight as I would like on the floorboards. I felt like there was only pressure on my hands and butt. I had to work to keep my feet on the floorboards at highway speeds due to this seating position. However, the handlebars are comfortable for sport or distance cruising.”

As for the 0.3″ of ground clearance difference, that also doesn’t sound like much, but it does work against you a little in turns. I scraped the floorboards a bit sooner on the Lo than on a standard Fat Boy. However, since the floorboards will fold up a little, if I find myself scraping them when I need a bit more lean to get through a turn, I know I can take my foot out of the way and get that extra bit of leeway.

2013-FLSTFB-Fat-Boy-Lo-Harley-5As the Fat Boy Lo was last year, the 2013 bike is a pleasure to ride. However, there are two things I should mention as far as handling. First, in a strong crosswind you’ll find yourself fighting the front end a bit, just as you would on a Fat Boy thanks to those solid wheels. Of course, this usually only happens while riding across open plains or mountain tops. Second, if you’re coasting to a stop with your hands off the handlebars, the front end will make a slight headshake at around 35-40 mph. It’s definitely nothing to worry about and goes away when you drop below 30 or go above 45. More importantly, it doesn’t happen if you keep your hands on the bars. Another test I do when reviewing a bike is to see how easy it is to steer with just my body, sans my hands. The Fat Boy Lo, like the Fat Boy, is well-balanced. Though I definitely don’t suggest you do this, I have no problem guiding the machine though sweepers using just body inputs. Handling in the corners is always predictable and smooth on the Lo. The suspension and Dunlop H-D Series 17″ tires, a 140 up front and a 200 in the rear, work well. Of course, braking is excellent since there’s an ABS-controlled four-piston caliper up front and a two-piston unit out back. With ABS, you don’t have to worry about controlling how much brake you apply to stop as fast as possible without skidding. All you have to do is grab the lever and mash the pedal as hard as you can, and hold the bike straight. From 35 mph, the average stopping distance I got without trying hard was 56′.

2013-FLSTFB-Fat-Boy-Lo-Harley-3We should, of course, talk a bit about the only major change for 2013: the paintwork and commemorative solid bronze fuel tank badges. As you can see, the Fat Boy Lo is one of the 10 models available with the 110th anniversary colors and emblems. Each one is serialized and only 1,750 FLSTFB Anniversary models will be produced to ensure exclusivity. These bikes come with all available factory-installed options as standard equipment. Yup, that means the Smart Security System. However, you can’t get the Lo in any of the new Hard Candy Custom paints. Nor is it, like the Street Bob or 1200 Custom Sportster, part of the H-D1 Factory Customization program. If the 110th Anniversary Vintage Bronze/Anniversary Vintage Black color scheme is not your thing, the Lo is also available in Vivid Black, Candy Orange, and Black Denim.

Bottom line: the Fat Boy Lo is a great bike for riders with short shanks who love the look of the Fat Boy, ergo the Lo designation. If you’re not in this group, go for the standard Fat Boy. AIM

NEW BIKE REVIEW By Chris Maida

Story as published in the January 2013 issue of American Iron Magazine.