Dream Ride Editor’s Choice Winner: The Red Mosquito 2004 Night Train

2016 Dream Ride Editor's Choice Winner

This sweet customized Harley Night Train earned our Editor’s Choice Award at the 2016 Dream Ride & Show.

  • Photos by Mark Velazquez 

Beneath the massive tent that houses the show bikes at the 2016 Dream Ride, one man stands out from the rest. His salt-and-pepper beard, trimmed yet full, his overalls cuffed to just below his calves, and his flip-flops exposing his toes to the subtle summer breeze set him apart from most other attendees, myself included, in boots with worn left toes and protection-less jeans. Yes, on this warm August afternoon, Chris Donaldson’s outfit truly belied the voracious young builder’s latest accomplishment. His craftsmanship on Bert Marinaro’s 2004 Night Train led to the bike’s designation as the Editor’s Choice winner, and yet, amid photos, trophies, and an interview, he is inundated with humility, true to form for a man in cuffed overalls.

Chris patiently and meticulously walks me around the bike, excitedly pointing out the multitude of pieces that required extra attention and dedicated work. Every piece of this drastically reworked motorcycle has Chris’ fingerprints fossilized into it, with this build essentially taking three years to finally be a complete, fully functioning, everyday rider. Owner Bert even rode to the Dream Show in Farmington, Connecticut, the day of the event, a fact made all the more refreshing while standing next to the builder amid a sea of trailers and hitches.

Bert Marinaro with his custom 2004 Harley Night Train built by Chris Donaldson of Donaldson Fabrication, LLC.

Bert Marinaro with his custom 2004 Harley Night Train built by Chris Donaldson of Donaldson Fabrication, LLC.

“This bike was built to be ridden,” Chris says. “There were several instances when the owner found it difficult to appreciate some of the one-off creations until they were visually appealing, but first we had to conquer functionality.” That helps explain the lengthy build time. But so does the meticulous eye with which Chris turned his attention to the foot controls, hand controls, front end, motor, gas tank, frame, oil reservoir, seat…you get the picture.

Let’s start up top, where the bike sports a supremely minimalist design. Chris opted for a set of highbars from Exile Cycles with risers from Roland Sands Design, which include an internal throttle assembly that helps set the stage for the ultimately clean system. Aiding in the effort to remove all the hubbub around the bars, Chris designed and manufactured a one-off remote master cylinder, which is operated by a modified clutch cable, and a bell crank system supplied by a remote reservoir. It’s a fresh design, and one that only entices the eye to look even closer at the minute details sprinkled throughout the body of work.

Red metal flake, gold leaf, silver leaf by Robert Pradke

This king tank received the Donaldson touch before being coated in red metal flake paint and both gold and silver leafing by Robert Pradke.

The gas tank is a modified king tank (note the crown gas cap) designed for Sportsters. Chris cut and lowered the tunnel to mount the tank higher on the backbone. The fuel petcock was relocated to the rear. The oil tank is also a custom-made piece, a mild steel cylinder with integrated battery box, ignition switch, and high-beam switch, the latter two components complementing the clean look on the handlebars. We’ll revisit the oil tank soon, as the paint and decal remain pertinent to the build. One of owner Bert’s favorite pieces of Chris’ work is the beehive oil filter located on the left side, just behind the BDL primary. Made from a single piece of 6061 aluminum, this is a fully functional oil filter with an integrated Harley filter, and the addition of copper supply and return lines accentuate the retro styling.

Bert wanted the bike to remain relatively modern, while achieving the appearance on an old school bobber. The springer front end was handled by Thompson Choppers from Ozark, Missouri, a well-chosen piece in the appeal to elder aesthetics. The chassis rolls on two Performance Machine (PM) Gasser Contrast wheels, 21″ up front and 18″ behind, wrapped in Metzler rubber, a tastefully modern look that meshes with the springer and other vintage-esque pieces scattered about. But Chris and Bert had to compromise on a few other parts, including the West Coast Choppers Jesse James rear fender, which Chris did not want hugging the tire nor too far forward. But Bert remained adamant about both this and having baffles in the exhaust, which was another Donaldson original made from .125″ stainless steel. The seat is custom-made, a steel pan with a support bracket and rear fastening system that allows for quick access to the battery. Bert did meet Chris in the middle, however, especially when it came to including the sissybar that not only adds another visually pleasing aspect (this was Chris’ take), but functionality, too. Now, both men can attest to the bar adding necessary support, especially “when the rider launches from a stoplight with 105 hp.”

Bert Marinaro's Red Mosquito

The “Red Mosquito” theme was influenced by the Pearl Jam song.

Speaking of those 105 ponies, Chris beefed up the motor as well, as he worked with supreme autonomy from Bert. “When it came to the motor and mechanical aspects, Chris had free reign,” Bert says. With room to maneuver, Chris punched the 88″ Twin Cam up to 95″, and opted for S&S Cycle 570 gear-driven cam, Screamin’ Eagle (SE) pushrods with .569″ of lift (“a perfect fit”), SE 10-1/2:1 forged pistons, and S&S Super E carburetor. The transmission remained untouched, but he did go with a BDL primary and clutch. The foot controls come from PM, but those presented another challenge for Chris. They had to be greatly modified in order to be pulled back to compensate for Bert’s limited leg reach.

And how about that paint? Both Bert and Chris came to a consensus on who would handle it: Robert Pradke of Eastford, Connecticut. A quick glance through Robert’s Instagram is all the evidence you need to understand why the two went with his tightly controlled vision, but you needn’t log online to figure this one out. Pradke laid down a base of red metal flake and hand-painted the gold and silver leaf flames flowing along the tank and fender. The Red Mosquito was influenced by the Pearl Jam track of the same name, which happened to be rocking across the airwaves when Bert was in Pradke’s shop. The caricature painted on the oil tank is curled in such a way that it almost mimics the aggressive style with which one would ride, buzzing through the wind at breakneck speed, riding the high.

After walking around the bike several times, round-trips filled with crouching, leaning in, stepping back, Chris’ wife, Carolyn, comes to collect him from the Dream Show tent. “She really runs the business,” Chris says with a hearty chuckle. “She flicks the lights in the workshop on and off to let me know it’s dinner time.” Donaldson Fabrication is as grassroots as it gets, as Chris works closely with his father on most projects they take in, and it’s not Chris’ full-time job, either. “We are a small shop focusing on the quality and individuality of each and every bike. Our goal is to fit the motorcycle to the owner while maintaining his or her original vision and to create a functional work of art,” Chris says. After taking home the Editor’s Choice award, Bert says, “Yes, it took the better half of three years to complete, but it worked out for the best.”

And so Chris heads off, and I make a few more rounds, snapping some photos and picturing myself in the leather-bound saddle. When I first arrived at the show tent, the glistening red custom was my personal choice for the award, yet I thought it stood little chance of actually being chosen given some of the other bikes that were entered in the contest. I kept returning to it, and after speaking with Chris, he puts into words the reason I felt drawn to it. “The beauty of this bike is found beyond the initial walk-by, and it isn’t really recognized until one takes the time to slowly examine each of the custom pieces as an individual element. It’s then that the bike really comes to life,” says the man in the cuffed overalls. This bike truly is one to be celebrated. AIM

If you like this story, there’s plenty more good stuff in American Iron Magazine Issue # 346 including a feature on Arlen Ness’s 1970 MagnaCycle, Rick Petko’s Racer X Boardtracker, and PDX Speed Shop’s cool XL Surfster!  To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com.
Follow American Iron Magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here. To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.

2017 Harley-Davidson Breakout First Ride Review Video

American Iron Editor Bryan Harley on the 2017 Breakout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blinging Out a Fat Boy: H-D 6-Spoke Rear Wheel & Pulley Install (Intro)

Harley 6-spoke wheel rear wheel and pulley install

Here’s Dan from Rob’s Dyno Service installing the new metal valve from the H-D wheel installation kit into the new chrome H-D 6-spoke rear wheel using a ½” deep socket he ground down for this purpose.

By Chris Maida

Part I: Installing a new chrome Harley-Davidson 6-spoke rear wheel and pulley, with a new H-D polished rotor and Shinko 150/80-16” rear tire

Want to add some instant flash to your bike? Bolt on a nice set of custom wheels! When I had my bike shop, back in the day, guys would come in before the new riding season and ask how they could change the look of their bike without going for a complete overhaul. My answer was to change the wheels and paint job. After all, once the front end and engine are chromed or blacked-out, you’re done there. But bolt on a slick set of wheels with matching rotors and pulley, and you’ll totally change the look of the bike. And, though not cheap, you get a lot of bang for your buck!

Mounting a Shinko tire on an H-D 6-spoke rear wheel

After checking the directional arrow and locating the balance dot alongside the valve stem, he installs the new Shinko 150/80-16” tire onto the H-D 6-Spoke wheel.

And that’s exactly what we decided to do to step up the look of a 2006 Fat Boy. Though those iconic solid wheels are a trademark of the Fat Boy, the stock units were dull, pitted, and, in short, needed replacing after many miles of hard service. Since the original Harley-Davidson components had served the owner well, he decided to go back to The Motor Company for its replacements. He selected a set of H-D’s Slotted 6-Spoke wheels that feature a combination of polished and textured chrome finishes on the spokes, rim, and hub. We also got a matching rear pulley and new standard rotors all around. In this article, however, we’ll just be installing the rear wheel setup, and we’ll do the front wheel in a future issue.

This cast aluminum 16″ rear wheel (#43930-08/$559.95) requires, as all Harley P&A wheels do, the purchase of a separate H-D wheel installation kit (#43854-08A/$89.95). These kits are specific to year and model bikes, so be sure to order the correct one for your bike. However, the installation procedure is the same. For our matching cast aluminum textured chrome rear pulley (#40447-01/$399.95), we also got a set of chrome bolts and flat washers (#94773-00A/$29.95). There’s no way we were going to reuse the old, beat-up hardware. When installing this pulley onto the wheel, make sure you properly align its spoke pattern with the wheel’s pattern. Our rear rotor (#41832-05A/$149.95) is a polished version of the stock unit since, like the hardware, the original had seen better days and would ruin the look of our new wheel package. Of course, we went with a set of new chrome rotor hardware (#46647-05/$13.95).

H-D 6-spoke rear wheel install

With the rear wheel in a lift’s wheel chock, he uses a wheel bearing installation too to install a wheel bearing (both the same) from the H-D installation kit into the right (primary) side of the wheel, as indicated by the lines on the wheel hub.

When it came to getting a new set of tires, the bike’s owner decided to go with a pair of Shinko 777 tires, which are available exclusively from the HardDrive catalog. We got a 150/80-16″ (#87-4597/$129.95) for the rear wheel. This tire features a newly redesigned carcass that has a higher load rating thanks to heavier nylon belting. This results in ample load capacity, while also giving more stability and longer tire life. The 777 series is specifically designed for cruiser machines and is available in a multitude of sizes for many V-twin models.

We went to see our old buddies Rob and Dan at Rob’s Dyno Service to do the install. We’ve done many articles with these guys, and they always do the job right, the first time. Check out the photos and captions to see how to do this installation in your own garage. In a future issue, we’ll bolt on the new matching front wheel and new rotor, as well as another new Shinko tire. AIM

H-D wheel bearing and center wheel spacer H-D installation kit

Dan slips the new wheel bearing and the proper center wheel spacer (spacer C #43608-00 for our application), both from the H-D installation kit, onto the shaft of his wheel bearing installation tool.



HARDDRIVE – HDtwin.com

Harley-Davidson – harley-davidson.com

Rob’s Dyno Service – RobsDyno.com  978/895-0441

Like what you see? The full article with all the steps, tips, tricks, and tools needed is in American Iron Magazine issue # 340! To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com.
Follow American Iron Magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here. To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.

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 News: Overview of New 2016 Harleys

Two new Dark Custom models, the most powerful cruiser lineup in company history, and a broad range of performance and styling enhancements throughout the range highlight Harley-Davidson’s new model lineup for 2016.

2016 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Highlights

  • New Iron 883 and Forty-Eight® models assert Harley-Davidson’s Dark Custom leadership with motorcycles updated with modern design and new suspensions that put a little extra smooth in the Harley-Davidson soul.
  • New S series limited-edition cruisers feature big power and cutting-edge style. The Fat Boy® S and Softail Slim® S are powered by Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine to deliver style and performance.
  • Previously only available in Harley-Davidson Touring bikes, the High Output Twin Cam 103™ engines upgrade the power for all Softail® and Dyna® models (except Street Bob).
  • Project RUSHMORE’s touring revolution expands with the return of the Road Glide® Ultra motorcycle.

According to Mark-Hans Richer, Harley-Davidson Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “We’re introducing the most powerful collection of cruisers in our history, including the brand-new S series. We’re raising the bar on Dark Custom motorcycles with the new Iron 883 and Forty-Eight models, the purest expression of the design movement we started in 2008. And we’re extending our lead in touring with the return of the Road Glide Ultra and redesign of the popular Heritage Softail Classic.”

Dark Custom Soul

The new Iron 883 is intentionally raw and rough around the edges, with a modern design inspired by garage-built bobbers past and present. All-new front and adjustable rear suspension, lighter-weight mag wheels and improved seating increase comfort and control to smooth the road ahead. The new Forty-Eight achieves its stance with a burly front tire, new mag wheels and a massive front end with new 49mm forks, and also benefits from improved adjustable rear suspension and seating. Retro styling cues of black, color and chrome give this bike a bold visual presence. Riders navigating rough and tumble urban streets on the lean and nimble Harley-Davidson Street® 750 and 500 models will appreciate the improved confidence from new front and rear braking systems.

Most Powerful Cruiser Lineup Ever

Powered by the Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110 engine, the new Fat Boy S and Softail Slim S cruisers deliver power and performance once reserved for Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) models. Both limited-edition models feature dark styling. The Softail Slim S is available in a new Olive Gold Denim color with military-inspired styling, paying homage to the post-war customs that launched the bobber movement. Harley-Davidson gives more riders a dose of Project RUSHMORE performance by making the High Output Twin Cam 103 engine standard in every other 2016 Softail model. The High Output Twin Cam 103 is also the new standard engine for all 2016 Dyna models except the Street Bob® model.

Softail Cruise Control

There’s more cruiser news in 2016; for the first time ever electronic cruise control is available on all Harley-Davidson Softail models. The convenience of Harley-Davidson electronic cruise control, enabled by new electronic throttle control, is standard equipment on 2016 Heritage Softail® Classic, Softail® Deluxe, Fat Boy S and Softail Slim S models and available as an accessory for all other 2016 Softail models.

New Sportster Suspension

All 2016 Sportster® models will tame rough roads with all-new front and rear suspension and improved seats to enhance rider comfort and control. The new seats incorporate premium materials and revised shapes to provide more supportive comfort. The re-engineered Sportster suspension pairs emulsion coil-over shocks with new front cartridge forks. Nitrogen gas-charged shocks resist oil aeration and feature an internal valve stack with 36mm pistons and high-performance oil to provide superior compression and rebound damping control that reacts quickly to small bumps and keeps the tires in contact on uneven road surfaces. Progressive-rate spring pre-load is adjustable by a threaded collar using a spanner that stows under the seat. Tuned to complement the shocks, the stout forks feature a calibrated piston and valve stack and progressive rate springs for consistent feel throughout the compression and extension range of the suspension. The triple-rate spring and oil lock allows the forks to resist wheel hop under hard braking.

Road Glide Ultra

A two-year absence from the Harley-Davidson Touring line was time well spent infusing the Road Glide Ultra with enhanced style, outstanding aerodynamics and optimized touring ergonomics for rider and passenger– the full influence of the customer-led Project RUSHMORE product-development effort. Propelled by the performance of the Twin-Cooled™ High Output Twin Cam 103™ powertrain, the new Road Glide Ultra will exceed the expectations of the most demanding touring motorcyclist.

Heritage Softail Classic

Combining nostalgic style with smooth, modern Softail performance, the Heritage Softail Classic receives refreshed styling for 2016 plus the High Output Twin Cam 103 powertrain, standard electronic cruise control, and a new and improved saddlebag support structure.

American Iron Garage: Install

What Goes ‘Round

Installing wheels on a Softail

intro by Steven Wyman-Blackburn
captions and photos by Tricia Szulewski

The new wheels are complemented by the matching rotors, pulley, and chrome hardware. Bearings not included.

The new wheels are complemented by the matching rotors, pulley, and chrome hardware. Bearings not included.

Before .......

Before …….

When installing anything new on your bike, you’re going to have to decide whether or not to follow the latest trend. As you’ve probably noticed by now, when it comes to wheels, a lot of guys are dropping loads of dollars on those giant, custom 30″ front wheels. Not only is this hard on your wallet, it’s just hard in general, since it requires extra mods, such as altering the rake on your bike. This is difficult to do on a Road Glide, let’s say. But popping a 30-incher on a bagged motorcycle outside Harley’s Touring family is even worse for obvious reasons. Rather than taking the high road, the owner of this 2003 Heritage Softail Classic decided to keep the wheels close to stock size, choosing 16″ front and rear wheels. In the next few pages, we’ll show you how mechanic Dan Michaud of Sound Motor Sports installed Harley’s ThunderStar custom front wheel (#43609-07/$649.95) and rear wheel (#44544-08/$649.95) using the correct installation kits for this year and model bike. He then provided step-by-step photos of how he wrapped them in new Dunlop rubber, D402F MT90-B-16″ front (#43022-91A/$174.95) and D401 150/80-B-16″ rear (#43264-02/$203.95).

... After!!

… After!!

The original spokes on the stock wheels had loosened over time and wore out the pockets in the rim. This caused a high-speed wobble. Since new rims were ordered, we decided to go with matching rotors and pulley. We went with Harley-Davidon’s Thunder-Star style, and ordered a matching billet sprocket (#40126-00/$399.95), ThunderStar custom floating front brake rotor (#44365-00A/$159.95), and ThunderStar custom floating rear brake rotor (#44366-00A/$159.95). If you plan on installing these extra parts in addition to the wheels, you’re going to need the proper tools. We decided to stay with Harley-Davidson and bought its chrome front brake disc hardware kit (#46646-05/$13.95), chrome hex head hardware kit for the rear belt sprocket (#94773-00A/$29.95), and chrome rear brake disc hardware kit (#46647-05/$13.95).

Read the step-by-step pictures on how to install these wheels on a Heritage Softail Classic by getting the issue exclusively on GreaseRag.com!

To purchase the issue, click here!



American Iron Harley News: 19,000 Dyna & Softail Motorcycles Recalled

Harley-Davidson is recalling just over 19,000 Dyna and Softail motorcycles from the 2012 model year because the threads for the brake line banjo bolt in the front brake master cylinder may corrode.

If the threads corrode, a sudden loss of brake fluid could result, causing a loss of the front brakes.

Models affected are the 2012 FXST103, FLSTC, FLSTC103, FLSTF, FLSTF103, FXDL, FXDWG, FXDWG103, FXDC, FXDB, FLSTN, FLSTN103, FLSTC103 Shrine, FLSTFB, FLSTFB103, FXS, FXS103, FLS, FLS103, FLD, FLD103, and FXDF and FXDF103 motorcycles manufactured from Aug. 22, 2011, through Feb. 24, 2012, for the United States and some world markets. This totals 19,015 units, Harley-Davidson told NHTSA.

The NHTSA recall campaign number is 14V794000.

Dealers are asked to flush and inspect the front brake master cylinder and, if necessary, replace the master cylinder. The recall is expected to begin Jan. 14.

“We have voluntarily declared this a defect related to motor vehicle safety (Campaign 0163 for the Softail model and Dyna model motorcycles and 0164 for the FXDF/FXDF103 model motorcycles) to allow us to formally recall all affected motorcycles. Two recalls are needed to cover all affected models because of the differences in the kit component content required for the two populations,” the Motor Co. informed dealers.

“Based on warranty information, the prediction for motorcycles requiring master cylinder replacements is extremely low,” Harley-Davidson said in its notification to dealers.

Dealers are permitted to sell but must not deliver any of the affected motorcycles until the remedy is complete, the OEM added.

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.


Blackline Softail, Harley’s newest Dark Custom

Over the past few years, Harley-Davidson has chosen to make new bike announcements gradually. Usually we’ll hear about most of next year’s models around July, but then a couple more releases will come in the dead of winter. I’m not sure why H-D does this. Perhaps certain models aren’t ready for production, or maybe H-D wants more press over a longer period of time. Fortunately for us, the unveiling of the 2011 FXS Blackline Softail took place in New York City, about 50 miles from American Iron Magazine’s offices, this past January. I was on hand for the evening’s festivities and was excited with the newest Dark Custom.

Once the drape was pulled and the bike was shown to the eager reporters, none other than Willie G himself got up to speak, and in his off-the-cuff presentation said, “You can call it a bobber, you can call it a custom. There’s a lot of words you can use for it.” Initially, I scratched my head. A bobber? Really? I just don’t see it. But when he capped his speech with “I think it’ll look great parked in front of any bar in the whole country,” I could see that. But I had to wonder, who is Harley building bikes for? Barhopping hipsters who take undue risks with their lives? Or real riders who want to enjoy time in the saddle? Due to record snowfalls in New England (and most everywhere else in the United States), it would be two months before we had a chance to actually ride the new Softail.

The nuts and bolts of the FXS are similar to other Softails. It uses a fuel-injected 96B V-twin engine with a six-speed Cruise Drive transmission and rear belt drive. This combo moves this 682-pounder down the road just fine. But the differences between this Softail and the others in the lineup are where the FXS shines. Lots of detail work went into making this powertrain distinctive. From the top down, the rocker box covers are gloss black, the cylinder heads feature a silver powdercoat finish, and the cylinders are finished in black powdercoat. The crankcase has a wrinkled black finish, and gloss black powdercoat covers the outer primary cover and transmission side cover. Other parts such as the derby, cam, and air cleaner covers are featured in mirror chrome. The finished product is impressive-looking, to say the least. An old-school chrome round air cleaner cover lends the bike an overall minimalist look.

The engine package is carried in a new Black Denim powdercoated frame with matching swingarm. Up front hangs a FX conventional front end with black powdercoat triple clamps and black fork lowers. The real eye-catching centerpiece of the bike is the new Split Drag internally wired handlebar arrangement, which mounts directly to the top triple clamp. The instrument gauge is nestled deep between the two downturned bars. The left bar is separate from the right and looks like no other in the Harley lineup. For function, I find the overall width of the bars too narrow, and they don’t provide much leverage for maneuvering the bike. But they get big styling points. A by-product of the narrow bars is that they place the mirrors too far inboard and only provided a clear view of my elbows. Any look to the rear required me to tuck in my arms and crane my neck to see what was back there. Without a doubt, the new handlebars are a form-over-function decision. However, by the time you read this, H-D’s P&A department will have wider bars and other accessories available.

I appreciated the left switch-mounted mode button, which allows the rider to toggle through several functions on the single gauge instrument. The speedo is analog, but the inset LCD displays a tachometer, clock, gear, odometer, A and B tripmeters, and miles to reserve. The entire package is low profile and tucked cleanly in the gap between the bars.

Flowing back through the cockpit, you’ll find an attractive, smooth, die-cast top gas tank panel atop an asymmetrical, 5-gallon Softail fuel tank. This is  clean on the left side, with a low-profile fuel fill on the right. This is the only place you’ll find color on a Blackline, which can be had in Cool Blue Pearl ($15,998), Sedona Orange ($15,998), or Vivid Black ($15,499). That clean top panel with tasteful Bar & Shield logo is primarily there to cover fuel pump hardware. The seat’s hung low and is advertised to be a mere 26.1″ from the ground (unladen). While some shorter riders might be attracted to this, I met one vertically challenged test rider who found the reach to the bars too far. But for my 6′ frame, the ergonomics were comfortable, even if the seat padding isn’t.

Pulling strings and dropping names got me an extended ride on the 2011 Blackline, and, unfortunately, I regretted it. I couldn’t see spending much time riding the Blackline long distances. This condition was worsened by the harsh suspension and the heavy steering feeling. To me, a true bobber is small, light, and taut. I don’t see the large Softail line as an appropriate foundation for a bobber. The 21″ front wheel, combined with rake and trail figures of 30 degrees and 4.84″ respectively, plus over 680 pounds of heft, produced lethargic steering and required muscle to maneuver at low speeds to keep the front end from flopping over. At speed, it was perhaps a bit too easy to touch down a footpeg on corners, and I noticed the right forward control footpeg protrudes a bit farther than the left. Perhaps that is to allow the rider’s right leg to bend around the air cleaner.

Some final high points of my impression of the Blackline include the attractive, smooth black rim lips on the spoked wire wheels, the use of a simple plastic license plate bracket, which is bound to be removed and discarded by the owner anyway, and a trendy grenade-like coil cover on the left side of the engine. Simple styling with attitude is the perfect summation of my overall impression of the Blackline. If attitude is more important to you than comfort and function, this is the bike for you. Unfortunately, it’s not the bike for me. AIM

Check out the January Blackline unveiling story here

Story as it appeared in the June 2011 issue of American Iron Magazine.

2011 Harley Davidson Blackline Softail FXS

NEW MODEL PREVIEW By Chris – Maida Harley-Davidson’s newest Dark Custom

The H-D crew was rocking it pretty hard at Don Hill’s, a major punk and alternative club in lower Manhattan last January! The event was the launch of its new Blackline Softail. Willie G and wife Nancy were on hand, as well as Karen Davidson who also launched a new line of H-D clothes to go with the new bike. Of course, a number of engineers and H-D media people were also present, all of whom were a pleasure to hang with. Whoever picked Don Hill’s for the launch really aced it! Right up there with the legendary CBGB, you just don’t walk into DH’s. The rope is up and you wait your turn, but that was not the case for those invited to this special unveiling. As you can see by the photos, we had a great time, and most of the H-D staff and a number of hot models were painted with the Blackline name. Nice work, H-D!

But enough of that; on to the bike! The Blackline Softail is “stripped to the legal limit,” as our H-D press kit states. The style of the Blackline is thanks to  Industrial Designer/Stylist II, Casey Ketterhagen at the Motor Company. According to Casey, he first built the concept bike shown below with no regard for DOT regs. He was then told to move as much of that look as possible over to a modern Softail chassis while staying inside DOT requirements. Casey worked with Softail Platform Staff Engineer Korry Vorndram to build a stock H-D that is barely legal.

Besides DOT constraints, the amount of cash allotted to the build was also a limiting factor.  For example, if you can use an oil tank that’s already been certified, you have more money to come up with a totally new handlebar setup. And that’s exactly what Casey did on the Blackline, as you can see on the accompanying rendering. The gas tank trim is another totally new part, as is the headlight and speedometer. Though H-D lists 104 parts as new on the Blackline, many are stock components with a new finish, but that’s not a slight of hand by H-D. If it has a new part number, it has to be listed as a separate (new) part.

Since you can get the full specification sheet online, we’re not going to reprint it here. However, I do want to mention one spec that’s close to my heart: the Blackline boasts the lowest seat height in the H-D lineup for 2011. Being 5’4″, that means a lot to me! AIM

Story as it appeared in the May 2011 issue of American Iron Magazine.