2016 Harley Low Rider S First Ride Review
NEW BIKE REVIEW • by Tyler Greenblatt Photos by Riles & Nelson
There’s fast, and then there’s 110” Screamin’ Eagle Dyna fast
You know you’re in for a fun ride when fleet center manager Alan has to replace all the ground-down footpegs on the test bikes from the previous day’s grouping of motojournalists. I promised to take care of the fresh pegs on the new 2016 Low Rider S when my day came to ride it, unlike the local Los Angeles hooligans who had been riding that day. After about 30 seconds of riding the FXDL-S, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to keep my promise.
Walking up to the S for the first time, it takes a second to recognize it as actually being a Low Rider as so much is physically different between the two machines that share a name. Gone is the chrome and metallic look from the original Shovelhead Low Riders. The back half of the rear fender is noticeably missing, and the handlebars are entirely different. At first glance it looks more like something coming out of a Southern California custom shop than a factory Harley. That defining look is the first complete bike to be headed up by H-D Director of Styling Brad Richards, who started at Harley just over a year ago and whose name you’ll be seeing a lot.
The split, five-spoke Magnum Gold cast aluminum wheels look as though they were pulled from the 1982 FXSB, while the gold tank badge was pulled directly from the 1977 XLCR. The drag bars, speed screen, side-mount license plate, bobbed rear fender, and deep-scoop solo seat are all modern takes on the traditional high-performance Harley.
It’s impossible to discuss high-performance Harleys without making mention of the legendary FXR motorcycles of the 1980s and ‘90s, which mixed a stiff, triangulated frame and sporty suspension with a rubber-mounted Big Twin. FXRs have grown in popularity in the past few years, and with that resurgence came a subsequent rise in Dyna interest. But today’s twin-shock enthusiast isn’t looking for the same chopper-esque feel of Willie G’s Shovelhead FX creations. The name of the game today is speed, around corners as much as in a straight line, and the ability to stop. The 2016 Low Rider S delivers on all fronts.
The Low Rider S sports a set of premium adjustable emulsion-type shock absorbers at the rear and a premium ride cartridge fork suspension at the front, good for 2.13″ and 5.1″ of travel respectively. Although rear travel seems short, the premium adjustable shocks held their own while carving California’s canyons for over 100 miles. Unlike typical stock shocks, these didn’t bottom out once on me, and they kept the rear of the Dyna tracking through turns as if it were on rails. The improvement in the front isn’t as obvious, but undoubtedly aids in the bike’s road manners.
The Low Rider S sports 28-1/2-degree left- and 27-1/2-degree right-lean angles, which leaves some lean room to be desired, although as I found out you can go right up to and past the pegs around turns. In fact, after about an hour of spirited riding, your pegs should be worn down enough to increase those angles. Any new buyer should just consider footpegs a regularly replaceable maintenance item thanks to the 4.1″ of ground clearance. That low center of gravity and 27″ unladen seat height also make the S easy to control and predictable even when sparks are flying. The sticky Michelin Scorcher tires still have some tread left once you run out of bike, which further improves confidence.
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