Brand-new 2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR Preview

Harley continues its revamp by building a streetfighter-style ripper to draw a younger audience

by Steve Lita

American Iron was one of a select few publications invited to ride the FXDR 114 over a month ago. Editor Steve Lita’s full review will be available in Issue #367, on sale September 11. Here’s a preview of what you can expect! Subscribe here now!

Feast your eyes on the tenth Harley-Davidson Softail model to come down the pike. Rather, this one looks like it’s built to head down the strip. The 2019 FXDR 114 is Harley’s answer to the Power Cruiser question. If you’re wondering what the name of this new model is, there is none. The letters do the talking. In Harley history, the designation FXD was the insignia for Super Glide. Moreover, on this model FXD appears to be the prefix and R is the suffix. Just look at the dash plaque under the digital instrument gauge. The R is presented in red as opposed to the gray FXD letters. It’s a common habit among sportscar manufacturers to slap an R at the end for the more performance-centric models. Actually, no other new Softail has FXD in its model designation. And with no predetermined model name attached, it’s inevitable that riders will come up with a nickname that’ll stick.

Just one glance at the profile of the FXDR was enough to get me jonesin’ for a ride. It has a classic low/slammed drag bike stance with fat ‘n’ skinny rubber, a raked and inverted front end, a massive intake jutting forward, and a bobbed tail section. That stand-off taillight assembly reminds me of aggressive streetfighter-style bikes so common in Europe. Another familiar visual cue was the profile of the downtube-mounted chin fairing that conceals the mandatory oil cooler. I’ve seen that silhouette on a Harley before. It looks like it’s lifted directly from one of Harley’s other performance-based cruisers, the V-Rod.

I’m told this model was added to draw in new riders. It’s aggressive profile and stance are intended to appeal to young adults wrenching on metal. But it’s not all about the look—it has to shred. For example, the exhaust on the FXDR was designed with lean angle in mind. Actually, this model offers the most lean angle of all the Softails. And the base engine is the 114″ Milwaukee-Eight, skipping right over the 107″ norm. The new FXDR combines the power of a Milwaukee-Eight engine with weight-saving aluminum components throughout the bike. It’s a drag-racing-inspired formula that goes way back.