It’s not a Dyna but it is the bike TMO first told you about last month. Assuaging any traditionalist’s fears that the company’s “core” audience would be abandoned in pursuit of new, less middle-America demographics, Harley-Davidson on Tuesday unveiled the drag-race inspired FXDR.
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Eagle-eyed TMO readers will remember first seeing glimpses of the bike in a promo video released in July, amid news Harley was planning a bevy of new and completely different models. A glimpse of the bike’s dash and the letters “FXDR” had us wondering if Harley had reversed its decision to scrap the Dyna line, since “FXD” had previously been the letter designation for Dynas. But, as it turns out, this is an FX (Softail), with the letters DR perhaps representing “drag racing” or “drag racer.” Your guess is as good as ours.
(If you are new to the murky waters of Harley, by the way, the company’s cruiser lineup used to be divided into two main chassis groups: Softails and Dynas. Traditionally, Dynas were the better-handling of the two. With last year’s complete overhaul of the Softail line, however, Dynas became redundant.)
Powered by the 114-cubic-inch(1868cc) version of the Milwaukee Eight V-twin engine that drives all of Harley’s big twins these days, the bike does feel a little bit like an act of reassurance aimed at the MoCo’s faithful core audience of white (American) guys aged 35 and up (That’s the definition of Harley’s core audience used by CEO Matt Levatich in a 2015 Cycle World interview). Though, mid-set pegs and badass styling suggest it’s still aiming for the younger side of that core group. There are definite shades of the 2018 Fat Bob here, a bike that has won the accolades of many folks who aren’t otherwise fans of the brand.
“Like a drag racer crossed with a fighter jet, this unapologetic power cruiser brings a new level of all-out performance to the Harley-Davidson lineup,” cries a media release.
Considering the Breakout is also pitched as being drag-race-inspired, the FXDR does seem a teeny bit redundant, but, you know, look at it. No matter what your overall opinion of Harleys you have to admit it at least looks cool.
Harley also suggests the bike handles better than the Breakout, saying “every aspect of handling and performance is amplified.” An aluminum swingarm reportedly helps the bike drop 10.2 pounds (4.6 kg) from its overall weight when compared with other steel-swingarm-equipped Softails. Not as much weight has been lost as could have been, though, because the FXDR sports a ginormous 240mm rear tire. Dual 300mm front disc brakes also add poundage, but we’re not complaining about those. Stopping is good.
A 19-inch front wheel doesn’t traditionally suggest excellent cornering but a video uploaded to YouTube by Harley suggests otherwise, showing the FXDR being pushed through corners on a race track.
“The drag-bike influence is strong,” concedes Harley-Davidson Vice President of Styling and Design Brad Richards. “But we made sure that purely technical elements like the aluminum swingarm, fully integrated digital instrumentation within the rider controls, and exposed external suspension adjuster are highlighted as well, and help define this bike’s mission, which is pure performance, not just straight-line performance.”
According to Harley, the FXDR offers more lean angle than any other Softail model – 32.6 degrees to the left and 32.8 degrees to the right. Like all Softail models, the bike features a monoshock rear suspension with a single coil-over shock, the preload adjuster is accessible while sitting on the bike. Look for moto journalists to be testing how much dive comes from those inverted 43mm forks.
Speaking of which, TMO will be heading to a press ride in early September. I am already terrified at the thought of how aggressively the British journos are going to be pushing this thing.
“This motorcycle is really a blast to ride,” says David Latz, lead product manager at Harley-Davidson. “This is a power cruiser that delivers exceptional ride and handling characteristics.”
The FXDR carries a 4.4 US-gallon tank (16.6 liters), which is larger than the tank on the Street Bob I rode to Prague last month, but good luck finding a place to strap luggage to this single-seat beast. (Get one of those Velomacchi 50-liter backpacks I guess) Obviously that’s not the point, though. Harley wants this bike to look psychotically fast. With its engine putting out a claimed 119 lb-ft of torque, it will probably feel pretty fast, as well.
The FXDR 114 is available in six color choices: Vivid Black, Black Denim, Industrial Gray Denim, Wicked Red Denim, Bonneville Salt Denim, and Rawhide Denim. Harley has not said when the bike will hit dealerships, but considering the fact I’ll be riding one in two weeks I wouldn’t think it will be long. In the United States, the FXDR starts at $21,349; folks in the United Kingdom can look forward to forking out £19,855.