Harley-Davidson has replaced the spirit of the venerable V-Rod drag-strip king with the new Softail FXDR, the first Harley with clip-on handlebars.
It looks and feels similar, right down to the riding stance with hands and feet forward.
Instead of the water-cooled 1247cc V-Rod engine (93kW/113.9Nm), it is powered by the much ballsier 114 cubic-inch (1868cc) Milwaukee Eight air-cooled engine (61kW/162Nm).
First ride impression
I was lucky enough to be the first Aussie to ride the FXDR.
It was just a quick preview ride through the streets off Milwaukee but I hope to give it a much more comprehensive test at the world launch in Australia early next month.
From the little I rode it, the bike feels sturdy and powerful.
It hammers off the line with neck-snapping torque, almost 50% more than the V-Rod, but it doesn’t have the same drag-strip top-end fizz.
I love the drag-inspired air snorkel which provides a loud and proud induction roar to match the two-into-one exhaust which sounds quiet at idle but also has a full-throated tone at high revs.
It looks great in the “flesh” with its creative blend of finishes. You can also buy an accessory exhaust with titanium and carbon fibre finish.
Go is matched by stopping power.
On several occasions I performed panic stops, simply grabbing as much front and rear brake as I could.
Stopping power from the two big front discs is almost wrist-breaking.
There was a bit of fork dive, but the rear wheel did not lift at all.
With a 120-section front tyre and double that on the back there is excellent grip and no ABS action that I could feel.
The wide rear tyre is the same as the Breakout, so it has great traction and lateral stability, but it does make cornering a bit heavy.
It handles closer to the new Fat Bob, rather than the Breakout.
Lean angle is 32.6° on the left and 32.8° on the right thanks to the chamfered exhaust shape. It’s the best of Harley’s big twins and only beaten by the Street Rod (37.3° right, 40.2° left).
While the seat is firm and comfortable, the riding position is only good for short stints.
The hidden rear shock is short and it thumps over the bumps, but the upside-down dual-bending-valve forks feel reasonably compliant with no jack-hammer effect.
The small digital instruments are mounted above the handlebar and feature readouts for odometer, two trips, range, revs and clock, like most other Softails, with a toggle switch on the left switchblock.
They are easy to read, even in broad daylight and are up nice and high for quick reference without having to take your eyes off the road.
The whole bike oozes a high quality finish, from the full LED lighting with Daymakler headlight to the new light-weight swingarm.
In fact, Harley engineer Jeff Richlen points out that it is a shame the swingarm is partially hidden as it has such smooth welds.
He says the heavy motorcycle company has become unconventional in its approach to weight saving in the new Softails, especially this model.
“We’re not really a heavy motorcycle company anymore,” he quipped.
The swingarm saves 8kg, yet the bike still weighs 289kg dry.
The FXDR also has a new tank shape for Harley.
“Most Harley tanks are the same for economies of scale, but this has a totally different design,” Jeff says.
While the bike was designed as a solo-seat machine, you can remove the rear cowl and fit an optional seat and footpegs.
It comes in Vivid Black, Black Denim, Industrial Grey Denim, Wicked Red Denim, Bonneville Salt Denim and Rawhide Denim, but we are not sure whether Australia will get all the colours.
2019 Harley-Davdison Softail FXDR tech specs
|Length||95.1 in. (2,416 mm)|
|Seat Height||28.5 in. (723 mm)|
|Fuel Capacity||4.4 gal. (16.7 L)|
|Dry weight||637 lb. (289 kg)|
|Displacement||114 cu. in. (1,868 cc)|
|Bore||4.016 in. (102 mm)|
|Stroke||4.5 in. (114 mm)|
|Engine Torque||119 ft-lb (162 Nm)|
|Transmission||6-Speed Cruise Drive®|
|Wheels||Gloss/satin black, split 5-spoke, Ace cast aluminum with laser h laser etched graphics|
|Tires Front||120/70ZR-19 60W|
|Tires Rear||240/40R-18 79V|