FIRST RIDE: HARLEY FXDR

The Mo­tor Com­pany mine drag rac­ing’s good looks for their lat­est.

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Ben Lind­ley Pho­tog­ra­phy Alessio Bar­banti

THE FXDR’S PRO­MO­TIONAL video is al­most un­be­liev­able. It roars around a race­track. It sounds like a mo­bile ack-ack gun fir­ing on all four bar­rels. It flicks be­tween cor­ners and carves to­wards the next apex. It looks lithe and spir­ited… for a 300kg mo­tor­cy­cle with huge 240-sec­tion rear tyre and a raked-out 19-inch front wheel. Turns out Harley must have em­ployed a world champ weightlifter to get the bike turn­ing that quick. I’m on the FXDR’S launch in Greece – a grippy moun­tain road, bright sun, an am­bi­ent 38°C. Hold­ing the bike at max­i­mum lean an­gle (32.6° left/32.8° right) re­quires proper bulging of the tri­ceps. Nav­i­gat­ing S-bends is a full-body work­out, like swim­ming. This is an amaz­ing road, but the ‘race­track-ready’ FXDR makes it hard work. Give me Harley’s ag­ile Street Bob, and never mind the £8000 price dif­fer­ence. Just like the Street Bob, this new FXDR is built on 2017’s Sof­t­ail plat­form, which means a new dou­ble cra­dle frame with an in­line rear shock for a hard­tail look. It’s the tenth model us­ing the plat­form, along­side the Break­out, Fat Boy, and apoc­a­lypse-ready Fat Bob. And sim­i­lar to the Fat Bob, the FXDR is aim­ing at an au­di­ence that isn’t tra­di­tion­ally Harley. In their own words that means some­one who’s bold, so­phis­ti­cated, goes fast and wants cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy. The 114 cu­bic inch (1868cc) V-twin ticks the ‘go­ing fast’ part. It’s vibey, with sat­is­fy­ing grunt and the kind of solid, slow-revving feel­ing that comes with a huge crank and fly­wheel. It’s pow­er­ful, but not the kind of in­stant power that lifts the front wheel over crests – they de­fine it as stop-light-to-stop-light ac­cel­er­a­tion. Ack-ack sound­track, too.

Peak thrust is be­tween 2000 and 4000rpm and feels awe­some. Rev higher and the han­dle­bars vi­brate enough to make you worry about en­croach­ing white fin­ger. It idles at 800rpm, low enough for the whole bike to shake on its side­stand. But sur­pris­ingly it doesn’t pro­vide ef­fi­cient torque un­til 1500rpm. Ac­cel­er­ate from 30mph in fourth gear, for ex­am­ple, and you’ll get a lot of shud­der and not much else. Ac­cel­er­at­ing is when the who­dun­nit rid­ing po­si­tion makes most sense. Harley list drag bikes as the main in­flu­ence for de­sign, and you can tell this by the place­ment of the clip-on han­dles. They don’t feel too far for­ward when

‘It’s pow­er­ful, but not the kind of power that lifts the front wheel’

your feet are on the ground. But then you re­alise that the foot­pegs are still far, far for­ward. The re­sult­ing po­si­tion has most in com­mon with a bal­le­rina’s warm-up stretch. It is with­out merit. Who­dun­nit, where are they, and let’s send a con­sta­ble round to have a word. Get off the thing, stretch out, and ad­mire the drag-in­spired touches. The huge rear tyre is ac­cented by a short-cut rear sub­frame, and the down swept air in­take uses a fil­ter that doesn’t need a rain sock or oil. It also makes a good glove shelf. There is, how­ever, a whiff of style over sub­stance. Reach be­hind the in­take and you can feel that the ‘big’ duct is just for show. A smaller tube in­side feeds air to the engine. And the short-stroke rear shock punches you in the coc­cyx once per bump. De­spite the pain the FXDR fills a niche for young riders look­ing for some­thing more ex­treme than a Fat Bob. If it had the same price tag. But no. It’s a jaw-drop­ping £19,855 – that’s £327 per month on PCP. The ‘Rawhide Denim’ colour you see here pushes the? price up by an­other £350. If you’re set on a Harley and love the look, save your­self £4000 and buy the fan­tas­tic 2018 Fat Bob – it does it all bet­ter.

The act of steer­ing turned into a work­out Costs a jaw-drop­ping £20,205 Chal­leng­ing rid­ing po­si­tion

Suit­ably tough/mean look­ing dash Fat drag race-style tyre Even Aprilia’s RSV4 RF sports­bike won’t make your back ache as much as the FXDR

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