The story of how I went looking for an 883 sporter and ended up riding into the sunset on a Harley Low Rider.
Me and my bro-in-law collecting the low rider. He looks happier than I do.
Coming across the Harley Low Rider was a coincidence. I've owned a Harley Sportster 883 Iron before, which I sold in frustration but consequently ended up missing it badly. In my nostalgia, I found myself at the local Harley dealer with the intent of getting back the old 883 in some form. There are some new glossy versions, flaked and even the old matt-black that I was looking for. At the time of writing this, the latest Sportster on the block was the 2017 Roadster. The version with the 1200 mill, twin disc brakes, premium adjustable rear shock and a somewhat lean-over riding position. The most sporty, sport for several years.
That's where it happened. I saw the new 2017 Harley Low Rider - it 'had me at hello'. Nothing wrong with the Sportster but I figured there is a reason you don't go back to old girlfriends you've broken up with. There was a solid reason for leaving in the first place, right?
Before laying my eyes on the new low rider, I did test the Harley Sportster, Roadster XL1200CX, which was fun but more about that in another article. The point being, I've had a Sporty already and thought it was time for a big twin, and at 1690cc - big it certainly was!
How shiny is that Low Rider? A bitch to keep clean
The looks. To me, the low rider is quintessential Harley. Simple and classic lines with nothing extra that doesn't need to be on there. Well-proportioned with a good serving of chrome without going overboard. The low-rider has always represented that standard Harley look that all other models deviate from with fatter wheels or solid discs, added fairings, slammed suspension, odd headlights. With such timeless looks guarantee that it won't go out of fashion any time soon. Same with the colour, black is black.
While it may not be the flavour of the month, it is arguably the best colour for longevity and resale. The red type and pinstriping set it off nicely with a sharp, classy look that makes the flat black come alive. This year model also came in a black + silver paint scheme which is also very nice, if not somewhat more nostalgic and consequently would suit older riders. Whacky colour and finished like the 'red denim' and the sort look interesting enough but will drop out of fashion faster than a top 40 hit. Equally, trying to sell a bike in an 'experimental' colour will likely prove to be a challenge.
The classic two-tach setup with an RPM dial below the speed works well and looks very classic, especially with the warm orange glow when the sun goes down. The dials are mounted quite low, so in a full-face helmet, it takes a deliberate effort to look down at them. Not a bit issue really as the RPM is more of an aesthetic touch because once you know your bike, you can hear when to shift. Speed being on top is a lot easier to see.
Besides, the flush tank-mounted gauges add to the slim, streamlined look of the low rider. I've never been a big fan of the bar-mounted dials on say, the FXDX, or some R variations of the Sportster.
What's in a name?
Out of all the models, why would you buy a Harley Low Rider? Let's be honest, it is plainly the best name. Everything else sounds like a fancy vibrator. No, really. Think about it - Fat Boy. Night train. V-Rod. Super Glide, Ultra Glide...Are we still talking bikes here? So the name is cool, that's a great start.
The Dyna family are well known for being the pick if you want to ride the pants off a hog.
Barebones, no extra fat, big engine and this one equipped with twin disc brakes and ABS. Couple that with decent cornering angle and you've got a Hog that can shove along.
I was particularly impressed with how well the bike is finished off straight from the store. Back in the day, you'd have to drop a few Gs to get the roughly built hog looking good. Sure, the HD bible ( parts catalogue) make certain you can still do that, but you don't need to. You could quite easily leave it stock (aside from the pipe) and have a bike you can be proud of.
Thanks to Northern Beaches Harley Davidson. For a good buying experience. Talk to Brian - he's a cool guy.
Stock Low Rider sound
I distinctly recall riding away from the dealership many years back on an 883 and was stunned at not only how woeful the stock power output was, but also that the mini hog sounded like a sewing machine. Scarred by my previous experience, I promptly had the Screamin' Eagle 2-1 nightstick installed on this new Harley Low Rider.
The nightstick slip-on isn't loud, but it does sound good. Give it the beans, and you'll be met by a throaty roar that doesn't stop until you've hit the limiter. It's fair to say the two-into-one does change the Harley sound somewhat. That is, compared to the classic, two into two arrangement which has been the staple for anything but the touring models.
I've also equipped the racing tune-kit from supertrapp which has given it more sound without sacrificing torque (which is what happens if you simply pull off the discs). I've been told this nightstick is actually made by supertrapp - not that I really care who makes it.
Riding the low rider
2017 FXDL Dyna Low Rider with 'ventilator high flow intake.'
As mentioned in a caption above, the Dynas, for me at least, were not just show ponies but a HOG you can ride properly. While you most likely won't be setting track records on this thing - it is not slow. Stable on high-speed corners and surprisingly agile due to its low-slung weight. It most certainly doesn't feel as heavy as its numbers would suggest. The stock bars are wide and provide excellent leverage that makes flipping the Dyna side to side easy.
The twin-disc brakes upfront given you decent stopping power. Not staggering but good (probably very by Harley Standards). This model in particular, also comes with ABS. ABS, as most things don't come equal. While I'm grateful for any sort of ABS, the system on this bike is pretty low level. When it does come on, it stops braking what feels like a good full second at a time. A bit disconcerting, but as I said will save you from a lock-up and no doubt better than no ABS. Again, this is a comparison to the best on the markets Brembos and BMW ABS, which is barely discernable and turns of-on-off in milliseconds. Not seconds.
Stock shocks on the low rider are pretty good, even though I know they will be the first thing to be replaced. Even though fast corners when encountering bumps in the road, the Dyna doesn't wallow around like models of old and really it's only on sharp bumps you feel the rear bottom out. If you just cruise around on weekends and don't ride fast or long, the stocks suspension will never be an issue for you. But if you do ride fast, long or two up often you will want to switch this out. As of now, HD does stock their own 'premium ride' shocks, which are no doubt better than stock. I haven't tried them yet, so I can't comment.
Overall though the low rider is quite swift, easy to ride and makes you feel like a total badass. Especially when you pull up at the lights next to a Vespa rider who is convinced he's going to see you off at the lights.