It was unnerving—hustling through the curves and twists above the Southern California city of Ojai on a Harley-Davidson without hard parts dragging and sparks flying. Where was the limit? I had to be close. The pace quickened, still nothing. I never realized how comforting the grating of steel on asphalt could be. The Michelin Scorcher 11 tires held fast, confidence grew and the speeds jumped far beyond anything experienced on a Harley Big Twin to date. Welcome to the 2019 FXDR 114.
Studying the jet fighter-inspired lines, the 34-degree rake, and clip-on handlebars of this new Harley-Davidson model would have one thinking this is the replacement for the V-Rod that slipped from the H-D lineup. But it is not. Oh, no, it is not that at all. It is a new type of power cruiser for The Motor Company, designed for the rider who wants a more extreme look and stance, but also wants performance and handling not commonly found in a cruiser.
The FXDR 114 is the 10th model built on the 2018 Softail platform. Featuring a new aluminum swingarm that cuts 10.2 pounds from the rear of the Softail chassis and a revised position for the coil-over rear shock, the FXDR has a long and low look but has more cornering clearance than the other Softails. The rear subframe is constructed of aluminum and composite for further weight reduction. A 240mm rear tire is wrapped around an 18-inch cast aluminum disc wheel. The dragstrip styling continues with a long 4.4-gallon tank tucked behind a small speed screen with an LED headlight set within. A five-spoke 19-inch cast aluminum wheel at the end of the 43mm inverted fork and a forward-facing air intake complete the drag-inspired look.
The most powerful Milwaukee-Eight in a Softail chassis puts out 119 pound-feet of torque to that fat 240 rear via a belt final drive at just 3,500 rpm. The 114 gets off the line with a solid rush and with plenty of traction. A muted but throaty note emanates from the 2-into-1 exhaust. It delivers in a straight line.
Before leaving for the press ride the H-D staff praised the handling of the FXDR 114, but it seemed like a stretch considering the 34-degree rake, 68.4-inch wheelbase, 240 rear and 120 front tire. Once out of town and into the hills it was clear the Harley engineers were not just parroting marketing propaganda. There was more to the equation than suggested by the obvious measurements.
The FXDR 114 has more ground clearance and available cornering angle than any other Softail. The Harley-Davidson-supplied spec sheet touts 32.6 degrees and 32.8 degrees of cornering angle to the left and right, respectively. The muffler has a beveled shape for more lean, and the forward controls are up and out of the way, as well. Another aspect to the sporty handling is the 4.7-inch trail. That’s a half inch less than the steeper-raked and fleet-of-foot Fat Bob.
Tipping into corners on the FXDR 114 offers a slight initial resistance, reminding you of the presence of that 240mm tire, but just barely. Once on the side of the tire, the arc cut by the FXDR is more like a naked than a cruiser. The lean angle is far beyond what you would expect from a power cruiser with forward controls. It actually takes some commitment to find the limit and grind the pegs, and unless you have your heels on the pegs you will grind your boots first. My Alpinestars boots now have permanently beveled heels. Adjust your footing and all is good.
Dual 300mm discs up front squeeze four-piston calipers. The rear brake is a floating two-piston caliper on a 292mm rotor. ABS is standard. Lever feel is firm and brakes are responsive. Outright power is more than what the front tire can handle and more than a few times I slammed into the ABS system on bumpy corner entries. Diving under braking is minimal, as should be expected from a long and low performance cruiser.
This bike is sporty, but that brings me to my one and only gripe: ergonomics. Reach to the clip-on handlebars puts you in a forward-leaning position over the tank, which would be fine with mid-controls or rearsets but with the forward controls it’s an uncomfortable position for any long stretch. Even more annoying is the awkward feeling of being bent in a V while flying into a decreasing-radius corner at speed. The FXDR can handle it, but it takes some time to get your confidence in such a strange position. By the end of the day is was less of an issue.
As a rider who prefers ripping and tearing to cruising, the FXDR 114 speaks to me. I’m the kind of rider Harley-Davidson is looking to grab with this model. It looks fast sitting still and looks even faster when it’s blasting around a corner laid over on its side. It’s an entirely excellent ride and it excites me for future models from The Motor Company. Is this the the model that bridges the gap between the old guard and the next generation of Harley-Davidson models and riders? It could very well be. Either way, it is a fantastic motorcycle that rises above what is expected from a power cruiser.
|PRICE||$21,349 (Vivid Black), $21,749 (colors)|
|CLAIMED TORQUE||119 lb.-ft. @ 3500 rpm|
|FRAME||Tubular mild steel, rectangular backbone|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||43mm single cartridge inverted fork; 5.1-in. travel|
|REAR SUSPENSION||Coil-over monoshock, adjustable preload; 3.4-in. travel|
|FRONT BRAKE||4-piston fixed caliper, dual 300mm disc w/ ABS|
|REAR BRAKE||2-piston floating caliper, 292mm disc w/ ABS|
|SEAT HEIGHT||28.5 in.|
|FUEL CAPACITY||4.4 gal.|
|CLAIMED WEIGHT||668 lb. (wet)|