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Harley from Sportsbike

Old 12-19-2016, 01:42 AM
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Default Harley from Sportsbike

I recently switched from sports bikes to Harley, it's been a unique experience and it's not one I've seen much written about so I thought I would do a bit of a write up. This is my initial review/write up. If there is an interest in it I may do one at 1000 miles, then another at a year or so.

*Bit of a long read and it got late writing it, so forgive any confusing sentences, ha.

I'm by no means a gold star medalist who's ridden them all and keeps the lead at the track, but I do like to ride aggressive and fast and within what's legally acceptable. I ride year round out here, so unless there is ice on the ground I'm out in it. Many many miles in the winter rain.

The machines:
The old
My previous bike was a second gen FZ1, a very good bike, mine was modified quite a bit performance wise. More upright than most sports bike, not a super sport like an R1, but had the same engine. I could do 85mph in first gear. It sounded great with the RPMs up there, stopped well, moved well. Road it year round, did great in the rain with Pilot Road 4 tires. Built well, had about 50,000 miles on it.

And yet... it didn't completely fit me. It fit well, but not prefect. The bike wanted to go over 40mph at all times to be fun. Being able to hit 85mph in first gear also meant the power range was so wide it was difficult to enjoy it. A very tiny twist of the throttle and the RPMs would sky rocket and so would the bike.

However this wasn't so much fun as it was a risk. The bike I had before was a SV650, when I tried a liter bike I thought I was doing 20 mph just to get to know it and I was doing 40. Fast? Oh yes. But I had to go much faster on the speedometer to feel the sensation like I was going fast. The bike started to only really be fun if I was basically being illegal with it. It wanted to be doing 100mph, not 30.

Additionally it wasn't 100% comfortable. The bike was more comfortable than other sports bikes certainly, but one shouldn't be bleeding after a day trip because you where on the freeway too long in one position. Just saying.

The bike was quick and darty. Did everything I asked of it.

The new (before buying)

The first time I saw a Lowrider S... I wasn't all that interested. Pictures don't do it justice, it really looses something. The first time I saw one in person however I got a massive adrenaline rush, something I hadn't experienced from a thing before. It was like Harry Potter in the wand shop. I knew it was my bike.

I had a dilemma, I really liked the way my Fz1 moved. I had tried several different Harleys and I couldn't get it to move how I wanted it to. I like to move a bike about half the time with just my hips, feet or body weight shifting, not the handle bars. You sorta make the bike dance and it's great fun.

I managed to get a test ride on one when I stumbled upon one at a dealership a month or two later. Though I loved the pull of the engine (pulled better than my Fz1 with a smaller sprocket up front that I had just done), I wasn't so much looking for a new bike that day since I had just modified my Fz1 and was happy with the difference it made. So I didn't really look at it, just took it a mile and turned around. Though I liked the bike I didn't see it worth the money that day.

Bug didn't go away.


Eventually I started looking again a few months later. Trying different bikes still. Hung around the dealer like a stray dog looking at them all. Ran into a guy who owned a Lowrider S who used to race sports bikes, who rides year round here. We talked for a while and it was his opinion of the bike and it's capability that made me look back at the FXDLS. He had trophies on his wall. He road hard and knew his bikes. The FXDLS was his favorite. So I scheduled another test ride.

This time I gave it a chance, and I was simply thrilled with it. On that short test ride I was even stopped at a light by someone telling me how beautiful that bike was and how he wants one just like it and that I should enjoy it. Was like the dealer paid the guy, ha. And man it turned some heads in just a couple miles.


As of right now there aren't a lot of miles on the bike and I'm still breaking it in. The ice hit two days after I bought it, uncommon here. And it's just now staying away properly. However I had found it really is something special.

The thing moves like cursive, or water flowing in a bucket. It starts, it rolls, it curves, it flows off the side and rolls back around. It's not like 'chicken scratches' that the Fz1 did. It's not as fast in a sense and yet I do not want it to be. The sensation of "cursive" is a highly, highly enjoyable one. It's just about as nimble as the Fz1 and I feel with more experience on it I will be able to get a whole lot more out of it than I could the Fz1 and my riding style.

It's nimble and moves like it weighs half of what it does. Goes where I want, does what I want. I'm still breaking in the engine so I'm keeping the RPMs down, but it does pull like a raped ape right from the very instant you ask it to move. Unlike the Fz1 which had a lag in how it pulled, it had to build it up, the FXDLS just goes like a bull. It's a tremendously fun experience.

It reminds me in many ways of my '67 Mustang. The experience is just completely different and a lot more fun. Sure the Porsche is faster in the corners but man you don't care and you're having way more fun than he is.
If you watch The Grand Tour (and you totally should), the Harley is like the Hell Cat that powerslide smoking the tires in front of the Aston that just took the corner "fast". It's too new to have a clip of that scene, but this one does grasp the difference of riding a Harley verse a Sports bike to me.

Video should start 8 seconds in, if not be expected to have James yell 'Shut up!" loudly.

The unexpected:

Lot of riding buddies out here, it would appear I've lost several of them because I bought a Harley. Like it was a 'No girls allowed' club and I showed up with a hot chick.

Another thing was unexpected was how my view of quality changed. I never thought the Yamaha felt cheap by any means, but sitting on the Harley it was night and day different. As someone who makes things for a living it's a massive deal to me to have that feel. Like old brick verse a plastic covering made to look like brick. They look the same but they certainly don't feel the same.

The life change:

I ride year round, I needed a bike that could do the same. The Harley didn't even flinch when I was caught in cold heavy rain on tires that had 20 miles on them. Moves how I want it to. Flows how I love. The sound of it is way better to my ears.

What made me join the 'Dark Side'?:

Many things. For one I wanted something that was American made by Americans. I'm tired of everything being outsourced, especially as someone who makes things for a living. Harley's have more history in America, they're they Colt 45 or 1911 of the motorcycle world. The sensation of pride is stronger with them, it's more than just a motorcycle.

They also hold something of the past of my own, something about it fullfills the same passion you had as a kid wanting a Lamborghini or... a Harley.

Another reason was a ride or two I did. Fun places, fun rides. But I found I wasn't looking to put the hammer down all day. And I noticed all the bikes on the side of the road with people taking it in where on Harleys. I also noticed they seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot more, not fighting to keep to just the road. I'm an explorer, I love an excuse to stop and look around. If I only go for what I know is there that's all I will ever find.

Another reason... Hipster BS. 2016 became the year everyone was offended by everything, riding around on scooters being upset you assumed their gender when they where asked for a name for their free trade soy milk double shot organic free range coffee. Harleys feel like the antithesis of that.

Lastly perhaps, the brotherhood is different.
I had broken down about a 100 miles from home on one of my trips on my Yamaha. I'm on the freeway and it's a Harley rider who pulled over with me and waited for a tow truck. Took over an hour. And as I sat there watching rush hour traffic pick up I started to notice something I hadn't seen before.

In the midst of the people passing by where bikers. The ones on Adventure bikes, sport bikes, Hondas, ect. didn't look my way. But the Harleys... well, every last one did something to check on me. One crossed 4 lanes of traffic and pulled over seeing if he could help. One checked for a thumbs up or down, one slowed to make sure I had a tow coming. One was in a truck without ramps, pulls over, sees what he can do (tow on the way at this point), and as he pulls away I see a Harley sticker in his back window.

They all checked. Or rather, all the Harley guys checked. Not only that they looked to help. It was the first time I had seen it and I couldn't help but wonder if it was because there was a Harley rider sitting next to me. All motorcyclist seem to have a brotherhood of sorts, but there seems to be a deeper one, a hidden one just with Harley riders. The dealers seem way different too, it's a hangout as much as it is a business. You don't find that at other dealerships.

Initial conclusion: While I can't comment too much due to the fact I'm still breaking it in, I do greatly feel the FXDLS will prove to be a wonderful bike and add considerably more life to my life than the metric before it.

I think people who mock the term "character" of a bike have one that doesn't have any. You don't realize what you're missing till you've experienced it. Just as I didn't catch the build quality difference till I really sat on one looking at it. It adds considerable enjoyment to the ride.

Take off that Harley label, take away everything extra I've listed, have the same bike come out of China and it's still one hell of a machine that I enjoy more than the Fz1.

**Today this is all read by you guys who already own Harleys and already know, but to the guy researching on the internet just as I did who is wondering: Yes, it makes a difference. Stop reading and just go ride, try several, it's like finding a pair of pants that fits right. The answers you're looking for are on the open road.**

Last edited by CaptainAwesome; 12-22-2016 at 06:56 AM.
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Old 12-19-2016, 01:52 AM
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Welcome aboard. You already are starting to understand the difference.

It will only get better! Well, as soon as this crappy weather is gone!
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Old 12-19-2016, 02:31 AM
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As a former owner of a couple of R1's and still have my CBR...welcome to the dark side. You will find that lots of people here also came from the sportbike clan. BTW you pick a good one for your Harley...S models rock!
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Old 12-19-2016, 03:02 AM
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Welcome man. I too came from many many years of sport bikes, 22 years on 2 wheels and the majority of them were on gsxr's or cbr's including an 8.90 @ 154 65 inch gsxr 1000.

Nothing like a Harley out there and I'll never own anything else. It's slow no matter how much money you throw at it but it's still the best ride you can have.
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Old 12-19-2016, 05:33 AM
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I have always been curious about the over the pond bikes they always amaze me what they are capable of. Over the years have ridden a lot of them and every time reminded why I needed to stay away from them. On my Harleys I always knew how fast I was going because how the bike felt or the engine was buzzing.
Let me say this Harleys can be made to be very fast building one yourself and it does not need to cost a small fortune. It takes dedication to them to figure it out.
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Old 12-19-2016, 09:44 AM
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no reason you can't have both!
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Old 12-19-2016, 09:52 AM
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Thanks for the good write up and welcome to the HD Forum and the Harley family !
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Old 12-19-2016, 10:09 AM
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Cliff notes?

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Old 12-19-2016, 10:31 AM
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FYI, when somebody refers to going over to the "Dark Side" when it's in the vernacular definition of a Harley Davidson, they're referring to the fact that they're running a car tire on the rear of their bikes and sometimes on the front also instead of a tire solely made for the motorcycle market.
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Old 12-19-2016, 10:36 AM
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Default Welcome from Monroe NC

Have fun with your new bike and be safe not fast.
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