Legacy Lives On in the Harley-Davidson FXLR Low Rider
Harley-Davidson's popular Low Rider nameplate has evolved once more.
Soft and Low
In one form or another, the Low Rider has been part of the Motor Company lineup since 1977. The latest variant of the Low Rider was part of Harley-Davidson's new Softail chassis. Rolled out as the FXLR in 2018, it stays the same for 2019. Will this latest Low Rider prove as popular as it has in the past forty years?
The Low Rider name has been associated with three other platforms. It was first introduced as the Shovelhead-powered FXS at Daytona Bike Week in 1977. It was an instant hit and accounted for twenty percent of Harley-Davidson's sales for 1978. The FXB Sturgis, an all-black Low Rider with primary and secondary belt drives, was unveiled in 1980 and became standard in 1983.
In 1986, the FXR replaced the FX, and with it came the FXRS Low Rider. In 1993, the Dyna chassis replaced the FXR frame and the FXDL Low Rider was introduced. There was a Low Rider production hiatus from 2010 until mid-2014. A special edition FXDLS Dyna Low Rider S was released in mid-2016, powered by the potent Screamin' Eagle 110 cubic-inch Twin Cam motor.
The Low Rider has always been popular among riders. It has a lower seat height, mid-controls, a dash-mounted speedometer and tachometer, and some incarnations had dual-disc front brakes. The 2018 Low Rider retains these characteristic design features, with the exception of the 2-into-1 exhaust which has been replaced by a 2-into-2 shotgun exhaust.
Smooth Cool Speed
Standard for the 2018 Softail model lineup, the Low Rider received the Milwaukee-Eight 107 cubic-inch engine. The rigid-mounted motor, features dual counterbalancers to cancel out primary vibrations, and a factory-fitted oil cooler keeps the heat down. It might just be a sales tactic, but Harley-Davidson claims the new Milwaukee-Eight is faster off the line than the High Output Twin Cam 103 engine.
The Low Rider is one of the lowest priced 'Dyna' Softail-converts. With 2018 models no doubt on dealer clearance, the 2019 FXLR starts at $15,049 in Vivid Black with the eye-catching red and blue tank graphic. ABS is an additional $795, but the security system is now standard. The murdered-out Street Bob is the least expensive of the lot at $14,549.
Language of Change
The Low Rider was one of only three Dyna models that was retained. The fact that it was not substantially changed speaks to its popularity. Paul James, Product Portfolio Manager elaborated on the Softail introduction, “In model year 2000...we changed everything without changing a thing. Those bikes [had] the same style and look as the bikes they replaced. That was not the intent here. Our intent was to move this design language along.”
The old Low Rider was once dubbed the 'original mile-eater' by Harley-Davidson. With each incarnation lasting about ten years on average, it is hard to predict the popularity of this Low Rider. Feedback on the chassis, suspension, and motor are positive so far. Perhaps the question to ask is not what will the next generation of Low Riders look like, but rather what type of engine will power them — electric?
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