The 2019 Harley Davidson FXDR 114 is a New Breed of Softail
Daily Slideshow: Harley-Davidson aims to make a mark with the new FXDR 114. But how will it fair in the market?
Cranking out 119 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm, the 2019 FXDR 114 is about as quick off the line as it is to divide opinions among Motor Company devotees. Hitting the showroom floor this past fall, the FXDR has yet to see a full riding season. With industry reviews already circulating, the question remains, will buyers be as generous as the media?
What most can agree on is that the FXDR has a price tag that smacks as hard as its rev limiter. Immediate questions were asked about affordability rather performance. Intended to attract a new generation of riders, the FXDR is something of a paradox. Many young buyers attracted to the sportbike market can't quite afford the bike — at least not right now.
There is no doubt about the FXDR's design influence. As a radical departure from style soaked in heritage, Harley-Davidson's design team opted for the performance end of the Motor Company's drag racing history. The result is that everything about the FXDR is a bold statement. As the advertising states, the FXDR “moves you in ways you’ve never been moved before.”
A rationale as to why Harley-Davidson released the FXDR can be found in the styling. At the FXDR's launch in October 2018, Ben Wright, chief engineer for the Softail platform, stated that the “FXDR’s design is a bridge between the current Softail range and the upcoming Streetfighter.” As a comparison, the V-Rod, launched in 2001, was also a radical design departure, but one that served to bring outsiders into the Harley-Davidson fold.
Learning From History
Critics have been quick to point out the FXDR's faults. Some even call the FXDR 'ugly.' However, history often repeats itself. And when Harley-Davidson released the performance-oriented FXR in 1982, it was called the 'wannabe Harley' because of its resemblance to the existing Japanese offerings. It took over thirty years for devotees to embrace the FXR and its advancements.
Dyno Results Pending
Where the FXDR excels is with the new Milwaukee-Eight 114-cubic-inch motor. Named after the city that houses the Motor Company's headquarters, and the number of valves in the engine, the FXDR's motor puts out 119 foot-pounds of seat-slamming torque and approximately 100-horsepower of raw power at 5000 rpm. This is not to mention the 'yet to be found' horsepower that can be coaxed out of any Harley-Davidson with aftermarket parts.
The FXDR is a power cruiser that slots right into the muscle bike category. Its direct contenders are the Ducati Diavel, the Triumph Rocket III, and the Yamaha V-Max. While muscle bikes are not always the most attractive machines, they are often the most memorable to ride.
The End Game
At the end of the day, Harley-Davidson is making forays into new market segments and attempting to build desire for its products. Developing product lust is a clever strategy high-end European car makers have used for generations. It is also a move that is critical to the Motor Company's longevity.
Some think the FXDR may become an embarrassing 'white elephant,' or a maverick 'black sheep' in the Motor Company's forward trajectory. Odds are it will be neither. It will most likely become a 'wolf in sheep's clothing' once the aftermarket gets going on style and performance parts. The question then becomes will the FXDR slip out of the spotlight when the Pan America ADV is introduced in 2020?
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