Harley's tough 2019 FXDR 114 prepares to hit the … racetrack?
Harley-Davidson might be thinking big, loose and crazy for its 2020 range, but it's saved a bit of candy for 2019 as well. In particular, the new FXDR 114 Softail power cruiser with its long, low dragster looks and big, fat Milwaukee Eight motor.
The technical focus here is on weight reduction, but let's be serious - it's a Harley, so it's still gonna be a fair old chunk of motorbike that'll cling to the road with some proper gravity. Nevertheless, the swingarm has been re-done in aluminum instead of steel for a 10.2-pound (4.6 kg) weight saving over the regular steel Softail unit.
Likewise the wheels are "lightweight" designs, the subframe is aluminum and the tail bodywork is composite to help ditch a few more pounds. And the fenders have been shaved down until the rear one is almost invisible.
The riding position is drag-bike inspired, featuring forward foot controls and drag bars that'll have riders leaning even slightly further forward than they would on a Breakout. Highway mile muncher this is not, the FXDR will put you in attack mode and keep you there.
Indeed, despite the 19/18-inch rims, monster 240-section rear tire and 114 cubic inch, 119 lb-ft V-Twin engine, Harley wants to position this thing as a corner carver. It's got more ground clearance for cornering than anything else in the Softail range – at least 32.6 degrees of lean angle on each side, and debuts replete with a racetrack launch video, which you can check out below.
Ordinarily, this is where I'd start laying the boot in. Harley power cruisers on racetracks? What's the point? Here, check out the back wheel of this GSX-R for a corner and a half, you skull bandanna-wearing, leatherdaddy-wannabe accountant, I'll see ya back in the pits.
But my thinking on this has evolved, not least thanks to a solid week aboard a Breakout a year or so ago, which showed me there's more to these things than you can get your head around in 20 minutes if you've grown up with nakedbikes and sporties.
Harley's power cruisers take a solid day or two to get your head around, but once you work out how to muscle them through a turn and ride that huge wave of rumbling torque, they're a genuine pleasure to manhandle and an experience all of their own. So this FXDR, with its modest lightweighting and committed riding position, looks like a romping good time.
Hell yes, I'd take it on the racetrack, just for the pleasure of scalping a few poorly-ridden sportsbikes, driving their riders before me and hearing the lamentations of their women. Track days are for fun, not for shaving tenths, when you're as average a rider as I am, and there's ample pleasure to be had dragging Milwaukee metal on the ground at speeds well past the Imperial ton.
Ah, maybe I'm just getting old. It could happen to you, too, if you're not careful.