I check up on what Harley-Davidson is doing every few days, but Mike C., one of our Merch wizards, beat me to their site yesterday. He alerted me to two new models Harley quietly snuck (Yup, not a word. Don't care.) into the 2016 lineup. I'm pretty sure immediately after that he was super-judgmental about how lazy the whole Common Tread staff is, but he was kind enough to judge silently.
Let me give you the quick and dirty on these bikes.
The first is the one I'm more excited about, the Low Rider S, which joins the Fat Boy S and the Slim S. Let's get the basics out of the way: Dyna chassis, mid controls, 110 ci engine, two-into-two exhaust. Dual disc brakes up front. Sort of an odd size tire out back — a 160/70-17 bias-ply, and then up front you get a more conventional 100/90-19. ABS is standard. Those tires are wrapped around gold aluminum wheels. (Harley's calling them "Scorched Chrome." I'm calling them "Moto-sexy H-D copped off of a Japanese bike.") This Low Rider will set you back $16,699, which is three grand more than a Street Bob, Harley's base-model Dyna.
The only color available right now appears to be glossy black (Vivid Black, to Harleyphiles.) There's a pretty sweet lookin' bikini fairing on this bike, and behind it sits an obligatory-for-a-club-style-bike swept drag bar mounted on a set of reasonably tall (for the factory, anyway) risers. I am also seeing some preload-adjustable shocks in the rear, which Harley is calling premium suspension, and an open-element 90-degree air cleaner.
Lem-lem's analysis: This is the bike no one needs, but a lot of people want. Harley said earlier they were gunning for the younger market, and I'll hand it to the MoCo: This is the bike to do it with. It stays true to the Low Rider line, which debuted in 1977, sporting dual diskies and aluminum wheels. It's a stripped-down Harley, and thanks to the 110 and the mid controls, it's going to be a pretty fast bike. No, it will not beat some dude out hunting on a YZF-R6... but the R6 pilot is going to see a single round headlight in his mirror way more often than he would have bet. Harley has ripped off the Sons Of Anarchy style and now sends it out of the factory with a warranty.
Victory threw down the gauntlet with this yet-to-be-seen Ignition/Combustion thing. Harley is not about to take that lying down. (I'll be frank: I thought they would.) This motorcycle does make me wonder what the Cali cool guys are going to be riding next, if the hot-rodded FXR/Dyna thing has already been appropriated by The Man. Although I am generally quite pleased with what Harley has done with this bike, I am docking points for the air cleaner. Air cleaner socks look ridiculous, and a wet air filter is obviously a Very Bad Thing.
Next up we have a new CVO bike, the Pro Street Breakout. Nuts and bolts: Softail chassis, 110 ci engine, forwards (Why, God?), and a ridiculously attractive two-into-two two-tone exhaust. This one also gets dual grabbers up front. (Harley, nice job finally putting some brakes on things. I love brakes.)
At first I thought this was a fat-rear, skinny-front bike like an FX, but we're blurring that line here. The 240/40R-18 definitely gives the bubble-butt look in the rear, but it makes a fat front tire look "normal". The front skin is a 130/60-19. That's the same width as many Harley rears! The tires here are of mixed construction, with a radial out back and a bias-bun up front. I see a sweet LED headlight as well as LED turn signals. Boss.
I guess there was a sale over at the elbow factory, because this bike also sports an open-element 90-degree air cleaner. Other than a loud pipe, there's not much a potential rider could really "upgrade" here: All the period-correct-for-2016 goodies are on this bike.
I originally wrote that the exhaust pipe shields and the swept drag bars both appeared to me to be stainless steel (and I said they looked great), but I have since learned it's a finish Harley calls "Smoke Satin Chrome."
"We worked intensely with our plating suppliers to develop the hue and depth of Smoke Satin Chrome, and we are the first to use it in the motorcycle industry," said Harley-Davidson Senior Stylist Dais Nagao. "It’s a finish that looks really contemporary and exclusive but also kind of sinister. We’ve carefully placed Smoke Satin Chrome next to a black surface so it creates a layered effect."
This bike is available in two color combos, which is really odd for a CVO bike. At $25,699, I expect more than two colors, and so will many other buyers. That said, not many CVOs are made, so you're not likely to see two parked side by side, and the Starfire Black is super-attractive. The White Gold Pearl/Starfire Black paint job is drool-worthy. I can't tell exactly what paint trick they're using on the deco line they slung low on the tank that continues to the fender, but it sure as hell looks like gold leaf. Even if it's just a marbling effect, it is downright stunning. Part of the premium over the standard Breakout includes the chin spoiler and bikini fairing. Oh, yes, and that upside down front fork. Nice job again, Harley. I like suspension. The fact that this is a Softail already means the rear has an inappropriate amount of travel, but I'll take it where I can get it. Two thumbs up. Can you guys send me one of these for my Shovel?
Lem-lem's analysis: This misses it for me. I understand this is actually a bike for a reasonably young rider. (I mean young in H-D terms. There are no 22-year-olds lining up to buy Harley's expensive CVO bikes.) Still, though, it just misses the mark for me. The tires are ridiculous. They are "look at me" tires. The riding position looks uncomfortable. While we're on that topic, Harley, can we stop with the forwards on Softies? Can you figure out any damn way at all for customers to get a Softail and not have to re-work the entire controls situation? Some people aren't comfy with forwards. You guys offer every other mix of your parts whipped into a new bike, how about some mids on a Softail? Even floorboards.
This bike is gorgeous, but it's not a bike meant for big mileage, as evidenced by the price tag, riding position, tire size, and air filter. I thought we were done with this about a decade ago. And the name? Pro Street? I get the idea is to have a legal racer, but A) no one thinks of a non-V-Rod as even a remotely serious drag competitor and B) the actual Pro Street craze was too recent to be cool. In 10 years, a Pro Street bike will be kitschy and cool, but not today. Today, it just makes people think of ugly pink-and-turqoise paint jobs and jugs powdercoated the same color as the tins and frame. Yick. You guys missed it on this one.
There you have it, folks. A new model announcement with enough color commentary to make John Madden look like Chris Collinsworth. I'm hoping Harley reads this. I want them to send me either of these bikes at the same time Victory sends us their new bike. Spurgie, which one do you want to ride in the race?