New Harleys lower, meaner than everComment on this story
By: IOL Motoring Staff
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Hard on the tailpipes of the Project Rushmore tourers and the Street 750, Harley-Davidson has announced three more new derivatives to complete the biggest model launch in the 110-year history of the Motor Company - the new Low Rider, SuperLow 1200T and Street Bob Special Edition.
In 1977 Willie G Davidson created a ride-it-hard, put-it-away-dirty, make-your-own-rules cruiser - the Low Rider. Designed both as a no-nonsense Big Twin for serious riders and as a blank canvas for bolt-on customisers, it almost single-handedly gave rise to what is now an 800-page catalogue of aftermarket parts and accessories to make your Harley unique.
Now that non-conformist nameplate is back on a new cruiser with old-school styling over right-now mechanicals - starting with a 1690cc Twin Cam engine making 126Nm at 3500rpm and all the right noises through a convoluted two-into-one exhaust, modulated by supple suspension and dual front disc brakes.
A polished headlight visor and wrinkle-black trim echo the original Low Rider, while an adjustable seat and handlebar risers make long rides more fun no matter what shape you're in.
And somehow it's appropriate that the Low Rider section in the monumental Harley-Davidson parts and accessory catalogue is one of the biggest.
They say there are two kinds of Harley owners - Sportster guys and Big Twin riders. Elvis Presley, for what it's worth, was a Sportster rider; Arnold Schwartzenegger owns a number of Big Twins.
The 1200T is the Harley tourer for Sportster guys, combining the quicker steering and shorter wheelbase of the Sporty's (relatively) lighter chassis, with the equipment to take you to the next town - or the next time zone.
A detachable screen, locking saddlebags and Michelin Scorcher touring tyres are standard equipment, as are mounting points for detachable accessory racks and backrests.
The seat, handlebars and footpegs have been redesigned for long-range comfort rather than looking cool, with low, pull-back 'bars, and mid-mounted footpegs so broad and deeply rubber-padded they almost qualify as foot-boards.
A 1203cc Evolution V-twin rated for 96Nm at 3750rpm provides motorvation for a Long Ranger that's more than 50kg lighter than the lightest model in the Motor Company's Touring range.
STREET BOB SPECIAL EDITION
'Bob' in this case has nothing to do with Robert (E Lee or any other); it's short for 'bobber' a term originally applied to a horse with its mane and tail cut bobbed (cut short) for working cattle in heavy brush, and latterly applied to a military-spec Harley-Davidson stripped (bobbed) of everything that did not contribute to forward motion.
The new Street Bob Special Edition is that utter rarity, a Harley-Davidson that is not available in the United States.
Inspired by the factory customisation programme, it's been put together using the best that the parts and accessories catalogue has to offer, pared down to retain the minimalist look that was created by American GI's returning from the Second World War who found it difficult to settle down.
Today we'd call it post-traumatic stress syndrome; they just stripped down old bikes to the bare essentials and rode the kinks out of their souls.
The Street Bob Special retains all the key styling features of the stripped-back Big Twin - the chopped rear mudguard, Fat Bob fuel tank, and black-finished 126Nm, 1690cc engine and gearbox.
Forward controls and a flat drag-style handlebar lower the bike's profile, a two-up Badlander seat replaces the standard single seat, and the bike rolls on special split five-spoked cast wheels finished in black with contrast cut highlights.
XL1200T SuperLow - R134 450
FXDL Low Rider - R175 950
FXDBB Street Bob Special Edition - R172 000
The Low Rider, SuperLow 1200T and Street Bob Special Edition will be available in South Africa from mid-April 2014.