Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
Harley-Davidson has already made some pretty astounding announcements about its future but the firm still hasn’t finished with its 2019 new model releases. Now it’s unveiled the FXDR – a machine that it calls a ‘power cruiser’ with styling that seems to position it where the V-Rod left off.
But the FXDR is no V-Rod. Unlike that somewhat unloved, water-cooled, DOHC muscle bike, the new machine is classic Harley under its less-than-conventional skin.
We’d already heard a bit about this bike, and as we expected it’s got the ‘114’ version of the firm’s air-and-liquid-cooled Milwaukee-Eight V-twin. That’s 1870cc in more familiar terms. It’s not quite as powerful as the capacity suggests, though. Harley never quotes power figures, but we can reveal that in the FXDR the motor makes 91hp. Hmm. But Harleys aren’t really about that; what really matters is the 119lbft of torque at a mere 3500rpm.
A six-speed gearbox feeds that torque to the wide rear tyre via a belt, in typical H-D style.
The engine is bolted to Harley’s latest Softail frame, making it the 10th model based on that chassis. It rather messes with traditional H-D naming, though, as in the past a ‘D’ in the third position of a Harley’s designation – as here with the FXDR – were based on the now-discontinued, twin-shock Dyna platform.
It might be an existing platform, but the FXDR gets several weight-saving measures including an aluminium swingarm and subframe. The resulting weight – 303kg ready-to-ride – might not sound light, but it’s not heavy for a big-engined Harley-Davidson.
Of course, appearances are a big deal with these bikes, and while a lot of Harleys are hard to distinguish from each other if you’re not a proper H-D anorak, there’s no mistaking the FXDR for another machine. The single seat, hovering above an almost-invisible rear hugger that’s designed to visually blend in with the 240-section rear tyre, gives it a stubby tail unlike anything else in the range. At the front there’s a contrast, with relatively stretched-out upside-down 43mm forks, helping give the stance of a drag bike.
A tiny front cowl hides minimalist instruments – a strip of warning lights and a tiny LCD display. Incredibly, that little 2.14 inch panel manages to include a speedo, gear indicator, fuel gauge, clock, trip counter, rev counter and can even give your remaining fuel range.
It’s not cheap, though. Prices for the FXDR start at £19,855, and that’s for a black one. If you want a splash of colour you break the £20k barrier (£20,205, to be precise).
New CVO models for 2019
Of course, for some people £20k isn’t expensive at all. And for them Harley-Davidson makes its CVO range of factory customs.
In 2019 the CVO range incorporates three models; the CVO Street Glide, CVO Road Glide and CVO Limited. Prices of entry to this little club start at £32,995 for the Street Glide, rising to £33,595 for the Road Glide and £35,495 for the full-fat Limited.
These models all get an even bigger, 117 cubic inch version of Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight V-twin. That’s 1920cc for those of us born in the metric era.
Power? Well, it’s all about torque, really. But if you really must ask, each of the CVO machines musters 105hp. It’s allied to a more encouraging 125lbft of twist, though, at a lowly 3500rpm.
As usual with CVO Harleys, the real difference compared to the more mass-made models is the paintwork and fittings. These bikes all get the annoying-to-type ‘Boom! ™ Box GTS’ infotainment system. It’s also available on some other 2019 touring Harleys, and incorporates Apply CarPlay compatibility. No Androids here, please.
On the Street Glide it’s tied to three, 300w amps and six bi-amped speakers in the fairing and pannier lids for 150w per channel and 900w in total. Which should be enough to hear it over the exhaust.
The Limited makes do with a mere four speakers and a single 300w amp, while the Road Glide uses four speakers and two 300w amps.
Since you might not want everyone within a few miles listening to your choice of music, all three bikes also come with a wireless headset interface. In fact, with a range of up to a mile and the ability to communicate with up to eight headsets, your mates can listen too. The Limited comes with two such headsets as standard, while the other two models include one headset.
Harley’s trike range isn’t exactly a huge seller in the UK, but for 2019 the firm has still opted to make some changes.
Notably, both the Freewheeler and the Tri-Glide Ultra get a new ‘Reflex Linked Brake’ system, which incorporates ABS and traction control, while also adding a ‘Drag-Torque Slip Control System’ (DSCS). This is like traction control in reverse, detecting whether each rear wheel is slipping and tweaking the power to match wheel speed and road speed. All the brakes are linked and there’s an IMU to help the control system decide how best to operate.