KPR Custom Fat Boy

KPR Industries Fat Boy

Our man Dave had a visit and ride with specialist parts and accessories distributor KPR Industries.

Brum said, “Dave, get over to KPR Industries and have a talk about the bikes they have in their showroom.” A few days later I was at their Kedron (Brisbane) premises and walking around a pretty special Fat Boy Custom with Director, Joe Kovacs.

One Phat Boy.

This great-looker started life as a 2018 FLFBS 114 cube Milwaukee 8 Fat Boy and was built by KPR as an R&D project in conjunction with its owner, Heath.

Director Nathan Parry fitted it out with a huge inventory of Harley and KPR products to turn it into a real head turner.

Starting with the RC Component ‘Revolt’ wheels that really are one of the standout features of the presentation. The front has been converted to a 23” and is shrouded by a ‘B’Cool 23” 12 Gauge Thick No Wobble Front Guard’. Joe explained that the advantage of these fender is that for such a long guard it doesn’t rattle or vibrate at the lower end, like some lighter gauge materials. It’s also perfectly smooth so the painters love them. The wheels are finished off with Matching Two piece (Replaceable) Blade Rotors & Rear Pulley.

It’s also running the complimentary RC Components air cleaner that shows off the wheels really nicely, particularly in conjunction with the Genuine Harley Black-out engine covers. The exhaust is a Bassani Pro Street System and it’s running a Screamin’ Eagle race tuner.

The contrast cut theme is continued with genuine Harley ‘Defiance’ grips, footboards and rear pegs and it has Wunderkind Adjustable wide blade clutch and brake levers. It all fits together really well and the levers and grips sit nicely on the Genuine H-D 12” Apes mounted on Drag Specialties Hefty risers and clamp. It looks really tough.

The bike’s stance is enhanced by Platinum Air Suspension that can be adjusted to give it a really slammed rear-end look - or pump up the pre-load for better ride comfort. There’s also a second switch for adjusting ride height and cornering clearance.

The paint on the bike is by Zealous Airbrush Studio and is simply beautiful. The various gloss and matte black sections are separated by a series of silver and white pinstripes. The area in-between is finished with hand gilded nine-carat white gold leaf.

When asked about the job, Damo said, “We wanted something that was timeless. Something classic that would sit well on the bike and not look like it was from a particular era.” It’s a job very well done.

The presentation is finished off with KPR under perch indicators and a ChopZ FLFB Option 5 tail tidy in all-black.

Joe also pointed to some new products that have come out of Thunderbike in Germany. The front axle covers really tidy up the fork lowers and the swingarm pivot bolt cover kit takes away some of the “Bunnings Hardware” look. They have also used contrast cut KPR bolt covers on the rocker box cover, KPR tank Mount Kit covers and KPR Lifterblock Covers in an effort to replace as many of the cad-plated parts as possible.

Also worth noting is they now have a viable dummy-side flush mount fuel cap to suit.

After a good walk around and the run-down we headed out for a photo shoot and then Joe said the magic words, “Would you like to take it for a ride Dave?”

Everyone looks at this bike.

The first thing I noticed was how ‘normally’ the bike rides. I think that’s the biggest kudos a ‘big wheeler’ can get - that it rides like a normal bike. That was a little surprising considering that this example is running the standard triple trees and geometry, but as Joe later said “It rides so well we didn’t see any reason to amend the rake.”

I also really enjoyed the riding position, great comfort and ergos that come with the 12”apes - and of course the noise coming out of the Bassani system is quite intoxicating.

Lean angles are what you would expect from a slammed Fat Boy although on a quick test ride I didn’t really get a chance to pump up the ride height to max. But that’s not what this bike is about anyway. It’s a head turning, feel-good, pleasure machine of the first order. It’s fitted with a very well matched inventory of quality products and it’s a joy to be aboard.

When I mentioned that to Joe back at the shop he summed it up nicely. “It’s why we call ourselves ‘Custom Motorcycle Consultants’ - and it’s why we build bikes like this for R&D purposes. So we know from experience how well things go together and we can plan and design our product range to suit.”

How well this Fatty is tied together is testament to that experience. You can see more of the range of KPR products at their web site: kpr-ind.com.au - or talk to your favourite bike shop.


GUTS & BOLTS

GENERAL
Bike: 2018 FLFBS Fat Boy
Builder: KPR Industries

ENGINE
Type: Milwaukee-Eight® 114
Carburetion: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Air Cleaner: RC Components
Exhaust: Bassani Pro street Turnouts

TRANSMISSION
Type: 6 Speed
Primary Drive: Chain
Rear Drive: Belt

FRAME
Type: Softail
Seat: H-D

WHEELS & TYRES
Wheels : RC Components “Revolt” Contrast Cut
23”x 3.75 Front
18” x 8.5” Rear
BRAKES, CALIPER TYPE4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear

TYRES, FRONT AVON COBRA 130/60R-23
TYRES, REAR AVON COBRA 250/40 R18 AV72 81V

CONTROLS
Bars: H-D 12” Apehanger
Grips/Levers/Change: H-D “Defiance machine cut” - Wunderkind Adjustable wideblade levers
Footpegs/Forward Controls: HD “Defiance machine cut”
Risers: Drag Specialites Hefty risers and clamp
Master Cylinder: H-D
Switch Blocks: H-D
Headlight: H-D Black
Taillight: ChopZ Option 5

GUARDS & TINWORK
R Guard: H-D
F Guard: B’Cool 23” 12 Gauge Thick No Wobble
Trim: H-D

PAINT & FINISH
Paint: Zealous Airbrush Studio
Colour: Contrast Matte Black on Gloss black with White gold leaf pinstripes and brushed logos

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About KPR Industries.

After we covered the details of the Fat Boy I sat down with Joe Kovacs and asked him to, “Tell me more about KPR Industries”.

“We have been in business seven-and-a-half years now and we are importers and distributors for a wide range of products. Nathan and I bring over 40 years combined experience to the custom Harley industry. We are proudly Bassani Exhausts distributor here in Australia,” He began.

“We’ve done a lot of work with the Bassani product. Through hard work and much support from Bassani, our dealers and sponsored riders like Josh at HD Hooligans, Jamie from Karupt Customs and Ryan Rowley, we have managed to help develop Bassani Xhausts into a brand that was selling three pipes a year, to one that is outselling some of the more established brands.”

“It’s actually one of our company goals, to take the well-known older Brands that have been in the industry for a long time ,but are suffering, because of a number of factors, like online sellers etcetera, we feel that they haven’t been properly branded, marketed or represented, so we set about fixing that by promoting the name and giving the products the service they deserve. We are currently doing the same thing with RC Components wheels and their other product lines.”

When asked to list KPR’s main product lines Joe replied. “Bassani Xhaust, ChopZ, RC Components, we are now the authorised distributor for Paaschburg Wunderlich, a German company who make and distribute really top-end lighting solutions like “HighSider” just to name one, and we’re very excited about that product range. Some of the new LED indicators and lights are amazing. We also have a great range of Thunderbike products from Germany as well because they are really leading the way in components for the M8 models - particularly things like the underperch indicators, forward controls, flush mount gas cap covers, headlight peaks, and fastener kits. In fact we can supply anything from the Thunderbike range.”

Which lead me to the question, “How do people order your products?”

“From their local bike shop” Joe answered. “We pretty much service all of the Genuine Harley network and those dealers - and others - can order anything you want from us: Bassani, ChopZ, Heartland USA, Drag Specialities, Custom Cycle SAS Air Suspension and a heap more brands ever expanding. Your Heavy Duty readers can check out our web site, www.KPR-ind.com.au - We also have a dealer locator on there, and we’re working to get the full range of products online as quickly as we can.”

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More Stunners

There were two other great looking R&D builds in the KPR Showroom while I was there. Both these bikes are currently for sale.

breakout for sale

The 2016 FXSB Breakout is quite spectacular. It has been fitted with:
• RC Components Dynasty Eclipse Wheels
• Contrast Cut with Custom Polished Accents 23”x 3.75” Front, 18”x 8.5” Rear, Matching Two piece (Replaceable) Blade Rotors & Matching Rear Pulley.
• RC Components Foot pegs and Grips
• RC Components Dynasty Eclipse Hi-Flow Air Cleaner
• Avon Tyres Front and Rear. ( New ) 50ks on them
• B’Cool 23” 12 Gauge Thick No Wobble Front Guard. Painted Vivid Black Trask V-Line Handle Bars
• Black Triple Trees with flush mount riser bushes
• Blackline Dash Console
• Custom Highsider Stretched Black Billet Headlight
• JB Speaker “Adaptive LED” Headlight Insert
• Custom Dynamics Blue Tooth Colour Lighting Package
• Thunderbike Upper Fork Covers
• ThunderBike Underperch Front LED Indicators
• ChopZ Otion5“BlackChrome”Rear Fender fix.
• SAS Rear Air Suspension, with Handlebar Switch Mount and Remote Control Bassani Road Rage II Chrome 2-1 Performance Exhaust System
• Full Custom Dynamics LED Bluetooth Lighting Kit including Wheels Screaming Eagle Tuner
• Trac Max ABS/Speedo Correction unit
• KPR Custom Tank Mount Bolt and Cover Kit
• KPR Seat NutZ
• Fred Kodlin Design -Mustang Seat and pillion set
• KPR Custom Mirrors

fat bob for sale

The Solo Registered 2017 Dyna Street Bob is equally stunning, its inventory includes:
• Heartland USA 240 Swingarm and Fender Kit with Black Billet Struts, Vivid Black
• Heartland USA Leather Solo Seat
• ChopZ Customized Rear licence plate mount and Wunderkind 3-1 LED Rear Indicators
• RC Components Eagle Eclipse Wheels Contrast Cut 21”x 3.75” Front, 18”x 8.5” Rear,
• Matching Two piece (Replaceable) Blade Rotors & Matching Rear Pulley.
• RC Components Foot pegs and Grips
• RC Components Eagle Eclipse Hi-Flow Air Cleaner
• Avon Tyres Front and Rear.
• B’Cool 21” 12 Gauge Thick No Wobble Front Guard. Painted Vivid Black
• Trask V-Line Handle Bars
• Black Triple Trees
• Thunder Bike Under perch Front LED Indicators
• Bassani Firesweep Turnouts with Custom made Billet End Caps
• Screaming Eagle Tuner
• KPR Custom Mirrors
• Drag Specialties Rear 11” Shocks
• KPR Chin Scoop
• LED Headlight Insert
• Drag Specialties Premium 11” Adjustable Shocks
• Arlen Ness Contrast cut Derby and Timing Covers

For more info on either of these bikes give KPR a call on 07 3162 0077





Jose's Immaculate WLA

A Restoration Mission.

Jose's WLA

Jose’s immaculate WLA 42 was one of the standout bikes at the Gold Coast Bike show so I asked if we could feature it in Heavy Duty.

A few weeks later we met up and headed out for a cruise around the ‘Glitter Strip’ and a sit-down for a chat about the bike and its history.

This is one supreme head-tuning motorcycle and it drew a small crowd of appreciative onlookers everywhere we stopped. When we did get away from the crowd and talked it made for a very interesting yarn - told in a still-strong Spanish accent that’s been softened by 30 years of living in Australia.

“I’ve always been keen on motorcycles, ever since I was a boy, but when I finally grew out of 250’s I found that a Harley was ‘it’. Ever since I was 17 or 18 years old I had a ‘special’ for the Harleys. I especially like the mechanicals. When I open up an engine, and see everything, and find out how it works, well that’s just fantastic. It’s why I really like the WLA, you can easily see how everything works.”

This is Jose’s first WLA and he has owned it since 1987. “I bought it Albury where it had been used on a farm and it was a complete basket case. It wasn’t just in bad condition – it was in no condition at all! It wasn’t running and many of its parts were missing. It had been used around a farm and on a lot of dirt roads. It was very run down. Unfortunately the ‘before’ photos have been lost over time, but it would surprise you to see what a state it was in.”

Then Jose brightened, “It took me quite a few years to find everything that needed replacing on the bike. I was lucky that I travelled to the USA a few times back then and the parts were easier to find. It took me about five years to get the bike to its current state.”

“I also liked the challenge of improving things as I restored it. I’m still doing that now. I’m still working on it.” He calls the project, “Incomplete”.

“Every time I find something that will benefit the bike or add to its safety, I add it. As you probably noticed it has indicators now, purely for safety. I modified the Driving lights and headlight mountings and made new brackets especially - and I rebuilt the seat on the original base and re-upholstered it to suit.”

“Then there is the exhaust system. I had problems with the junction of the two pipes on the standard system. There was a right-angle join where the two engine pipes met and it used to burn through the under side of the join. So I made two separate pipes and used original ‘Civilian’ mufflers.”

“The difference between Civilian and ‘Military’ WLA mufflers was that the Army bikes had fishtails”.

It is also worth noting that as we rode along with Jose to take the photos that the bike does sound absolutely fantastic, with a deep, rich rumble.

Jose also pointed out that “Another difference between Military and Civilian models was that when Harley stopped making military models they started supplying the bikes with an extra support on the rear guard - for the addition of a Pillion seat. It’s interesting because this particular bike’s frame numbers indicate that it was made in September 1942, however the engine was replaced with an original unit, but from a later model’s, some time in early 1960’s.”

The paint on the bike is a cream on cream combination that Jose chose to emulate the look of a WLA that was supplied to a range of Dealers in the US. “In the beginning there were only two colours available, black and green, then they added a ‘little bit lighter green and a little bit lighter black’ but those colours were dull, so they were repainted in very popular non-original colours for the domestic market.

Jose has a number of future plans for the machine. “I will improve the clutch system. The foot clutch is rather ‘romantic’”, He smiles. “It looks OK, and I like the levers and everything, but for practicality and safety I’m working on a new system with a hydraulic hand lever-operated clutch. It will involve a new actuating rod. I have already installed an original lever from the right hand side and mounted the cable. For those that aren’t familiar with the controls on a WLA-42, the set up is completely different to a modern bike. The throttle is still on the right hand twist grip but the front brake was originally on the left. Also on the left hand is the firing advance and retard control that needs to be co-ordinated with the throttle. The rear brake is on the right foot and the clutch is on the left pedal. The gear change is a suicide shift next to the tank. As you can imagine this takes a lot of getting used to after riding modern motorcycles. A hand lever clutch will make the bike safer. All that’s left to do in engineer that actuator.”

“Riding this bike takes practice and you have to practice a lot. If you do practice it’s not a problem, but the real issue with this type of bike is when there is a lot of traffic. Because there is no ‘ventilation’ it gets very hot and then it gets very hard to keep it in tune with the manual advance and retard. However for a man my size it’s perfect because it has the lowest saddle height of any Harley I’ve ridden. I did have a beautiful 2003 Road King too, but I found it to be a bit too heavy for my liking. The WLA is much more manageable in that way.”

Overall Jose describes his journey with this awesome WLA as a “Real adventure and a learning experience. In the beginning I didn’t have much knowledge and I didn’t know where to find things out - where to source documents, manuals and information. It was very different to go from European to American bikes and it was also very different to today. There was no internet or search engines for example. I learned by going to Bike shows, swap meets and events and talking to many people. This is where the real knowledge is. You find out what goes with what - and whatnot.”

He summed it all up nicely. “Maybe I don’t have knowledge on a lot of things, but on the bikes that I touch, I like to know everything – every part, nut and bolt.”

On this beautiful build we’d say it’s ‘Mission Accomplished’.



Guts and Bolts

Harley-Davidson WLA
Year: 1942
Engine and transmission
Displacement: 740.00 ccm (45.15 cubic inches)
Engine type: V2, four-stroke
Max Power 23hp @ 4,600rpm
Fuel system: Carburettor.
Fuel control: Sidevalves
Gearbox: 3 Speed Hand Shift
Final drive: Chain
Front suspension: Leading link -coil springs
Rear suspension: Rigid
Front brakes: Expanding brake (drum brake)
Rear brakes: Expanding brake (drum brake)
Dry weight: 244.9 kg (540.0 pounds)
Paint: 2 pack

Triumph Speedmaster Test

Triumph Speedmaster

It was me.
I admit it.
For a long time early in the 2000’s I was that guy who wore a Triumph tee shirt to a Harley show. Naturally I also wore the barbs that came with it.
Springer Bob: “Hey Dave – what do you call a bloke on a Triumph with a bunch of Harleys?”
Dave: “Dunno Bob?”
Bob’s brother Al: “Unemployed!”
To gales of laughter from the other 5 Harley riders I hung out with most weekends.
I told them “that was OK - I’ll still wait for them to get to the pub”.
But that was a long time ago and the Hinckley Triumphs were emerging pretty well from the shadows of the Meriden Co-operative and a Lucas electrical past.

After all this time, when Brum emailed me to advise that a new Bonneville Speedmaster was available for Heavy Duty collection at Oliver’s in Brisbane, it didn’t take long to dig out a Triumph tee shirt again.

I was also very keen to try the new 1200 HT engine – ever since it was released. I had a long history with Speedmasters. We go right back to 2003 and the original Hinckley 790cc model I tested.

2018 is a whole different story however. Triumph have come up with a low-down, retro-styled package that is great fun to ride. With very spirited performance for its class… actually, compared to the ’03 it’s a missile - and it has a much bigger grin factor.

Its numbers are very similar, power and torque-wise, to the last bike I thought was this much fun around town, the Indian Scout 60 – but with better suspension.

The Speedy has that same knack of feeling long and low, with a ‘sat upon’ stance. I call it ‘skidder’ - and it dares you to give it some stick.

That turns out to be rewarding, too. The Liquid cooled 1200cc, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin is smooth and strong. It produces 76hp at 6,100rpm and 106Nm of torque at 4,000. At idle it’s dead smooth. At riding speeds there is a gentle throb that feels a bit sweeter than the 360 degree cranks on other Bonnes. It helps feel just how pleasant and refined this engine really is.

The ride by wire setup allows for two riding modes: Road or Rain. The throttle response is, as you would expect, ‘by-wire-crisp’ and the fuel injection didn’t stumble once. Early Hinckley owners will appreciate the significance of that too. I didn’t particularly notice the ‘torque-assist’ clutch other than it felt light and easy to engage.

I also think that this is probably the best looking retro-styled, liquid-cooled engine to date. It’s free from the hoses and ducting that took-away from many earlier efforts. It still has a big radiator, but the plumbing is very well disguised.

Triumph have persisted with making the fuel injection units in the shape of a carburettor – or ‘fauxburettors’ as we call them.

Overall the bike does have some nice angles though and with a ‘chromed stainless steel, 2 into 2, twin-skin exhaust system and chromed stainless silencers’ it sounded quite tasty too – especially for a stock system.

Truimph also point out in the release’s design notes that it has, “the minimal bodywork, single clock, classic rear ‘drum brake’ inspired hub, heritage-inspired battery box, and central mudguard ridges’ which add to it’s old-school appeal.

They were also keen to note that the Speedmaster is “designed for customisation with two inspiration kits and over 130 custom accessories. These include a ‘Highway’ kit which has a full soft luggage pannier set, a ‘Maverick’ kit for a stripped back, mean attitude which includes single seat and raked out bars, plus accessories for style, detailing, comfort, touring, and premium Vance & Hines exhausts.”

They are making a serious attempt to get a piece of the customised cruiser market.

I gave the Speedy a run up the mountain from Brisbane, down to the Gold Coast - and did plenty of inner city rides. Overall comfort was good and the pull back bars, forward controls and 705mm saddle height made for a relaxed riding position – even for a tall guy. It became more of a ‘standard’ riding position with my long legs and it felt quite light and chuck-able on the road. It weighs-in at 245.5kg dry and its manners are obviously helped by a reasonable low COM.

I really liked the new engine and the way it goes. The big 310mm twin disc front brakes with twin piston Brembo callipers are very likeable too. They were so good I hardly brought the 255mm single disc rear with Nissin into play at all. It has ABS both front and rear.

The Speedmaster shares it chassis with the Bobber model and has the same hard-tail looking ‘cage’ swinging arm. The shock sits just under the rider’s seat. For a monoshock rear I thought the KYB unit worked well and gave 73mm of travel. The front features 41mm KYB cartridge front forks with 90mm travel. They are good suspenders and it’s a typical mid-size cruiser’s sporty and firm ride.

Combined with the 1510mm wheelbase, fat 130/90 B16 front and 150/80 R16 rear Avon Cobra tyres it make for a pretty sweet handling cruiser too. It runs out of its (reasonably good) cornering clearance well before it runs out of handling.

The twelve-litre fuel tank gave a range of around 200km before the warning light appeared on the well-presented single instrument cluster. The instruments feature the usual array of warning lights mounted into the analogue speedo, as well as a number of trip computer and various data functions set out in its inset LCD display.

The left hand switch block has an ‘i’ button to cycle through the various trip meters and countdown fuel range options. It also houses the ‘one button’ cruise control switch, while the right hand block has an additional toggle to change riding modes and traction control.

The bike has some very nice touches, the LED headlight with running light is good and the immobiliser is built into the key is clever: no key – no go.

It has great brakes, good suspension, a lovely motor and it has some really nice old school angles to look at. Priced at $21,500 ride away, the new Bonneville Speedmaster will fill a market niche for riders looking for something a bit different to the existing v-twin, mid-sized cruisers – something they can hop up a bit – and it does it well.

I might have to get some new Triumph tees though.


Old and New Classic Brits

Brum said that he wanted some riding shots to go with the Speedmaster, so I got my pal Douglas to ride it past the camera a few times. I also asked if he would take his tidy 1973 Norton Commando along for the shoot. “Just so we could do some side-by-side ‘old Classic Brit Vs new Classic Brit’ comparisons”.
After a morning around the Bayside we both agreed that the Norton was the better looking of the two, although the Speedy was still a good looking package. Unlike the Norton it has to comply with a heap of pollution and noise regulations.
“You also don’t have to put up with a whole lot of crap”, Doug pointed out as he was turning the fuel taps off on the Norton so it didn’t flood while he was on the Triumph.
When we finished the shoot he noted that “Everything is so soft and compliant with the modern bike. There’s no effort. It all just works. Works so well and you don’t have to wrestle with it like the old girl.”
“That Speedmaster is a very nice bike” was his final take after riding the two.
We then ran a few side-by-side roll on tests and gave them both a handful on the local on-ramp.
Even with a significant weight handicap (me) on the Speedmaster it was easily seven or eight bike lengths faster to 100kph. Interestingly the Norton had better top gear roll on from 90kph – the benefit of being a lot lighter and with fewer gears.
When I got on the Norton the old girl started first kick every time, but after stalling it several times and trying to get used to brake and gear pedals being the other way I couldn’t wait to get back on the Speedmaster – Doug had both covered.


ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
Type Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin
Capacity 1200 cc
Bore Stroke 97.6 / 80mm
Compression 10.0:1
Max power 77 PS/ 76 Bhp (57 kW) @ 6,100 rpm
Max Torque EC 106 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
System Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Exhaust Chromed stainless steel 2 into 2 twin-skin exhaust system with chromed stainless silencers
Final Drive Chain
Clutch Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
Gearbox 6-Speed
CHASSIS
Frame Tubular steel cradle
Swingarm Twin-sided, tubular steel
Front Wheels 32-spoke, 16 x 2.5in
Rear Wheels 32-spoke, 16 x 3.5in
Front Tyres 130/90 B16
Rear Tyres 150/80 R16
Front Suspension KYB 41 mm forks with cartridge damping. 90mm travel.
Rear Suspension KYB monoshock with linkage and stepped preload adjuster, 73.3 mm rear wheel travel.
Brakes front Twin 310 mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating calipers, ABS
Brakes rear Single 255 mm disc, Nissin single piston floating caliper, ABS
DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHTS
Seat Height 705 mm
Wheelbase 1510 mm
Rake 25.3 º
Trail 91.4 mm
Dry Weight 245.5 Kg
Tank Capacity 12L

H-D FXDR Test



The un-usual suspects.

Not since H-D released the V-rod in 2001 has there been a new model that has polarised Harley owner’s opinions so widely.

It’s therefore quite fitting that the 2019 FXDR fills the gap left by the discontinued V-Rod in a number of ways.

As one reviewer succinctly said way back then: "The V-Rod was intended to bring in more than the usual suspects, and it did."

So too will the FXDR attract a range of different customers, regardless of how much its appearance and style has incensed some of the rusted-on old-school Cruiser owners.

This is a bike that covers some of the ground recently broken with the 2017 Fat Bob, but takes it to the next level. It’s a bike with enormous potential.

Quite simply, this is a wonderful motorcycle to ride. It’s powerful, smooth, responsive, handles well, has excellent cornering clearance, is surprisingly comfortable and I think it looks great. And that’s just in the standard trim of the ‘Bonneville Salt’ coloured Press bike. I had a glimpse of its potential too with time spent in the saddle of two other examples that were fitted with performance upgrades.

Harley FXDR

But first, the Press Bike.

I spend two weeks dodging the early October monsoonal rain squalls around Brisbane on it and rode it every chance I could. Every time I rode it I liked it even more than the time before. To say it grew on me is an understatement. By the end of the test I was in serious lust.

At its heart is the Milwaukee 8 power plant in 114cubic inch trim. It’s 102x114mm bore and stroke displacing 1,868cc is the smoothest running, most responsive, sweetest revving stock 114 cube I have ridden - significantly smoother than the 114 Breakout tested in Heavy Duty #159 and even smoother that the 114 Fat Boy tested issue #156 which was silky.

Some of that is no doubt down to the big ‘Drag Bike style’ air intake and redesigned exhaust. Giving the bike a handful from the lights or on the on-ramp sees the traffic getting very small in the rear view mirrors very quickly. The speculation is that the DR part of FXDR stands for ‘Drag Racer’. It’s not hard to see why. With 160Nm on tap it’s also a delight to roll it on in top gear and the torque surge is very satisfying.

That engine is slung in the best handling M8 I’ve ridden. Some of that is down to its improved dry weight – under 300kg – and some is due to the inverted cartridge front forks, upgraded rear shock and reliable Softail chassis. (It takes over the ‘Best’ plaudit from the Fat Bob via its better clearances.) The near-33 degree lean angles meant that I was scraping the edges of my size 12’s well before the anything else touched down.

I punted one example up the western side of Mt Glorious, through a succession of 20kph posted left and right handers at 50 to 60kph, and didn’t touch the pegs down once. It was very, very enjoyable. H-D claim that a feature of that big muffler is that it doesn’t interfere with cornering clearance. It doesn’t - in normal conditions anyway.

The big, twin disc, 4 piston front brakes with ABS are also very good. Tipping the bike in under hard braking, with the forks, chassis and stoppers all working in unison is simply superb.

Side to sides and tight apexes are remarkably easy for a bike with a 240 section rear tyre. The only time I really noticed the fat rear end is at very low speed and slow U-turns, where it can be a little uneven, but at normal speeds it feels remarkably well planted and solid on the road - outstandingly so – and the ride is firm as befits its sporty nature.

I found the bike to be comfortable and the seat is a lot more compliant than it looks. I did need a ‘seat break’ after around 2 hours non-stop in the saddle, but up until then the ergos were near perfect. The fact that it has a great range of adjustment available from the clip-on style handlebars helped. They rotate on the fork legs and when pushed well forward gave me a seating position that was perfect for the bike’s attacking nature – especially for a tall guy.

The Daymaker headlight is brilliant, the digital instruments and gauges set into the handlebar riser are surprisingly legible and easy to read - and the stretched fuel tank gave a range in excess of 300km. It all performed as a nicely rounded package. Although I was a little surprised by the lack of cruise control.

But then there is looking at it.

There were a number of days when it was just too wet to enjoy riding, but found myself wandering into the garage, cleaning and casting an eye over the FXDR. I enjoyed its modern and striking lines, matte finish paint and gorgeous wheels.

I had no trouble ‘getting past’ the rear fender assembly. Particularly after I saw some of the images on our Facebook Page with a Tail Tidy fitted. That rear guard and taillight assembly is probably the most ‘contentious’ appearance issue on the bike and removing it won’t make much difference to the wet weather ride either. Neither it nor the front guard are particularly effective at subduing wheel-spray. But then, that’s not what this bike is about anyway. It’s about sports and leisure riding and it does that quite brilliantly.

It’s also about potential. Have a look at the HD-A web site and check out the full noise Screamin’ Eagle options available for the FXDR and you get some idea of where the bike can go custom-wise.

I was lucky enough to have some first hand experience with a few of the customisations options available. While the Press Bike was having its first service the crew at Morgan & Wacker threw me the fob for their ‘Wicked Red’ Dealer Demo unit. It has been fitted with a Bassani exhaust system and a tuner. I took it out west of Brisbane and into ‘them thar hills’ for the day and had an absolute blast.

The pipe and tuner combined with the stock air cleaner open the breathing up even more. The top end becomes stronger and the motor vibrated even less at higher revs - and the sound is great. If you are in Brisbane, see if you can score a test ride. It’s a beautiful thing.

Then when I was in Gladstone later in the week the crew at Harbour City H-D have fitted their Black Denim Demo unit with a genuine Screamin’ Eagle Slip-on muffler and  S&S Cam. Those additions made theirs tap out longer, stronger and smoother than the previous two. It’s a fantastic ride. Likewise, if you are in Gladstone see if you can wrangle a ride. It will not disappoint.

New Direction again.

The FXDR represents a new direction for H-D: an air-cooled Muscle Cruiser with real get-up-and-go. In the marketing they say ‘it will move you like you’ve never been moved before’.

The FXDR is priced at $35,495 in Aus. It will appeal to buyers who wouldn’t have considered a Heritage styled bike, but may invest in a modern take on an excellent muscle bike.

One that will appeal to the ‘unusual suspects’.


ENGINE
ENGINE 1 Milwaukee-Eight® 114
BORE 102 mm
STROKE 114 mm
DISPLACEMENT 1,868 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.5:1
FUEL SYSTEM 3 Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
EXHAUST 2-into-1; catalyst in header
DIMENSIONS
LENGTH 2,425 mm
SEAT HEIGHT, UNLADEN 720 mm
GROUND CLEARANCE 140 mm
RAKE (STEERING HEAD) (DEG) 34
TRAIL 120 mm
WHEELBASE 1,735 mm
TIRES, FRONT SPECIFICATION 120/70ZR-19 60W
TIRES, REAR SPECIFICATION 240/40R-18 79V
FUEL CAPACITY 16.7 l
OIL CAPACITY (W/FILTER) 4.7 l
WEIGHT, AS SHIPPED 289 kg
WEIGHT, IN RUNNING ORDER 303 kg
PERFORMANCE
ENGINE TORQUE TESTING METHOD EC 134/2014
ENGINE TORQUE 2 160 Nm
ENGINE TORQUE (RPM) 3,500
LEAN ANGLE, RIGHT (DEG.) 32.6
LEAN ANGLE, LEFT (DEG.) 32.8
DRIVETRAIN
PRIMARY DRIVE Chain, 34/46 ratio
CHASSIS
WHEELS, FRONT TYPE 9 Gloss/satin black, split 5-spoke, Ace cast aluminum with laser etched graphics
WHEELS, REAR TYPE Gloss/satin black, solid disc, Ace cast aluminum with laser etched graphics
BRAKES, CALIPER TYPE 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear
ELECTRIC
LIGHTS (AS PER COUNTRY REGULATION), INDICATOR LAMPS 8 High beam, turn signals, neutral, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics, ABS, security, low battery voltage, low fuel
GAUGES 2.14 inch viewable area LCD display with speedometer, gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, range and tachometer indication