Just when you thought Harley-Davidson couldn’t possibly do anything else with the Sportster line, the company announces two new models for 2011. OK, maybe that lead-in line was a little sensationalistic; there’s still plenty the MoCo could do with its longest-running model line (the Sportster turns 54 in 2011). For 2011 H-D has taken the good ol’ Sporty and stretched it from one end of the riding spectrum to the other with the introduction of the SuperLow and XR1200X. Geared (literally) more for the entry-level motorcycle rider, the SuperLow is low, but not the lowest (more on that later). At the other extreme, the XR1200X is for the rider who wants to do more than cruise in a straight line and look cool doing it. The XR1200X is all about carving canyons and maybe slipping onto the local track for some real downtime-getting down in the corners, that is. Actually it’s not just the Sportster line that received some new siblings, the Touring lineup got a new addition too, with the introduction of the Road Glide Ultra. So if you’re counting, that adds up to three new bikes for a total of 32 models for 2011.
Before we delve more into the details on these new models, Harley announced some other interesting news for 2011. For the first time in the company’s history it will be offering a factory-installed engine upgrade option, called the PowerPak, on select production motorcycles. What this means is just like automobile manufacturers that basically offer the same vehicle with a larger displacement and more powerful engine, you can now “trim” out certain models with a 103ci engine, ABS brakes, and a Smart Security System. The PowerPak will only be available in the Touring line. Actually it will be standard on the Road King Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Limited, and Road Glide Ultra. To borrow a term from another corporate megalith, you’ll have the option to supersize a Street Glide or Road Glide Custom from the factory with the PowerPak upgrade for $1,995. While the remaining OE Touring models-the Road King, Electra Glide Classic, and Ultra Classic Electra Glide-will only be available with the 96ci engine, you’ll have the ability to opt for the new bundled Security Package, which includes ABS brakes and H-D’s Smart Security System. The Security Package will be optional for Softail (except Cross Bones) and V-Rod models as well and will go for $1,195.
Other notable items include:
New hand controls for the Softails
Similar to the ’11 CVO Softail Convertible, the trip switch has been relocated from the side of the odometer to the left-side hand control and, instead of pressing both turn signals to get the hazards to come on, there is now a single button on the right-hand control. The odometer is now outfitted with a larger display and provides additional info such as gear/rpm display.
New seats for the Touring models
The front of the seat is narrower to improve leg reach to the ground and the bucket is deeper to provide better back support.
The V-Rods will be outfitted with Michelin Scorcher tires
The Street Glide and Road Glide Custom get new/old exhaust
Due to customer and dealer feedback for the desire of the more balanced look of the 2-into-1-into-2 exhaust, the 2-into-1 setup found on the 2010s is gone, and in its place is the 2-into-1-into-2 like on the other Touring models.
The Power of Three
($7,999 vivid black)
Aptly named, the SuperLow is low with its 25.5-inch unladen seat height, but like we alluded to earlier, it’s by far not the lowest of the H-D lineup. If my calculations and chart diagram is correct, several other models have a lower unladen seat height.
|24.3||Fat Boy Lo|
|25.2||Rocker C, Night Rod|
|25.4||Fat Boy, Deluxe|
|25.5||SuperLow, Softail Classic, Street Bob, Wide Glide|
So yeah it’s low but five other models sit lower. On the other hand, at a dry weight of 536 pounds the SuperLow is the lightest of all the H-D models; the next closest is the Nightster and Forty-Eight which both come in at 545 pounds. Maybe they should call it the SuperLight? Actually we’re a little confused about the naming-more specifically the spelling of this bike, as over in the Softail line the word “low” is spelled l-o (Fat Boy Lo), whereas on the Sporty side, “low” is spelled properly (SuperLow, 1200 Low)-sorry for going off on a tangent. OK, back on track.
Everyone’s gotta start somewhere and by designing the SuperLow to be a bike that inspires rider confidence, H-D is hoping newcomers to motorcycling, and maybe even the brand, will throw a leg over and ride right out of the dealership. So with that H-D ditched the 883 Low from last year and created a bike that was lighter and could handle better. So where do you cut weight on an already pretty light motorcycle? Well, H-D designers looked at the wheels and felt that dropping down one notch to an 18-inch front and 17-inch rear was a good start. This change alone resulted in a loss of 5 pounds in the rear and an overall improvement in steering response and effort. The tires were also replaced with a pair of Michelin Scorcher radial tires, which were specifically designed to improve handling and reduce steering effort.
One of the first things we noticed while riding the bike was when we let out the clutch, and pulled away. To help smooth out acceleration when taking off from a stop and at low speeds, one tooth was added to the output drive sprocket (to a 29-tooth sprocket) for a 2.34:1 final drive ratio. We quickly got used to it and did notice the improvement. Overall low speed handling was very effortless due to the change in rake to 31 degrees and increased trail of 5.7 inches. And lock to lock, the steering geometry was increased for easier low speed maneuverability. Ergonomically, the bike is definitely set up for shorter stature riders. The bars have a slight rise and pull back that places the hand controls in a pretty neutral riding position, not too wide and not too low. Down below a set of mid controls had us crunched up a bit, but for a new rider mids are perfect when coming to a stop, you just place your feet straight down to the ground.
One would think that with the SuperLow everything would be cut or decreased, but H-D was able to add 3/4 inch of travel to the rear suspension without raising the seat height, and the front has 4.1 inches of travel. The company was also able to add more padding to the seat without messing with the height. Lastly, the gas tank went from 3 1/2 gallons to 4 1/2 gallons so that you can spend more time riding and less time huffing fumes.
In the short time we spent on the SuperLow, we could see how the bike could quickly and easily get a new rider up to speed, so to say, and willing to continually challenge his or her riding skills. As the least expensive H-D model, it’s well suited for someone looking to get on two wheels or to get back in the saddle after a long hiatus.
Once you feel you’ve mastered the SuperLow and are confident in your high speed cornering ability, you may want to consider the XR1200X. A modern iteration of the iconic XR750, the XR1200X is an upgrade from last year’s XR1200. Inspired by H-D’s long history in racing, the XR1200X took everything that was great about the XR1200 and made it better, specifically the suspension and brakes. With crisp and minimal body lines and an all black drivetrain and exhaust system, it’s hard not to walk up to the XR1200X and just start ripping up the streets.
Knowing that more experienced/hard-cornering riders like to have a bike that can be easily adjusted to suit their needs and riding style, H-D set up the XR1200X with a fully tunable front and rear suspension. Up front the 43mm inverted Showa Big Piston Fork’s (BPF) rebound and compression damping can be fine-tuned with adjuster screws on the top of the fork bolts. Down below at the axle holders, the spring preload can be dialed in via an M5 hex screw. At the rear of the bike, a pair of Showa rear shocks with 36mm pistons and piggy-backed by nitrogen-charged reservoirs allow the compression damping to be adjusted with the knob on top of the reservoir. Rebound can be adjusted by a thumb wheel on the lower clevis and the rear spring preload can be adjusted at the main coil-over spring.
When you’re running at high speeds and pressing into corners, sometimes things come up unexpectedly and you’ll need to slow down or stop in a hurry. For those instances, the XR1200X has been upgraded with Nissin dual front brakes with 292mm full-floating rotors and four-piston calipers with a single-piston caliper and fixed rotor at the rear.
Hitting the road for the first time, it’s hard not to just hammer the throttle and look for the first corner you can find. With its rear set foot controls and low handlebars you immediately get the feeling that this is not your average Harley. Slightly leaning into the bike, you’re in position to scan the road ahead and occasionally catch a glimpse at your increasing speed as you sneak a peek at the speedo mounted just in front of the top clamp. With the continuous power put out by the 1200cc high-compression engine, within a few turns the XR1200X will have you grinning ear to ear as you push yourself to get over further and further in each turn.
In a short period of time the XR1200 has already developed a cult following. And with the AMA XR1200 race series and the improvements found on the XR1200X, we wouldn’t be surprised if this model continues to gain popularity and we see more aftermarket companies stepping up and getting in on the XR action with parts and accessories.
FLTRU/Road Glide Ultra
($22,499 vivid black)
Baggers are a big deal, literally and figuratively. They can be loaded with just about every creature comfort you’d ever need and nowadays everyone seems to have one. With this knowledge in mind, Harley took its sharpest looking Touring model and decked it out with a King Tour-Pak, vented lower fairings, and an 80-watt Harman/Kardon Advanced Audio system with CD/MP3 player and CB/intercom with two headsets. But that’s not all, at the heart of the Road Glide Ultra is one of the PowerPak components, the 103ci engine-yes it’s got ABS and the Security System too.
Having spent many a mile aboard an ’05 Road Glide with a 103ci engine, we were thinking we knew what to expect from this bike, but we were a little surprised. The redesigned frame that was incorporated into the Touring line in 2009 really makes a difference in handling and managing the power coming from the 103. Harley claims the PowerPak 103 puts out 102 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm, which is almost a 10 percent increase in peak torque over the TC96. We didn’t have access to a dyno, but all we know is even at a running weight of 888 pounds with our fat ass on top, the bike had plenty of power through all six gears with more to give while cruising in Sixth. The ’05 we ride has lowered suspension and a low-profile seat, and while the Ultra sits a little higher, we definitely benefitted from the redesigned seat. At 5 feet 10 inches tall, we weren’t completely flat-footed all the time at stops, but we also never felt unsure of our footing.
We’ve said it several times before and we’ll say it again here, we love the look of the shark-nose faring, and we love the handling afforded by the fairing being mounted to the frame rather than the frontend. If you haven’t tried a Road Glide, do it. It might feel/look weird at first but if you spend enough time on it, you’ll convert. What we’re not too keen on is the overall Ultra treatment. While the vented fairing lowers are nice because you can adjust them for hot or cold weather and the King Tour-Pak is great for locking up your bulky stuff, we prefer the stripped-down look of the Road Glide Custom. All we’d need is a passenger backrest with a rack so we could load up the wife, a big travel bag, and hit the road. That way when we got to our destination, we could just pull the bag and backrest/rack and cruise the streets in style. Huh, we think we just convinced ourselves to buy an ’11 Road Glide Custom.
|2011 H-D MODELS|
|(All prices are for black except those noted)|
|FLHRC/Road King Classic||$19,499|
|FLHTC/Electra Glide Classic||$18,999|
|FLHTCU/Ultra Classic Electra Glide||$20,999|
|FLHTK/Electra Glide Ultra Limited||$23,699|
|FLTRU/Road Glide Ultra||$22,499|
|FLTRX/Road Glide Custom||$18,999|
|FLSTC/Heritage Softail Classic||$16,999|
|FLSTFB/Fat Boy Lo||$16,299|
|FXDC/Dyna Super Glide Custom||$12,999|
|*FXD/Dyna Super Glide|
|FXDWG/Dyna Wide Glide||$14,499|
|*XL 1200C/1200 Custom|
|VRSDX/Night Rod Special||$14,699-color|
|FLHTCUTG/Tri Glide Ultra Classic||$30,499|
|FLHXXX/Street Glide Trike||$27,499|
|FLHTCUSE6/CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide||$36,499 (cc)|
|FLHXSE2/CVO Street Glide||$32,499 (cc)|
|FLSTSE2/CVO Softail Convertible||$29,599 (cc)|
|FLTRUSE/CVO Road Glide Ultra||$35,999 (cc)|
|*FXDFSE2/CVO Fat Bob|
|*Gone But Not Forgotten||(cc) = Custom Color|