IT’S more than a bike right? A brand new Harley-Davidson represents freedom and evokes a special feeling in our soul. It’s the kind of thing dreams are made of, and the 2019 Harley-Davidson Softail FXDR 114 is no different.
The physical demeanor of the new FXDR is tough, drawing its inspiration from Harley-Davidson’s dark custom family of motorcycles. As a result, there’s no beautiful chrome to be seen anywhere on this beast.
The lower forks, handle bars, rims and motor ascent pieces are all blacked out and it adds to the attitude of the 2019 FXDR 114. As you move around the bike the hero is definitely the massive 240mm rear wheel that looks, quite frankly, hot.
The big back wheel means that this bike is a weapon in a straight line, but horrible in the corners, right? Wrong! This is one of the best handling Harley-Davidson rides we’ve ever tested, if not the best.
The design and engineering is exceptional. From the moment you put your feet up on the forward controls and reach for the handle bars, you realise this bike has been built for entering corners, and the ride position is perfect for it.
With a gentle lean in the direction you want to head, the 120mm front wheel guides the bike perfectly, and the fact there is no weight on the massive rear means that it just follows in line.
The lean angles are impressive too, and during our time aboard the 2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114, we struggled to touch the foot pegs on the bitumen. Weighing in at 289kg, it’s also not as heavy as previous Softail models.
The bike feels nimble and sporty compared to more traditional models and is aimed at a younger market; a market which Harley-Davidson is trying to entice to the brand, and away from bikes like the Ducati Diavel.
We reckon the beefy look will help that cause and in case you forget how powerful this bike is, protruding out of the right-hand side of the bike is the large performance air cleaner emblazoned with 114 Cubic Inches.
Much like its Fat Bob and Breakout siblings, the FXDR is fitted with the impressive 114 cubic inch Milwaukee 8 power plant, delivering 160Nm of torque and boasting 1868cc, all thrown down with crisp and rewarding throttle response.
While the motor is brilliant, if it was ours, we’d add a power cam and an aftermarket exhaust, and dip into the extensive Harley-Davidson accessories catalogue. That’s half the fun right, customising your own ride.
We should say that the new FXDR 114 forms part of the combined Dyna and Softail bike families. When the merge of the two happened in 2018, bringing with it a new frame and mono-shock suspension, it was more than a little controversial.
The Harley-Davidson faithful are emotionally attached to the brand and its various families, and change is a big thing. But the best way we can explain the improvement is to tell people to ride one, and experience it for themselves.
In a nutshell though, the ride is firmer and a lot easier on the spine if you hit a bump. Cornering is vastly improved and creates a much more satisfying ride experience. To top that off, the mono-shock suspension is rider adjustable.
Coupled with Brembo brakes that work a treat, it adds further to the riding experience. The 2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 is available in Black Denim, Bonneville Salt Denim, Rawhide Denim, Wicked Red Denim and of course Vivid Black.
Our test bike was supplied in Industrial Grey Denim (the other colour in the range) and set off with Hot Orange highlights. The bike looked absolutely sinister on the road. We would make one change to this great ride though.
Straight out of the box we’d eliminate the back light/number plate assembly that obscured the beautiful 240mm rear wheel on this bike. This can be easily achieved by adding a tail tidy which exposes the rear wheel in all of its wondrous glory.
We’ll simply finish with this statement, if the 2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 and new bikes like the LiveWire full electric model are the shape of things to come, then while we’ll remember the past history and heritage, we’re ready to embrace the future.
Our test bike was provided by Harley-Davidson Australia. To find out more about the 2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114, contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer. Main image courtesy of Cameron Cooke Photography.