What bike's were meant for. Fun! Harley Lowrider FXDL
Jan 18, 2008 (Updated Feb 4, 2008)
Review by toolguy1963
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Worth the wait?
Recommend this product?
Its been twenty five years since I sold my last Harley. A lot has changed with Harley since then and Iv kicked back and enjoyed the wait on a string of other rides. Im not going to say it was easy. The buy back from AMF and the climb to build quality products took some doing. Over those years Iv had the chance to take out a number of Sportsters, a few Electra Glides and Iv also spent some serious time on my fathers Softail Springer ya, hes real old but still riding and my brother in laws Road King.
The former two bikes above had tempted me into buying another Harley but there were just a few pegs that werent fitting into the right holes. The Springer was a nice ride but parts were loosening up on it and the suspension rear just wasnt absorbing road imperfections like it should. The Road King was also a nice ride but getting passed on the inside by Fiat Unos up mountain switchbacks is embarrassing. The Sportsters on the other hand were nimbler and rode nice but felt too small for longer rides, especially with a passenger.
This past fall while walking through the local dealership A white FXDL Lowrider caught my eye. Not that I cared that it was a Lowrider VS Superglide or any of the other Dyna models. The white paint offset by tons of chrome, spoked wheels and with footpegs down beside the cases where theyre supposed to be pulled me in for a second look. With a real suspension front and rear, normal width tires and handlebars that sit just below shoulder level, the ergonomics seemed right. So out we went for a ride. Thats all it took. I found the right Harley. I wrote the check and waited.
Willie G. This is the last Hawg Ill ever buy!
This is where I need to write a separate review of one particular Harley dealership. I wont waste space here, but I struck a deal to leave the bike for display for an additional two weeks. I didnt see the bike for six weeks. The arrogance, ineptitude and downright lying that I ran into was incredible. Id heard that this has become a real problem with Harley dealers but figured since I bought a demo, didnt haggle and paid cash on the barrel, that I wouldnt run into this type of thing. Was I ever wrong.
By the time I got the Harley home I was so upset with the dealer that I really didnt give a darn about the bike. I parked it for a few days so that I could cool off. Finally taking the bike out I had the same problem with all the Harleys Iv owned or ridden: Always taking the long way home. Maybe not on purpose either. Ill be half way to a destination and think, gawd, it would stink getting off in another fifteen minutes, so off I turn at the nearest side road and make the route a little longer. If I still cant make it long enough, I take a road Iv never been on before, just to see where it goes. The Harley just begs to be ridden.
This isnt to say that it wants to be ridden like a sport bike at full twist with everything in your peripheral blurred and total concentration on avoiding rough spots in the road and timing corners to get around them with maximum efficiency. No, the Harley begs you to listen to her song. The deep rich thumping of two massive pistons pulling you about like a Mack truck at idle. The tune that the Harley plays is pure pleasure. The slow cadence and massive torque of the Dyna is perfect for a relaxing ride through the country. You can slow down on the Harley and actually see things going on around you.
My impressions of the Dyna Lowrider based on past Harleys Iv owned or ridden goes something like this. It is above all a torque monster. It has to be one the best accelerating, lowest lugging, smoothest shifting Harleys ever. This isnt surprising in the least. With sequential port fuel injection, each cylinder gets just the right amount of fuel at just the right time no matter what the throttle setting. The fuel injection system may be scoffed at by old school Harley guys, but on an engine with odd-fire timing and two huge jugs to fill with the correct air fuel mixture, its just what the doctor ordered. The old cough and backfire through the carburetor or hesitation before acceleration that old Harleys were afflicted with is gone. Running at speed and producing power higher in the rev range is another remarkable ability found with the fuel injection system.
What a brute.
Although Harley hasnt been forthcoming with information on peak horsepower, I found that the information is required by German insurance companies. I went ahead and asked my agent what figures they were given. The New TC 96 motor puts out 64 HP for the Softail and Touring models equipped with dual counter balancers. For the Dyna models without counterbalancers, 74 HP. Those figures seem almost embarrassing by modern sport bike standards, but consider this. The Harley is making those numbers way down the rev range with just two cylinders. The Harley is a bike that you can throw every piece of dress up junk onto, a windscreen, saddlebags loaded with lead, the wife even a heavy duty wife and lights galore and not effect performance one iota. Torque my friend!
The New TC 96 is very refined from the fuel injection right down to the chrome cases. Harley did a number of nice things for this engine including a longer stroke, lighter pistons and rods, joining the engine and transmission cases instead of using a sliding transmission to tighten the primary chain. The lube system on the Dyna was changed to a wet sump. Probably extra space was found in the base for the oil since it doesnt use the twin counterbalancers. A touch I really appreciate. Sitting on top of a hot oil tank was never one of my favorite things to do. It also isolated oil tank heat from the battery. An old pet peeve of mine and beneficial to battery life.
The transmission is a very smooth shifting six speed with perfectly spaced gearing. I never had a problem with the old four speed, but with all the added torque from almost 1600ccs, Harley wanted to be sure you could pull hard and fast and then settle down into a slow tempo beat as you motor around. There have been reports of this transmission howling in fifth gear that can be overcome by adding synthetic gear oil. I have yet to hear this. In fact I got stuck behind a big rig doing about fifty MPH on a long twisty two lane with no passing allowed. I followed that truck for fifteen minutes then realized I was in fifth and not sixth. No howl, no whine, nothing at all out of the usual.
Springy boingy stuff.
The frame of the Dyna is purpose built unit for this line. The bike has an honest to god swingarm and a nice big shock on each side as the spinal gods had intended. Iv never taken a liking to Harleys Softail line. I used to own a real hardtail framed bike and learned my lesson. The Softail is a step up from that but doesnt cut the cake as far Im concerned. Just looking at one starts me hyperventilating. I can still hear my chiro in that accented Indian voice of his telling me if you are going to ride a motorcycle, please be kind enough to your back to have springs installed Thank you Kam, best advise I ever took.
The frame is built with large isolastic motor mounts. Basically large rubber grommets that the engine is bolted too to keep the bike and rider from shaking apart. I really disliked this concept for years. The Norton 850 had this and when Harley started doing it a number of years back I was livid. But after you look the system over and your temper calms, you start to think, hey, why not. This is exactly how cars have been mounting engines for a nearly seventy years. It works a lot better than I expected too. Although the bike dances around and doesnt appear to be vibration free at idle, it will in fact assume a different personality when you take to the road.
Above idle the engines vibration smooths out considerably. The handlebars are the first to calm down then the foot pegs as you pick up speed. You also notice as the engine warms up and you put a few miles behind you that it gets smoother and smoother. It will never compete with a Gold Wing for a smooth engine award but it is light years ahead of the old hawgs that I grew up with. On the highway you find that the forward mounted highway pegs are actually quieter than the control pegs. This is probably why Harley builds so many forward mounted control models. Overall the vibration from the Dyna is not annoying and I find it preferable to high frequency buzz of in-line four cylinder bikes.
A Lazy-boy dirtbike.
The suspension on the Dyna is one of the main reasons I like this model out of Harleys line up. The fork is now a larger 49mm unit with a single disc brake up front. The rear dual shocks have a five-position stiffness setting to adjust for rider and passenger weights. I include the seat in the suspension because it does such a great job of supporting your boot. Its wide and soft and comfy. Any small jolt that may make it past the suspension are immediately snuffed out by the seat. The tires 100/90-19 front and 160/70B17 rear are meant to give good tractability and maneuvering to the Dyna while leaving the suspension to absorb the imperfections of the road.
The suspension of the Dyna is a sheer joy. It absorbs everything in its path from road cracks to potholes. I can ride the Dyna comfortably on secondary roads with greater speed and comfort than any bike I can remember. Im not saying that the bike is the fastest Iv ridden. That would be ridiculous. Let me give you and example. My Honda 750 is very fast. Its much lighter than the Harley and has a much better suspension for going around corners quickly. But I find myself riding all over the road with this bike to avoid patched over sections of road, expansion joints and all manner of imperfections. I feel all of these things through the seat of my pants and through the handlebars much like you would in a sports car. The Harley on the other hand is more like a 72 Chevy pickup. It just absorbs everything and/or cushions you from all the road nasties. You can ride this bike straight and glide over everything in perfect comfort. The Dyna may not be a faster bike but you can certainly ride it fast. In fact after a few outings with the Dyna I find myself riding it almost like a huge dirt bike. The steering is so neutral and the bike so willing to accept my inputs that I do more riding on off the beaten path roads than I should.
A lot to like.
From the riders perch you find yourself in a nice sit up and beg riding position. Coming off a sport bike it may seem a bit odd. The great fallacy of my sport bike riding friends is that you cant control this type of bike as well, and that its hard on your back. Well frankly like I said in the last paragraph, I can actually ride this bike better with more perceived control from the wide, high leverage bars than I can my Honda. Iv also found that my back does not take the beating that I thought it might. In fact I can ride longer in greater comfort on the Dyna than any bike Iv owned. The back pain that I was experiencing from my other bikes I never get with the Dyna. Id like to know how that misconception in the sport bike world came about.
The Dyna also has one of the smoothest clutches installed on any Harley. The take out release of the clutch is very easy, smooth and accurate. Its one of the nicest modulating clutches Iv used. Harley really did themselves and their customers a huge favor by zeroing in on clutch actuation. Likewise the brake is smooth and linear. Very easy to get a lot of stopping power fast. The switchgear is also nice and large. It must have been designed specifically for gloved hands. Mirrors and turn signals are bolted up to the handlebars and work good. There is also a built in information light bar in the bar riser clamp. You get a neutral, oil dummy light, and turn signal lights all right there in front of your nose.
The dual tank that hangs over the frame is home to the dash panel which houses a speedometer and tachometer. The ignition switch has been moved up to the steering stem. The speedo has a digital display built in to indicate mileage, odometer reading, clock and also doubles as a security system code readout when needed. There is also a high gear indicator light blacked out into the face. When you hit sixth a green six appears and tells you not to bother looking for more gears.
Some of the things I really like about the Dyna include the belt final drive. Its clean, smooth, quiet, and for the most part maintenance free. The suspension, for the reasons Iv gone over above. The build quality; this has got to be one of the best built, well sorted and finely finished Harleys lets change that to motorcycles Iv ever seen. Whoever says America cant build anything had better go check out a Harley today. But mostly what I like about this bike is how it makes me feel.
Im not talking about an old guy s reminiscing or trying to look like a tough guy something I hate by the way. Im going to start wearing mauve cardigans when I ride. No, this bike gives you a feeling of oneness with the world. It makes you slow down and see things. It begs you to listen and enjoy music and not just its own. The Harley Dyna for all its refinement is still a rough and ready, capable motorcycle underneath its polish and chrome. Its this capability that makes you feel confident with the bike. Its the rough, beastly rumble that pushes you on, and its the comfort that you feel in that wide supportive seat that keeps you there. I know some guys just say if you havent experienced a Harley, then you would never understand. There could be some truth to that.
The Harley security system came with the bike. Im not big on automotive security systems. Maybe its the fool with the mini van parked down the street that starts honking like mechanical cow at two AM every time the wind picks up. It could be the hundreds of hours spent sorting electrical shorts, dead modules and no start conditions thanks to these devices. In any case, Iv avoided them on my own vehicles like the plague. The Harley system seems to be pretty straight forward and easy to use.
In use theres nothing to do. When you receive the bike, follow the instructions and type in your override code using the turn signal buttons. Make sure your tranciever/proximity modules are with you. Thats all there is to it. When you go to ride take the proximity modules with you so your bike knows its you. If you dont have one with you the bike will disable the ignition and fuel system and just wont start. If the module has a dead battery or you lose it, then you can over ride the system with your PIN code. For now its working as advertised and doesnt use any annoying horn or flashing signals. If it does act up Ill be sure to malign it here on E-pinions.
Is there anything not to like?
Now dont go thinking its all sugar and spice with the Dyna. Iv been critical of Harleys for a long time based on my past experience and that wont go away easily. Its like having a voluptuous ex-stripper wife. You say you trust her, but you keep one eye open all the time. Thats the case with the Dyna. I watch her as she vibrates like a giant paint shaker at idle. Although she isnt leaking black gold on my shop floor, I check the oil religiously. I look for loose parts all the time and I flinch when I hear that BAAM as the first cylinder fires off upon start up.
I do have a few complaints about the Dyna models. This Lowrider concept has gone just a bit too far. Does Milwaukee think the whole world is five foot two? I suppose if youre short the entire Sportster, Softail and Dyna line-up is a godsend. If you have a 30 inch or more inseam, and you want to sit up on the bike than youre going to get leg cramps. Just twenty minutes of riding is enough for my lower legs to start going to sleep. The forward foot control models hide this, but put all your weight on the spine with no additional weight distribution through the legs. You also end up looking like youre waiting on some type of perverted erotological exam.
I had a similar problem in 82 with my Honda Magna. I took the seat apart, shaved the hump and built the riders base up by about an inch. Re-cutting and stitching the cover wasnt an option so I made a new one. Ill probably do the same with this seat. The other option is to buy a custom seat from one of the aftermarket companies. Thankfully there are plenty to choose from if you own a Harley.
I was surprised that no tool kit came with the bike. This is an absolute first in my book. Sure, I can probably piecemeal one together with extra tools lying around the shop, but should I have too? And hay, Willie G. How come Milwaukee cant put a center stand on its bikes? Sure the J.A. Pan corporation is taking them away and selling them as add ons. Why cant Harley make it a standard item? Ok, that was a gripe. I guess I have to find something since there isnt a whole lot to complain about at this point.
This is my third final thoughts re-write. I did most of this review back in November, but had to wait until E-pinions could get the system to swallow more bikes. The winter here has been pretty darn nice and Iv been riding the bike every chance I get. Even when my wife is yelling out the window theres black ice. Ya, OK, whatever. I grew up in New England when we were supposed to be starting into a new ice age.
So what do I have to say about the FXDL now after nearly half a year with it? Well it gets better with the miles. The engine has smoothed out considerably with the break in time. Iv made a few adjustments to the shift and foot brake levers to make them more comfortable. I took the seat and added an inch of height and an inch of slide back. What a difference! Now I have comfort for my butt and my legs. The rise also dropped my arms slightly so I have even more leverage and the blood stays in my fingers. Im going to order a seat from Corbin with these specs, but maybe with a bit more slide back. They have a built in removable back rest system. I just thought that would be a nice thing to do for my daughter since she loves to ride with me.
The FXDL is proving to be a durable, well made machine and Im glad I bought it. Im still ticked at the HD dealer. Being as hard headed as I am I know this will probably be the last HD I ever buy. So for now Im going to ride the stink out of this bike and enjoy every second of it.
So would I recommend it? For a bike in this class, considering build quality, enjoyment in the saddle, and the absolute good looks of the bike. Yes. Granted the price is high, probably too high for a motorcycle. There are definitely bikes out there with way more options, performance and refinement. But this bike takes me back to my agricultural roots. Its like riding an old Farmall tractor. Its made in the USA, so those extra bucks spent are staying at home. If youre not convinced that this is the kind of bike you want than do not buy it.
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Amount Paid (US$): 16,500
Model Year: 2007
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