2013 Harley Davidson Switchback - FLD
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The 2013 model is the second year for the Harley Davidson Switchback, the lightest touring model in the Harley Davidson lineup.
The Switchback is a member of the Dyna family that started with the Super Glide back in the 70's and also includes the Wide Glide, the Fat Bob, the Super Glide Custom, and the Street Bob motorcycles, each a little different from the other but related by a common 103 cubic inch displacement engine and six speed transmission.
The Switchback is a convertible motorcycle with quick detachable windshield and saddlebags to allow you to have a street cruiser when you want to go bar hopping and have the equipment for touring when you want it. A few QD fasteners hold everything together and allow you to switch the configuration in a few minutes. Billed by Harley-Davidson as the "lightest touring model in its displacement category which is 103 cubic inches in American or 1690 cc in metric-speak. So you are able to go from a street cruiser to a full fledged tourer and back in a few seconds. Get a place in your garage ready to store your parts because you want to keep them factory fresh when you change them out.
The first thing that struck me on examining the Switchback was its retro appearance. The styling looks right out of the 1960 era with very retro features like chrome shocks and full wrap fenders. The motorcycle has other retro features like a full chrome nacelle surrounding the headlight and a console with a five inch speedometer. The ignition switch is on the console as you'd expect so that continues the characteristic and easy operation of the motorcycle. The appearance factors are as rooted in Harley history as can be yet contemporary as today. That's what classic styling does - it always looks right.
The motorcycle has a 5 gallon tank that is related to Harley tanks since time immemorial. It just looks Harley and it's one of the things everybody notices. The paint job is in ember red sunglow, vivid black, or big blue pearl as the model I had was decked out in. The paint looks a mile deep and is heavily clear coated for long lasting beauty and protection.
The motor is a 103 cubic inch Twin Cam (1690 cc) with fuel injection and a six-speed Cruise Drive transmission. The metal parts are finished in black powder coat with polished edges so the motor looks like a work of art. The Switchback has a uniquely styled air cleaner on the right side whose asymmetrical styling is sure to become a classic. The exhaust is a chrome two into one unit that exits under the right saddlebag.
The Switchback has the lightest custom touring chassis in its class so it handles easily and moves quickly for its size. The chromed and polished front end contains a cartridge style fork for sure and positive handling no matter what the conditions. The chrome covered rear shocks are adjustable for comfort and handling whether riding local or long distance as you prefer. The wheels are five bar cast aluminum mag style wheels with polished and black areas so the tires are tubeless for ease of maintenance. The wheels are 18 x 130B and 17 x 160 B with tubeless Dunlop tires on front and rear.
The Switchback has a well designed buddy seat that carries two and saddle bags so you can pack the gear that you want to carry. Combine that with the quick detachable windshield and you have a well rounded motorcycle for all occasions.
I rode the Switchback at Stone Mountain Harley Davidson of Conyers, Georgia, my local dealer where I've shopped for motorcycles for years.
The motor fires up at the touch of a button and idles down quickly with the Electronic Fuel Injection that is standard equipment. The bike soon idled down and I rode it a few miles feeling it out and trying the performance. I ride lots of Harleys over the years and this is definitely a nice one. It has hydraulic disk brakes so it has good stopping power. ABS brakes are not available on this model because it is an entry level touring bike but with the lower weight the standard disks do a good job of hauling it down from speed.
I rode it long enough to get a good feel of the handling and enjoyed the light feel of the bike compared to my usual Electra Glide which weighs some 300 pounds more. The Switchback has listed weight of 718 pounds which is light for a full sized Harley.
The bike handles well and accelerates better than a heavier bike and will probably be better on gas mileage but I didn't like it enough to trade in my Electra Glide which is still my main transportation to work and back. My neighbor, Tim, is thinking of buying a new Harley so this is one I recommend he try. With the 103 inch motor and ABS brakes it makes a nice package.
Amount Paid (US$): 16,100