Big and heavy, but easy to drive
As one of the first newspapers or magazines we have done a first drive on the 2007 models from Harley Davidson on Norwegian ground. We focus on the FXSTC Softail Custom.
Text: Frode Johansen
Photo: Ruth Helen Kjśrran / rallyruth.com
Almost everyone has some kind of relation to these bikes and their sound. When we look at horsepower and cubic inches the Japanese bikes are better in numbers and on paper. But when we look at the sales numbers in Norway, the Harley is the winner. That shows that numbers and paper is one thing, the feeling you get when you ride them is something else. And that the design is still very good looking.
They look more or less the same as they did several decades ago, but why change something that the customers want. And getting into new markeds are done with new models, instead for trying to change the original into something it is not. The new VRSC Rod bikes, or the Harley powered Buell's are both selling to a different crowd. The original are all about wide seats, chrome, the legs streched forward and wide bars. Personaly I do not like the two storry seat as this one has, but the list of optinal seats, bars, pegs, pipes and so on is so long that everyone can find what they want.
This was my first time riding a Harley, but before this I have seen them and thought big, heavy, old fasion and not too good to drive. But already a mile down the road, I start to realize that I have been wrong, so very wrong. Here we are talking about joy from riding, comfort, a modern strong v-twin engine and several very good modern technical solutions. As smart turnsignals that turn themself of after turning or overtaking a car, and a indicator that tells you that you are in 6th gear. A feature I would love to have on my own bike, after trying to find the non existing 7th gear to many times.
On Norwegian roads
The engine turns a little slow the first round when I hit the start button, before the so familiar engine sound surrounds me. The all new six speed gearbox feels very solid and the clutch is very easy to opperate. The foot pegs are up front, a little unfamiliar for me at the begining. But the all over comfort matches my sofa at home, the only thing missing is the tv remote and a cold beer. The wide bars, placed just below the hight of my shoulders, makes the bike easy to drive, also in low speed situations.
I turn on to the narrow and twisty road, and gives it all it got, because you should always get up to the speed limit quickly. It's all about safty, and reduces the risk of getting a Ram truck up your ass. The engine is strong, the torque realy makes it a comfortable bike to ride, even if the weight is high. Vibrations are well controlled and if it had less it would feel strange, and I do not feel any anoying vibrastions in the seat, pegs or handelbars.
The comfort is very good, even if the surface is uneaven in places. I am starting to wonder if not a quick three thousand mile return trip back home is a nice thing to do. Sitting there dreaming at 60 mph about seeing my parents and brother again, enjoying a bottle of Cognac while sitting by the fire or just throwing down a cold beer on the front porch. I am smiling behind the dark visor, then the dreams are ripped away as a turn is coming up fast. I consider hitting the brakes, but I am lazy of nature and the brakes needs hard griping, so I just don't bother with it. I contra steer the bike into the turn and hold my line thru the first, and the second one with no problems. I know, I know, if I had been riding a supersport bike I could have doubled the speed thru the turn. But I am relaxing here, so don't bother me with hyperactive supersport bikes now please.
The only thing that could have been upgraded more on this bike is the brakes, as I mentioned it needs be worked hard to stop the bike within acceptable distance.
Easy to drive and with a little windscreen on the bars is would be a very good friend to take out riding for long distances. But since it is so easy to drive, you should not hesitate taking it down town to enjoy some ice cream or sharing some stories over a cold one at the local bar.
Engine: 96 cubic inch / 1584 ccm
Engine type: Aircooled v-twin with fuel injection
Horsepower: Not known
Torque: 87,9 ft. Ibs at 2750 rpm
Fuel tank: 5 gallon / 19 liters
Front Tyre: MH90-21
Rear Tyre: 200/55 R17
Weight: Dry: 672 Ibs, Ride reday: 703 Ibs
MSRP: Approx $17.000
Thank's to Lazy Boys for early morning coffee, food, very nice service, smiling faces and last but not least, some great bikes for us to ride.
That day I also rode the FXDB Dyna Street Bob, FLHX Street Glide and the VRSCDX Night Rod Special.
Hey stupid, the side stand is down....hehe..