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GOING THE DISTANCE
"HANDLE THIS, OKAY?"
PHOTO BY GENGHIS
PREFERRED PLATFORM FOR THE STRIPPED-DOWN H-D AESTHETIC: THE RIGHTEOUS 4-SPEED SWING-ARM FRAME.
"The FXR may be hated more now than ever! The chopper-come-lately crowd are so into period correct, they want nothing to do with engineering.....It was marketed poorly. They should have continued the 4-speed frame, not added the softail frame, marketed the FXR as an alternative to people who wanted something different from a Harley, not tried to market it as a continuation of the FX...."
FLYNCH AT THE SEEDY X-BAR
"I agree 100% that the FXR was marketed wrong. Its attributes weren't properly touted. I also hated them for years because during their production, they were victims of some of the overly-done customs that (dis)graced the pages of American Iron and other rags. Air dams, splashy gaudy paint, billet everything, etc. From what I understand, the Dyna replaced the FXR for 2 main reasons: 1) The Factory was looking to return to a more Harley-esque look, and 2)the Dyna frame was a lot cheaper and simpler to produce than the FXR. Dynas are OK, but the FXR frame is far superior. My wife's son has a Dyna that I've ridden quite a bit, and I can attest to the FXR's abilities. Given the choice between a Dyna and 4spd FX/Duo Glide frame, the FX frame would be my choice, just because it doesn't pretend to be something it's not. Same reason I'd take a rigid over a Soft Tail. By the way, have you noticed there are dealers and other motorcycle dealers that don't know what an FXR is? When I was looking for one, I saw tons of ads for things like "2002 FXR/Dyna..." I was looking for a bone-stock machine and eventually found it 8 miles from my house!...."
"HALFWAY-TO-HELL" (#333) AT THE SEEDY X-BAR
There's no question that among its sisters in the Harley-Davidson line-up, the FXR has been the proverbial redheaded stepchild of the family. The FXR's attributes of superior handling did little to boost its prestige and sales, falling to the backburner of popularity because of the FXR's non-traditional frame conformation---a chassis that is reminiscent of foreign motorcycle frames---and was relegated as an afterthought in many bikers' minds as viable fodder for the custom aesthetic, because of its non-traditional boxy and triangulated rear section.
Let's face the obvious: there's no way that the FXR can compete with a traditional four-speed swingarm based bike, for that low-slung, old school stripped Harley look. Stripped-down Duo Glides and Electra Glides have long and illustrious histories, of being the preferred righteous basis for the stripped-down look since 1958. Why do you think that The Firm introduced the Dyna chassis, after the real four-speed frame's demise? It was a cashing in on an outlaw image. Money is always the bottom line, and the Dyna's aping of the Electa Glide frame style looked better to buyers than the FXR, increasing that bottom line.
No, the venerable "74" will always show the most class as the platform for customizing a Harley. In the biker subculture, the way that garbage wagons metamorphosed into stripped down beauties, formed the backbone of the culture for decades following the late 1950s. FXRs by comparison, left many in the culture cold.
There is also no doubt however, that the FXR has terrfic bona fides as a hardcore Harley-Davidson in spite of the general public's spurning of this fine engineering design. Witness the number of one percenters who favor this bike. This, from Sonny Barger from his autobiography:
"I ride a Harley FXRT.....A Harley FXR is the bike of choice for most Hell's Angels today. FXRs have a rubber-mounted motor on a swing-arm frame. A swing-arm means the frame houses left and right shock absorbers in the back section for better road flex. Harley developed the FXR as a reaction to bike riders....who preferred more stripped-down bikes.....The FXR is an efficient bike for speed and distance.....After 1993, Harley-Davidson stopped making the FXR.....The Dyna Glide has since replaced the FXR. In my opinion it's not as good a bike because it doesn't handle as well as an FXR."
While Dyna Glides purport to be faithful reproductions of the classic Duo Glide/Electra Glide/Super Glide platform, to my discerning eye the Dynas look just a little bit off proportionally. I can't quite put my finger on it, but Dynas don't look "right", as the original 74 did and does. The replication process produced offspring whose somatic dimensions are slightly off kilter aesthetically. As with a hit movie and its remake years later---the original 4-speed frame always looks better and more "right" to the mind's eye, than does the imitation.
Even though there is this discrepancy between Electa Glide and Dyna Glide frames, I personally would still prefer the Dyna over the FXR frame if I were forced into a limited choice consisting of these two. But hey! I won't ever be forced into this choice because my ever lovin' Mabel---my righteous "74" based on the old school Electra Glide frame---will be taking me the distance. Take this for granted, though. Now that the Going The Distance website now has Flynch as a columnist---count on hearing plenty from him about the virtues of the FXR, now that he's become a dyed-in-the-wool FXR True Believer. Later.