Harley Davidson have just launched their new Softail model, the Low Rider S, to much excitement and enthusiasm, that this bike will somewhat restore the fortunes of the American brand.
Whilst this is a reincarnation of the Dyna Low Rider S from 2016/17 but is on the very impressive new Softail chassis with monoshock rear suspension, the power difference is marginal.
The aesthetics are to be marvelled at for sure and will undoubtedly attract a legion of fans, both new and old…but the question is whether any prospective or new owner will be left cold in its wake and rue the day they didn’t choose another Softail instead?
The proportions and dimensions are impressive. Rake and trail would make you believe that this bike will zip through the twisties with ease, but it’s the power and performance that may prove underwhelming for many.
It is supplied with the 114 cubic inch engine or 1868cc with approximately 93hp and 155nm torque. These are reasonably impressive figures, however they are almost matched by the Dyna variant of three years ago…so not much evolution there.
The other thing to consider is that the 114 cubic inch engine is also available in various other Softail models too, so this level of performance can already be found. Indeed many would argue that very similar performance levels are already found in the 107 Cubic inch engine…so what’s so special about the Low Rider S.
Well, in it’s simplest terms, it just isn’t the bike that it should be and it doesn’t sit proud on top of the rest of the Softails…and this is its biggest downfall and may prove to be the achilles heel for the sales boost it was hoped it could be.
When the Low Rider S was first produced in the Dyna range, there was a marked increase in power, performance and handling over the rest of the Dyna stable. Whilst the rest were floundering with 103 cubic engine, the Low Rider S was given a 110 cubic inch powerhouse to set the tongues wagging and many a fine rider to wipe the cobwebs from their wallets.
The new Low Rider S doesn’t have that same wow factor although its curb appeal is superb. If it were for looks alone then this would be a sure fire winner, but Low Rider S riders want that drag like performance over and above what they can find elsewhere.
Just imagine rolling up to the traffic lights on your new Low Rider S, and you sit impatiently waiting for the red light to change, when a Fatbob 114, or Fatboy 114…or any other Softail with a 114 engine, pulls up alongside you. You would want to have the confidence to pull away and leave them coughing on your exhaust fumes and blinded by your trailing dust…but sadly that won’t happen because both sets of bikes will be largely matched.
The powers that be at Harley R&D missed a trick here and have misjudged what a Low Rider S rider really wants. Yes there is design and club like appeal to consider, but above all else it should be about the brutish roar that will get you down the road faster than other Harleys.
They should have made a bold statement and put the 117 cubic inch engine in it…or even bigger. They should have made this Low Rider S really stand out from the crowd and to create an unrivalled performance amongst its peers. The Low Rider S should be about braun, balls and bullish strength but alas it is just another ordinary member of the Softail club. Whilst still impressive…it is not the bike that you would sell your soul to own. That is its biggest frailty…It lacks that devilish allure and devil may care affliction.
But I still want one, but not at the expense of my Sport Glide.