There has always been many cliques in the motorcycling world. Most of us identified with one or others without really thinking about it. There was the Old School bunch, the OCC type bunch, the Euro bikes bunch etc. There were frequently USA vs. everything else (but especially Japan) and many other subgroups in the whole biking community and industry.
These days there seems to be fewer hardcore sub groups around. I don’t know if the national consciousness has just mellowed out somewhat, or maybe it’s just my perception.
One of the big ones around today is the FXR lovers and to a lesser extent, Dynas. Back in the Snow-era Iron Horse, FXRs were regularly panned for their uninspiring looks and even uglier attempts to chop them. If you look around Instagram, there’s no shortage of people posting about and lauding the FXR as if were the epitome of the motorcycle! Nothing else comes close to the magical handling and allure of these bikes. Except that’s not true.
A 2018 Harley Davidson Softail, such as the Fat Bob or Street Bob easily out-handles the dated FXR setup. Has much more engine power to boot. The FXR
clique will have none of that. It’s still the best thing since sliced bread. In reality, the best thing about the FXR is you can pick them up pretty damn cheap these days. You’d think that if they were SO good that they’d be commanding a premium price, yeah?
The FXR came out late 1982. The frame setup was basically an oversized version of the Norton Commando setup, with the rubber mounts, trans bolted to the engine and swing arm pivot running through the trans. The FXR duped these quite well, one presumes that Harley was trying to recreate the legendary handling of the Norton… but in a 600 pound package. It lasted nine years before being replaced with the Dyna range in 1991. So that’s only 27 years ago (it brie y reappeared in 99 on a limited run). Yet the people that still believe these are the Bee’s Knee’s haven’t dwindled that much. Look at S&S’s social media and there’s a bunch of FXR stuff there, people on the west coast seem especially enamoured. FXR shows at events seem to be popular… even though they all pretty much look the same.
I have to be truthful here and say I just don’t get it. Yes, I’ve rode a couple of examples of FXRs and they are certainly OK but nothing to write home about. The footpegs seem buzzy to me and they appear to eat exhaust systems quite frequently. It feels like you’re sitting high on them, more like a Sportster stance.
To be fair, the Dyna that replaced them was a superior bike but again they were a challenge to customize without compromising the things that made them decent in the first place.. the handling.
Some of the blame for the Dyna love has to be laid at the feet of the “Son’s Of Anarchy” TV show. The show everyone loved to bag on but secretly watched. The blacked out Dynas with the way tall black T bars were based on actual club bikes and that began a ‘craze’ of copies everywhere with the mini fairing etc.
Personally, I’m still in with the “Shovelhead’s Rule” crowd. Although my main ride these days is my 53 Panhead I always feel you can’t beat the sound of a well tuned Shovel. Does this mean I like the 91-94 FXRs? Well, they’re more appealing to me for sure. Let’s be clear, I know that the Evo and subsequent Twin Cams and Milwaukee Eights are in virtually every way superior on paper. It’s just for me, the Shovel was the last engine with a soul. Something about the Evo exorcised the soul out and it continued to erase more and more character as time progressed. The Pan has plenty of character but lacks the Shovelhead zip when you open it up. And really, when Dan Roedel rebuilt that Panhead engine for me, he warned me about the undersized components on the drive side of the flywheels, so I admit I tend to lay off full throttle quite a bit with it. I’ll never be able to buy another one so this has to last!
My Shovel I’m not so gentle with, it has plenty of power for my purposes and I don’t care if I end up in a clique of one..