Harley Davidson 2017 Models and the Alphabet Soup
When you walk into the showroom of a Harley Dealership – it is easy to be blinded by all the chrome, the shiny paint, custom accessories and the wide array of different models to choose from. There are six different frame families and for the model year 2016 there are 38 different new models to choose from. The bike price tags and brochures have an almost cryptic foreign language to them next to the names of the bikes. When I was at my last dealership – we had over 600 used bikes on the sales floor and nearly another 200 new rides; it can be a bit confusing with the alphabet soup short hand that Milwaukee uses for their branding of the bikes.
* Image credit Barnett Harley, El Paso Tx
So here then is a quick guide to help you weed through and understand the difference between an FXDX, FXSTC, FLHT or a XL883. These short- hand acronyms will be imperative when you are ordering parts for your bike, because while a bike maybe in the same family of frame construction – not all parts, will fit on all bikes. Trust me, I have run into this often enough with my own custom builds.
*Image credit ChopCult.com
The six families of bikes are based mainly on the different frame and engine configurations. You may already know the names of V-Rod, Sportster, Dyna, Softail, Touring and Trike; but there is also the new Street and the coming Electric Livewire models. As Harley Davidson has been in business since 1903, if you are looking at a used or antique bike – these short hand monikers will help you to further understand the history, the relative size of the bikes and aid in searching for online pricing levels as well. I will address each family in turn coming up in Moto-Life ! The basic Recipe is Frame, Tire, Engine, Model Designator, and Edition moniker if it is a limited production or special construction like the CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) models.
Going in size order of precedence is the Street Models, are the smallest Harley-Davidsons available in 500 cc and 750 cc
* Image Credit Harley-Davidson
The first striking element of the Street models is the watercooled Revolution-X watercooled motor. It is a sized down rendition of the powerplant from the long standing VRod motor. The Street is aimed at beginning riders, and shorter riders - with a low weight and easy glide of power and acceleration. The difference between the two Street models is only found in the displacement, otherwise they are indisguishable between the variants.
SPORTSTER MODELS: XL
All Harley-Davidson models in the current year line up have the XL moniker. Since 2004, all Sportsters have had the rubber mounted Evolution motor and a 5 speed transmission. In 2007, fuel inection became standard for the lighter Harley offerings.
* Image credit Harley-Davidson.com XL883L
For Model year 2016 there are currently 6 models in the Sportster Line up. The primary alpha construct guide is XL for the FRAME Displacement Engine Size 883/1200 and finally the model designator in the family. For example the XL883L is the short-hand for the 2016 Super-Low; where XL means a rubber mounted twinshock frame – with a Sportster Motor in the 883 cubic centimeter displacement and the 'L' identifies that the bike is LOWER than the other bikes in the family line-up. This is not the first bike to wear the L, but all of them do sit about an inch lower than the standard base model Sportster. The mag wheeels are sitting in black shod at a 17 inch sized foot print and give the bike a unique flair among the 6 bike line-up.
The other motorcycle in the 883 displacement - is the Iron. The XL883N delivers a ride is equipped with mid-mount controls for your foot levers that is all dripped in black accents. The motor The black motor is my perference, I do not like all the cleaning and maintenance that is required with either polished or chrome motor blocks. Further, the Iron has a smaller gas tank that only holds 3.3 gallons as apposed to the 4.5 volume of the XL883L. To properly fill out the attitude, the Iron is a solo ride - no seat, pegs nor room for a passenger (without additional accessories). Tires and Mags are shod for 19 inches up front and 18 out at the rear - while still setting about the 550 pound mark.
* Image Credit Harley-Davidson.com
In the Larger 1200 displacement - there are currently 4 models, each with its' own distinct flavor.
First up is the XL1200X - knows as the '48'. The XL denotes the Sposter frame, the 1200 the displacement and the X label is the official short-hand of a bike that is stripped down to the basics and filled out with a meaty fat stance.
* Image credit Harley-davidson.com
The bike has a lower squat and seat height than the Custom Model and is drenched in Black, the only exceptions are the chrome head valve covers and the exhaust pipes. Both of which I would immediately replace with the darker units. This year the 16 inch rims are mags instead of blacked out spokes, giving the back a low and fat look of a bigger bike.
The reason the bike is called the '48' is that the small 'Peanut' tank of 2.2 gallons is the same one that appeared on the Harley Davidson Hummer, that debuted in 1948. The Larger 4.5 gallon tank bolts right on, and is well worth the 600 bones to do it - especially if you want to ride further than 100 miles before having to gas up yet again.
* Image Credit Harleyhummer.com
Next in the line up is the 1200 Custom - the XL1200C
Where the 48 is BLACK - the Custom is CHROME. The custom comes with the forward controls that are standard and gives the rider that classic 'laid back' almost lounging style of riding that is so identifiable with American riding culture and iconography. Full fenders cover the tires front and rear, they are not abbreivated nor clipped like the other models in the family. If you are carrying a passenger, this is your best model to select, as the passenger area is already built in. There is no need to add pegs and an additional back seat, though a back rest maybe advisable. In my opinion, the best feature to the model is the large tank, you can ride comfortably for 230 miles before you have to gas up; that is the way I like to escape when I roll. The wheels are a laced 16 inch, front and rear - giving a wide and fat impression as well as a better traction grip pad to the pavement.
* Image Credit Harley-Davidson.com
My current favorite in the Sporster Line up is the XL1200CX - the Roadster
Making a comeback from the last outing in 2007, the Roadster is the 'sportier' Sporster. From a distance, you will notice that it is similar to the XL883N Iron ~ featuring both blacked out accents and the 3.3 gallon tank ~ but that is where the similarities end. The Roadster sits taller in the saddle, giving you more ground clearance to aggressively attack corners and push the bike harder through the lines when carving canyons. Seat height is 29.5 inches with a 6 inch ground clearance, giving you an easy access to 30 degree lean angles. Additionally, the suspension is more performance orienated. Taller adjustable rear shocks out back are matched by an equally aggressive inverted fork up front. The wheels are a custom black 18 inches out back, and 19 inches up front that are stopped by a set of twin caliper brakes. The Roadster is still a heavy bike at 570 lbs (nearly 200 lbs heavier than my beloved Buell in similar trim) .
* image Credit Haley-Davidson.com
The final model in the 2017 Sportster Line up is the XL1200T - the T indicates 'Touring'
And the bike is dressed out in all core amenities that are a pre-requisite for touring comfort and convenience - namely bags and a windshield - as standard equipment. You will notice that it is similar to the XL883L - with the same tire and tank size, but the XL1200T sits higher in the saddle with taller shocks to account for the added wait of the anticipated passenger. The bags are hard mounted, while the windshield is quick release and if you are travelling long distances with a passenger - that backrest will be an essential requirement.
Join me next time when I bring you the Dyna Model Line up for the 2017 year.
Ride Safe, Ride Often.
Enjoy the video - still waiting for the 2017 reviews, the XL1200CX remains unchanged for 2017, except paint options.