Rodger Dodger Bobber
It is once again my favorite time of year. The first chilly mornings have appeared, the trees are starting to announce the coming of fall with their leafy fireworks of orange, red, yellow, Summer Love has proven yet again to be transient – dying – or fatal, and the new school year has started. But for me, this has always been the time of excitement for the new year of motorcycles – and in some years – cars too. September always marks the knell of the new year in the business, and it is time to let the new ponies out of the stable.
2017 – is a model year marked by a New Black and Bold New Graphics. Meaning – in a snarky and sarcastic jab – much of that was from last year – has returned; but with a new set of stickers and maybe a different color option. From the sport bike side of things – we are used to new technical and performance upgrades nearly yearly – sure, they get their new stickers too; but the body cladding and technology is more progressive annually in the import sport section than in Harley Davidson. Indeed, the H-D mothership – has a weighted concerted interest in keeping appearances and styling traditional – one that reiterates their brand, history, heritage and iconography.
One of the 'new' models for this year – is the returning Softail Slim S dressed in a World War II motif in the Olive Gold Denim shade. Brandished with an 'Army' star from the days of the bike bombing around Europe in the second world war – it secures its origins to the first days of customizing bikes. Besides the all blacked out trim for the motor and accessory trim – the bike gets the larger 110 Screaming Eagle motor. At a price point of 18,899 – that motor is normally only found on the CVO line of bikes – that start at a significantly higher base price (and in my opinion are laden with entirely too much chrome) Congratulations to Harley Davidson for bringing back a true 'Bobber', with the power to back it up.
The original Bobbers were born out of the 'Hot-Rod' ideology that, if it doesn't make you go faster, make the bike lighter, make the engine perform hotter – it was left off. Most bikers returning from the war were looking for the thrill and escape of the road rather than being tied to a desk job, after risking your life in combat – a corner desk with no window is nearly a prison term. So the parts started coming off the bikes and the speeds kept climbing with the addition of custom performance parts.
The first 'custom' trend was to remove the hinged section of the rear fender that was traditionally on the bigger Harley-Davidsons. While this gave you access to the rear tire for maintenance – it was dead weight. In the above example of a custom build from James Roper-Caldbeck of Copenhagen, Denmark - you can still see the original hinge points on where the fender extension has been removed.
Many fender ends were scrapped altogether, some full front wheel coverings found themselves rotated to the rear and used as an abbreviated fender – thus the beginnings of the Iconic 'Duck-tail' fender – that H-D still uses to this day as a styling jump point. Many hot rodders were known to run with what is considered a 'trailer' fender on the rear and merely enough metal to keep the law off your back.
Another one from James and his shop:
Find his custom works and new renditions of classic rides
The Stats – The ride is rolling with a 6 speed transmission, Anti-Lock Brakes, a 110 Cubic Inch Motor, black laced wire wheels and splashed in the WWII era, complete with antique Cat's Eye styled dash. Chiming in at less than 19K, with upgraded performance, deep iconic style and nary a bit of chrome – I think Harley Davidson has a winner with this ride. I wish them the best of success in brisk sales.
Sitting in the saddle, it is hard to convinced that it is not again 1949 as the antique retro dash and gauge face remind of years and roads that have long disappeared in a time forgotten. The 'split tank' of separate fueling the left and right are gone. Now the left lid houses a gas gauge - an item that would have been more than handy when gas stations were fewer and further apart and before the 'interstate' system became the mainstay of Americana roadway culture.
Pushing back to the 'good old days' of Army Surplus bikes that were bought by returning vets, the white star across the tank says 'Government Issue' while still branding the appropriate Milwaukee Harley Davidson Logo
Here the Softail Slim S is clad in Genuine Harley Davidson Parts and Accessories ~ most notably the side auxiliary driving lights, the detailed primary cover in black and raw metal and the swing arm saddle bag. If going for bags - I would rather grab the ones from the Heritage Softail. They will bolt right up - but you will need to do some modification to relocate your rear turn-signals and brake-lights. These are easy modifications and your dealer should be able to well accommodate those personal touches.
You can quickly see that the lines and motifs of the two bikes are very similar. Where the Heritage Classic gives you the bags as standard equipment, it comes with the smaller engine and is dressed in too much chrome for my liking.
All new 2017 Harley Davidson photos courtesy of Harley Davidson.com To find your nearest dealer and get your own:
Visit their website.
Ride Safe, Ride Often.