Bagger, chopper, bobber. What do these three customisation styles have in common? Not much other than having two wheels many would say. In fact, these are the only three styles that can be found in magazines that seem to be known and appreciated by most custom motorcycle “fans”.
These three styles of bikes also have something else in common. All modifications made to the two cylinders of these bikes are made to improve their “look”, which typically compromises their performance and maneuverability.A stretched fork, a 30-inchfront wheel or a spring seat seem to be the criteria for success in creating a popular motorcycle. Oddly though, you rarely see any on the road. They’re used even more rarely when you want to ride beyond the local bar!
Those who truly love the road and riding their bike over long distances or at high speeds need their bike to respond properly and give them the confidence to go out and have fun at full speed and as far as they want. Some particular models offer the basic features required for this kind of riding. This includes the FXR, and more recently,the Dyna. In fact, the Harley-Davidson FXR was designed primarily to compete with Japanese bikes that were more powerful and less expensive at that time. The aim was to enhance the Harley brand by designing a model that was easy to maneuver and could be used for riding other than in a straight line. So thanks to Erik Buell’s engineering, combined with different parts from Sportsters and bigger models like the FL, the FXR was born in the early 80s, hence the name FXR (F=Big Twin,X=Sportster,R=Rubber Engine Mounts).The FXR was immediately adopted by the members of various motorcycle clubs, who got what they needed with this much more dynamic, reliable and stable bike. They could ride it in more constrained areas, such as in heavy traffic conditions. The bike also no longer vibrated at high speed.Afterwards, the Dyna was created with the same objectives as the FXR, offering a bigger, better balanced and more powerful bike than the Sportster. Performance enthusiasts adopted this new family of Harley-Davidson bikes, with the basic attributes of high quality and being able to improve them simply and efficiently.
To better understand the interest in these models, we must go back to the source. At the time, several West Coast clubs with a nonconformist lifestyle needed a means of transportation that would allow them to leave a place in a hurry! The FXR was also perfect for riding on the steep hills of Frisco, California.The style was then adopted by a new generation who had the same riding motto, “Ride it like you stole it”. These were young people who got hooked on motorcycles through motocross, so they were used to cranking the throttle all the way. Dynas and FXRs were therefore the most similar models in terms of feel and driving position. The proof is that the first thing they did to their FX was to add motocross handlebars (Pro-Taper, Renthal or “tracker bars” type) that allowed them to better control their machines. They also added a fairing which served as a shield against the wind at chest level, which significantly reduced the parachute effect. This also allowed them to reach higher speeds without feeling the effects. Another modification was rising the rear suspension for greater flexibility in tight turns (ground clearance).Many also decided to change the mythical Harley-Davidson belt for a chain, which generates faster response and higher strength and reliability during quick starts. All these changes seem to be totally opposite to those made on most other Harleys, on which massive and high handlebars are installed, suspensions are lowered, and the belt is removed,as if to thumb their noses at the “Motor Company’s” history,now over a century old. However, few remember that all old models had a chain, and what was important to someone who wanted a motorcycle, whether a Harley-Davidson or other,was to customise it according to one’s criteria and preferences. So basically, FXR and Dyna enthusiasts prefer to have a powerful and fun to ride machine rather a flashy bike.
Those who like this style see the motorcycle primarily as an object of pleasure rather than luxury. Their main objective is to ride and have fun on the roads, while driving a machine in which they have full confidence. It has nothing to do with having a Harley as a sign of social success or as a garage ornament.
Thanks to Taylor Schultz of SchultzDesignz as well as Justin George, Wisut Thamviritkul and Phil Bernard for the photos.