The Harley-Davidson Roadster. Get one while you can.

Today on Motorcycle Monday, instead of me yammering about some old bike I like, I showcase OTHER people yammering about new bikes! Here’s where my data went this week.

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Let’s start with BLOCKHEAD on YouTube, who’s ridden the new Softail Fat Bob, Breakout, Fat Boy and Heritage Classic, and he mostly likes what he’s riding. And this is a guy who daily rides a Low Rider S, so if it wasn’t any good he would DEFINITELY let you know!

Now, I expected there’d be some blowback from the death of the Dyna. What I didn’t expect was that some people thought they were unveiling a new FXR! So now the Dyna crowd AND the FXR cult are pissed. Supposedly, I mean. A lot of this is bullshit posturing and drama for ratings.

And to make matters worse, as a part of the reveals, they gave free bikes to the likes of Ludacris

and Aquaman(who did exactly what I would have done to a brand new, free vehicle)

But then stiffed two nice women-one of whom was a H-D EMPLOYEE!-out of keeping the bikes they unveiled! I guess only famous people deserve free stuff, huh?

Dick move, Harley-Davidson. Dick move.


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Now, for the sake of equity, a nice moment with Indian Motorcycles’ latest offering, the Scout Bobber:

There’s a sad dearth of new Indian review videos. Seems the riders have a bad habit of buying them immediately, putting upmarket shocks and making videos like this

instead of riding other new bikes. So I’ll take this opportunity to share the thoughts of Revzilla’s Lemmy on the Scout vs. The Softail, and the current state of Indian, from a conversation with Henry in the comments of his first Softail ride.


FOR CONTEXT, FROM LEMMY’S 2018 FAT BOB REVIEW: The bike scoots, and it’s happy to take a corner. If you scrape anything, it’s the hero blob at the bottom of the peg; all the hard parts are tucked up and they aren’t the first thing you’ll ruin if you get a little throttle-happy. Most of you know I have been pushing the domestic manufacturers to produce performance bikes with mid controls or rearsets. That’s the only improvement I could see being made to the Fat Bob. I’m actually OK with these controls; they’re not my preferred setup for aggressive riding, but they really don’t hinder corner attack like some domestic cruisers I have ridden. coughScoutandOctanecough.

HENRY: How can you criticize the Octane/Scout’s forward controls for restricting handling when their lean angle is still five degrees more than the ‘new and improved’ Fat Bob?

LEMMY: Current Indian Scouts are listed at 31°. The ‘18 Fat Bob is 31° right and 32° left; there is not a five degree difference.


Here’s my thoughts on this: First, the Octane and Scout had the same problem I’ve run into on Harleys (the new bikes seem to have eliminated this): the first thing you touch down is a footpeg. Not a feeler/hero blob, but an actual hard part no one wants to grind down. That stinks.

But the more important part is springing. 31 degrees is a static lean angle. The engineers tip the bike over in the studio until something hits the ground, and then measure how far off plumb the bike is. However, if the bike is badly undersprung like the Scout (My test Octane was way better; that had the upgraded rear shocks on it), then the ground clearance (and thus the lean angle) go away. Look at the height of the footpegs on both bikes as well as their width. Lower and wider means the ground clearance dies when Fat Lem gets on a bike(NOTE: Lemmy weighs around 250lbs.). Granted, that will be less of a problem for smaller riders, but I can’t readily test a bike at 170 pounds.


So on paper those bikes should perform the same. But as I am fond of saying, I have no spec sheets parked in the garage. I’ve ridden all three of those bikes. I railed on the Fat Bob. I wanted to rail on the other two... and I could have. I just needed to respring those two bikes. It’s part of why I saw the Indian Scout Bobber and winced a little; because the back is lowered, I’d be killing that bike’s lean angle even more.

HENRY: Thanks for your reply Lemmy. You’re right, I misread a sentence in the other article on these bikes. I take it back.


However, I think you’re still giving the Polaris bikes, and the Octane particularly, an unfair shake. What your reply says to me is that this new $17k game-changer cuts into a corner as well as a $10k bike (with $700 shocks) I could’ve had a year ago, and the $10k bike has a better power-to-weight ratio to boot(NOTE: the Milwaukee Eight 107 makes around 90hp and more than 100 lb-ft, versus the Scout motor at 100hp and 93 lb-ft. The M8 114 makes 100 horsepower and 110 lb-ft). Not terribly compelling, I gotta say. I get that there is a benefit to having the feeler wear out as opposed to the peg itself, but it’s still wearing a part regardless, and how many pegs can I replace with the six grand left over from not picking the Harley anyways? More than I’ll ever need to. I know someone will come at me with ‘it’s not about the power, it’s not about the handling’, but what’s left then? Just the aesthetics? Resale value? Same old Harley after all, then? Maybe I’m missing something here.

Anyways, I know you’re a Harley guy, and these new ones are exciting; I’m not even a Harley guy in the least and I followed the reveal closely on social media, because it’s just that interesting. Truth be told, I really like the new Fat Bob. I’ll probably test ride one. I’m the punk ass millennial I believe this new design is aimed at, and it has piqued my interest. But my local Harley dealership would have a time trying to get me onto a Fat Bob over, say, a year-old xDiavel, if we’re talking $17k.


LEMMY: This is a long one. Sorry.

I think I was very fair to the Scout and Octane when I reviewed them. I was a big fan of those bikes, and compared to their H-D competition, man, they really blow the doors off in a few ways.


Secondly, I think to compare the costs of these bikes in terms of performance AND cost doesn’t make a ton of sense, just because the missions are a bit different. If the goal is power-to-weight for the cheapest price, an $800 craigslist dirt bike offers lots of bang for the buck. Comparing the Scout to the Sportster? Sure. Same class, same price. And in that realm, I would say the Scout far outcorners the H-D competition (If we’re comparing something similar, not a Roadster or something skewed in H-D’s favor.)

Truth be told, I’m not really a “Harley guy.” It’s sort of a running joke; I always get labeled that because I know a lot about them and I own a lot of them. I just like old shit, and Harleys are the easiest old bike to find in this country. (Depending, of course, on how you define “old.”) I like lots of different garage has American bikes, Asian, a European...


I liked the Scout, and I also really liked the Octane with Fancy Shocks. I was, however, disappointed. Indian’s version of “performance” differs from my own. Indian, rather than drawing on the innovation of their company (the Four, the opposed twin, the crazy leafer front ends), concentrates on the ‘41-’53 valenced-fender era. That was the beginning of the end for Indian. The faux flathead, for instance, is a mark of shame, but few modern-day riders seem to recognize that those chrome fake flatheads are glorifying what was a shameful, sad product for Indian Motocycle. Indian could not afford to engineer an OHV engine. The Knuck and Pan put Indian out of business. But that’s the era Polaris Indian wants to concentrate on, not the innovative years when Indian was a technological powerhouse.

I can’t tell you how happy I would be if they came out with a nice 110 horsepower standard with an across-the-frame I-4. I would be ecstatic to line up and put my money down. But I can’t.


In many ways, I think Indian is more able to give me the American ass-kicking machine I want to buy, yet they seem to be more reticent to give it to me (and to the world.) So if you want to accuse me of being too-easily disappointed with Indian — maybe even unfairly — I’ll take that criticism. But I do try to champion a good bike when I get my hands on one, regardless of brand.

These are good bikes.

(end conversation)

I think it’s only fair to note than the Scout is a full hundred pounds lighter than the Softails, makes only 69cc and is designed to compete with Sportsters and Streets and Triumph Bonnevilles and such. So it makes sense for it not to be as stiffly sprung as the Softail, which i just now getting below 700 lbs and will routinely carry 200 pound guys. Still, I wonder how a Softail will compare to a Chief...


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Now, back to Harley-Davidson for some unfounded speculation.

The Dyna is dead. The V-Rod is dead. The new Softail is designed to replace them both. The Touring line is bulletproof. The Street 750 is doing well, as is the Street Rod... Basically what I’m working up to is this:

If you ever wanted a new Sportster, buy one NOW!

The Harley-Davidson XR1200X and the Shaw SpeedXR1200TT it was turned into.

Seriously, the Street is OBVIOUSLY the future of H-D’s entry level market, and it deserves to be. It doesn’t look as good fresh out the box as the Sportster, nor does it have that classic feel(well it’s not a 1950's design, hkw could it?), but it does look and ride good and it’s much faster and capable fresh out the box. Not to mention it comes out GREAT from any customization you do to it!

The only thing it’s missing is the Sportster’s displacement, but that 1200cc Evolution engine is wheezing these days...


... Say, what was the displacement on the V-Rod’s Revolution engine?1100 to 1200cc, right?...

... And that Scout motor, that’s about 1100cc, too, right? Yeah.

So I’m thinking either the Sportster is gonna get a new stiffer frame that can hold the Revolution engine and an upmarket suspension... Or the Street is. Either way, I can’t help but feel that the 1953-present version of the Sportster’s days are numbered. When is the next numbered anniversary?


So yeah, get one while you can.

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Feel free to complain about how long this article is in the comments, and I’ll see you next Monday!

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