'77 FXS Lowrider

The FXS Low Rider was born in 1977.

Harley Davidson's Low Rider was introduced at Daytona Bike Week in Florida. Dubbed the FXS, it was the first of Harley's "factory customs", many of which proved so popular with buyers that they are highly coveted among Harley aficionados. In addition to the FXS's low seat height, that first model Low Rider included raised white lettered tires, drag bars, mag wheels, and an often copied two-into-one slash-cut exhaust. Coupled with shorter rear shocks and 1" longer forks, the bike was an instant hit and inspired Willie G. and his staff to create even more custom models - a trend that continues to this day and one of the main reasons for the motor company's continued popularity with the public.

Although the new 1340cc (80ci) engine was available on FLH models in the Lowrider's inaugural year, the motor company decided in its wisdom to bestow the new model with the tried and true 1200cc (74ci) engine. The 1200cc shovelhead engine powered the FXS for its first two years, making 60 odd horsepower and the very fat spread of torque that all Harleys are renowned for. 1979 saw the larger 1340cc higher compression shovelhead motors fitted across the FX range, the extra capacity good for 65hp when bog standard. A free flowing exhaust and a high flow air cleaner would see that figure increase by another 10hp with a corresponding jump in torque output.

The Lowrider has the lowest seating position any bike in the HD lineup at a bee's dick under 26" from the road to your arse. Fantastic for anyone with a shorter inseem or in fact anyone who's looking for that low slung factory custom ride. The Lowrider also had a unique factory steering head angle of 32 degrees to give it that custom raked frame look, right up until the 2006 model where it reverted back to the standard 29 degree superglide frame.

The eighties saw the incarnation of H-D's rubber-mounted FXR chassis to replace their aging solid-mounted FX line. Naturally, the Low Rider was part of the new model line with the FXRS model again proving to be a big seller. This Low Rider was graced with dual disk brakes, a pop-up seat for easy battery access and low rise bars. With the migration to the FXR platform came the more significant development of the 1340cc Evolution engine in 1984, although the evo was only fitted to the new softails and FXR's for '84.

1985 saw the evo rolled out across the entire model range and was the last year of the shovelhead. Those last shovels were fitted to police bikes only.

Harley was plagued throughout the seventies by piss poor quality control. A product of poor morale among workers and a parent company (AMF) that was used to manufacturing sporting equipment and not motorcycles led to a very sorry state of affairs. Shovelhead engined models manufactured between 1970 and 1982 still have a very bad reputation for being unreliable, fragile and leaky. Thankfully, by 1983 the motor company was bought back by a consortium headed by Willie G Davidson and the tide started to turn.

'84 FXR Lowrider

1984 was a critical year for Harley Davidson. It saw the introduction of their new all-alloy Evolution engine and virtually solved all of the Shovelhead's woes in one hit with advanced features like better oiling, tighter seals and tolerances, more robust engineering and better metallurgy. Amazingly the new engine was internally a complete redesign while still retaining the same general look as the rest of the V-twin linage. It took a while before the public and motoring journalists dropped the stigma of Harleys being oil-leakers and prone to breakdowns. It was predestined however, that H-D's image was to slowly but surely turn full circle.

The first Dyna: The Sturgis.

Welcome to the 1990's and the Dyna chassis. The Dyna was Harley-Davidson's first CAD (computer aided drafting) designed model and featured an advanced rubber mount engine isolation system. This new system allowed more engine oscillation at idle but a lot less at speed, resulting in a vibration free ride where your hands, mirrors and arse didn't go numb at highway speeds. This is opposed to the older FXR's slightly-damped, but ever-present vibes.

'91 FXR Lowrider

When the FXR fell into extinction in 1995, the old Low Rider was re-christened the FXDL Dyna Low Rider and given a new set of clothes. The Low Rider's new chassis shared all of the features and flaws of its siblings in the Dyna range with the exception of its unique steering head angle.

The Dyna frame is basically Harley's version of a perimeter frame. Differing from all other H-D frames, it has no center tube crossing between the engine and transmission, just a framework of high quality steel encircling the entire powerplant/transmission. In stock configuration it performs flawlessly, but ask yourself - How many Harleys remain stock for long?

In performance-modified form, the Evo engine tends to break inner-primary cases from the increased stresses placed on this piece in the "fully isolated" configuration of the Dyna range. The inner primary doesn't have enough meat to handle the increased torsional forces that a hot-rodded Evo can produce. Luckily, many aftermarket firms have developed a brace for the bike's right hand side to spread the torque produced by a bored, stroked, or otherwise performance modified powerplant.

Another Lowrider customizer's nightmare can be found in the full fender that extends almost all the way down to the swingarm. When lowering a Dyna, the fender has to be cut and shut to avoid damage to this piece when the bike encounters a bump and the rear suspension compresses, smashing the swingarm into the fender with great force. Other idiosyncrocies include a weird key position behind the seat on the right hand side, passenger footpegs that look a little tacky and excessive vibration at idle from the rubber isolated engine. On the up side, the Dyna chassis has greater rigidity than its FXR predecessor for better handling, increased vibration damping at speed, a hidden crossover tube on the rubber-mounted exhaust pipes (for a greater torque spread) and easily accessed electronics.

2000 FXDL Lowrider

The Low Rider was a motorcycle made to buck tradition and follow the popular custom bike trend when it was first introduced in 1977 and it remains a great looking bike today. Other than the narrow glide front end there is little of the original FXS in the new FXDL. The mag wheels, once thought to be trick in the seventies are commonplace today and the modern Lowrider comes factory equipped with laced wheels for a lower ticket price. The FXS had sporty drag-style handlebars too, while the new Dyna comes equipped with questionably comfortable buckhorn bars. A strange choice to some people but I'd wager they have never ridden more than 50 miles on a bike with drag bars...

One thing that remains of the original Low Rider however, is H-D's immaculate attention to detail. Wrinkled black paint and lashings of chrome adorn most surfaces of this motorcycle giving it that undeniable factory custom look. Highway pegs add comfort on long hauls and it is simply amazing the difference having an alternative foot position can make on a big trip. A detachable passenger seat doubles as a driver backrest, offering extra comfort and lumbar support, again proving this bike was designed with the long haul in mind. A fuel gauge tops the dummy gas cap on the left side of the tank like most modern Harleys, often hitting empty after 180 miles of riding.

The new in '97 spring rates were perfect for a blast through the twisties, with only the limited leverage from those buckhorns impeding the fun. A change to mini apes, T-bars or western style bars works wonders on the easy manouverability front as well as putting your arms in a more comfortable position. On the open road suspension is smooth and supple, allowing hours to pass in comfort, your smile growing by the mile. Some folk are less than enthusiastic about the mid-mount foot controls but again, the aftermarket is chock full of forward controls if that's your thing.

The new Lowrider hardly resembles that first model, made way back in 1977. It is better in every way and still holds that undeniable persona of a cool, lowered factory custom.

'06 88 cube 6 speed FXDLI Lowrider

'08 96 cube 6 speed FXDLI Lowrider




* New styling
* Redesigned brake and clutch levers helped to improve leverage
* Shorter shift linkage for more responsive gear changes
* Frame was a more massive backbone and manufactured from larger diameter tubing
* Rubber mount engine / primary / gearbox / exhuast
* Electronic tach
* Ignition switch placed under the left side of the gastank
* 5.5" headlight with 43,000 candlepower halogen bulb
* 605lbs
* Oil consumption control package
* 4.2 gallon
* 19"-front rim 16"-rear rim
* Dual 10" front disc brakes
* Push button turn signals
* Wire wheels
* Single color paint
* 29" seat height.


* The same features as the FXR
* Polished covers
* Small sissy bar
* Stepped seat
* Highway pegs
* Contrasting tank panels
* Nine spoke cast wheels option



* New model
* Based on FXRS chassis
* Aerodynamic frame-mounted fairing
* Antidive air adjustable front suspension
* Enclosed rear chain
* Hard saddlebags w/removable linings
* 668lbs
* 28.9" seat height
* Low-rise handlebars
* Wider seat
* Luggage rack
* Sissy optional
* Touring box optional
* Touring guage kit optional
* Am-fm stereo cassette optional



* Evolution engine replaces Shovel


* New model
* Based on the FXRT
* Incorporated the diaphragm spring clutch


* One year limited Edition
* Based on the FXRS
* $8,199 USD
* Solid spun aluminum rear wheel
* Spoke front wheel
* The tank emblem has "Genuine Harley Davison" in ornate script
* Chromed engine, primary and gear box covers
* Diaphragm spring clutch
* The early model was dry clutch, changed midyear to wet clutch


* Lowered shocks
* Front forks shortened
* Diaphragm spring clutch
* Single front disc brake


* Diaphragm spring clutch.



* Limited Edition
* Low Ride Custom
* Twelve chromed engine covers
* Candy orange w/root beer trim
* Wire spoked wheels
* Fender from the legendary XR-1000


* Belt final drive
* Performance suspension package option


* Belt final drive

Lowrider Clocks



* Revised turn signal switch
* Lights double as running lights


* Rear suspension consisted of 1 air shock and 1 coil spring shock
* Rubber mounted handle bars
* Deluxe stereo with auto volume adjust for noise level and controls below turn signal switch
* Full touring luggage
* Footboards
* 2-1 exhaust.


* Stripped variant of FXRS


* New model
* Based on FXRS
* Longer suspension
* Twin front discs



* New model
* Low Rider Custom
* Solid rear wheel
* 21 " front wheel
* XR 1000 front fender
* Small XL type headlight
* Speedo mounted between bars
* One filler tank
* No center console
* 2 piece high handlebars with 2 cross-braces
* Black cylinders
* Crankcases w/chrome rocker/gearcase/primary covers
* Highway pegs
* Belt final
* Single rear/front brakes


* Belt final drive
* Smaller front fender.


* Smaller front fender


* Sport Edition gained improved suspension.


* Improved sound system



* 39 mm fork front ends


* Buckhorn bars



* Positive battery coating
* One piece pinion shaft and right flywheel
* Newly designed starter motor


* New model
* Under 300 made for this, their first year
* Removable luggage kit


* 32 amp alternator



* 40mm Keihin CV carb
* One piece right hand flywheel
* New clutch (featuring eight friction plates, a spring plate, then 6 steel plates, and a redesigned diaphragm spring).



* Kevlar base gaskets
* Graphite head gaskets
* New gas cap gasket
* Self canceling turn signals
* Extra hole in transmission access door
* Two dowels on transmission end cover
* Air/oil separator in air duct tube
* Four sided fuel inlet valve
* Transmission sprocket lock plate
* Locating dowel pins for other transmission support blocks



* New style grease fittings
* New halogen headlight assembly
* Harder plunger in neutral switch
* Caged needle bearing for camshaft
* New style/more powerful horn, continuous vented gas tanks.


FXS - Shovelhead Lowrider

FXSB - Shovelhead Lowrider Belt Drive

FXRS - Evolution Lowrider

FXRS-SP - Evolution Lowrider Sport

FXRS-CONV - Evolution Lowrider Sport Convertible

FXDL - Dyna Frame Lowrider

FXDLI - Dyna Frame Lowrider Fuel Injected

Custom FXR Lowrider

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