One morning, during the height of rush-hour traffic, a late-model Lexus sedan pulls alongside our 2000-model-year Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide Sport. The driver rolls down his window, and with great fanfare leans out of his car to admire the bike.
"That's an FXDX, right? Man, I love that bike. I've been looking at them at the local dealership."
The light turns green, bringing the one-sided conversation to an end. At the next light, he's more emphatic, gesturing toward the back of the bike.
"Who's shocks are those?"
"But they're adjustable!"
Green light. This time he has to work the traffic, passing a few cars rather abruptly, to arrive next to our test steed at another red light. His eyes are open wide, and he loosens his tie.
"Now, don't tell me those brakes are stock, too."
"Yep, just like the satin-black exhaust system, the skinnier drive belt and the fatter rear tire. They'll be in dealerships when the 2000 models are available."
"You mean I gotta wait?"
The light turns green and the Lexus driver is left behind to ponder the mysteries of the universe.
Have It All
Introduced last year, the FXDX Dyna Super Glide Sport delivers what many riders may feel is the Holy Grail of cruiserdom: good looks, good power, competent handling and a Harley-Davidson logo on the tank. If the Motor Company considers the Dyna series to be its sporty motorcycle line, then the FXDX (which shares most basic features with the rest of the line) carries the mantle for the entire series.
The Dyna Super Glide Sport, like all Dynas, features a 28-degree steering-head angle for responsive steering. The mild steel, rectangular-section backbone frame features twin downtubes that cradle the engine. Keeping the single-crankpin, 45-degree V-twin's inherent vibration from reaching the rider, the Dyna incorporates a remarkably effective rubber mounting system. The engine resting in those rubber mounts is essentially the same as last year's updated model.
In 1999, the Twin Cam 88 (a.k.a. Fathead) engine thrust Harley-Davidson -- already the leading cruiser manufacturer -- into the forefront of V-twin power. Seen by many industry insiders as a preemptive strike against budding American motorcycle manufacturers Excelsior-Henderson and Victory, H-D showed it could respond to a challenge and compete with updated technology -- now that buying a Harley would no longer be the solitary equivalent of waving the Stars and Stripes in the face of the foreign incursion. The Fathead engine also addressed the cottage industries sprouting up around the country claiming to be motorcycle manufacturers while powering their machines with hopped-up Evolution-based engines built out of aftermarket parts. Harley's sovereignty would henceforth be maintained by the walls of the mighty U.S. Patent Law and a moat of almost no interchangeable parts between the Evo and the Twin Cam engines.
The Fathead was designed with strength, lightness and ease of assembly in mind. The crankcases are stronger, lighter and manufactured to tighter tolerances, thanks to a high-pressure casting process. The single crankpin features an increased diameter (when compared with the Evo) that will withstand the higher output of performance-tuned engines. (A 95-inch H-D kit proves this.) Beefy knife-and-fork connecting rods thrust 95mm pistons through a 102mm stroke, yielding 1450cc (or 88 inches, hence the Twin Cam 88 moniker) displacement with a 5500-rpm redline. The mixture squeezes into a bathtub-style combustion chamber for an 8.9:1 compression ratio. Two valves (one intake and one exhaust) move the combustibles to and from the cylinders. Chain-driven cams (yes, there are two of them now) motivate both cylinders' valves, hydraulic adjusters and pushrods. Hydrocarbon hanky-panky takes place in the 40mm Keihin CV carburetor. Spent gasses exit via a pair of shorty duals after the festivities simmer down.
Only three of the new FXDX's changes have anything to do with the engine. First, the exhaust system is graced with a new, high-tech, baked-on satin-black ceramic coating. Stylistically, the new system blends in better with the blacked-out look of the engine than last year's chrome unit. The larger 3.25-inch mufflers also offer a claimed 2 percent increase in power. The final change to the power-delivery system manifests itself in the narrower but stronger final drive belt. The 1.125-inch belt (down from 1.50 inches) forgoes the old Kevlar cords for lighter, stronger X3N carbon fiber. Although this change was implemented to allow the Super Glide Sport to wear wider rear rubber (150 instead of last year's 140), all 2000 Dynas will be outfitted with the improved belt.
Turn for the Better
The '99 FXDX's handling received favorable reviews from our testers, so we were elated when we discovered the biggest changes to the Sport were directly related to its back-road manners. The front suspension was changed from a nonadjustable unit to a fully adjustable, cartridge-type 39mm fork similar to those found in sportbikes. The rider can easily adjust the fork's preload, compression and rebound damping to suit riding conditions or personal tastes. The twin gas-charged rear shock absorbers feature adjustable preload of the dual-rate springs and adjustments for compression damping. The rebound function is not alterable. Still, the upshot of these changes is that front and rear preload can be adjusted in a matter of seconds to accommodate a passenger or heavy luggage. Damping adjustments make it possible to tune the suspension from boulevard-soft to back-road firm as rider preference dictates.
Since the folks in Milwaukee intended for the FXDX to generate more speed, the new brakes slated for all 2000 Harleys were well-timed. All H-D calipers will incorporate a dual-action, four-piston design. New brake pad material grips clever one-piece rotors, which are designed to expand uniformly as they heat under heavy use. Warping should not be a problem even under the most abusive conditions. In keeping with Harley's recent ease-of-manufacturing philosophy, the same rotors are used throughout the bike, whether they are front, rear, right or left discs. Similarly, many of the same castings are used on the calipers, regardless of their mounting position. Finally, the fixed caliper mounts don't require any periodic maintenance.
The 2000 model also wears stickier rubber at the tarmac end of the equation. While the softer Dunlop K591 tires -- along with the 150/90-16 rear's larger contact patch -- offer better grip, ground clearance will limit twisty misbehavior long before traction becomes an issue.
Other notable changes to the Dyna Super Glide Sport include a new American-made battery that mounts to the frame sans battery box. Consequently, the battery was embossed with "Harley-Davidson -- Made in U.S.A." (As if any astute viewer would need such a visual cue.) The left-side cover for the electrics appears to be a bolt-on piece, but it pops out of rubber grommets when pulled -- as on many metric cruisers. Although this does ease access to the fuse box somewhat, a metal bracket still interferes with changing blown fuses.
Cast-aluminum wheels are now standard fare. Cruisers who powerwash their rides will benefit from the sealed wheel bearings appearing on all Harleys in 2000. The bearings extend their service interval to 100,000 miles and require no end-play adjustment. Finally, two new colors (pearl blue and purple) enter the lineup, alongside last year's black, pearl orange and pearl white.
Start Me Up
Our pearl blue test unit started easily with a slight application of choke. While a little cold-blooded (even on summer mornings), the FXDX would settle into a choke-free, lumpy idle within a mile. However, beware of the off-idle flat spot until the engine is fully warmed. Launches from stoplights in the morning commute can result in a cough and a stall if this quirk is not kept in mind.
The new exhaust system delivers a little more resonance to the exhaust note, providing a character to the bike not found in many OE exhaust systems. The pipe's ceramic coating handled almost everything hurled at it with aplomb. Bugs, water spots, even a little burnt-on boot rubber were all removed with cleaners once the pipe had cooled. One drawback to the black coating becomes apparent when the rear cylinder's canister gets dragged in a corner. The bare metal underneath draws attention to the scuff marks of such shenanigans.
Out on the road, our seat-of-the-pants dyno didn't register any performance difference between the '00 Super Glide Sport and the '99 model, but the 13.62-second quarter mile sprint at 96.2 mph was 0.15 seconds quicker and 2.5 mph faster than our previous test of the FXDX (June '99). We did notice more vibration between 2500 and 3000 rpm than on our previous test unit. Although simply changing engine speeds remedied the problem, we liked the power characteristics at these rpm around town and learned to ignore the vibration. On the highway, the FXDX's top-gear roll-on power can only be beaten by one V-twin cruiser, the omnipotent Intruder 1400.
While we enjoyed the FXDX around town, the bike really shines out on a winding road. The suspension handles most road irregularities with firm compliance. Encountering a bump while leaned over in a fast sweeper is a no-pucker affair. The initial hit of the bump gets swallowed, leaving only a slight wallow in its wake. This reaction might be tuned out with some rebound-damping adjustability in the rear, but the wallow is so minimal it's almost a nonissue. Formidable, square-edged bumps have much of their force removed before it reaches the rider, but the jarring can still be felt.
The Dunlop K591 tires never put a tread even slightly out of place. As we noted before, the FXDX will drag parts before traction becomes scant. In spirited cornering, the pegs touch down first on both sides. The left peg can be folded up a good bit before unforgiving hard parts touch down. The right side offers less clearance, with the lower exhaust canister touching down shortly after the peg. With that said, the FXDX still offers more ground clearance than most cruisers out there.
The riding position lends itself to finding the cornering limits. The low, slightly pulled-back bar may strike a chord with riders familiar with the superbikes of the mid-'80s. The handlebar gives the rider good leverage, and therefore, precise control of steering inputs. The standard-ish peg location places the rider's feet more rearward than the familiar BarcaLounger riding position of many cruisers. Again, a feeling of control is the result. The scooped seat also appears to have sporty riding in mind. The angle of the forward portion keeps the rider from sliding under braking but limits the wiggle room on longer rides. Similarly, the seat's overly firm foam gives the rider a good idea of what's going on underneath the glutes, but every little bit of engine vibration and road irregularities that make it past the suspension are felt to an annoying level.
When the time comes to stop, performance from the dual front discs is exemplary. The new four-piston calipers and dual front discs haul the FXDX down from speed with two-fingered precision. No muss, no fuss, just clean powerful braking. Harley-Davidson-induced gorilla grip will be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, the power that makes the front binders so effective causes the rear brake to lock up quite easily. Testers commented that not only was the rear difficult to manage in panic-stop situations, it was also prone to grabbing under normal braking until the rider learned to apply a gentle touch on the pedal. We'd recommend borrowing a trick from racebike builders and detuning the rear to help avoid lockup. A local race shop will be able to perform this modification or explain how to machine the brake pad material to achieve proper rear-brake power.
Our time with the 2000 Super Glide Sport left us impressed with how Harley-Davidson -- not just content to sit back on its laurels -- has continued to improve one of its best-performing cruisers. Whether this drive comes from within the Motor Company for the simple purpose of building a better bike or as a result of perceived threats to its market share doesn't really matter to sport-minded cruisers. Head-turning looks and strong performance are a good thing. For riders with both cruising and canyoning on their mind, the Super Glide Sport is a great vehicle for more than just their egos.
IN BRIEF High Points: Impressive suspension, strong brakes, twin-cam engine.Low Points: Grabby rear brake, more vibration than our previous FXDX.First Change: Detune the rear brake.
Stars Like I said in our June Big Twins comparison, the FXDX Dyna Super Glide Sport is the first stock Harley I've ever wanted to own after spending extended time in the saddle. I still feel the same way -- only more so. The engine makes me laugh out loud. (Imagine this bike with the 95-incher!) The new exhaust system's ceramic coating looks good, too. The brakes, well, they're awesome. So what if the rear gets grabby. A fix is only an afternoon away -- with no aftermarket parts required. If I liked the old FXDX's suspension, I love the new one. Whether I'm riding around town or down the road, the suspension does its job seamlessly. The only fly in the ointment? An uncomfortable seat. And that's a really small fly in the grand scheme of things.
If you suffer from cruising's bipolar disorder -- and want a stylish ride for urban strutting and a sporty bike for some rural fun -- seriously, consider the FXDX. You'll be glad you did.
Send your insect-removal tips to Brasfield at his own website: Evans Brasfield
Friedman: 3.5 Stars
Funny, isn't it? All those Asian manufacturers make these great sportbikes. They should have arrived at this idea first, but they're letting Harley run off with this sport-cruiser concept (with Victory in pursuit). Imagine if Suzuki had done this with a 1400 Intruder motor.
The fly in my ointment though is the looks. I'm not a fan of the lines of the Dyna chassis, and I don't like all that wrinkle-black paint on the engine. (Did I just dream that the '70s ended?) But yeah, I like to ride it a lot, though the saddle is the first thing I'd fix, not the brake.
2000 Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide Sport
Suggested base price: $13,450 ($13,735 in California)
Standard colors: Black
Extra cost colors: Pearl blue, pearl orange, pearl white, purple
Standard warranty: 12 mos. unlimited miles
Recommended service interval: 5000 miles
ENGINE & DRIVETRAIN
Type: Air-cooled, 45-degree V-twin
Valve arrangement: OHV; 1 intake valve, 1 exhaust valve; pushrods, hydraulic adjusters
Displacement, bore x stroke: 1450cc, 95 x 102mm
Compression ratio: 8.9:1
Carburetion: 1, 40mm Keihin CV
Lubrication: Dry sump, spin-on filter, 3.0 qt
Minimum fuel grade: 92 octane
Transmission: Wet clutch; 5 speeds
Final drive: Belt, 70/32
Wet weight: 651 lb, 55% rear wheel
GVWR: 1085 lb
Seat height: 27.0 in.
Wheelbase: 63.9 in.
Overall length: 92.9 in.
Rake/trail: 28 degrees / 4.1 in.
Wheels: Cast-aluminum, 19.0 x 2.2-in. front, 16.0 x 3.0-in. rear
Front tire: 100/90-19 Dunlop K591, tubeless
Rear tire: 150/90-B16 Dunlop K591, tubeless
Front brake: 2, four-piston dual-action calipers, 12-inch discs
Rear brake: Four-piston dual-action caliper, 12-in disc
Front suspension: Cartridge-type, adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping, 39mm stanchions, 6.1 in. travel
Rear suspension: Two dampers, adjustable for preload and compression damping, 4.3 in. travel
Fuel capacity: 4.9 gal (0.5 gal reserve)
Handlebar width: 32.0 in.
Inseam equivalent: 33.4 in.
ELECTRICAL & INSTRUMENTATION
Charging output: 360 watts
Battery: 12v, 18AH
Forward lighting: 55/60-watt headlight
Taillight: Single bulb
Instruments: Speedometer, tachometer, LCD odometer/tripmeter, fuel gauge; warning lights for high beam, turn signals, neutral and oil pressure
Fuel mileage: 43 to 50 mpg, 45.9 mpg avg.Average range: 225 miles
RPM at 60 mph, top-gear: 2500200 yard, top-gear acceleration from 50 mph, terminal speed: 73.4 mph
Quarter-mile acceleration: 13.62 sec., 96.2 mph