Harley-Davidson Releases New 2011 Blackline Model

First Look: The Latest Dark Custom Rolls on A Softail Platform

Low, dark and less expensive sells anything on two wheels these days, right? And if Harley’s Dark Custom series got there first, it’s also the lineup that offers you the most varied selection of machinery– if you like black, anyway. That selection just got even broader, thanks to the addition of the new 2011 Blackline, a Softail-based machine that, in Harley’s words, is, “stripped down….and dark as a tar road at midnight.”

We’ll spare you the rest of the flowery prose, but in sum, Harley positions the Blackline as a bike that references the original bobber movement, but with a more modern style.

The new bike was just unveiled in New York to coincide with the IMS Show there, and it continues the trend away from gobs of chrome with back-to-basics styling. I believe the marketing term they're using is ‘old school.’ To that end, a slight, chopped rear fender with combination stop/tail/turn lights covers a fairly slim, 14mm tire so tightly that you almost believe it’s a hardtail. Likewise, pilots practically cling to the frame on the lowest one-piece, two-up seat Harley offers (a mere 24 inches, with a rider aboard). They’ll reach for a so-called ‘Split Drag’ internally-wired handlebar that mounts directly to the top triple clamp (each separate bar now bolts to the clamp).

A new, compact headlight and analog speedometer are tucked low into the wide, FX front end, with subtle chrome bits shining against the black triple clamps and black painted fork lowers. The new, low asymmetric five-gallon fuel tank features a low-profile fuel fill on the right side, and a “Blackline” trim panel flowing down the center of the tank covers.

Despite the ‘low and less’ vibe, there is at least some suspension travel to look forward to on a ride. As on all Softails, the Blackline utilizes coil-over shock absorbers mounted horizontally along the frame rails below the powertrain, where they’re out of sight. So you get the no-nonsense lines of a vintage hardtail, but with modern handling and comfort.

In the engine room, a rigid- mounted, air-cooled Twin Cam 96B gets dressed in black and silver, and tightly packaged within the frame to create a solid connection between the rider and the powerplant. The powertrain (which includes a 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission) gets gloss black powder coat on the rocker box covers, crankcase, outer primary cover, and transmission side cover. The frame and swingarm are powdercoated black, while the cylinders get silver powdercoat with machined highlights. And F.Y.I., Harley rates that counter-balanced Twin Cam engine at 89 ft. lbs. peak torque at 3250 rpm. Completing the tough look is a pair of laced aluminum wheels with black anodized rims. (front is 21 x 2.15 inches; rear is 16 x 3 inches), an over/under chrome shotgun exhaust and a new composite license plate holder and light module that mounts on the lower edge of the fender.

It may be sheer coincidence, but the release of two new blacked-out, low slung, old-school machines from Victory and Harley within hours of each other makes us wonder who’s in charge of internal security over in Milwaukee. Or Minnesota, for that matter….

**2011 Harley-Davidson Blackline
** MSRP: $15,499- $15,998
Colors: Black; Blue/Black; Orange/Black
Warranty: 2 yrs, unlimited miles
** Type: air-cooled, 45-degree V-twin
Displacement; bore x stroke: 1584cc; 95.3 x 111.1mm
Valve train: OHV, 2 valves/cylinder
Compression: 9.2:1
Fuel system: ESPFI
Transmission: 6-speed; wet, multiplate clutch
Final Drive: belt

** Overall length: 93 in.
Wheelbase: 66.5 in.
Wet weight: 682 lbs.
Seat height: 26.1 in.
Rake/trail: 30 deg./4.84 in.
Front tire: Dunlop D402F MH90-21
Rear tire: Dunlop D402 MU85B16
Front brake: 292mm disc, 4-piston caliper
Rear brake: 292mm disc, 4-piston caliper
Front suspension: 41mm telescopic fork; 5.6 in. travel
Rear Suspension: horizontal coil-over dual dampers; 3.6 in. travel Fuel capacity: 5 gal.

That is one LOW seat.
The Blackline's new 5-gallon tank.
The FXS runs a Twin Cam.