The Harley-Davidson T-Sport From The Leather Bagged Cruiser Comparison

A closer look at a formidable package

Harley-Davidson T-Sport
Although the riding position was a little funky the T-Sport still took first in the comparison.Dean Groover

This article was originally published in the August 2001 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

The T-Sport replaced the aptly named, but poorly implemented, Convertible in the 2001 model year. Based on the Dyna chassis, the company's sporty line of bikes, the T-Sport is a modified FXDX, which won top honors in our sport-cruiser comparison (April 2000 issue). To this already formidable package, the factory added everything we'd expect to find on a soft-bagged touring cruiser—and then some.

Although we often call this class of cruisers the leather baggers, the FXDXT's luggage is made of ballistic nylon with leather accents. Because of this construction, the bags can be adjusted for size, depending on what volume of gear they need to hold. Just opening a single zipper more than doubles the size of the bags. The most compelling feature of these bags is their easy disengagement. Simply pressing a latch and lifting the bags up at the right angle makes unloading the bike at the end of a long day's ride a dream. To ease access to the contents the bags unzip on three sides, revealing an inner, water-resistant liner to hold gear. If thunderstorms are in the forecast, the bags also have external rain covers to make them waterproof.

Harley-Davidson T-Sport
The windshield is well thought out and adjustable from the saddle.Dean Groover

The windshield is an equally well thought-out affair. To remove it for boulevard mode, you only need to unbolt three torx fasteners. (Since no tool kit comes with the bike, you'll have to supply your own torx wrench.) The windshield is also adjustable to let the rider tune the airflow he experiences—from the saddle.

Except for the studs on the rear fender and the mounts on the fork, the T-Sport, once it's shorn of all the touring regalia, is pure FXDX. The suspension is fully adjustable front and rear. The engine is vibration isolated from the frame for a smooth ride. The Twin Cam 88 engine puts out power via its 1450cc displacement (95.3 x 101.6mm bore and stroke) and a single 40mm carburetor. Exhausts exit through chromed staggered duals instead of the FXDX's semigloss black units, but the rest of the engine—love it or hate it—receives the distinctive blacked out look.

Harley-Davidson T-Sport
The great Twin Cam 88 engine of the T-Sport.Dean Groover

When we began this tour, we expected the bikes to differ on largely idiosyncratic details, making the task of picking a victor difficult. However, the T-Sport dominated so many of the categories we judge bikes by that it became the hands-down winner.

High Points
Huge, securely mounted saddlebags
Adjustable windshield
Great engine
Low Points
Funky riding position
Wobbles in sweepers
First Change
Put big miles on the odometer
Harley-Davidson T-Sport
Suggested base price: $14,720
Wet weight: 682 lb.
GVWR: 1085 lb.
Seat height: 29.8 in.
Fuel capacity: 4.9 gal.
Fuel mileage: 40 to 43 mpg, 41.5 mpg avg.
Average range: 203 miles
Engine type: Air-cooled, 45 degree V-twin
Final drive: Belt, 70/32
Front suspension: 6.1 in. travel
Rear suspension: Two dampers, 4.9 in. travel, adjustable for preload and compression damping
Wheels: Cast aluminum, 2.5 x 19.0 in. front, 3.0 x 16.0 in. rear
Quarter-mile acceleration: 13.74 sec., 94.0 mph