New Harley-Davidson Bikes - Between The Lines

Seven Shades Of Harley
Harley-Davidson kept the train running this summer with a series of new bike introductions. First there was the Sportster Low, which uses a cut-down saddle and shortened suspension to drop the 883's seat to a claimed 26 inches (with a rider aboard). The seat's step is also pushed forward, which shortens the reach to the handlebar with pulled-back bars. The 883L starts at $6895.

Next up were three 2005 offerings from H-D's Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) shop. A 1250cc V-Rod, which features a few thousand dollars of glitter and special parts plus some mild hopping-up, will go for a suggested $25,495. The Screamin' Eagle treatment was also applied to the popular Fat Boy, with its 1690cc (103ci) engine and a truckload of eye candy. It sells for $27,995. The same engine powers this year's version of the Screamin' Eagle Electra Glide, which offers a fresh round of pretty parts along with some function upgrades for about $30,000.

Harley's hot-selling Softail series has two new family members, the FLSTN Softail Deluxe and the FLSTSC Softail Springer Classic. The Softail Deluxe brings some "fresh nostalgia" to Harley's line with details such as wide-whitewall tires on laced wheels, full FL-style fenders with trim, a distinctive headlight nacelle bracketed by spotlights, long floorboards and a small standard luggage rack over a tombstone taillight. The lowdown on the seat is 24.5 inches (again, with a rider aboard). The Deluxe starts at $16,795.

As the Springer name implies, the FLSTSC has a Classic Springer front suspension, but this time most of the components are finished with black powdercoat and contrasting chrome springs and damper. The front fender dispenses with most of the chrome trim and wears just a fender light, though the tank has a distinctive aluminum trim running around it horizontally. A crossover exhaust configuration puts one muffler on each side of the bike. The passenger seat can be detached without tools, and there is a metal patent label on the oil tank. A beach bar completes the style, which you can get for $17,000 if you take basic black.

The Dyna line expands with the arrival of the Super Glide Custom, a cleaner, lower member of the family with a bit more bling. The Custom is the only Dyna with a silver-finish engine, and its fuel-tank console is painted to match. Of course, it gets an extra helping of chrome-on the engine covers, fuel-tank filler ring, speedometer housing and headlight cover, which like all other '05 H-D headlights gets a clear lens and a multifacet reflector. The Dyna Super Glide Custom starts at $13,695.

There are no additions to the Touring family, but the Ultra models do get new fairing lowers, which have been reshaped for improved aerodynamics and include vents that can be opened and closed. The Sportster models have one-inch-diameter (instead of 0.75-inch) rear axles for added rigidity. Despite slowing sales for some other brands, Harley continues to prosper. The changes made to the Sportster in '04 made it a banner year for the company.-Art Friedman

Cobra Calendar
Atlanta Motorcycle Expo
Oct. 16-17, 2004
Atlanta State Farmers Market, GA
Bring the family, because this consumer trade show welcomes bikers of all ages. The Expo showcases new, used, custom and vintage motorcycles, and you can also check out dirtbikes and ATVs along with a large selection of aftermarket goodies and apparel. For more information, see http://grs.bravehost.com

Bridge City Bike Rally
Oct. 15-17, 2004, Lake Havasu City, AZThis brand-new event is custom-made for motorcycle enthusiasts, so it has all the things riders crave: live entertainment, a poker run, bike games, stunt shows, a masquerade parade and plenty of vendors. Registration is $37.50, which includes a T-shirt and a ride pin, special meals and parking. Download a registration form at www.road-shows.com or call (800) 200-4557.

Love Ride XXI
Nov. 14, 2004, Los Angeles, CAHard to believe it's the 21st incarnation of this charity-minded event, but the West Coast-style love-in still manages to draw big celebrities and fat wallets. It remains one of the largest single-day biker get-togethers around. For more information and registration forms, visit www.loveride.org.

International Motorcycle Show
Nov. 19-21, 2004, Dallas, TX
In between snowflakes and eggnog, the International Motorcycle Show is a perfect opportunity to break the holiday blues with new models from the top motorcycle manufacturers. You'll find everything from sportbikes to cruisers, all displayed side by side. There are also scads of spiffy gear, stunt shows and special giveaways. See all the details at www.motorcycleshows.com

The Pulse
Harley-Davidson recently signed a memo of understanding with China's Zongshen Motorcycle Group, which could ease Harley's entry into that country's huge motorcycle market and enhance Zongshen's capabilities at home. Both companies stressed the fact that many details are yet to be discussed before a formal agreement is hammered out. Harley is also pressing government officials to urge the easing of official and unofficial trade barriers that limit the Motor Company's ability to sell its bikes in China.

Bucking a five-year trend of increased fatalities on the nation's roads, the number of people killed in car crashes dipped in 2003, and the number of injuries was the lowest since record-keeping began, the federal government reported this July. In California, though, deaths continued to rise, increasing last year by 3.1 percent. Motorcyclist fatalities nationwide, however, rose to 3661, an increase of 12 percent. It's speculated that this is due to certain trends, such as the rising number of older motorcycle riders.

Stellican Limited has purchased the remains of the Indian Motorcycle Company. The private equity firm headquartered in the U.K. specializes in reviving ailing recreational product companies with strong brand names. Because its principals supply their own capital, it is less likely to encounter the problems other would-be motorcycle makers have with financing. The company's specific plans for the brand have not been set, though it says it will produce Indian motorcycles in the U.S. and wants to resume production "as soon as possible." It also says it is "obsessed with product design and quality."

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