Reinvented Dynas 2006 Harleys

Six new bikes and improvements all around.

For 2006 Harley-Davidson rode its Dyna series cruisers back to the drawing board, where they were retooled with new frames, six-speed transmissions, lighter clutches, brawny 49mm fork legs, wider rear tires, and standard fuel injection.

The new Dyna frames feature a 29-degree steering-head angle and a stiffer, wider swingarm with a new one-inch-diameter rear axle. The swingarm makes room for a wider 160/70B-17 rear tire and 17-inch wheel that replaces the 150/80B16 tire and 16-inch wheel of 2005 Dyna models. Up front, a new triple-clamp with new offset dimensions grips bigger 49mm (up from 39mm) fork tubes, which also get a one-inch axle.

Harley's new six-speed, used only in the Dynas this year, quickly ends Victory's claim to being the only major manufacturer offering a six-speed in its V-twin cruiser. Called the Cruise Drive, the six-speed has a taller top-gear drive ratio to reduce engine rpm at highway speeds by about 10 percent. It uses helical-cut gears that mesh more quietly than the straight-cut gears of the five-speed. Thin steel "dog rings" that slide to change gears replace heavier moving gears to quicken shifts and reduce effort. To improve durability and beef up its ability to handle loads, the new gearbox has improved seals, larger bearings and gears, and a stiffer housing. External oil lines have also been eliminated. Lighter springs and a revised operating mechanism reduce clutch-pull effort.

The engine is the familiar 1450cc V-twin, though Harley's fuel injection is now standard instead of optional. A redesigned cam plate now includes a roller chain, plain cam bearings and a new hydraulic automatic chain tensioner. Lubrication is handled by an oil pump that gives 10 percent more flow and has 23 percent more scavenging capacity. The oil filter adaptor and oil-cooler adaptor are integrated. The redesigned engine/transmission interface incorporates integral oil passages. The primary drive gets new inner and outer housings and an automatic primary chain tensioner to eliminate chain adjustment and the need for an inspection cover. The primary drive ratio is a taller 1.353:1, compared to the old bike's 1.44:1.

Detail changes include an integrated ignition switch/fork lock, new battery covers and rear fender. The FXDLI Dyna Low Rider, FXDI Dyna Super Glide and FXDCI Super Glide Custom have new 10-spoke cast aluminum wheels. The new chassis also changes the seat shape slightly, allowing improved comfort.

To highlight the improvements to the Dyna family, Harley rolled out two new models, FXDBI Street Bob and the FXDI35, a limited-production 35th-aniversary tribute to the original factory cruiser, the 1971 Super Glide.

The Street Bob embraces the minimalist style of the mid-century bobbers, with a solo seat, mini-ape bars, a Fat Bob tank, wire wheels, black/polished engine, wrinkle-black battery box and belt guard, and a new rear fender. In Denim flat-black, one of four color options, it looks just like what someone might have created in his garage. Pricing starts at $13,195.

Only 3500 serial-numbered 35th- anniversary Super Glides will be produced. This version includes the same red, white and blue paint scheme with the number-one tank logo as that first Harley cruiser (but without the boat-tail seat back). There are various 35th-anniversary badges and logos and a special ribbed seat. The suggested price is $16,795.

Other new models include the Night Rod, tested exclusively for our last issue-though after we went to press, Harley dropped the price by $1000 along with the rest of the VRSC family, making it $14,995-and the FLHX/I Street Glide, a customized version of the Electra Glide. It is a lowered, sleeker version of the Electra Glide Standard. It gets all the updates of the rest of the 2006 touring family -an advanced audio system with double the power of previous Harley sound systems (now 40 watts per speaker) so you can actually hear it at speed) and an XM Radio option, a lighter clutch pull, and increased charging capacity-and some features all its own. It's the first Harley with the mirrors mounted in the wings of the batwing fairing. A number of styling touches have transformed it from stately touring bike to sleek highway cruiser. It has dispensed with spotlights and any lighting or badges on the front fender, has a cut-down smoked windshield, bullet turn signals, a full-length tank console, slash-down mufflers, a low-hung license plate with hidden lighting on a ground-effects fender, and LED fender lights. It's painted a single color with a choice of four colors, and the saddlebag latches are painted to match so they don't break up the lines of the bike. It starts at $17,795.

The Softail line sees the return of the FLST Heritage Softail ($15,495 in black) with a new saddle. The Softail Standard, Night Train and Springer get new rear sections to accommodate 200mm-wide rear tires, which also brings a narrower drive belt and recalibrated suspension. The Softails also get lighter clutch pulls.

The Sportster line sees no model changes, but gets lighter clutches and a new five-speed transmission similar to the Dyna's six-speed for lighter, quieter shifts.

There are two new CVO models. The Screamin' Eagle Ultra Classic Electra Glide includes a 103-cubic- inch engine, the new audio system with standard XM Radio, and all the usual jewelry of CVO models. There's also the Screamin' Eagle Destroyer drag-race bike based on the V-Rod that we previewed in our last issue. The Screamin' Eagle Fat Boy gets a 200mm rear tire and 140mm front tire on 17-inch Road Winder wheels. The 1250cc Screamin' Eagle V-Rod returns with a 240mm rear tire on an 8 x 18-inch wheel.

I had a chance to ride the new bikes briefly. The new Dynas feel tighter and a bit more comfortable, though they still seem to vibrate more than other lines. The front end offers little feedback, making the pavement feel remote. The new transmission and clutch work as promised, and give the bike a lighter, slicker feel overall. That's true with Sportsters and other 1450s as well. Of course, we also think the Night Rod is the best of the VRSC line, of which we have been fans since its inception.

I was surprised at how much I liked the Street Glide. I expected it to be another bike that had surrendered function for style, but I enjoyed riding it on the Rocky Mountain roads Harley had chosen. It was comfortable and light as well as good looking, and the clutch changes make it feel crisper overall. I did occasionally wish for the lost cornering clearance though. The new mirrors are actually an improvement, and the XM Radio provided crisp reception out where planetary radio would drop off. It successfully extends the touring family in a fresh direction.

With six new bikes, major changes to the Dyna line, and fun-to-ride additions to the Touring and VRSC lines, Harley is on the gas.

All the V-Rods get Brembo brakes and price cuts for 2006.
FXDBI Dyna Street Bob
FXDI35 35th Anniversary Super Glide
FLHXI Street Glide
FLSTI Heritage Softail
FLHTSCU Screamin' Eagle
Ultra Classic Electra Glide
FLSTFSE2 Screamin' Eagle Fat Boy
VRSCSE2 Screamin' Eagle V-Rod
The drivetrain changes seen on the new Dynas are likely to migrate to other big twin families in the future.
Just like 1971- only faster, smoother, more reliable, more powerful, and better finished.
The Street Glide cockpit features a low windscreen, mirrors in the fairing, and an XM Radio option.
As if you did it yourself