Motorcycle: Overhead Valve Twins - FXS Low Rider, 1977 - 1985
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 15:10:37 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
FXS Low Rider, 1977 - 1985
These days, the Low Rider range is as essentially Harley-Davidson as the Sportsters and heavyweight Glides, yet it wasn't until 1977 that Willie G. brought us the first Low Rider model. The FXS Low Rider was, in essence, another reworking of the seminal Super Glide theme, which in turn was to spawn yet another dynasty of Milwaukee hardware.
Described as "'one mean machine" in Harley-Davidson's own publicity, the FXS was a new type of custom cruising model, intended to be as content cruising wide-open prairies as downtown avenues. It was finished in menacing gunmetal grey with flat, drag-style handlebars on pulled-back risers, resonating echoes of the choppers that countless enthusiasts had created in the past. The laid-back name came from a seat height of just 27in (686mm), a characteristic which would appear again in the Huggers of the future.
Although the 80-inch Shovelhead first appeared on the FLH ElectraGlide in the Low Rider's debut year, the FXS was initially powered by the established 74-inch Shovel. The engine came finished in crinkle black paint with highly polished outer covers. Both exhaust pipes curved back along the right side below a new "1200" air-cleaner cover, before thumping the atmosphere through a single chromed muffler. The revised frame was heavily raked and fitted with highway pegs, allowing the rider to stretch out, like the latter-day Easy Rider the styling sought to emulate.
Chassis components included Japanese Showa telescopic n forks, chromed twin rear shock absorbers and dual front disc brakes. Sadly, the were still disconcertingly feeble effect, although the rear was relative fierce with massive leverage available at the pedal. The puny forks, too, prone to flex while the short-travel suspension units were at the same time both harsh and under-damped. It would be a while before any heavyweight Harley aspired to even the sketchiest handling prowess.
Quicksilver handling, though, wasn't what the FXS was all about. The model was an instant success, hitting the public's wish-list almost as soon as it was unveiled. It was comfortably out-a selling the SuperGlide by its second year, with almost 10,000 examples built. Clearly, the Low Rider concept was here to stay and the breed lias benefited from a steady stream of improvements in every succeeding year. Along the way, they've spawned eye-catching sister models, such as the 80-inch FXB Sturgis of 1980 - the year after the FXS itself was first offered with the larger Shovelhead mill.
The biggest novelty came in 1983 with the much revised FXSB Low Rider. The "B" represented the adoption of the Aramid-fibre toothed belts first seen on the Sturgis for both primary and secondary drive. A small number of late-1984 examples may have received the new 80-inch Evolution motor, but it wasn't until the FXRS "Custom Sport" Low Rider of 1985 that this much-improved engine became widespread. By the time five-speed ransmission was grafted on to the same model 12 months later, the modern Low Rider series had arrived.
Engine: ohv V-twin
Capacity: 73.7cu in (1,207cc)
Weight: 550 lb (249kg)
Wheelbase: 63in (1,600mm)
Top speed 98mph (158kph)
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