Harley-Davidson is one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers in the world, and arguably the most iconic. The American ‘Motor Company’ has been in business since 1903, and making big V-twin cruisers for most of that time.
Harley is planning to expand its range in the coming years and has announced a new electric and adventure bike among its planned new products, broadening its appeal beyond those who want a traditionally styled classic cruiser.
But it is the big cruisers that make Harley so appealing to so many riders, although for newbies the huge model range and small differences between them can seem quite bewildering. So to make sense of it all, we took a look at five of our favourite Harleys, which you can buy new today. What do you think? Let us know on social media @insidebikes
Harley’s Sportster range is probably the most identifiable to the uninitiated. These are the most s
imple, stripped down, bikes in the Harley range – and some of the cheapest too.
The Sportsters come with the option of either an 883 or 1200cc version of the legendary 45-degree V-twin motor. The single saddle Iron is the cheapest air-cooled Harley you can buy today (the water-cooled, 750cc, Street is a few thousand pounds cheaper and the absolute entry level model) and a glorious platform for modification.
It’s as simple as it gets, the true embodiment of the iron horse, but with a whole catalogue full of accessories available for customisation.
You have the choice of specifying the Iron with the 883 or 1200 motor. The 1200 costs £500 more, but the added punch and character from the engine makes it money well spent.
First shown as a prototype in 1988, the Fat Boy was an instant classic when it was finally launched to the public in 1990 – not least thanks to its appearance in the 1991 Hollywood blockbuster Terminator 2, where one was ridden by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A member of the Softail range, the Fat Boy is easily identifiable by the solid cast alloy wheels. Launch models were powered by Harley’s 1340cc Evolution engine. This version, codenamed FLSTF, evolved and gained the 1450cc Twin Cam engine a decade later. Today’s Fat Boy (FLFB) runs the latest ‘Milwaukee Eight’ powerplant.
Like most Harleys, it’s rare to see a Fat Boy that hasn’t had half the H-D accessory brochure thrown at it. Unlike most motorcycle brands though, modified Harleys tend to be more desirable than stockers, especially when fitted with official Harley parts.
Heritage Classic 114
‘Softail’ is a trademarked Harley-Davidson term that’s become a generic term for all cruisers with twin shock rear suspension.
The first Softail was the FXST of 1984 and since then Softail has become a term to cover an entire range of Harleys, including the aforementioned Fat Boy and the hugely popular FLSTC Heritage Softail, which was a staple of the range in the 1990s and 2000s.
For that classic look in today’s range, you could do far worse than check out the Heritage Classic 114. The 114 in the name gives away the fact that it’s fitted with the 114ci (1870cc) version of Harley’s latest Milwaukee-Eight engine (pumping out 155Nm of torque), while ‘Heritage’ and ‘Classic’ tell you just what this model is all about.
With wire wheels and a deep sculpted front fender, the Heritage Classic has that look of a 1940s Harley about it. With a detachable windscreen and lockable panniers, this Harley’s got bags of practicality without being an intimidating heavyweight tourer.
Electra Glide Standard
Electra Glide is another of those iconic Harley-Davidson model names, in part down to the 1973 movie Electra Glide in Blue and in part to the fact that it’s just the quintessential Harley tourer.
It’s the base model in Harley’s Touring range and provides a really pure riding experience. The look is iconic, with the big bat wing fairing and slim rear panniers. Harley say that the Electra Glide Standard has been made to be made the rider’s own, and the enormous accessories list attests to that. If you fancy one that’s fully loaded out of the factory, the Road Glide Limited could be the one for you – or more specifically your passenger. The Road Glide’s pillion seat and top box back rest is so sumptuous, passengers have been known to enjoy a good sleep while sitting on the back!
Buying a Harley-Davidson should make the rider feel special, and there’s no more way to feel special than by riding a CVO Harley.
CVO stands for Custom Vehicle Operations and is a programme sells high-end examples of regular models. Each year a few CVO models are offered up and get specced-up to the max, often with bigger capacity engines, but always with trick paint jobs and loads of accessories.
This year sees three CVO models available, the CVO Street Glide, CVO Tri Glide trike and, this, the CVO Limited.
Based on the Road Glide, it gets the water-cooled 1923cc Milwaukee-Eight 117 (the most powerful Harley motor to date) and a full suite of electronic aids. From the beautifully stitched leather seats to luscious paint job, you can tell this is a special bike at first glance. Just don’t expect it to be cheap!