Harley Davidson FXR

Harley Davidson FXR

1983 Harley Davidson FXR

Every motorcycle has a story ranging from a ground up build you’ve just finished, or a brand new bike off the showroom floor, each has a beginning. With a used bike there are multiple stories, sometimes so many you can’t even recognize what it is anymore. The key here is everything changes, adapts, evolves and we are the leaders or pushers of the results. If you own a Harley Davidson FXR the story is one that rides on the beginning of a new business and its bright future.

Harley Davidson is a company that has spanned generations of old, young and future riders. With all that past time things had to change sometimes, and the Harley FXR was result of that change. The FX model began by combining the F or Touring models at the time with the X or Sportster models of the time. The name wasn’t anything special although it did create something new. The FX models were established during the reign of AMF. Not going into too many details, but the Hog did gets it’s nickname during this time because of the over-priced and poor quality products. On the verge of bankruptcy AMF decided to sell to 13 investors among who were Vaughn Beals and Willie G. Davidson. The company had to really get their act together in a short amount of time. They decided to research a new v-twin motor, and at the same time produce an all new model that would appeal to the modern rider.

In 1982 the company introduced the FXR model. The custom choppers of the 60’s and 70’s intrigued Mr. Davidson and he sought to design a bike to have a “custom” look. Although some say the FXR is the best bike Harley Davidson ever came up with, the potential for the FXR was outrageous. With the narrow forks off a XLH Sportster and the rear half of the Electra Glide it handled very well with good all around performance and comfort. A high performance roadster to give the Japanese bikes a little competition. Combining all these elements with the quality of American made manufacturing of all the components competed with quality only seen 20 years before. Getting back to their roots, and producing a high quality, high performance road bike the customers approved.

After the first year the 1982 Harley Davidson FXR sold approximately 6,100 units, this was an impressive number for the introduction of this new model in a company with new ownership. Also the FXR and FXRS were number one and 2 in sales for 1982. However, sales were not always great for the FXR, as remembered by Mark Tuttle, “we got a lot of “negative” response to the triangular area under the seat, even though we had created what we were indeed after, a very stiff chassis, very neutral handling, and a really good lean angle, which resulted in a fair amount of ground clearance and a higher seat height, and while it was probably the best-handling Harley ever built, Unfortunately, it just wasn’t selling as well as the rigid mounts were”.

There were several sub-models of the Harley Davidson FXR over it’s 12 year span. In 1982 there were only two: the FXR and FXRS. The S model had choice of color were the base model was only black, there was also a small difference in some of the optional items like wheels and passenger seat on the S models. The FXRT Sport Glide was introduced in 1983 which was after the metric cruiser market, with plastic saddlebags and a large front fairing. In 1984 the Evolution Motor started to show up in production, and the Disc Glide FXRDG, Low Glide FXRS, Sport Glide FXRT and Police Pursuit Glide FXRP came with the new motor. Building on these models there were several other from 1985-1994 that were introduced and faded away. Those models include: Low Glide Custom FXRC & FXLR (1985-1994), Grand Touring Edition FXRD (1985-86), FXR Special FXRS (1985), Low Rider Sport FXRS-SP (1987-1993), Low Rider 85th Anniversary FXRS (1988), Low Rider Convertible FXRS-Conv. (1989-1993). Changes over the years were sometimes major, just one example is the EPA regulation of 1992 where all the oil and gas lines along with a different carburetor and better brakes.

After 1995 and the end of the FXR there were models released in 1999 and 2000 that were part of the Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) series. The FXR2, FXR3 and FXR4 were released to gain interested in the last opportunity to get an upgraded version of a great chassis. There will always be new FXR’s out there with better technology on them, just because they are a bike people enjoy messing around on. Although the FXR frame ended production in 2000, the company that produced those amazing machines will still be around to create the next revolutionary design.

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