Beauty and the bargain

The unsung Dyna shines for 2010

Hard in the wind, hands on the pullbacks, boots on the mid-mounts, knees squeezing the fat bobs, the sun glinting off the deep-chrome dash and bars and clamp and mirrors, the loping pulse of the Big Twin issuing from staggered duals; a pure shiny nugget of essential Harleyness, is what we have here. The Super Glide Custom is at once both a throwback to the breakthrough styling of the early Super Glides—the 1972 iteration, particularly—as well as a refined and mechanically evolved evocation of those Willie G. Davidson “factory custom” forays. The look and feel of the machine preserve the source code of the FX like no other model, and were it up to me to assign the H-D alphabet designation to the bike, it would have to be the FXDNA.

The FXDC riding experience transports my suddenly sentimental self back to 1972 and riding a buddy’s brand new FX, recalling how immaculately cool I felt in the saddle of the thing, and also recalling how stubbornly resistant to kick-starting that AMF product was. (I recall as well—bitterly—how envious I was of my buddy’s ability to afford the beast at the age of 18, to say nothing of his ability to grow a real beard.) Revisiting those sensations was a pleasant surprise, and one that was long overdue. In truth, I’ve been remiss in properly appreciating and reviewing this model, but that’s been a widely-shared oversight in the industry, even, arguably, in Milwaukee. The FXDC Super Glide entered the Harley lexicon for the first time in 2005 (though the FXDC code had appeared briefly in 1991 on the short-lived Dyna Glide Custom). It was a modest debut without a lot of splash and ballyhoo, largely because there really wasn’t much about the bike to ballyhoo about. It remained out of the limelight in 2006, being dramatically overshadowed by the 35th Anniversary Super Glide with its big fat bobs, laced wheels, pullbacks, tank-mount dash console, and stunning 1971 paint and graphic treatment replete with the (shudder) AMF #1 logo boldly displayed on tank, console and side cover. And when the FXDC returned for 2007 it was, by and large, the 35th Anniversary model repurposed and rebadged, but without the eye-popping cosmetics it remained oh-so-easy to overlook—especially in light of the heavily-hyped Dark Culture nascence and its Dyna Street Bob avatar. And then along came the daringly-styled Fat Bob, and an even further immersion of the Dyna platform into black appointments. On the shiny side of the platform, the Custom competed for attention with the popular Low Rider and Wide Glide models.

Continually upstaged and underappreciated, the Custom hung in there and in 2010 its patience has been rewarded. With the exit of the Low Rider from the line-up, and the return of the Wide Glide in Dark Custom clothing, the FXDC assumes a new prominence as the last Dyna exemplar of the fabled acres-of-chrome factory custom hog. (Who knew a chromed-out Harley could become cause for nostalgia?) For me, my time with this machine has been like one of those Hollywood romantic comedies where after all the glamour-pusses have left the party, there stands the pretty girl next door who, you realize at last, was the one you wanted all along.

And I am smitten with this machine (I’d buy a black one), and to do it justice photographically I called upon the services of my old pal “Panhead Mike” DeContreras (a.k.a. “Mikey D.” and “Mexican Mike” and “Blue Bike Mike” and God only knows what else—the guy inspires handles) whose 5-foot 9-inch stature doesn’t obscure the view like my 6-foot 4-inch frame, and thus is ideally suited to the task. An added pleasure of getting Mike involved was to gauge his reactions to the bike. One of the simple pleasures of my job comes when exposing inveterate bikers for the first time to the TC 96/Cruise Drive powertrain. It’s uniformly eye-opening for the initiates, and in the case of Mike—whose own history in the saddle of a Harley predates the original FX and has included decades on a Panhead, as well as both Evo and TC 88 Electra Glides—the first words out of his mouth after the maiden spank on the Custom were, “Jesus. This thing wants to do burn-outs.”

It’s true. It does. A quick blip of the throttle brings a wallop of torque to the rear tire, and the bike literally tries to squirt out from under you. You quickly learn to keep your wrist low on the grip lest you inadvertently rock back and go hurtling forward wide-eyed, hair afire. That’s what you get when you stuff 96 inches and 93 ft/lbs into a comparatively svelte 650-pound hog.

The Super Glide Custom fits a man of Mike’s dimensions admirably. Me, not so much. At least not over the long haul where the distance from the seat to the mid-mount footpegs is a snug fit, and one that seem to get snugger after a few hours on the road. The payoff for that geometry comes, however, when taking the bike for a session of back road rowdiness where the upright posture and well-positioned handlebar is all hard-charging business. Combine that with the stout Dyna chassis introduced in 2007, the stocky 49mm, dual-rate-sprung front fork, and the Michelin Scorcher tires new for 2010, and you get a bike with an agility in the twisties belied by its visual mass.

And while sport-touring is obviously not the FXDC’s primary directive, as a practical matter the model can be morphed from day-tripper to road dog in mere minutes, thanks to Harley-Davidson’s elegantly engineered quick-detachables; a collection that includes windscreens of various heights and styles, luggage racks, passenger backrests and saddlebags, all of which are simple to install and employ, and leave only subtle mounting docks as evidence of that capacity when stripped off. Another desirable feature in touring duty is the bike’s fuel range. I averaged 43.3 mpg over the course of a two-day 550-mile frolic, and with a 5.1 gallon fuel tank that translates to an enviable 200-mile envelope (though, irritatingly, the fuel warning light on the test bike gets nervous when there’s still 1.5 gallons on tap).

Blue Collar Special
There’s a lot to love about this bike, but of its many beauties perhaps the sexiest is the price tag. At a base MSRP of $12,999 for the basic black unit, it’s the least costly of any Big Twin save the $11,999 Super Glide. They’re very different machines, these two, and comparisons are only superficial. But put simply, that extra grand gets the purchaser a ride with two-up capacity with the saddle and rear pegs, that big tank and gorgeous dash, and oodles of chrome from stem to stern. It’s a smokin’ deal at a time when a smokin’ deal is for many a bigger consideration than it used to be in selecting a Harley, and to put that price and value in further economical perspective, it’s worth noting that the nearly identical 2007 model went for a base price of $14,645 that year. That’s an 11 percent discount for 2010. Talk about lovable.

(The two-tone model with optional Chrome Aluminum Profile laced wheels pictured here lists for $14,104.)



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