no politics...just ridin'



Harley Davidson BlackLine Review

The Harley Davidson Softail model has been a favourite of Harley riders since it was first introduced in 1984. There are more custom & aftermarket parts available for the Softail than any other model providing enthusiast’s loads of opportunity to make it unique and the 2011 Harley Davidson Blackline FXS Softail won’t be any exception to this with it’s already stripped down look.

Personally I found the standard off-the-floor model quite uncomfortable because of the punched out riding position and rather than finding the forward controls to be my greatest challenge, I found it difficult to comfortably reach the handlebars. Having said that, I’m sure lots of men (in particular) won’t have this problem.

The Split Drag Bars are mounted independently and even though the internal wiring provides a clean stylish look, they are not adjustable at all, being mounted straight to the top triple clamp. There is a pullback version available which brings the controls closer to the rider, but this version puts you in a more upright position which I didn’t find comfortable (or cool!!!). Burly Bars are currently designing bars to fit the model so they might be seen on some custom models in the near future.

The V-shaped slimline seat is one of the lowest on any of the big Harleys and together with the forward controls result in a very comfortable position (for some!). Even I found it quite comfortable at higher speeds when the pressure was off my outstretched arms. After slipping it into sixth gear down the open highway, in the cool evening air, the smooth-running engine gave me that “I could ride for hours” feeling. I think with some minor customisations this bike could be very popular.

The ground clearance is good and the bike is light and it tosses around pretty well for a big bike and stops well with the anti-lock braking system. The Blackline certainly feels much lighter than my Softail Deluxe weighing in at 294kgs. I love the Sedona Orange and Vivid Black combination or just Vivid Black rather than the Cool Pearl Blue option.

The 18.9 litre tank is uncluttered by instruments with only a fuel cap and centred Harley emblem. There is a noticeable gap between the nose of the seat and the fuel tank that exposes the top of the frame, which Harley state is intentional, but I personally didn’t see the point. The digital odometer on the small round analog speedo mounted between the handle bars is easily changed to display a clock, tachometer and 6 speed gear indicator combination or fuel mileage countdown with a flick of a switch.

With a Black Denim powder coated frame and swingarm, grey heads above black cylinders, black powder coated triple clams and black painted fork lowers, you’ve got to love black to love this bike. The simplicity of the fender design and combination rear indicator/brake lights leave the rear chopped fender looking clean and sleek.

The bike is powered by a rigid-mounted, internally counter-balanced 1584cc Twin Cam 96B engine with peak power about 3000 revs, but the bike is geared low so there is instant torque when you throttle on. It certainly hooks in, I had some fun on it!

Overall I was impressed with the Blackline (other than the uncomfortable un-adjustable handle bars). Its aggressive attitude suggests the bike will suit younger riders with heaps of opportunity for the usual customisation that makes a Harley an individual masterpiece.