Forty years of the Low Rider® motorcycle

Bill Jackson
March 1, 2018 at 8:14 pm  •  Posted in The Bikes by

Editor’s note: We could not close the year 2017 without including a piece about the 40 years of the Low Rider. In Daytona in 1977, Harley-Davidson unveiled the FXS Low Rider® motorcycle. With its black paint engine treatments, highway footpegs and drag handlebars, the Low Rider motorcycle marked a major move in styling. It was the name of the motorcycle itself that pointed out the seating position. It was low enough into the frame that encouraged the idea that you no longer sit on the bike, but in it. Over the coming years, the Low Rider model would prove to be the mainstay factory custom motorcycle in the Harley-Davidson product line. In some model years, it could be argued that you could not buy a cooler-looking bike than the Low Rider motorcycle. This is probably why in model years like 1988, riders could find Low Rider models in multiple incarnations. The Low Rider Custom version appeared with a vintage 1917 gas tank logo and leather strap down the middle of the gas tank, among other appointments. That same year, the Low Rider Sport version offered simple cast wheels, low-rise handlebars, rubber isolation mounts, anti-dive front suspension and dual disc front brakes.

1991 saw the beginning of the Dyna family of motorcycles (featuring rubber engine mounts, five-speed transmissions, more efficient oiling systems, etc.). Meanwhile the Low Rider model was being offered in further platforms, such as the Convertible model, and continued in the Sport and Custom variations. The 1993 model year would mark the first year that the Low Rider motorcycles were available as Dyna platform motorcycles. The year 2002 marked the 25th anniversary of the Low Rider motorcycle, and few motorcycles in Harley-Davidson history have been through more evolutionary changes. In 2002, the Low Rider model was back to one version, the way it began. However, demand has not decreased, and a rider who is seeking one of the most versatile and coolest looking machines on the road can still turn to the Low Rider model.

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