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Harley Davidson FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide 95 Anniversary

 

   

 

Make Model

Harley Davidson FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide 95 Anniversary Edition

Year

1998

Engine

Air cooled, four stroke, 45° V-Twin, OHV, 2 valves per cylinder.

Capacity

1337
Bore x Stroke 88.8 x 108 mm
Compression Ratio 7.4:1

Induction

 

Ignition  /  Starting

Single-fire, non-wasted, map-controlled spark ignition

Max Power

67 hp  48.8 kW @ 5200 rpm

Max Torque

107 Nm @ 3300 rpm

Transmission  /  Drive

5 Speed  /  Belt

Front Brakes

Single 292mm discs 4 piston caliper

Rear Brakes

Single 292mm disc 4 piston caliper

Front Tyre

80/90-21

Rear Tyre

130/90-16

Dry-Weight

278 kg

Fuel Capacity

19 Litres

Harley-Davidson have long since been the champions of the custom bike builder. Their big, heavyweight pre-unit twins have been stripped of their deeply valanced mudguards and lighting rigs in favour of smaller, lighter items for many years - sometimes replaced by the bits from their own sports bike offering, the Sportster. The factory didn't encourage such butchery through the evolutionary days of the custom bike, but with the graduation of a certain Willam G Davidson to the design department of his family business, the Motor Company embraced a whole new set of ideas to help capitalise on trends among the owners.

The first tangible result was the SuperGlide which heralded that beloved oxymoron, the "Factory Custom". It was a success from the outset and encouraged further messing around which, in 1977 resulted in the Low Rider: not only cut-down, but more heavily styled than the Super Glide, it was further proof, if proof were needed, that the factory were on the right lines. Ignoring out of hand another couple of models that came through for no better reason than they are detailed in the Dyna retrospective, the next radical direction was the factory chop in 1980: the FXWG Wide Glide. It was astonishing. By far the most radical custom bike to have come out of a factory, it bore testament to the design department's open-minded approach to the Harley-Davidson ridership.

Taking the stock 4-speed frame of the time, it built an additional rake into the yokes to kick out the otherwise conservative 30-degree rake without frame alterations, and added longer forks clasped in the "wide glide" yokes from the FL, sans nacelle, and with a 21-inch wheel up front it reflected what was happening in workshops across America. Bearing in mind this was still generally the same running gear that had been available since the Duo Glide first broke cover in 1960, it was a wonderful way of recycling existing hardware without the costs of retooling for brand new models. Finishing off the Wide Glide's trim were the 5-gallon Fat-Bob tanks, also from the FL, a Bates headlamp mounted on the bottom yoke, and a cut-down deep valanced mudguard that looked for all the world like the dresser item rotated through ninety-degrees but was in fact a mudguard specially designed to look like it was. And if that wasn't enough to catch the attention, higher apehangers that ever used previously hung the rider out to dry, while a flamed paintjob licked across the fuel tanks.

Subtle, it wasn't.

With the factory buyout from AMF in the early eighties, and with a new impetus at the company, the business of developing new models introduced the FXR at the expense of the old 4-speed frame and while technically more competent, it didn't lend itself to a Wide Glide so that model died when the 4-speed was finally fully phased out in the mid eighties.

Then the Dyna happened. A 4-speed lookalike to replace the FXR and within two years the Wide Glide, now the FXDWG, was back on the books and the shape was a familiar one.

The first of the Dynas had a 32-degree rake at the headstock and it was in this frame that the new Wide Glide found its new home. It looks and feels to me as though the 32 degree rake of the chassis is further aided by another couple of degrees in the yokes, as previous practice, to kick the forks out yet further - closer to the Softails 34 degrees - but such information is thin on the ground and the specifications certainly don't support such a supposition.

The rest is a pure timepiece. The 5-gallon Fat-Bobs are the new one-piece item, and look better on the Dyna than on the Softail where it breaks up that critical line between headstock and rear wheel spindle too much, and the tank-top console is an icon in itself. The switch is an updated version of the rotary switch that featured on a remarkably similar pice of chrome-plated cast zinc on my Shovel, and harks back to a time when life was more innocent and theft was less commonplace. Possibly because I'm from a town rather than a city, it's never given me a moment's worry to leave the ignition switched off but unlocked when filling up, and the convenience it offers compared to the under-seat position of the other Dynas is welcomed by me. To combine that with an immobiliser just to be on the safe side has got to be the best of both worlds, and is another place where the hand of technology has made the proposition even more attractive. It still gets apehangers, bobbed rear mudguard, wide yokes and skinny wheel - but then that's the law - and, unusually for Harley's customs, it gets a seat that harks back to the style from the seventies when seats were designed to be sat on for hours at a time ... and comes complete with the sissy bar that would have accompanied it then. I'm not convinced by the sissy bar, personally, but the seat's shape works with the shape of the bike, and I'm grateful for that because it makes this the most rideable custom for my money. Even the flames make a token appearance but not in the original form and that's a shame.

It is almost as though they mothballed all the bits from the FXWG in 1986 and waited until they had a frame to put them back on to do them justice. It isn't so much a bike influenced by an earlier model, it is a recreation, and as faithful an example as the improvements in technology allows. Unusually for a retro, the advances in technology add to the bike rather than detract: the engine is more powerful, reliable and no less attractive for it - and it's lost that godawful airfilter that 80-cube Shovelheads were afflicted with. It now stops, courtesy of massive improvements compared to the banana rear calliper and twin front disks from a Sportster and, if anything, the new units are better looking.

It also has the added advantage of an engine-mounting system that adds a hundred miles to the capability of the bike, and discomfort arrives through the upper arms' and shoulders' unequal battle with headwinds rather than through spine tingling, high-pitch vibes through a beautiful, but underpadded seat as is often the case on Softail customs.

The original 4-speed was binned because the Rubber Glide's mounting system made for a more comfortable ride along the highways of the massive continent of North America. The Softail was brought along as a quietener for those tradionalists who wanted the engine feedback and while the Dyna was styled after the 4-speed, it retained a development of the FXR's engine mounts. When launched, the Dyna had to contain the Evo plant's vibes and it did so very well, you got some bounce at low revs and on the over-run but it was never intrusive and if anything added to the sensory experience. The arrival of the Twin Cam engine actually suited the Dyna's mountings better from a rider's point of view, because the increasing revs and higher pitch of the vibration at those higher speeds are more easily damped-out, while the low speed vibes still give lots of sensory feedback when bimbling about. It wasn't quite so easy on the Softails, however, and the jump from Evo to Twin Cam introduced balance shafts which have robbed the engine of a lot of its soul. Sure, it's more efficient, but the feedback junkies are either going to have to track down the last of the Evo Softails or else switch allegiancies: it'll be an interesting thing to watch, but any Softail owner who has recently upgraded to a Twin Cam and wonders what's missing, would be well advised to swing a leg over the FXDWG. I grant you it hasn't got the economy of the forties lines, but it is a million miles away from the bland, faceless efficiency that are the offerings from the land of the rising sun. I have to say that I prefer the look of the back end compared to the Softail, but that, again, is a personal thing: it looks solid and business-like to my subjective eye.

So, to specifics - and not before time, went the cry.

The 2001 Dyna Wide Glide is a practical custom bike without peer. It has all the right components to make it a highly desirable long-legged medium range tourer with style and presence. It provides a good base for further development without feeling as though you are throwing away a lot of stuff. The nearest thing to it in terms of comfort is the Deuce, but that comes at a price, and a hefty one. The only advantage that the Deuce has in comparison are greater lean angles from the low-profile rear tyre on a bigger wheel, and I would love to see what impact that would have on the Wide Glide - indeed, on all of the Dyna range.

For those who live for a custom stance, the Wide Glide will not disappoint. You sit low in a well-proportioned and well-padded saddle, feet not too far forward, and your arms horizontal and wide-set giving plenty of leverage - not that you need it with the tall skinny wheel providing little by way of centrifugal force to fight against, and doing what tall, skinny wheels do best. Whassat? Making smooth progress over poor surfaces, thasswot! The greater circumference of the wheel doesn't drop down potholes as much, and harks back to the days when you either had big balloon tyres to absorb the shock, or tall skinny tyres to be less susceptible to producing the shock in the first place: both of which made up for rudimentary engineering in suspension technology, and road surfaces. We still have dodgy roads, but fork technology has moved on to the extent that it is no longer essential. The trade-off, however, is the contact patch of the tyre which demands that you ride within the constraints of the overall machine's footprint: no problem in the dry but an acquired taste in the wet - not least because tyre technology considers such bizarre fitments as a bit of a backwater and expends no effort in moving them further forward.

Unlike some test bikes, the Wide Glide was blessed with a wonderful noise from a pair of slip-on straight cut silencers that let enough noise out without being too offensive, and there is no doubt in my mind as to the value of such a quick conversion to the amount of pleasure derived.

The only shortfall of the Wide Glide I can see is a restricted cornering clearance but that is a sad inevitablility with low-slung cruisers: you either get a low seat height and grind everything on the bends, or else you get lots of ground clearance and a bizarre Super Moto style which wouldn't lend itself to the rest of the shape. If a low profile tyre will rectify that, as it has with the Deuce then it will be a small price to pay. Usefully, while few cast options exist in the aftermarket world, and Harley themselves don't sell the seventeen-inch turbo wheel from the Deuce, the Wide Glide relies on laced wheels anyway and it would take much to put a new, bigger hoop onto the existing hub - all we need then is the space to get it in the swinging arm. It's worth noting that the 2002 models will all have a wider rear tyre fitment so some of the work will already have been done to the back end to accomodate that.

Something else that might be of some interest is that the motor used in the Dynas is the same as used on the rest of the Dynas, and that means if you don't aspire to travelling feet-first, you could retro fit the footrests and linkages from another model with the minim of fuss. At a conservative estimate, I would say that would add another 50 miles to the range, and adding a pair of flatter bars would be an option without it becoming as extreme to ride as the Night Train. Oddly though, flatter bars on pullback risers and more conventionally situated footrests would be halfways towards a Low Rider, but still enough to be distinct. In fact, it would be long way towards the resurrection of the FXE/F Fatbob.

You'll have gathered that I like this bike - or at least I'd be surprised if you hadn't.

Picking this up immediately after the Softail Standard went back, it was interesting to see how they behaved back-to-back - which will be the subject of a proper head-to-head next year - and I have to report that for this rider, there was no comparison ... and I have to admit to being more impressed with the Standard than with the Night Train. I've never quite got to grips with the Softail - any Softail - and it is due more than anything to the competence and style of the Dyna. A 4-speed fan since my first Shovelhead, the FXRs did nothing for me stylistically, and - being realistic - I was so far away from new Harley ownership until the arrival of the Dyna that I never had occasion to make that decision. In reality, the custom bike decision for me today would be between the Wide Glide and the Low Rider, because I never quite got the '77 Shovelhead that first bore the name out of my system, but that'll be another one for next year because some enterprising soul managed to crack the sump on the 2001 press bike - possibly the same one who torched the T-Sport's pannier - so we never got to play with the Low Rider.

I'm in the happy position of having read Rich's copy before finishing this and it makes interesting reading because he has always seen the chrome first and the bike second, whereas I'm exactly the opposite in respect to this bike. Looking at it with a critical eye to the amount of shiny stuff, does bring out the worst of the Wide Glide - especially the scripty, scrolly "Live to Ride" thing on the sissy bar (the sissy bar that would be removed within an hour of getting it home, if I'd bought it) - but to discount it on that basis would be to miss out on what comes across as the least compromising of all of Harley's customs.

I could bang on about the potential for a plain finish Wide Glide, or even a blacked out version to stand squarely up to the Night Train, but that could be levelled at the Low Rider too ... mind you, a plain finish 32-degree Dyna offering wouldn't such a bad idea, and the FXE/F must be due an anniversary soon. How about it?

Oh, what it must be to be in charge of the parts bins at York! Anyone fancy a field trip?

Second Opinion:
Words: Rich

Through sheer prejudice and downright ignorance I'd never had a nice word to say for the Dyna Wide Glide. I thought it looked like a gangling, overly ornamented Christmas tree: the bike most likely to be ridden by guys who spent their free time buying gaudy 'Live to Buy' bolt on gee gaws, and just as damning - the bike most likely to be pointed at and laughed at by legions of spunk-bike riders as the embarrassing and shameful embodiment of all that was terribly, terribly wrong with Harley-Davidsons.

My prejudice though, just like theirs, was based on nothing but the prejudice itself. I, like them, had never ridden a Dyna Wide Glide and so I, like them, was effectively and to all intents and purposes, talking out of my arse!

I knew full well that Dynas have their own, very vocal and fierce advocates, owner/riders who will never touch anything else. I assumed that Dynas, as the sportier big-twins must have their good points and indeed had very much enjoyed riding a predecessor, an early FXRS, through the Low Countries in the mid eighties. But that did nothing to shift my prejudice for the Dyna Wide Glide itself - and figuring that I wouldn't like to slag one off in print, (or be seen dead on one, to be honest) I'd never seriously opted for one as a road test either.

What a tosser.

However, all that was to change this year. I’ve grown up a bit and it was about time I put my ‘money where my mouth was’. Down then at Wayside Harley-Davidson, the Wide Glide out of the garage, parked on their forecourt, waiting. I was handed the keys and it was mine for the week. For perhaps the very first time I looked, properly, at a bike I'd always despised.

Resplendent in an admittedly very attractive black and yellow livery, but marred somewhat by a very iffy red flame effect on the tank and chrome glittering off just about every surface you could get chrome to stick to, I had to admit it really didn't look that bad. For the first time I spotted the motorcycle’s line, how it hung, somehow didn't seem so bad as I’d remembered. I, well, quite liked it in fact. How very strange.

Pocketing the key in a safe place (cuz you have to - those old-fashioned ignitions still bug me - a bit), I started the 1450cc Twin Cam 88 on choke and it fired up into the familiar stock Twin Cam busy muffled shuffle. Helmet and gloves on, I pushed the left hand side mounted push/pull choke knob into its half choke position, took hold of the high ape hanger bars and swung myself aboard. Hey, it felt a lot lower than it looked! The bars felt right and the back of the seat fitted snugly into the small of my back. Locating the forward set foot controls before I attempted anything else I then tilted the Wide Glide upright and cast around with my left foot to tuck the sidestand neatly away. Where was it?

Realising that my left foot was flailing, most unprofessionally, I finally had to bend down and look for the stand. Ah, there it was, in completely the wrong place! Well alright, exactly where it should be if you're used to Dynas. Rather than being attached to the front of the frame, like Glides and Softails, it's located, near nigh invisible to the rider, in the middle of the frame (as on a Sportster). Of course, in the raised position it tucks neatly away, behind the primary chain case - some might suggest too neatly - when at a garage, your right foot slipping dangerously on spilt diesel, you try to ease the stand out with your left toe. I quickly gave up that game for the time being and rapidly got used to pulling the stand out with my hand. No big deal or anything, it's just part and parcel of becoming familiar with a new bike. Pretty soon though I was flicking it out with me toe like a pro. Cue obvious ‘Ooer Vicar, mind me aspidistra!’

Sometimes it does take a while to get used to a new bike. But, sidestand aside, it took me no time at all to relax into the Wide Glide. The engine was silky smooth, isolated on its rubber mounts, it rumbled contentedly and packed a hefty punch when it was time to smartly overtake a truck. The gearbox too was slick and the brakes - just the two; one front, one back, were very effective. Most surprising for ‘Know-it-all’ me the Wide Glide handled like a dream. I was honestly expecting the skinny front wheel and kicked out rake to cause a few 'handling issues', but no, not really. The Wide Glide handled beautifully, be it around town, out in the country or blasting up the motorway. I felt at home on it and, most of the time, felt I knew how far I could push it.

Until the surface became slick that is and the Wide Glide threw in the odd surprise. Then I really did wish there was a more substantial amount of rubber at the front. The front end skipping out at seventy just because I had the audacity to gently change lanes over the white line was a heart-in-the-mouth experience, luckily I had space to accelerate out of the speed wobble it induced. Obviously I made damn sure I didn’t ride over another white line until the surface was bone dry again. And generally, like I say, the frame was stiff and sure, tyres adequate, brakes better than adequate and ride, comfortable, smooth and quick.

About the only other vexing handling issue really then was lean angle clearance. Attacking roundabouts with vigour became a potential hair raiser as various parts of the left and right hand rear of the bike quickly took turns grinding out. Spectacularly spark-tastic for onlookers I'm sure, but damn irritating for me. The Wide Glide was so competently stable and sure footed that it desperately wanted to lean over further than it was allowed to. By order of the Seven Sentinels of Serious Seventies Styling. Probably.

Pillions too were happy bunnies, big and small. The generous rear perch, sensibly sited pegs and secure padded sissy bar meant they could sit back, relax and enjoy the ride almost as much as me. However it is worth mentioning that the softish rear shocks didn’t cope anything like so well with the imposing 20st+ bulk of Simon (the Pie Man) as it did with say, slinky Mandie (McKinky) leading to embarrassing scrunchy noises as rear tyre met mudguard intimately. Still, to be fair, Simon could probably ground out a fork lift.

So anyway, yeah, talk about a complete change of attitude - within even, oh I dunno, four or five miles of leaving Wayside Harley-Davidson. I already knew I was going to love having this motorcycle for a while. It just felt right (cue another cliché about all hand and foot controls et al) but also I began to get off on how the bike looked. And how I looked on the bike. Perverse in the extreme I realise, but the chop styling was having an affect. I began to ride just that little bit harder, with a bit more ‘front’ - I felt one hell of a lot more badass on the Dyna Wide Glide than on any of the Fat Boys I'd ridden - ask me why and I'm not entirely sure. But I'll take a guess and say that it’s because the Wide Glide rides like it looks.

You see, this Dyna felt like I could ride it across the ‘States no problem - I wouldn't choose, say, a Fat Boy to do that. Oh yeah, the Fat Boy LOOKS like it's the kind of bike to be wild and free on, you know the old I'm mad me and on the last freedom moped to Crawley sort of gubbins - but it isn't actually that wonderful to ride long distance, it really isn't. The Dyna Wide Glide though, is. No problem! Not so surprising I suppose with the benefit of hindsight. Proper chopper styling wasn't invented just to look cool. The high bars, forward set pegs, stepped seat and longer wheel base also evolved because owners wanted to be able to ride their bikes further, faster and for longer periods of time, day after day while also losing masses of weight off the machine. The Wide Glide epitomises that reasoning, it's chop styling isn't massively extreme, it is supremely comfortable and obviously packs that very capable long haul motor.

So just like other proper chops, the Wide Glide isn't all show, it's been designed to be ridden hard, fast and far. I’d learned a new respect for it, just by actually riding the damn thing for a bit. In one week I had at least begun to understand why this motorcycle has such fiercely loyal owners. I really was genuinely sorry I'd previously (albeit privately) slated it. And well, felt like a right twat if truth be told.

Dropping the bike back at Wayside I was genuinely more gutted than I’d been leaving a test bike behind than I’d been for years. Rather than thinking that the Wide Glide was perhaps the tartiest of Harley's handbags, I'd actually passionately argue now that the Dyna Wide Glide is in fact one of Harley's more 'real' motorbikes. And what’s more astounding, if only to me, the Wide Glide has moved up my personal 'wouldn't mind one' list in just one week from dead bottom to very, very close to the top. Who’da thought it?

Not me, that’s for certain.

PS. But I'd have to tame the glitz a bit though. As Womble the German said to me once 'F*ck for chrome!' Well he actually said ‘Fuck’ but you can’t write that

PPS. But have you seen the all black, no messin’ sod the poxy two-tone one? Oh yes, take me home you deviant stygian strumpet!

Source American-v.co.uk

 

 

 

NOTE: Any correction or more information on these motorcycles will kindly be appreciated, Some country's motorcycle specifications can be different to motorcyclespecs.co.za. Confirm with your motorcycle dealer before ordering any parts or spares. Any objections to articles or photos placed on motorcyclespecs.co.za will be removed upon request.  

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