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2014 Harley-Davidson Low Rider and SuperLow 1200T—First Ride Review

Jon Langston
March 27, 2014
Filed under Cruiser + Touring Motorcycle Reviews, Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on Harley Motorcycles, Road Tests, Top Stories

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Harley-Davidson 2014

The Low Rider (left) returns for 2014 with an adjustable seat, handlebar and more forward footpegs. New SuperLow 1200T (right) brings more power and touring goodies to the ultra-low Sportster platform. (Photos by Riles & Nelson)

Despite the traditional stereotypes, younger riders and women make up a substantial, and ever-increasing, portion of Harley-Davidson’s customers. The Motor Company says that in 2012, it held 50 percent of the U.S. market share for men and women riders ages 18-34, and over 60 percent for women ages 35 and up.

To more directly target that audience, last March Harley used the sunny stage of Daytona Bike Week to launch its latest motorcycles, the SuperLow 1200T and Low Rider. Neither bike is all new in name or equipment, but for 2014 they’ve been changed enough to appeal to a new generation of motorcyclists that wants to go farther and ride lower for less coin.

SuperLow 1200T

SuperLow 1200T

Harley says the SuperLow 1200T was designed for riders 5-foot, 1-inch to 5-foot, 7-inches tall.
The author is a bit taller.

The SuperLow 1200T features the same easy-handling chassis dynamics originally developed for the SuperLow 883 and outfits it with more power and equipment for the long haul. The result is a smaller, lighter touring Harley customers can ride right off the showroom floor and onto the Interstate. And with an entry-level price of around $12,000, it even costs less than many comparable metric tourers.

The SuperLow 1200T's black and silver, split five-spoke aluminum wheels carry Michelin Scorcher 11T touring tires.

The SuperLow 1200T’s black and silver, split five-spoke aluminum wheels carry Michelin Scorcher 11T touring tires.

In the saddle, it’s immediately apparent the SuperLow is designed for more diminutive motorcyclists. The rider triangle is cramped for an average-sized adult with a 33-inch inseam; the narrow handlebar positioned my wrists only about seven inches directly above my knees. Neat mini-floorboards allow a bit of leg movement and were stout enough to permit me to quickly stand up and stretch out my legs. Taller riders need not apply, but with a Reduced Reach touring saddle that pushes the rider two inches forward, the 1200T’s ergonomics should be just right for Harley’s stated target audience of those who stand 5-foot, 1-inch to 5-foot-7.

The Evolution 1200 engine is impressively responsive, with loads of low-end grunt that makes it easy to start out from a stop and power out of corners. For a touring bike, I would’ve liked a bit more on-ramp acceleration, and a taller top gear to reduce vibration.

Sportster 1200cc V-twin is finished in black powdercoat with chrome-plated covers.

Sportster 1200cc V-twin is finished in black powdercoat with chrome-plated covers.

The 1200T is relatively light—nearly 120 pounds less than H-D’s lightest Big Twin tourer, contributing to its poised cornering and nimble maneuverability. Its suspension seems vastly improved over street-specific Sportsters, particularly in the rear, where the 32-click adjuster knob allows easy changes to accommodate a passenger and/or cargo. Braking is strong, although in 2014 we think it’s time that all quote-unquote touring bikes come equipped with ABS. The copious saddlebags detach easily with a key, and the adjustable, detachable windshield is effective at diminishing high-speed buffeting. Factory-installed rear docking hardware eases the installation of an optional luggage rack and passenger backrest. Finally, the new Sportster switchgear provides a left-hand info-toggle switch that’s ideal for touring riders; so is the bike’s estimated 216-mile fuel range. For those who feel Big Twin tourers are too cumbersome, H-D now has a touring cruiser for you.

2014 Harley-Davidson XL1200T SuperLow 1200T

2014 H-D XL1200T SuperLow 1200T

2014 Harley-Davidson XL1200T SuperLow 1200T

Website: harley-davidson.com
Base Price: $11,799
Price as Tested: $13,524 (Two-tone, ABS, Security)
Engine Type: Air-cooled, transverse 45-degree V-twin, OHV, 2 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 3.5 x 3.8 in.
Displacement: 1,202cc (73.4 ci)
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Wheelbase: 59.1 in.
Rake/Trail: 31.1 degrees/5.7 in.
Seat Height: 27.7 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 599 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gals.
MPG: NA

Low Rider

H-D Low Rider

Limited clearance is the only thing that slows the Low Rider in corners. Two-into-one exhaust has a pleasing bark.

After a five-year hiatus the Low Rider name has been revived for 2014, and with it Harley has produced a streetwise custom-inspired cruiser that’s accessible to a wide variety of riders. Foremost in the new Low Rider’s feature set is its three-point adjustable ergonomics. The 26.8-inch seat features a removable lumbar pad that pushes the rider forward 1.5 inches; those who utilize it can still achieve an assertive, feet-forward riding position thanks to foot controls that are two inches farther forward than the standard Dyna’s mid-mounts. A cool new “dogleg”-style handlebar riser allows a 2.4-inch range of adjustment by rolling it forward or rearward; the bar itself can then be rotated within the riser. All of these adjustments only require a hex wrench.

Twin Cam 103 engine

Twin Cam 103 engine is finished in wrinkle black with chrome covers.

The Twin Cam 103 engine in the Low Rider flexed its usual muscle around the Florida backroads. It’s finished in wrinkle-black powdercoat with a chrome cover, and the chrome 2-into-1 exhaust gives it a throatier sound than a 2-into-2, perhaps enough to dissuade owners from perusing aftermarket catalogs. Harley’s 6-speed transmission continues to improve, getting less clunky and more refined every year. Handling is nimble, and the 160/70 rear tire only adds to the agility. Braking is strong and readily actuated, though the brake and clutch levers lack adjustability. All these factors and more combine to make the Low Rider a kick to ride aggressively, but be warned: those rubber pegs grind readily.

Low Rider seat

Low Rider seat is just 26.8 inches high; bolster is removable.

Priced near the bottom of the Dyna pack at $14,199, the affordable new Low Rider provides modern adaptability while successfully harkening back to its roots. With its alloy wheels, I think it looks more 1983 than ’77—but then, I always preferred Magnum P.I. to Tony Baretta anyway.

2014 Harley-Davidson FXDL Low Rider

Website: harley-davidson.com
Base Price: $14,199
Price as Tested: $16,199 (Two-tone, ABS, Security)
Engine Type: Air-cooled, transverse 45-degree V-twin, OHV, 2 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 3.87 x 4.37 in.
Displacement: 1,690cc (103.1 ci)

2014 Harley-Davidson FXDL Low Rider

2014 Harley-Davidson FXDL Low Rider

Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Wheelbase: 64.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 30.5 degrees/5.1 in.
Seat Height: 26.8 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 666 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.7 gals.
MPG: NA

(This article was published in Kickstarts in the June 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)

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