Monday, January 12, 2009

FXR Info

Here's some random cool info I had stashed on my computer. Not sure where I snagged it from, but here's you go. Also, check out the CVOHarley link. There's a BUNCH of FXR info there.

Edited to add: The article was written by Bill Garlinghouse. Thanks Bill!!

An ode to the Ugly Glide culled from the r.m.h archives and various historical accounts.

Designed with a lot of input by Eric Buell, the FXR had the lightest weight and stiffest frame of any big twin. The computer-designed, all-welded frame had a massive box-section backbone, thicker diameter tubing, and massive gusseting around the steering head. The result was the stiffest frame Harley ever produced

It was released with the latest incarnation of the venerable shovelhead.

81.6 ci, reduced compression to burn anything you might put in the tank and an oil consumption package. This was coupled to a new five-speed tranny w/shorter shift linkage for more agressive shifting. All mounted to the frame utilizing Harley's Tri-mount system - an adaptation of the FLT's rubber mounts.

The 19" front wheel was mounted between a narrow-glide front end and suspended on stiff Showa forks with a 32 degree of rake. Stiff rear shocks were mounted to the end of the swing arm, vice in the middle as was done on other FX models. Total wheelbase was 64.7". Dual 10" disk brakes on the front, and a single 11.5" rear disk provided stopping power. New master cylinders improved braking performance.

A relatively raked out front end, combined with a long wheelbase is usually a recipe for straight line stability and resistance to turning. However, the low seating and engine positions place the center of gravity low and centered. This results in a bike that turns easily and predictably. With it's high ground clearance, it's capable of some aggressive cornering.

It was the fastest, best handling bike Harley ever built, and it dripped less oil and vibrated less intensly than previous shovels. However, it was shunned by function-follows-form poseurs who dismissed the exposed frame, side panels and exposed shocks as "too Japanese." It has been said that the FXR was designed to appeal to the rider, not to appease the bean counters ... or Willie G's design department - which ultimately led to its demise.


In early models, the FXR & FXRS Lowrider have the same seat height and differ only in Paint, trim and wheels. The Lowrider Sport is an inch higher due to 2" longer front forks. It has a longer jiffy stand and speedo cable as well as dual front disc brakes. The exclusive Sport parts are located in the back of the Parts Manual in the "High Performance" section along with parts exclusive to the FXRC.


It's been said that the FXR was designed by Eric Buell, the Dyna was designed by HD accountants.

The original Dyna was an EVO and flexed excessively if pushed hard while cornering. When HD bolted the stiffer Twinkie drivetrain to the frame, the chassis flexing diminished somewhat.

The FXR had a "3-point" engine mounting system considered by many to be superior to the "2-point" design used by the Dynas.

However, the FXDX has a higher and more compliant suspension compared with the "regular" FXR models which have shorter forks and shocks. And, the FXDX comes with the TC88 engine and the fuel injection option. You can easily go to 95", add a cam, a Power Commander ...


82-83 gets you a Shovel. After that, you're looking at EVOs. 82s have chain final drive, 83s have belts. '82s embody the spirit of a reenergized, post-AMF, "The Eagle Flys Alone" workforce.

84-85 buys you any number of hard-to-support variants. However, as of this writing, the MoCo still stocks lots of parts for 84 and later FXRs.

FXRs built in model years 88-94 can be considered a "mature" product, as most of the bugs/upgrades are worked out by then.

When looking at 93 & 94 models, be sure to ask whether original IMA camshaft bearings were ever changed.

When buying the FXR, remind the seller that it is the "ugly" Harley, that they are NOT popular and that the seller is lucky that you're even interested in looking at the bike.

There are two types of people who own FXRs...The type who doesn't know what the heck they are (in which case, the above tactics may work), and the kind who do know what they are...In which case they're usually not for sale ...


Bill Garlinghouse said...

Nice piece. I oughta know, I wrote it!

Dan-O said...

Awesome! Thank you Bill for the info! The FXR is a fantastic machine.

nedd1966 said...

Great piece by Bill. Tons of history. However, I disagree that the FXR3 is for the "poseurs". With its 19-inch front wheel, it's set up more for the rider and handling than compared to the 21-inch spoked wheel of the FXR2 which looks nicer but does not handle/perform as well. And the flamed paint scheme was actually brought back to pay tribute to its preceding shovelhead modelof the early eighties.

Dan-O said...

Nedd, I agree. I find that I really like the way a 19 inch front handles as opposed to a 21. IMO, it's the way a FXR should be

ricobros said...

I've ridden Harleys only since 3-15-67 and have had my Shovel since that day.About 4 yrs ago I picked up a 84 FXRS for the long trips cause the Shovel has racked up about 800,000 miles and I have no doubt that the FXRS will meet that and beat it down the road.In another 25 yrs everyone will look back on the FXR series of Harleys and they will be treasured without a doubt!

Nortonaavs said...

I own an'89 FXRT that has one regular rear shock, and one AIR shock. Can anybody tell me why this was done? I purchased it from the original owner.