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Motorcycle Review: The Dyna Switchback From Harley-Davidson

March 19, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 350

Lose weight fast! BOGO! Just a couple of highly effective marketing terms we felt Harley could have easily incorporated into the promotional material for its latest model, the Dyna Switchback.

It seems everyone and their physical trainer is always seeking out the latest fad to quickly drop a few pounds. And why not, slimming down helps you look and feel better and you can move quicker and are more agile. Well, what if we told you there was a weight loss program where you could shed nearly 100 pounds without cutting back on your Big Mac intake or jogging a single mile? It's possible. Simply roll into your local Harley dealership and trade in that 812* pound Road King for a 718* pound Dyna Switchback. And best of all, with a price tag that rings in $1,500 cheaper than a King, with the Switchback you're essentially scoring yourself a BOGO or buy one get one deal, seeing as the Switchback is basically two bikes in one.

Of course the idea of two bikes in one isn't a totally new concept from Harley by far; the factory has offered convertibles in the FXR, Dyna, and Softail families. What is unique and different about the Switchback is that with its 41.3mm front-end, chrome headlight nacelle, 130mm front tire, floorboards, hard saddle bags, and full swept FL-style fenders; it looks like from the Touring lineage and not just a Dyna with hard bags and a windscreen. Then when you peel off the windscreen and saddle bags, well, it still kind of looks like part of the Touring family, just stripped down, cleaned up and sexier.

Once you throw a leg over the saddle and hit the streets it becomes clear this bike isn't the offspring some overweight sofa glide. It's agile and powerful. I spent a bit of time on the Switchback and everything from its looks and handling to the performance, storage capacity, and versatility impressed me.

The Harley engineers really did their homework when it came to setting up the steering and suspension to make sure the bike had the comfortable and plush ride of a touring motorcycle, but the maneuverability and handling of a Dyna. The front-end geometry, tire specs, and suspension were all designed to work together to give crisp and lightweight steering.

Within the beefy fork legs is a 20mm cartridge which helps offer enhanced damping, while at the rear is a set of Nitrogen-charged mono tube rear shocks with dual rate springs. The rear shocks are adjustable, which it easy to set up the rear suspension for solo, two-up, or loaded up riding. Back up front a 130mm Dunlop provides a nice steady footprint while bombing down the highway, but the low profile design of the tire helps get the bike over and in and out of tight turns with ease. One thing I definitely noticed was that unlike the members in the Touring family which can sometimes give unwanted feedback in the form of shaking when upset by inconsistencies in the road at high speeds and high-speed turns, the Switchback was solid from tire to tire at excessive speeds, tight sharp turns, and when loaded up and leaned over in high-speed sweepers. Even when I gave the mini ape handlebars a good shove while cruising straight down the highway, the bike steadily kept its line without the rear getting squirrelly or needing time to settle down.

Powered by the 103ci engine and backed by the six-speed transmission, the Switchback gets to where you want it, in front of that big rig, with ease. Granted it's not going to break any land speed records, but with the saddle bags fully loaded and a touring bag strapped to a luggage rack, I can easily slip past slow-moving traffic on inclines without having to drop it down into Fifth. Weighing in 43 pounds lighter than the Heritage Softail Classic (761* pounds), and only 12 pounds heavier than the next heaviest Dyna, the Fat Bob (706* pounds), the Switchback is easy to unload off the kickstand but not so heavy that it hinders the performance or potential of the triple digit displacement engine. Bolted to the right side of the rubber mounted engine is a chrome 2-into-1 straight cut exhaust which offers a decent note and gives the bike more of performance look as opposed to the dual classic look of found on touring models. And unlike the Touring models that have exhaust system secured to the rear of the saddle bag supports, Harley engineers designed the rear exhaust hanger bracket to mount off the back of the drive train and to actually move with the drive train. With overall weight a main concern, Harley opted for an aluminum rear hanger bracket as opposed to steel.

Slowing the Switchback down or coming to an immediate stop is assisted by a four piston fixed front caliper and 300mm uniform expansion floating rotor, with a two-piston torque-free rear caliper clinching down on a 292mm rotor. The bike I tested was with the Security Package Option (add $1,195) which bundles the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with the Smart Security System with proximity-based hands-free security fob. As we've experience with other equipped bikes the pulsating brakes in tight situations works well.

The Switchback looks like it could be the Road King's younger sibling, which is great since the King has been such a favorite among Harley enthusiasts. The proportions of the bike are just right with the saddle bags being about 25 percent smaller than a standard FLT saddle bag and a 4.7-gallon fuel tank instead of the 6-gallon tank found on the King. Even though the bags are smaller, I was able to stuff into them a jacket, a few shirts, a tool roll, and a camera in one bag alone, by installing a sissy bar or a luggage rack and adding a large travel bag, I was able to carry enough gear with me for a two-week road trip.

I found the mini ape bars to suit my 5-foot-10-inch frame perfectly; they weren't too high or so short that I felt aching in my shoulders or arms even after hundreds of miles in the saddle. Speaking of the saddle, the two-up seat was comfortable and conducive to long hauls, but aesthetically it was just too puffy for me. I like a seat that has a bit thinner profile and blends into the lines of the bike. I love floorboards for long distance travel and was glad to see Harley outfitted the Switchback with floorboards.

Darnell is a motorcycle fan and novice custom bike builder himself, he drops by at a motorcycle superstore now and then to check out the newest products such as motorcycle helmets, apparel, parts and accessories to review.

Source: EzineArticles
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