The iconic Harley-Davidson Low Rider has always been considered a blank canvas for customisation. Is the new one any different?
The Low Rider was once a part of the Dyna line, but for 2018 it's moved into the Softails. However, as we rode the new 2018 Low Rider around Jaipur for a day, it’s clear that the qualities that made the Low Rider a popular choice remain. The new Low Rider shares all the new upgrades and mechanical components with the rest of the new Softail line-up. That means it’s gotten a new chassis, new suspension, new design, and more importantly, a brand-new Milwaukee-Eight engine. The new 1,745cc V-Twin gets dual counterbalancers to cancel primary vibration. This allows the engine to be rigid mounted in the frame, which in turn increases chassis stiffness for improved handling.
The overall styling of the new Low Rider is much the same as the older generation. Its profile is much the same and it still retains the same headlight and stepped seat. The biggest changes are the replacement of the dual shocks with a monoshock – which has happened in the entire Softail range -, the dual instrument dials are still mounted on the tank, but they get a new casing, and the two-into- one exhaust has been changed for a dual. Then, of course, the engine is entirely new.
When I saddled up on the Low Rider, I couldn’t help but notice how identical the riding position is to the Street Bob. While the seat is completely different, the foot pegs and the handlebar position are quite similar, which means it’s a very cramped riding style. The Low Rider seems to be more accepting for shorter riders, because the pegs are placed up high and close to the rider, which makes it a squat position. I am not against this riding posture, it’s just that it takes time to get used to it. The handlebars are not very high, but they are wide and offer a more laid-back approach than the Street Bob.
This riding position did make it very easy to manage the Low Rider in some nice twisty roads. The new Low rider certainly has much better handling capabilities than before. The lean angle has been increased, and thanks to the high placement of the exhaust and the foot pegs, you can really lean in deep when cornering. It’s a much more fun to ride Low Rider than before, and adding to that fun is the stiffer chassis, and the adaptable front Showa forks that offer more travel depending on your speed and braking. The rear monoshock also felt good, but I did feel that the rear was a wee bit stiffer than the other models.
The Low Rider can ride comfortably in the city, but I wouldn’t recommend long distance touring because of the cramped seating arrangement. I am not saying that it can’t be done, I am just admitting that I am getting too old for an aggressive seating position like this for cruising.
What really makes the new Low Rider really fun is the Milwaukee-Eight engine. This is the highlight of all the new Softail models. The engine is a beast and offers 144Nm of torque, which is available to you on instant demand. Acceleration is incredibly brisk and will bring a smile to your face all the time. The roll-on is much better and it doesn’t matter where you are in the rev counter, you always have plenty of power at your disposal. Throttle response is immediate and the 6-speed transmission is also very nicely mated to the engine and allows for clean and precise gear shifts.
The overall ride quality of the new Low Rider is very good, it handles like a sports bike, and its got plenty of power, but what it’s most known for is its easy adaptability to change. The Low Rider is loved for its bare bones design which allows for easy modifications and customisations. You can change almost anything on the bike and Harley-Davidson themselves offer an unlimited list of parts and accessories. So, if you want a nice little power cruiser to play around with and make it your own unique piece of art, then the Low Rider could be for you.