In the past few years we’ve witnessed Harley-Davidson taking on roads they’ve never rolled on before and last year’s launch of the all-new Rockers was a clear indicator that we’ll be seeing more of Harley’s innovative side. We certainly did with the introduction of the all-new Iron and V-Rod Muscle, but the two very similar Softail models stand out once again, now as 2009 model years, and we’re not looking the other way.
Meanwhile, this bike also got a very capable and threatening opponent so the manufacturer custom bike market is in full growth and dispute.
Harley-Davidson saw in the Rockers a great possibility to enlarge their Softail lineup and in order for their move to be paying, they’ve concentrated on creating two almost unbeatable low rides so they used the already existing and successfully powering other Softail models engine, the 1,584 cc, air-cooled, twin cam unit. The 87.90 ft lbs of torque at 2,750 rpm that this develops proved more than enough for these unique rides and fairly light bikes and the six-speed gearbox allowed for a relaxed and economic cruising pace down the highway (around 54 mpg), but the riding position is what won’t ever make the Rockers shine. Like on all veritable custom bikes, you get forward-mounted pegs and low seats although, in this case, the handlebars don’t require that much stretching.
A great feature of the Rocker C is the two-into-one seat with concealed passenger pillion. This might not have anything in common with comfort, but it solves a problem when no cab is passing by.
The 36.0 degrees and 6.20 inches rake and trail might not stand for corner carving, but provide this custom with its aggressive touch which is, strangely, enhanced by the bike’s simplicity. It’s about reducing the thing to the bare minimum, but it would be a mistake to say that you simply get a pair of custom wheels and a big motor in between them. Hell, the Rockers even feature complete instrumentation and indicator lamps so it’s more about the impression you make rather than actually riding one of those suicide bikes.
Honda’s latest new creation is the much bragged about 2010 Fury , a custom that is as well long, low and sleek while featuring a fuel-injected 1,312 cc, liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-twin engine as the source of all fun and excitement. Not only the engine is smaller than on the two Harleys, but also mates to a five-speed gearbox so the Japanese bike is supposed to be less of a rush than the American one is. In this case, seat height is 26.7 inches and there’s an always visible pillion seat mounted on the custom rear fender. Weighting 663 lbs wet, at least the Honda Fury is lighter than any of the Rockers.
Starting at only $13,790 is the 2009 Star Raider , a custom cruiser with large engine displacement to back up the unique looks. Dealing with a fuel-injected 1,854 cc, air-cooled, V-twin motor, we can understand why there is no six-speed transmission and only a five-speed one. The seat is positioned at 27.3 inches from the ground, but this bike is five inches longer than the Harleys so it looks just as harmonized. An “S” version of the Raider is also available and that would stand out thanks to the multitude of chromed features.
Visually, you can’t get enough of the Rocker as it offers authentic hard-tail chopper style with innovative ideas that could only be produced by Harley-Davidson. The Rockertail rear section mounts a wide fender directly to the swing arm, just an inch over a big 240 mm x 18-inch rear tire. The Rocker rear fender and wheel move in unison as the Rockertail glides through 3.4 inches of rear suspension travel. A new monochromatic silver stainless steel powder-coated paint scheme highlights the custom look. The solo seat is just 24.5 inches off the ground –among the lowest seat height of any motorcycle on the market today. The stop and tail lamp functions are integrated with the rear turn indicators, eliminating the need for the traditional tail lamp on the rear fender.
Color options for the base model are Vivid Black, Flame Blue Pearl (New), Black Denim and Crimson Red Sunglo.
As the chrome-laden version of the Rocker, the Rocker C features an industry-first Trick seat design, which hides a passenger pillion and struts under the solo seat. Simply lift off the solo seat and the passenger pillion folds out over the Rockertail rear section for surprisingly comfortable two-up riding. Many components are chrome plated, including the headlamp, the handlebar riser, the fork lowers, and the tank console and speedometer. The finned aluminum oil tank, frame and swing arm are color-matched to the sheet metal, which features flame graphics.
Apart from the Black Denim, color options are exactly the same so don’t suppose that you’ll be distinguishing the bikes by color, at least not entirely.
Price is a good thing to start with if planning to make a clear distinction between these two low rides as the 2009 Harley-Davidson Rocker starts at $17,399 and the Rocker C at $19,499. But look at the full half here; at least no competitor will match that.
Although fairly expensive, the Harley-Davidson Rockers remain two exciting models and plan on leading their category long time from now on. I’m actually starting to thing that I should have compared the two with veritable customs just so that we show the excellent build quality and finesse, but conclude by saying: “the heck, this is Harley-Davidson; people know exactly what they’re buying”.
Engine and Transmission
Displacement: 96.00 cu. in.
Engine: Air-cooled, Twin Cam 96B
Bore x Stroke: 3.75 in. x 4.38 in.
Engine Torque: 87.90 ft lbs @ 2750 rpm
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Miles per Gallon: 54 hwy / 35 city
Primary Drive: Chain, 34/46 ratio
Gear Ratio (overall)
Chassis and Dimensions
Brakes: 4-piston front and 2-piston rear
Parking Brake: N/A
Lean Angle (per SAEJ1168): 29.5° / 32.5°
Exhaust System: Chrome, staggered shorty exhaust w/ dual mufflers
Front Wheel: Painted, 5-Spoke Cast Aluminum ; Polished, 5-Spoke Cast Aluminum - Rocker C
Rear Wheel: Painted, 5-Spoke Cast Aluminum ; Polished, 5-Spoke Cast Aluminum - Rocker C
Wheel Option: N/A
Front Tire: 90/90-R19 52H
Rear Tire: 240/40-R18 79V
Length: 95.0 in.
Seat Height: 24.5 in. (laden) / 26.2 in. (unladen) ; 25.2 in. (laden) / 27.4 in. (unladen) - Rocker C
Ground Clearance: 5.10 in.
Rake Steering Head/Trail: 36.0° / 6.20 in.
Wheelbase: 69.2 in.
Track Width: N/A
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal.
Oil Capacity: 3.5 qt.
Dry Weight: 660.9 lbs. ; 686.3 lbs. - Rocker C
Running Order: 690.7 lbs. ; 720.6 lbs. - Rocker C
Instruments: Tank-mounted electronic speedometer with odometer, time-of-day clock on odometer, dual tripmeter, fuel gauge with low fuel warning light and countdown feature, low oil pressure indicator light, engine diagnostics readout, LED indicator lights, 6-speed indicator light
Indicator Lamps: High beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, security system6 (optional), 6-speed, low fuel warnings
FXCW Rocker features
FXCWC Rocker C features
Independent V-Bar handlebar on five-inch curved risers