2019 Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Explained

The Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Inc. (NYSE: HOG) is arguably the most famous American motorcycle manufacturer, recognized around the world as the trendsetter for the U.S. cruiser and tourbike market. Due to changing market demographics, H-D branches out into sportier street models and recently made the jump to adventure bike and EV sectors in a fight to survive within these rapidly evolving markets.

Harley-Davidson History

Why Is A Harley Called A Hog?
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The MoCo was officially founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, though the Davidson brothers designed and built a motor for their fishing boat before the official launch of the factory proper. H-D overcame significant domestic competition from myriad manufacturers, but in the lead up to the U.S. entry into World War II, the field had more or less narrowed to H-D and its longtime domestic foe, Indian Motorcycle company. The war drove the last nail into Indian’s coffin to leave H-D unopposed on U.S. soil before that defunct marque made its resurgence about six decades later. Meanwhile, Harley became the King of American Bikedom and is the only U.S. manufacturer to operate uninterrupted from its inception.

Harley-Davidson Model Names Decoded

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
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Harley’s model designations have gone through several evolutions to arrive where it is today, and the factory has even started to repurpose designators from discontinued models in order to name its newest units. Here’s the basics:

XL: Most agree it is short for eXperimental modeL, which is the official designator for the Sportster family. The “X” part is also used to denote models that use a narrow frame rather than the wide touring frame, but on midsize frames, the X means it has a narrow front fork.

FX: Originally, the FX was shorthand for the FXR frame that was phased out in the early ’90s in favor of the Dyna range which adopted the FX moniker as its own.

FLH/FLHT: Harley’s touring line that boasts the heavy tour frame and large-diameter, wide-set front forks. FLH models may or may not come with a large, old-school windshield, but the “T” rider indicates a full front fairing, hard bags and a Tour Pak (top case).

FXST/FLST: In the mid ’80s, H-D unleashed its Softail family that has a cleverly designed, triangular swingarm and hidden shocks to give the frame a look similar to that of the old rigid models while it delivers modern ride quality. The FX models carry the narrow front end while the FL models sport the fat-and-wide front end.

WG: Wide glide. This denotes a large tripletree that sets the small-diameter FX forks further apart than usual to give the bike a custom look.

P: Designator for police-specific models. Usually indicates an ignition module with a higher cut-out speed for greater performance, a beefed up alternator to power the extra equipment and typically, a solo saddle meant to be comfortable for long stretches of time.

LR: Low Rider. Models with this tag come with slammed seats and rear suspension to put the rider’s butt as close as possible to the tarmac.

VRSC: Harley’s recently-discontinued V-Rod musclebike line

CVO: Stands for Custom Vehicle Operations. It’s the top-shelf factory-custom division that turns out Harley’s most blinged-out models in unique paint schemes. They typically command the highest stickers.

Harley-Davidson Terminology

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
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Big-Twin: Designation given to the relatively large-displacement engines that are separate from their gearbox and connected to the transmission solely by the inner primary case. Dyna engines are a notable exception as the tranny actually bolts right up to the engine cases.

Sportster: Smaller streetbikes with an emphasis on handling and quickness out of the hole. Also refers to the style of engine in such models with the engine and transmission cases all in a common casting for a self-contained, all-in-one drivetrain.

Oil Bag: Oil tank/reservoir.

LiveWire: H-D’s new electric-bike effort. Due to hit showroom floors in time for the 2020 model year.

Pan America: The all-new adventure bike. Also scheduled for a near-future release.

Primary Drive: Chain, compensator and clutch that couples engine power to the transmission. It rides within its own case on the left side of Harley drivetrains and shares lube with the transmission on Sportster models, but is segregated from the engine/transmission oil on Big-Twin models.

Infotainment: The portmanteau made from the words “information” and “entertainment,” used by the MoCo to describe its top-shelf electronics. The Infotainment system double as an instrument repeater and navigation system along with a virtual jukebox and Bluetooth connectivity to network with your smartphone for hands-free communications. It has a touchscreen that works even with gloves on and in wet conditions.

Tour Pak: The factory’s name for its top case on the full-dresser touring models.

Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Models

Harley-Davidson Street

2017 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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The Street models – not to be confused with the Street Glide, which is a bagger model – is currently the smallest production bikes H-D produces. They borrow from the café racers of old for their overall panache and run a liquid-cooled, “Revolution X,” 60-degree V-twin powerplant in a sharp departure of the norm. So far, it’s available in a 500 (494cc) and a 750 (749 cc) “Street” model with an even-racier “Street Rod” version. Meant to serve the entry-level market and grab buyers who might otherwise be put off by the larger models.

ModelPriceDisplacement
Street 500 $6,899 494 cc
Street 750 $7,599 749 cc
Street Rod $8,699 749 cc

Harley-Davidson Sportser

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Roadster
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H-D’s Sportster line grew from the old K-model design to offer the riding public a sporty alternative to their heavy cruisers and tourers. Harley uses a one-piece engine/transmission drive unit for this line whose bikes include an 883 cc displacement and a 1,200 cc lump at the top end.

Traditionally Sportsters were tall bikes, but recent vintages have the saddle slung low enough for shorter riders as well as entry-level buyers. As a rule, Sportsters are quick out of the hole with strong bottom-end acceleration and nimble handling compared to their big brothers but tend to be governed to a slightly lower top speed at the ignition module. This line is more suitable for bar-hopping, grocery-getting, and just plain commuting moreso than the cruisers and tour bikes.

ModelPriceDisplacement
1200 Custom $10,999 1,202 cc
Forty-Eight $11,299 1,202 cc
Forty Eight Special $11,299 1,202 cc
Iron 883 $8,999 883 cc
Iron 1200 $9,999 1,202 cc
Roadster $11,299 1,202 cc
SuperLow $8,699 883 cc

Harley-Davidson Softail

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide
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H-D introduced the Softail model back in ’84, and recently revisited the chassis with a host of improvements in handling, comfort and weight. The factory bets heavily on its revamped faux-rigid frame as it has also discontinued its Dyna line and rolled certain models over into the Softail family.

Still fairly new, the chassis addresses the poor handling and lack of comfort associated with the original and is a lot kinder to ride. Plus, it looks really cool with its antique frame geometry and remains a popular platform for custom builders.

ModelPriceDisplacement
Breakout $19,049 1,746 cc or 1,868 cc
Deluxe $18,049 1,746 cc
Fat Bob $17,049 1,746 cc or 1,868 cc
Fat Boy $19,049 1,746 cc or 1,868 cc
FXDR 114 $21,349 1,868 cc
Heritage Classic $19,049 1,746 cc or 1,868 cc
Low Rider $15,049 1,746 cc
Softail Slim $15,949 1,746 cc
Sport Glide $18,649 1,746 cc
Street Bob $14,549 1,746 cc

Harley-Davidson Touring

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra
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Harley-Davidson’s FLH/FLHT/FLHR models are the big-boned, wide forked models built for long-distance comfort with ample dry storage and, usually, an Infotainment system with plenty of speaker wattage. Like the Sportster family, the touring machines display DNA traceable back through the decades. Of all of Harley’s products, the tourbikes arguably remain the truest to some of its pre-WWII designs. Batwing front fairings, windshields and hard-side bags are hallmarks of the line, though the FLH models shun the barn door in favor of a large touring windshield for rider protection.

ModelPriceDisplacement
Electra Glide Standard $18,999 1,746 cc
Electra Glide Ultra Classic $24,589 1,746 cc
Street Glide $21,289 1,746 cc
Street Glide Special $27,089 1,868 cc
Road Glide $21,589 1,746 cc
Road Glide Special $27,489 1,868 cc
Road Glide Ultra $27,689 1,868 cc
Road King $19,289 1,746 cc
Road King Special $23,089 1,868 cc
Ultra Limited $28,089 1,868 cc
Ultra Limited Low $28,089 1,868 cc

Harley-Davidson Trike

2019 Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra
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Trikes, as their devilishly clever name suggests, come with three wheels instead of just two. Harley-Davidson uses the old-school, two-in-back arrangement for its trike family and borrows from the FL line for the front suspension (and fairing on the Tri-Glide).

This year, Harley equipped its trike line with a traction-control feature to help combat some of the negative handling characteristics inherent with the design without switching to the Delta configuration (two up front) for stability. The Freewheeler is regarded as a stock drag bike since the wide, automotive-style rear tires deliver solid traction and put the max amount of torque to the tarmac to launch the machine out of the hole. This line is an excellent alternative for riders unwilling/unable to hold up a two-wheeler.

ModelPriceDisplacement
Freewheeler $28,099 1,868 cc
Tri Glide Ultra $36,099 1,868 cc

Harley-Davidson CVO

2019 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
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The Custom Vehicle Operations is Harley’s hand-crafted bike division that strives to put out showroom-customs for those who would like a custom machine, but don’t want the downtime and aggravation of building one piecemeal. The current line pulls from the FL line with a fixed/fork-mounted fairing bagger pair (Road Glide, Street Glide) and full-dresser model, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility that we’ll see a Softail or maybe even a Sportster model in the future. Best of all, the CVO line carries the largest production engine from the MoCo with a 117 cubic-inch Milwaukee-Eight powerplant on board.

The CVOs are also used as a test platform of sorts, and frequently the tech trickles down to the less-noble model families, so the line can be viewed as a portent of good things to come as well as a platform for all the little bits of bling from the accessory department.

ModelPriceDisplacement
CVO Limited $43,889 1,923 cc
CVO Street Glide $40,889 1,923 cc
CVO Road Glide $42,339 1,923 cc

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom

2015 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom.

Harley-Davidson Breakout

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Breakout
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Breakout.

Harley-Davidson CVO Limited

Top Speed Buying Guide To The 2019 Harley-Davidson Lineup
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson CVO Limited.

Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide

2019 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide.

Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide

2019 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide.

Harley-Davidson Deluxe

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe.

Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard

2019 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard.

Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic

2017 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob.

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy.

Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight.

Harley-Davidson Forty Eight Special

2018 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight Special
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight Special.

Harley-Davidson Freewheeler

2019 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Freewheeler.

Harley-Davidson FXDR 114

2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson FXDR 114.

Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic.

Harley-Davidson Iron 883

2016 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Iron 883
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Iron 883.

Harley-Davidson Iron 1200

2018 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Iron 1200.

Harley-Davidson Low Rider

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Low Rider
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Low Rider.

Harley-Davidson Road Glide/ Road Glide Special

2018 Harley-Davidson Road Glide / Road Glide Special
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Road Glide/ Road Glide Special.

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra
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Review Pending

Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special

Top Speed Buying Guide To The 2019 Harley-Davidson Lineup
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special.

Harley-Davidson Roadster

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Roadster
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Roadster.

Harley-Davidson Softail Slim

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Softail Slim.

Harley-Davidson Sport Glide

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Sport Glide.

Harley-Davidson Street 500 / 750

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street 500 / 750.

Harley-Davidson Street Bob

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Street Bob
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Bob.

Harley-Davidson Street Glide

2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide / Street Glide Special
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Glide.

Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

2019 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

2017 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Rod.

Harley-Davidson SuperLow

2015 - 2019 Harley-Davidson SuperLow
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson SuperLow.

Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra

2019 Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra.

Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited / Ultra Limited Low

2019 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited / Ultra Limited Low
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited / Ultra Limited Low.

Harley-Davidson

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Read more Harley-Davidson news.

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