Top Speed Buying Guide To The 2019 Harley-Davidson Lineup
2019 Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Explainedby TJ Hinton, on
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
|Street 500||$6,899||494 cc|
|Street 750||$7,599||749 cc|
|Street Rod||$8,699||749 cc|
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.
|1200 Custom||$10,999||1,202 cc|
|Forty Eight Special||$11,299||1,202 cc|
|Iron 883||$8,999||883 cc|
|Iron 1200||$9,999||1,202 cc|
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.
|Breakout||$19,049||1,746 cc or 1,868 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’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.
|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|
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.
|Tri Glide Ultra||$36,099||1,868 cc|
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.
|CVO Limited||$43,889||1,923 cc|
|CVO Street Glide||$40,889||1,923 cc|
|CVO Road Glide||$42,339||1,923 cc|
Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom
See our review of the Harley-Davidson 1200 Custom.
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Breakout.
Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
See our review of the Harley-Davidson CVO Limited.
Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide
See our review of the Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide.
Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide
See our review of the Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide.
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe.
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard.
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic.
Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob.
Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy.
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight.
Harley-Davidson Forty Eight Special
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight Special.
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Freewheeler.
Harley-Davidson FXDR 114
See our review of the Harley-Davidson FXDR 114.
Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic.
Harley-Davidson Iron 883
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Iron 883.
Harley-Davidson Iron 1200
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Iron 1200.
Harley-Davidson Low Rider
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Low Rider.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide/ Road Glide Special
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Road Glide/ Road Glide Special.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra
Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special.
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Roadster.
Harley-Davidson Softail Slim
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Softail Slim.
Harley-Davidson Sport Glide
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Sport Glide.
Harley-Davidson Street 500 / 750
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street 500 / 750.
Harley-Davidson Street Bob
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Bob.
Harley-Davidson Street Glide
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Glide.
Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special.
Harley-Davidson Street Rod
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Rod.
See our review of the Harley-Davidson SuperLow.
Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra.
Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited / Ultra Limited Low
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited / Ultra Limited Low.
Read more Harley-Davidson news.