Rearview Mirror: Mighty fine in 1999

By Kip Woodring

The world

• The world’s population exceeds six billion… get off my foot.
• The Euro is introduced as common currency in the European Union… make you yen for a buck?
• Boris Yeltsin is replaced by Vladimir Putin… and they said it couldn’t last.
• Millennium celebrations begin… never mind that the Millennium begins in 2001. Might as well start early!

The nation

• Ford buys Volvo… boredom taken to new heights.
• SpongeBob SquarePants premieres… and the rest is… ah… soggy!
• Everyone worries that computers will crash permanently and civilization with it—the Millennium Mortification.
• Harley-Davidson starts selling the Twin Cam 88 and resuscitates the FXR as the first CVO bikes… the FXR II and III.

The factory

Musta been interesting manufacturing two different Big Twin engines, the Evolution and… yup!… the Twin Cam 88, while ramping up production to 170,000 motorcycles! There was also the debut of the all-black FXDX (a.k.a. Dyna Sport) in figure 1. Plus the new Buell with a “hybrid” chassis (figure 2)… the X1. The Buell was the first fuel-injected X-engine but didn’t use the Harley (Marelli) system. Instead they tried Walbro, not without some weird mapping issues initially.

Figure 1
Figure 2

On the surface

The model line-up was looking pretty complete, with six Sportsters, six Evo Softails, five Dynas, four baggers and one Buell sportbike. Notable is the fact that this year marked the last of the solid-mount Evo Big Twins, in the form of the Evo Softail. It was also the last year (except on Springers) for the “single-pot” disc brake design (figure 3) that had served since 1984.

Figure 3

The inside story

There was a “service kit” (#27365-98) introduced in May of ’99 intended to fix the lean running/surging issues in Dyna Glide and Softail models, caused by EPA-mandated lean air/fuel ratios. Buell contributed 3,544 X1 Lightnings to the bottom line. There was a new version of the big tank-mounted speedometer on Softails and dressers, to allow for on-board diagnostics. Blah, blah, blah!

But, what blew everyone’s skirt up in an otherwise unremarkable model year was the mysterious appearance of the FXR… two of ’em (figures 4, 5)… back from the dead. Speculation was rampant as to why the Motor Company would take this kind of detour through a mechanical “zombie apocalypse,” since production still wasn’t meeting demand. Several theories took hold. First, they wanted to use up all the surplus pieces in the P&A catalog. Second, they wanted to prove to the burgeoning “clone” market, that… at will… Harley could build low-volume custom motorcycles better than the aftermarket offerings. Third, fans of the FXR within the Motor Company realized this was the last hurrah, because after 1999 Evo production would cease and the TC88 wouldn’t fit in the FXR frame without butchering it. So, tool up a few frames, drop in the engines and gussy up the rest of the bike, to give the engineer’s “favorite” one last encore. Regardless of motive, it worked well enough to have CVO models ever since! Kinda “win-win” in hindsight! Although it’s a bit extensive… since the photos (figures 4, 5, and 6) hereabouts aren’t a sufficient tribute… here’s the list of special items.

Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6

The FXR 2

• Chrome Oval Bar & Shield Billet-Style Mirrors
• Chrome Handlebar
• Custom Handlebar Clamp
• Chrome Handlebar Switch Housings
• Chrome Master Cylinder Cover
• Chrome Hand Control Levers
• Chrome and Rubber Horizontal Handlebar Grips—Large
• Billet Foot Pegs, Wide Band, Small Diameter (3 pair)
• Billet Shifter Peg, Wide Band Small Diameter
• Chrome Lower Fork Sliders
• Chrome 21″ Laced Front Wheel Assembly Unsealed Bearings
• Chrome 16″ Slotted Rear Wheel Assembly Unsealed Bearings
• Chrome Front Axle Nut Covers
• Pyramid Axle Adjusters
• Stainless Steel Braided Brake Line, Front and Rear
• Chrome Floating Brake Disc, Front & Rear
• Harley-Davidson Caliper Insert, 1 3/4″ Diameter
• Harley-Davidson Caliper Insert, 1 3/8″ Diameter
• Chrome Belt Sprocket Cover
• Chrome Plated Swingarm (seriously!)
• Badlander Custom Seat
• Chrome Mini Rail Upright, Passenger Backrest Pad
• Chrome Mini-Rail Sissy Bar Upright
• Chrome Sissy Bar Side Plates
• Detachable Seat Hardware
• Chrome Instrument Housing
• Chrome Fuel Tank Trim Panel
• Classic Chrome Head Bolt Covers
• Classic Chrome Spark Plug Covers
• Chrome Carburetor Top Cover
• Chrome Dome Timer Cover
• Chrome Voltage Regulator
• Chrome License Plate Bracket
• Flat-lens turn signals, front and rear
• Profile Low Rear Suspension

The FXR 3 includes the FXR 2 standard accessory list plus these additional accessories:

• New Custom Front Fender
• New Custom Side Covers
• Two-tone Paint With Flames
• Chrome 19″ ThunderStar Five-Spoke Cast Front Wheel Assembly
• Chrome 16″ ThunderStar Five-Spoke Cast Rear Wheel Assembly
• Chrome Thunderstar 5-spoke Rear Belt Sprocket
• Chrome Floating Brake Disc Front and Rear To Match ThunderStar Wheel Assembly
• Chrome Rear Brake Pedal
• Chrome Upper and Lower Triple Tree Clamps
• New Custom Style Seat (FXR3 Seat)
• Short Rail Upright Passenger Backrest

Whew!

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