For 2017 The Motor Company’s introduction of the stunning new Milwaukee-Eight engines on the Touring and Trike models has grabbed the headlines and essentially sucked all the air out of the room for the other five OE model platforms in the line-up. That’s to be expected, naturally, since realizing the full impact of that new clean-sheet Big Twin mill, and keeping the eyes of the audience trained at the top of the chart requires keeping distractions elsewhere in the full roster to an absolute minimum.
At that they’ve certainly succeeded. Aside from new paint palettes and a few minor functional and optional tweaks to the pre-existing 2016 offerings, it’s pretty much crickets down-slate. (The CVOs, on the other hand, are a breed apart and perennially get some degree of special treatment.)
As is our tradition, however, we’ll take a look at exactly what—if anything—has changed in each family, starting with the newest, smallest, most economical and most foreign-market-friendly of the lot, the XG Street models.
Still consisting of two models, the Street 500 and Street 750, the platform now offers both optional ABS and optional Smart Security Systems on both displacements. Additionally, the Street 500 has added some paint options, and the Street 750 has added a pair of Deluxe paint schemes, as well as a new tank medallion on those with solid color treatments.
Also still numbering just two models, the Night Rod Special and V-Rod Muscle, the V-Rod offerings this year are unchanged save for the addition of some color and graphic options.
The collection of XL models numbers six for the new season, with the chopperesque XL 1200V Seventy-Two no longer available. The remaining bikes all now come stock with a battery tender harness affixed—a thoughtful upgrade that is also shared by both the Dyna and Softail families. The bargain-priced XL 883L Superlow now offers new paint options including the Company’s Hard Candy colors, as do the XL 883N Iron 883 and the XL 1200X Forty-Eight. The XL 1200C Sportster 1200 Custom offers some new Custom colors (but no Hard Candy, kids), and the same goes for the XL 1200T Superlow 1200T. The remaining Sporty, the XL 1200CX Roadster, is unchanged except for the aforementioned battery tender harness.
Following suit with the Sportsters, for 2017 the Dyna platform comes to market with fewer offerings, down one model from the six available in 2016. Missing from the stable is the FLD Switchback, the agile demi-tourer that held great promise but apparently failed to resonate with the consumer base.
Of the remaining machines, the FXDL Low Rider got the most attention, and now comes with a keyless ignition, a Smart Security System as standard equipment, and some Custom paint colors. It’s blacked-out sibling, the FXDLS Low Rider S, is unchanged, but already boasted the S.E. TC110 motor, ABS and Smart Security as standard goodies. The FXDWG returns likewise unchanged. The FXDB Street Bob now offers Hard Candy paint, and the FXDF Fat Bob comes in Custom colors.
In what’s looking like a trend, we’ve also lost a model from the Softail platform for 2017; the slammed FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo is no longer. That still leaves two Fat Boys, though, the FLSTF Fat Boy, which adds some color options, and the S.E. TC110B-powered FLSTFBS Fat Boy S which returns unchanged. The other S.E. TC110B model, the FLSS Softail Slim, remains unchanged as well, but the FLS Softail Slim adds some additional paint options. The flagship FLSTC offers some Custom colors now, and the FLSTN Softail Deluxe adds both Custom and Hard Candy options. The FXSB Breakout also offers Custom and Hard Candy treatments, and goes a step further with the addition of standard Smart Security, and striking new Gloss Black wheels with Machined Highlights for even more visual dazzle.
The Touring Family
As we mentioned at the beginning of this overview, all of the truly dramatic innovations for the new year have been lavished on the Touring models (though like the previous platforms we’ve covered it’s down a model, from 10 to nine. Say adios to the FLHTCU Ultra Classic Low). And those innovations start with that portentous new motor, the Milwaukee-Eight 107, an 8-valve, single cam, counter-balanced behemoth that’s as easy on the eyes as it is hard on the competition. Technical Editor Kip Woodring gets into the nitty gritty of the details in an accompanying article, so we won’t dwell on the specifics here. What we will dwell on, however, are the suspension component upgrades and heat management improvements that also highlight the platform makeover.
For starters, the Touring bikes now feature the highly-regarded Showa Dual Bending Valve technology (SDVB) that delivers the damping performance of racing-style cartridge forks, bringing both linear damping characteristics and reduced weight to the line-up. In the rear, new emulsion-technology shocks provide 15 to 30 percent more pre-load adjustment than the previous Touring units, and use a single hand-operated knob to dial in the pre-load without resorting to tools or air pumps, and once set there’s no leak down, and thus no further adjustment.
In the area of heat abatement, the rear exhaust and catalytic converter have been repositioned to keep things cooler for operator and passenger. A precision oil cooling system has also been added to those models that don’t utilize the Twin-Cooled version of the Milwaukee-Eight 107 (i.e., the FLHTK Ultra Limited, FLHTKL Ultra Limited Low, and FLTRU Road Glide Ultra).
The three Touring models mentioned above offer new Two Tone and Custom paint options, while the FLHXS Street Glide Special and FLTRXS Road Glide Special offer new Custom and Hard Candy options. And the FLHR Road King offers several new Two Tone, Custom and Hard Candy options. Paint offerings remain unchanged for the FLHTCU Electra Glide Ultra Classic, the FLHX Street Glide and the FLTRX Road Glide.
The Trike family gets in on the Milwaukee-Eight along with the Touring Family. They also enjoy the heat management upgrades of the breed and Custom color options. The full-boat FLHTCUTG is powered by the Twin-Cooled 107, while its stripped-down sibling, the FLRT Freewheeler, runs the standard 107 with the oil cooling feature.
Three Custom Vehicles Operations treatments are offered for 2017, the FLHXSE CVO Street Glide, FLHTHSE CVO Limited, and FXSE CVO Pro Street Breakout—all returning models from 2016. The fourth 2016 CVO, the Road Glide Ultra, has left the building. The CVO Street Glide and CVO Limited now run the wild new Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine, and are equipped with the new front and rear suspension components of the Touring bikes. To that they add a ventilator air intake design, new Screamin’ Eagle badging and inserts, and a bold Black Granite powder-coated engine finish. The CVO Pro Street Breakout hasn’t changed nearly as much, though it still packs a daunting list of cosmetic eye-poppers and pretty much the entire catalogue of operational amenities, just like the other 2017s. It’s a CVO family tradition, after all. What the Pro Street Breakout did get that’s new is a stunning Scorched Apple and Starfire Black color scheme adorned with hand-painted graphics. Nobody does paint and graphics like the Custom Vehicle Operations. That’s also a family tradition.