Carson, Calif., Dec. 4—This year in addition to the bike roll-outs, Harley-Davidson held a separate presentation of their Parts & Accessories and invited THUNDER PRESS to check out the accessories and FXRG (Functional Riding Gear) products that increase comfort—with style—and enhance the riding experience for both rider and passenger. Factory representatives from PR, P&A, and MotorClothes explained how the VOC (Voice of the Customer) is encouraged, considered and incorporated into developing new products or improving existing ones that eventually make it to market with “Fit, Finish, and Quality” integrated across the board. New products are then introduced to H-D dealers and customer demo programs for real-time testing.
FXRG Triple Vent System Switchback Jacket
This jacket is available in leather or 500 Denier Nylon. I couldn’t get a final tally on the total zipper count but each sleeve had at least three—that I saw. I watched in awe as the 5-in-1 jacket was fully disassembled for all-season, year-round riding using the multi-layer system with a removable thermal reflective warmth layer and wind-and-waterproof liner that, when paired with open/closed vents, creates a jacket with maximum, all-season versatility. In case you get confused, the zippers are color-coded! With strategically placed 3M Scotchlite reflective graphics, padded shoulders and elbows with CE-approved body armor, removable kidney belt, waterproof pockets but no kitchen sink, you’ll spend hours discovering all its nooks and crannies. Designate only one pocket for your keys for an expedited exit.
Plug-In 12-Volt Heated Gear Jacket Liner
The heated product line includes jacket, pants and gloves, but I tried out the liner—especially good for folks who have already invested in a jacket (such as my 37-year-old Cycle Queen). When people saw me decked out in full leather they often remarked, “That must keep you warm!” and I’d have to explain that, after 10 miles, you’re just wearing cold leather. And since you’re not actively moving and generating body warmth, ski apparel was also insufficient. That’s where heated clothing comes in!
The extendible cuff with thumb holes eliminates the side show of trying to reach up into a sleeve to yank down yet another layer and with a variable heat range, doesn’t incur the misery of removing a warm jacket to put on yet another layer, emulating the Michelin Man, waiting for lost body heat to return. The liner uses a 12-volt battery harness or—for dummies like me—an optional lithium battery so you don’t pull the bike over when dismounting or incur whiplash while tethered to the bike. The glove-friendly temperature control can be tucked away inside the liner or extended below the hem on the rider’s thigh for easy access. The battery kit allows the warmth to keep flowing even off the bike. In milder climates you could get away with just the liner with the option of heat if the day’s riding lasts past sunset.
It had rained the previous two days but no one was disappointed at a missed opportunity to test ride in actual rain! Waterproofed to Harley-Davidson’s standard of “60 mph without a windshield,” the Rain Gear has heat-treated tape over all seams and double-taped seams in critical, high-stress areas to better prevent leaking. The breathability rating is three times greater than before so you stay drier and comfortable longer. Visibility is enhanced with strategically placed 3M Scotchlite reflective graphics. A gutter protects the jacket zipper and the pants have a fire-resistant panel near the exhaust. The only disappointment as a tall woman? Heading straight for the men’s line for proper pants length.
Boom Audio Stage II: $249.95–$499.95
Whether you prefer the concert hall or a hard-rock stadium, you’ll never again lose a stoplight audio showdown with the car beside you or endure an earworm on long lonely stretches of highway. Boom Audio is an expanding product line, doubling locations to include saddlebags. Three-way speakers include a woofer, mid-range and tweeter to produce the clearest, loudest sound possible. The system is bi-amplified with 75 watts to the woofer and mid/tweeter combo for a total of 150 watts per speaker and all new equalizers for each combination of speakers. The speakers were developed specifically for H-D motorcycles to take advantage of speaker enclosures and positions. No rewiring is required: just plug and play.
Dyna Premium Ride Emulsion Shocks: $599.95
Skip this if you ride a hardtail or, like me, are accustomed to standing on foot pegs to ride out potholes. Having survived the chopper era that emphasized style over passenger comfort (anatomical disengagement from spinal nerves), I do believe the extra damping at bottom-out would be best appreciated by the passenger.
These rear shocks have a larger 36mm piston that provides a 100-percent increase in bump response capacity and a new urethane bumper for a softer feel when the shock bottoms out. A wider pre-load range allows for more load carrying capacity (how’s that holiday weight gain?). The nitrogen gas-charged high performance oil provides improved, confident handling performance and a plush ride. An internal valve stack provides superior damping for rider control on sharp turns.
Dyna Premium Ride Single Cartridge Front Fork Kit: $349.95
The new single-sided cartridge fork provides improved handling performance by keeping the tire in contact with the road. Damping is controlled by a piston and valve stack specifically developed to work with the rear shock. The cartridge allows reaction to rough roads and confidence in sweeping turns. The single-sided cartridge fork provides excellent bottoming resistance for improved handling under hard braking while the triple-rate spring and oil lock absorb bumps and reduce wheel hop.
Harley-Davidson’s investment in technology and research reflects their commitment to the customer’s investment of hard-earned money and loyalty. So no excuse for wimping out: you’re warm and dry, entertained, and the old lady ain’t bitchin’ ’bout her sore butt. Ride on!