Story and Photos: T.O.M. (This Old Man)
I get it; of the 41 motorcycles in the 2016 Harley-Davidson line probably half aren’t for me. Not supposed to be and that’s why I’ve never even sat on a Street 500 or 750. My very first Harley-Davidson was a 1972 Harley-Aermacchi Sprint 350, a one-banger. A Sporty was next and then a 1985 Wide Glide. I don’t have to tell any of you all stupid sh*t I did on those bikes. Those days are long gone. As I returned last month’s 2016 Road King review bike to the Harley fleet center, there she was. Damn fine, I reminisced, perusing the sexy new Wide Glide. We had some good times she and I. Caressing her smooth 4.7 gallon tank longingly…I took her home. But alas, it became immediately evident that this spunky, tight little hot mess was no longer interested in me. I was a patched and pinned, leather vested assless chapped 70’s throwback and had become soft. I was no longer worthy of such sexy companionship in snarky, brash hyperbole, I relent to youth.
Paying homage to the Wide Glide’s legacy I headed to Seal Beach for a cruise downtown Main Street. In 1967 “Born Losers,” the first of the Billy Jack film series, was shot in Seal Beach and the Irisher Pub is a prominent location. Indian half-breed/Vietnam Vet, Billy Jack rescues a young woman from a vicious motorcycle gang that’s intimidating the residents into silence. Jack finds himself in trouble with the town’s racist police and the gang. Mod/Hippie bikers in black turtlenecks wear buttons with slogans: Support Sloppiness and LSD. The movie bombed at the box office.
Seal Beach is a good place for hippies or hipsters to stroll the pier and downtown shops. I can usually find free parking for motorcycles. Main Street is full of restaurants and bars buzzing with activity on weekends. On St. Patty’s Day, between the four Irish Pubs, O’Malley’s, Clancy’s, Hennessey’s and The Irisher, Main Street goes off the hook. The Seal Beach Pier was built in 1906 and became the heart of the “Jewel City” amusements resort. A roller coaster was shipped down from San Francisco and 50 giant lamps flashed changing colored rainbows on the water for night-time swimmers. In that era women beachgoers were required to wear stockings above the knee, but the girls at Seal Beach were just painting their legs. It was called the “Plague Spot” by outraged local clergy. The fourth longest Pier in California at 1,835 ft. was ripped apart by a storm in 1983. Local residents helped fund its repair and the Seal Beach pier retains a classic feel with vintage style lampposts. At this writing no restaurant has yet replaced the vacant Ruby’s at piers end. (Excerpted from Piers of the West Coast: traveled on Two Wheels, available at QuickThrottle.com).
I ruminate about the Wide Glides profound history. The FX series, (which stands for Factory Experiment) was conceived in 1971 as the Super Glide. Willie G. introduced the FXS Low Rider in 1977 and captured the cultural craze of low seat height and choppers style posture. The FXDWG Wide Glide came about in 1980. Now 26 years later this new Wide Glide emulates the paint scheme design of that very first release.
2016 Harley-Davidson Wide Glide FXDWG
I went online, read some marketing propaganda, talked to some young bucks and This Old Man compiled an “I Said/They Said” tongue and cheek review.
What T.O.M. Says (This Old Man): I am old, I am beat, but if you’re young and looking for a cool Born-Free retro vibe you found it with the new 2016 Harley-Davidson Wide Glide.
What They Say: Notice the powerful raked-out front end, chromed steel details and tricked-out wheels. There isn’t an ounce of doubt that you’re looking at a rolling sculpture. But there’s something bigger at work here than a mere visual statement. These are the motorcycles sprung from a long riding tradition, with a strong emphasis on the riding. Rebellious 70s choppers where the theme was riding hard and the only rule was nonconformity.
What T.O.M. Says: This bike looks “Bitchin!” (Very good, excellent; “cool“; “awesome“. Bitchin is a dated term believed to have originated in the surfer crowd of Southern California circa the 1960s-1970s.) At freeway speeds the Wide Glide’s skinny-assed wire laced 21” front tire catches all those rain grooves of the L.A. freeways and takes potholes like a hammer, riding hard is the only rule.
What They Say: Journey back far enough in the factory custom history of the Dyna family and you get to the machine that started the whole thing off. The current Dyna frame and its two-point engine isolation mounting system makes sure the power of 103 cubic inches of Twin Cam 103™ engine gets to the pavement. But the vibrations don’t get to the rider.
What T.O.M. Says: Definitely captures that exciting vibe of 60’s V-Twins. Good vibrations that will numb your feet and shake the mirrors into an acid flashback blur at highway speed.
What They Say: The Wide Glide® motorcycle features an internally wired 1 1/4-inch bar with tall risers. This beefy custom handlebar is truly reminiscent of a classic, old-school raked-out chopper. And with the wires buried in the steel, you get a clean, minimal look with nothing standing in your way. Handlebars designed to fight the fatigue of a long day in the wind.
What T.O.M. Says: The drag bars are cool but still too wide to get through the door of your cheap Rt. 66 motel room.
What They Say: Foot pegs and controls that hit your boots exactly where they ought to. The look is hard as nails.
What T.O.M. Says: Keeping with the authentic “hard as nails” retro feel, the paper thin seat and stiff as a rock, slammed 25.5 inch seat height are reminiscent of a chopped hardtail I sold to pay my chiropractor bills.
What They Say: A raked front end, with wide-set 49mm forks, is not simply a style treatment. Offset polished aluminum triple-clamps give the forks a two-degree advantage over the steering head, putting them out there at 34 degrees. Although the front end is long and raked, this is not a high-neck chopper, nor is it a low-down pro-street design. Placed precisely in-between, the Wide Glide escapes any odd handling characteristics, except when making tight turns at low speed.
What T.O.M. Says: Its 34 degree raked triple trees and chopper-like stance contribute to a wider turning radius than a 66 Cadillac, (hence the Wide in the Glide).
What They Say: With the custom forward-mount controls on the Wide Glide® model, you can kick back a little and stretch your legs for the ultimate cruise through town or across the state line. It’s time to take in the open road the way you were meant to on a two-wheeled machine that’s built to outdo the rest.
What T.O.M. Says: Far forward controls assure the heels of your $120 dollar Alpinestars Joey sneakers will be ground down to your socks after one day of carving the mountain twisties. Metal cleats suggested for protection, but the sparks look bitchin’.
What Law Enforcement Says: Flipping the adjustable license plate flat so you can speed through photo enforcement cameras at intersections is illegal.
What T.O.M. Says: Photo enforcement cameras are Illegal, and I love that feature!
Ok, enough of the brash hyperbole. The truth is, production choppers are dead (for this decade at least) and custom bikes cost fat cash. The Wide Glide offers a one of a kind vintage cool look and feel right out of the Milwaukee factory door. The Wide Glide, both in past and present incarnation, are consistently top sellers. The 2016 FXDWG pays homage to its predecessor yet embodies present technology. The Twin Cam 103 is an awesome power plant and with the weight to power ratio this Wide Glide kicks to 110 mph very quickly. The safety of standard ABS brakes confidently slows you down. That said, she’s not very fond of California freeways, tight parking lots or 50-year old spinal columns. For me, this sexy Wide Glide is a one night stand, not a long term relationship. For now, This Old Man will just reminisce about a spunky, tight little hot mess and the good ole days of hippy chicks and groovy trips. Dig?
2016 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide USA Specifications/Technical Details
Vivid Black $15,999
Two-Tone Option $16,749
Security Option $395
ABS Option Standard
Length 96.3 in.
Seat Height, Laden 7 25.5 in.
Seat Height, Unladen 7 26.8 in.
Ground Clearance 3.9 in.
Rake (steering head) (deg) 34
Trail 5.2 in.
Wheelbase 67.5 in.
Tires, Front Specification 80/90-21 54H
Tires, Rear Specification 180/60B17 75V
Fuel Capacity 4.7 gal.
Oil Capacity (w/filter) 3 qt.
Weight, As Shipped 650 lb.
Weight, In Running Order 683 lb.
Engine 1 High Output Air-cooled, Twin Cam 103™
Bore 3.875 in.
Stroke 4.374 in.
Displacement 103.1 cu in
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Fuel System 3 Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Six Speed Transmission
Exhaust Chrome, “Tommy Gun” 2-1-2 collector exhaust with dual mufflers
Wheels, Front Type 9 Black Steel Laced
Wheels, Rear Type Black Steel Laced
Brakes, Caliper Type 4-piston front and 2-piston torque-free floating rear
Engine Torque 2 99 ft-lb
Engine Torque (rpm) 3,000
Lean Angle, Right (deg.) 28.4
Lean Angle, Left (deg.) 31.9
Fuel Economy: Combined City/Hwy 42 mpg