The newest bike to grace the Harley-Davidson lineup is the 2012 Dyna Switchback.
Most people dread the end of summer with thoughts of returning back to work from vacation or heading back to school. For journalists in the American V-twin world the end of summer means the culmination of a year’s worth of anticipation is about to come to a head as Harley-Davidson holds its annual new model year press launch. And for 2012 we were presented with some of our favorite words: new models and more power.
The Switch is On
Dynas have gained quite a bit of popularity over the past few years with people eating up the Street Bob. For those who appreciate the performance and handling of the Dyna chassis but desire more in terms of long haul comfort and storage, Harley has released the new Switchback. Similar to the Softail Convertible with the ability to go from a touring rig complete with quick-detach saddlebags and windshield to a stripped-down cruiser in about one minute, the Switchback provides riders with a plethora of benefits. First there’s the aforementioned steady and smooth handling the Dyna platform provides. Outfitted with 41.3mm front forks with cartridge-style damping in the left fork and preload adjustable, 36mm nitrogen-charged monotube rear shocks with chromed cigar covers, the suspension provides just enough give in the rough to knock down bumps without being sloppy or too stiff. The frontend features a fully chromed headlight nacelle with chrome fork covers. Add to that the floorboards, lockable, sealed hard bags, and windshield and you’re essentially staring at a lighter, nimbler, and paired-down Road King.
Anniv. V-Rod MSRP $15,99.
With a dry weight of 696 pounds, the Switchback is about 80 pounds lighter than a Road King (775 pounds). And while the saddlebags are about 25 percent smaller than that of a standard-size hard bag, they aesthetically fit the proportions of the bike and can hold around 15 pounds of gear in each bag (about 5 pounds less than a standard bag) thanks to the three-point mounting system. The H-D designers and engineers wanted to keep the saddlebag mounting system clean and simple so that when the bags were removed the attachment points wouldn’t be obtrusive or unsightly. To achieve that they went with a three-point setup with two attachment points on the fender struts and one down at the bottom of the fender. The mounts are small and round, similar to the detachable docking hardware mounts we’re accustomed to. Other key features include stainless steel Mini Ape handlebars with chrome pullback risers, 4.7-gallon fuel tank, 2-into-1 exhaust, 103ci engine, and custom five-spoke wheels with highlighted rims (18-inch front, 17-inch rear). Actually the wheels are pretty cool and are akin to some old hot-rod wheel designs.
The Night Rod Special (below) is available in Vivid Black, Black Denim, or Sedona Orange and features many blacked-out parts. MSRP starts at $15,299.
The Night Rod Special (below) is available in Vivid Black, Black Denim, or Sedona Orange a
We were lucky enough to log several thousand miles on the new Switchback and without getting too deep (full road test to come in a upcoming issue) we will just say that we were extremely impressed with the ride and handling. The H-D engineers put a lot of research and design into the overall look and performance of this bike and it shows. Even with fully loaded saddlebags and a travel bag stuffed to the gills strapped to the passenger seat, the bike was solid from tire to tire in the corners, and the power of the 103 really pushed the mini bagger with ease. With its lightweight looks, ridability, and reasonable price tag (MSRP $15,999), Harley hopes the Switchback will appeal to a broad range of riders such as women, younger riders entering the Touring market, and aging baby boomers looking for a bike that’s lighter and easier to handle than a full-size touring bike. We think they just might be on to something with this one.