The Switchback looks like it could be the Road King’s younger sibling, which is great since the King has been such a favorite among Harley enthusiasts. The proportions of the bike are just right with the saddlebags being about 25 percent smaller than a standard FLT saddlebag and a 4.7-gallon fuel tank instead of the 6-gallon tank found on the King. Even though the bags are smaller, I was surprised how much crap I was able to stuff into them (a jacket, a few shirts, a tool roll, and a camera in one bag alone) and by installing a sissybar/luggage rack and adding a large travel bag, I was able to carry enough gear with me for a two-week road trip.
I found the mini ape bars to suit my 5-foot-10-inch frame perfectly, they weren’t too high or so short that I felt aching in my shoulders or arms even after hundreds of miles in the saddle. Speaking of the saddle, the two-up seat was comfortable and conducive to long hauls, but aesthetically it was just too puffy for me. I like a seat that has a bit thinner profile and blends into the lines of the bike. I love floorboards for long distance travel and was glad to see Harley outfitted the Switchback with floorbaords. While many people like to add highway pegs to their bikes, I find that just by shifting my feet far forward or all the way back to the end of the floorboards, I can get enough movement in my legs to stay comfortable for 150-plus-mile stretches with ease. The windshield was nice to have but often times I found myself either slouching down or sitting straight up to avoid the top of the shield being in my line of sight. At times it was sort of annoying. But when the rain came I was thankful for the windshield. The addition of the new black five-spoke cast aluminum wheels (18-inch front/17-inch rear) are pretty cool and help give the bike some hot-rod style.
Versatility is where the Switchback really stands out. In less than 30 seconds it can be stripped of its saddlebags and windscreen and be ready to turn heads down the boulevard like a sleek and slender supermodel. Unlike the Touring models, which can be rather unsightly with the saddlebags removed with their exposed lower saddlebag supports, black shocks, and accompanying hardware, the engineers and designers wanted the Switchback to be just as sexy with the bags off as it is with the bags on. To accomplish this they came up with a three-point mounting system for the bags with two points at the fender strut and the third down towards the tail end of the fender. Similar to the docking points found with the detachable sissybar, tour-pak, and luggage racks, the mounting points are small and round which help them become almost unnoticeable with the bags off. And with the bags removed, the chromed cigar tubes over the rear shocks add to the classic hot-rod look.
Actually one of the main cosmetic differences between the Switchback and the Touring models is that the rear shocks are exposed, mounted in front of the saddlebags rather than hidden behind the saddlebags. Removing the bags is easy with a simple turn of the locking mechanism inside. As for the lids, they have a double-hook system to help keep them closed. Actually the latching method is a little different than the standard saddlebags and takes some getting used to before you become accustomed to opening or closing them. Just like the Road King, up front, the windscreen simply pops on and off with quick-detach mounting points. And while the headlight nacelle is a two-piece unit similar to that found on the Road King, instead of being split vertically like the RK, the Switchbacks nacelle is split horizontally. And to help cut weight, the nacelle is aluminum die cast rather than zinc die cast. The backside of the nacelle, features four holes (top and bottom on each side) exposing the bolts securing the fork legs to make it easier to remove/service the fork legs.
I was really pleased with the Switchback. I liked the aesthetics, performance, comfort, touring capabilities, and its stripped-down styling. If there were one major thing I would change about the bike it would be the windshield. Instead of the standard classic detachable windshield I would have preferred the more aggressive styling of the fairing/windshield found on the Dyna Super Glide T-Sport or some iteration of the mini fairing found in the P&A catalog in a quick-detach version. Other than that, I enjoyed my time with the Switchback and with a base price of $15,999 in Vivid Black, ($16,384 for Brilliant Silver Pearl, or Ember Red Sunglo) it’s a rather sweet deal for essentially two bikes in one. Best of all you can tell your friends you bought a bagger and got a Dyna for free, or vice-a-versa. HB