Harley-Davidson Rocker C Ridden Hard

Suz: Harley-Davidson jacket, HCI helmet, Bongo boots. Jordan: Icon jacket/gloves, Fulmer helmet, Harley-Davidson boots.

When I first heard that Harley-Davidson was formulating a blueprint in the Milwaukee headquarters for a new version of the always-popular Softail, I knew that it had to be a big deal-so big that I had to get the scoop on the new production model called the Rocker C.

When I first laid eyes upon the Pacific Blue Pearl Deluxe color scheme the newbie had been adorned in, I didn't quite know how to react. I am so used to seeing black frames on stock Harleys that the color-matched blue frame was a breath of fresh air. A chromed-out version of the Rocker, the C's flashy bling accented the paint scheme and made it stand out. I studied the new components for a while. From the front wheel to the back portion of the seat, the lines of the bike are sleek and stylish, but then it just seems to cut off!

There are many interesting details that define the Rocker C. The brand-new cast aluminum, finned oil bag is definitely unique because other members of the Softail family utilize an oil tank made from sheetmetal and are generally finished in chrome-not so with the Rocker C. Speaking of tanks, Harley went with a five-gallon Deuce gas tank for the Rocker and Rocker C, except it has a recessed Bar and Shield logo on each side for a smoother flow with the gas tank. The Rockertail rear end was designed to make the Softail look more like a rigid-with the rear fender bolted directly to the swingarm, hugging the rear 240mm tire (the widest rear tire on a Softail to date) very closely. The Rockertail (swingarm section), which makes the Rocker and the Rocker C unique to the Softail family, helps hide the rear shock absorbers far underneath the bike. Other design elements on this new bike that caught my attention was that the wheels and the swingarm both feature elliptically shaped tubing, which to me comes out of left field, but it's definitely different. When cruising, the wheel/fender move together simultaneously and the C's rear suspension travel is smooth, providing comfort on some of the less than desirable riding conditions of the Southern California freeways.

Although the suspension tested nicely on bumpy roads, the seat felt a little awkward, as if I were sitting atop the bike rather than in the bike, if that makes sense. But the V-Bar handlebars on a 5-inch curved riser fit me nicely and compensated for the seating position. Even though the seat height of the Rocker C is 24.3 inches, it still felt as if my 5-foot, 10-inch frame was sitting high off the ground. However, in the turns the C handled very well due to its 5.1-inch ground clearance. Cornering was a breeze, and to me the 240 rear tire didn't really affect how the bike handled.

The industry first Trick solo seat is housed underneath the seat and is completely independent of the rear fender. The design is a good idea and minimalizes the overall rear-end of the bike. I had to put the Trick solo seat to the test so I strapped our copy editing chief, Suzanne Baldwin, on the back and took off down the road. It looks a lot smaller than some of the pillion pads I've seen; notice from the two-up riding shot how Suzanne is suspended in mid-air. "It wasn't very comfortable and I wanted something that made me feel more secure," Suzanne said. She also mentioned that she didn't like the fact that her helmet kept hitting mine due to the higher angled positioning of the Trick seat. She was a trooper, though, and smiled for the camera. However, I've talked to some Rocker C owners that like the fact that their passengers (in this case, women) held on even tighter because they were suspended in the air, so to each his own, I guess. The Trick seat works fine for around town cruising, but steer clear when traveling long distances.

The 96-inch Twin Cam has proven that its power is there on other bikes I've ridden, and it's no different in the case of the Rocker C. Pull back on the throttle and the torque from the motor pulls away from the line effortlessly.

Overall, I liked the bike. Did I love it? No. But I was pleased with the fact that Harley took a risk with this unparalleled design. And with the design of a new bike model comes the opportunity to improve on less-than-desirable features for next year's model. I'm curious to see how the '09 Rocker C looks, and if they've made any changes to the Trick solo seat design. Overall, I enjoyed this bike and I am excited to see what Harley will release to the masses in the coming year.

Overall, I liked the bike. Did I love it? No. But I was pleased with the fact that Harley took a risk with this unparalleled design. And with the design of a new bike model comes the opportunity to improve on less-than-desirable features for next year's model. I'm curious to see how the '09 Rocker C looks, and if they've made any changes to the Trick solo seat design. Overall, I enjoyed this bike and I am excited to see what Harley will release to the masses in the coming year.

MODEL H-D (FXCWC) Rocker C
ENGINE/DISPLACEMENT Twin Cam B/96ci
INDUCTION Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
PRIMARY DRIVE Chain 34/46 ratio
CLUTCH 9-Plate, Wet
TRANSMISSION 6-speed Cruise Drive
FINAL DRIVE Belt, 32/66 ratio
FRONT BRAKE 4-piston caliper, 11.5-inch rotor
REAR BRAKE 2-piston caliper, 11.5-inch rotor
FRONT WHEEL/SIZE Polished 5-spoke cast aluminum/19x2.15
REAR WHEEL/SIZE Polished 5-spoke cast aluminum/18x8
FRONT TIRE/SIZE {{{90}}}/90/19
REAR TIRES/SIZE {{{240}}}/40R/18
FRAME RAKE 36.5 degrees
FUEL TANK 5 Gallons
SEAT HEIGHT 24.3 Inches
MSRP $19,495