2008 Harley-Davidson FXCW Softail Rocker test

3 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2008 Harley-Davidson FXCW Softail Rocker test
Harley-Davidson FXCW Rocker Classic

2008 Harley-Davidson Softail Rocker launch NYC-I’m a Rocker!

I’m a rocker, I’m a roller-I’m a right out of controller (Bon Scott-1976)! Harley-Davidson has pulled out all the stops to create a highly customised standard Softail model. Meet the Rocker!

Words: Tor Sagen/Photography: Paul Barshon

How do you take the range of Softail models further Harley-Davidson asked? In a world of increasingly cruiser custom perfection the Rocker frankly stands out as something special.

The rear fender is as clean as any rear fender can be and Harley-Davidson has engineered some new solutions to accommodate this design. Such as a built in integrated pillion seat under the riders seat. It works more as a emergency seat as it’s very thin with minimal padding to save space. But the operation of installing it and tuck it away is very easy. Some clever engineering work went into the rear fender itself too to make sure it almost hugs the rear wheel for a unsurpassed custom look.

At the press conference in NYC Greg Winson told us that the fender regularly has to withstand 10G’s due to the mounting directly on the new swinging arm. Clever stuff to design the very sought after custom look. And we think Harley has achieved this in a more than satisfactory way.

Then you have the raked out fork with stretched handlebars made out of two bolt on handlebars to enable further customisation should you wish to. The standard Rocker comes in a matted finish that is a lot more understated than the C for Custom model.

For such a motorcycle nothing less than a New York City launch was good enough. From the sky terrace at the chic Hudson hotel I am writing this. Riding the Rocker through the hustling and bustling Manhattan broadways felt much less intimidating than one would have thought. I enjoyed the ride from the moment we rolled out of Central Park and all the way downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge.

No effort was needed to cruise gently past yellow cabs and the tourist busses past famous landmarks such as Times Square and the Empire state building As you might understand I am really enjoying myself in the seat of the Rocker C on my first two-wheel experience in NYC. Both London and Paris are more stressful to ride through and the pace is much more relaxed than I had expected from this busiest of cities.

But the fun stops when we enter standstill traffic through the city tunnel that leads to Ground Zero. Here I am on board an American icon riding past the site where more than 3000 people met their involuntarily and horrific fate. It gives me the chills passing the site reminding me of the TV reports from NYC 9/11.

From the top of another skyscraper I take a break writing glancing over at the Empire state building standing there in all its grace.

After a gruelling 20 minutes in a glowing hot fuming tunnel I can breathe fresh air again, if you can call Manhattan air fresh that is. The 96 cubic inch Twin Cam has heated my left leg uncomfortably for a while and I’m now more than happy to let it stretch out a bit in higher gears on the New Jersey side. Then we visit Ellis Island for a typical New York packed lunch where cheese and ham portions are as generous as the Fat Bob’s front tyre.

The air is a bit hazy after rain last night, but in the distance I spot the statue of Liberty on Liberty Island and put my left arm in the air mimicking the French goddess. I feel free as a Rocker riding the Rocker but the ride is rather civilised contrasting the name a bit. The rear wheel rocks gently up and down with a slow motion rebound damping that leaves me with no doubt whatsoever what bike I’m on.

The Rocker rides differently than any other Harley and following another Rocker it just looks as badass as Harley-Davidson designer Doug Clarkson intended it to be.

Later in the afternoon the weather was mixed between torrential showers and sparkling sunshine. Even though I got wet, I dried up quickly in the following sunshine. The Rocker is no bike to enjoy when it rains, but it did behave as I carefully guided the front wheel through the bends on the way to Princeton in Pennsylvania. The Rocker version of the 1584cc Twin Cam V-twin is tuned for low down torque response and I got a good push out of each bend.

Revving the air-cooled big twin is a bit pointless and here it differs quite significantly from the other brand new Harley this year, the Fat Bob. I personally preferred the raw acceleration of the Fat Bob, but listening to the engine sound I can see what Harley has been aiming at. Hardly any buyer of the Rocker will leave the engine and exhaust untouched and there are some sounds and crackles that are begging for some freedom of speech.

A Rocker never had problems speaking his mind straight from the heart, or rather bollocks sometimes too. “I’m a wicked woman stealer, I’m a bruiser, I’m a cruiser-I’m a rockin’ rollin’ man (Bon Scott-1976). I am your main man if you’re looking for trouble-She just looked at me and rolled them big eyes and said: “Ooh, I’d do anything for you ‘cause you’re a rocker!” (Phil Lynnot-1975) I’m a rocker; I thought to myself whilst standing up and giving the photographer some attitude.

Harley-Davidson FXCW Rocker Classic
Harley-Davidson FXCW Rocker Classic

Looking at the Rocker it doesn’t look like something that would handle bends as the first priority. However, the Rocker rocks through the bends much easier than I first thought. Despite the raked out fork the feedback from the front and traction is surprisingly good.

The seating position is leaned back slightly hanging off the stretched handlebars. The view from the seat reminds me a little bit of a V-rod, but that’s where the resemblance ends.

Rocker C is just the same as the standard Rocker, but with a pull-out seat, a lot more chrome and plush paint job.


AC/DC’s late front man Bon Scott sang I’m a right out of controller on the Rocker in 1976. The case is quite different for the Harley-Davidson Rocker. Everything stays in place and the rider is always in control. However, I did perhaps feel a little bit like stealing a woman and head off into the sunset on the Rocker.

The Ikea’ish pillion seat works great even without instructions and the last operation you do is to pull the safety pin designed like the ones you’d find on a hand grenade! The ignition key box is also designed to look like a hand grenade. So I guess my final word should be that the Rocker simply rocks!

Rockin’ style that works

Integrated tuck away pillion seat (on C. )

The Twin Cam 96 is always a plus

Ergonomics will make you scream like Bon Scott after a few motorway miles

Harley-Davidson FXCW Rocker Classic
Harley-Davidson FXCW Rocker Classic
Harley-Davidson FXCW Rocker Classic
Harley-Davidson FXCW Rocker Classic
Harley-Davidson FXCW Rocker Classic
Harley-Davidson FXCW Rocker Classic
Harley-Davidson FXCW Rocker Classic

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