2011 Harley-Davidson FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic Road Test Rider Magazine

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Harley-Davidson FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic
Harley-Davidson FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic

2011 Harley-Davidson FLSTC Softail Classic Road Tour

Clement Salvadori

7, 2011

story and photography by Salvadori

[This 2011 FLSTC Heritage Softail Road Test was originally as a Tour Test in the April issue of Rider magazine]

is doing well, its 96 cubic knocking out more than power to take me over Laguna Summit at a leisurely 75 This bike has bags of when Harley-Davidson elected to the 88 into a 96, it wasn’t interested in but real grunt. Which is riding Harley Big Twins is all

A Softail don’t need no tachometer.

The highway dips, goes up to the Crestwood Summit at followed by a 30-mile descent to almost 4,000 feet the mountain. But I’m turning off after 15 where a big green exit reads In-Ko-Pah Park and a small brown sign, an historical site, says View Tower.

I shift down from sixth to gear, exiting on to a small that is badly in need of Understandable, since this is the old that was bypassed in 1967. At the end of the is the tower, which will me a preview of what I am going to see the next couple of days.

The View Tower, built as a stop in the 1920s, allowed travelers to cool their eastbound to see where they going.

The old stone tower, in the 1920s, sits some feet above the Colorado and I’ve just whacked my on a low bit of ceiling while climbing up the flights of curved stairs to the Only a little blood. the top the view to the east is stunning, touch of haze being in the I can’t quite make out the of Yuma, Arizona, almost a miles away, but the yellow of the Algodones Dunes is clearly

As are the Chocolate Mountains and the Salton

I should point out that the Desert is not in Colorado, but in southeastern its name coming from the River. I’m getting to this low the easy way, via Interstate 8 San Diego, over the Laguna The entrepreneur who built the tower every traveler would to stop and either see where had just come from, or they were going desert covering more 10,000 square miles.

The third is home to Anza-Borrego State Park, the middle has the Sea and fertile land in the Coachella and valleys, while the east the Chocolate Mountains, the Algodones and the west bank of the Colorado About 1,000 square of the Chocolate Mountains constitute a Navy bombing and shoot ’em up and are definitely off-limits; lots of ordinance in there.

I’m riding a Heritage Softail. The traveling may ask, is this a genuine motorcycle? You bet it is. What does it to qualify for touring?

Some protection and carrying capacity, to with, and this bike has a and saddlebags. And comfort. That big sporting Harley’s infamous can” covers, gives 5 of travel, and the twin shock beneath the engine allow 4.3 of travel for the rear wheel.

a well-padded saddle, with a backrest as standard.

Sumptuous? No. For you’ll want an Electra Ultra. Anyone wanting to cool while heading up to or down to Day­tona will choose this model. is the 25th anniversary of the Heritage first appearing in 1986.

A of a century! Long time. The was designed as a retro, which has a buzz-word in recent years, many manufacturers offering bikes.

Heck, Harley Big have looked retro for a century; that’s their selling point. The Softail back to the original Hydra-Glide appeared in 1949, when the dropped the girders and put on the telescoping Rear suspension was limited to a post on the seat; the Softail’s work much better.

These have threaded and I leave them as the press sent them, right in the

Not many of the boys and girls who rode those Hydra-Glides they were new are still but the model was a myth-maker. A lot of people the girder-forked Knucklehead is the real it certainly is at auctions—but the Hydra was the machine, with the beginnings of a suspension, and a better motor hydraulic valve lifters.

The advertises a lean angle of 25 which is sufficient for any riding adheres to the posted speed

The editor called up to say he had this to test, and would I be interested? yes. In 1984 I rode the Softail out to the Aspencade Rally in New (which metamorphosed into New Americade Rally) and liked it, my real complaint being the unbalanced engine—which kept me getting any speeding tickets, so it wasn’t all bad.

Since I’ve ridden a bunch of and was very happy when introduced the 88B version back in with a pair of chain-driven weights smoothing the engine out The 96B is just as smooth. The two weights are from the crank, effectively out any primary vibration.

Look at a Big Twin at idle, and it shakes a paint mixer, though the is isolated. In a Softail, the engine sits quite still. types may grouse about the of vibration, but most of us are quite having our backbone discs in place.

Throw a leg over the turn the ignition switch on and immediate fire in the holes. The does have the Smart System installed, but it has not been since moto-journalists have known to lose the fob that be close by for the engine to start. the button, cold or hot, the box and fuel injection set the engine to a idle. Clutch pull is light, something that has been working on for some and done well.

Shifting into first is a noisy affair, but so goes the Big

The heel-and-toe shifter moves the gearbox along nicely, a little green light on the showing when sixth is Should I want to know speed the engine is turning and in gear, up on the left handlebar a new switch does all that. It down for horn, up for a selection of total mileage, two tripmeters, a range to empty and gear/rpm.

appear on a small LCD display at the of the tank-mounted speedometer, and are not easily but do the job. At 60 mph in sixth gear the is turning 2,220 rpm. And the rev cuts the power to one of the cylinders at rpm.

The Salton Sea, 270 below sea level, has been by chemical run-off from fields, and nothing grows on the but scrub brush.

Those 96 put out a lot of energy, and working with the the Softie will really off. The factory says the puts out 92 lb-ft of torque at rpm, but has chosen not to release figures; rear-wheel dynos put the in the high 60s. If you want to try for times, get Harley’s V-Rod, but if you are for a pleasant ride on the byway or the this is the bike for you.

news for the 2011 Softails is the braking system, available on model family for the first Big Twin riders generally do not sensitive brakes, and are happy to the lever or pedal a good pull or push. The ABS makes that a size 13 coming hard on the pedal, or a ferocious on the brake lever, won’t up a wheel and cause a lowside.

The front and rear systems are not and while most riders probably never have to use of the ABS, it is really cheap against falling down. an option every rider consider, and comes combined the Smart Security System for

Harley-Davidson FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic

Boulder Park, where an engineer carved animals the rocks in the 1930s.

Leaving the we roll downhill to the Ocotillo then climb a little and east along county S2 and S22 to get to the Montezuma Grade—a great road twisting down than 2,000 feet the town of Borrego Springs. I want to admire the views I From Borrego Springs it is 30 east to the Salton Sea, the surface is 220 feet below sea level.

There was no Salton Sea until 1905, when a being constructed to bring from the Colorado River to the Valley failed, and for two years the flowed into the trough. since this sea has no outlet, no of draining, it has gotten a bit rancid the last century.

Turning on CA 86 I head for the border city of having left my passport at have no interest in going Mexico. Just a quiet in town.

In the morning we cruise along the border on CA 98 until the merges with I-8, 10 miles later at the Buttercup OHV in the Algodones Dunes. Here the dunes are six miles wide, and impassable by early automobiles; in a Model T needed the help of at four horses to get through. The year tens of thousands of planks were used to a firm, movable surface, and for 12 the Plank Road was how cars it over the dunes, until devised a mixture of concrete and that could be used for a that was laid in 1926.

Doing a turnaround at the Colorado I head back west on to take the CA 115 exit up to Calipatria and the town of Niland, where Street takes me out to Slab an example of workable anarchy. The once a Marine Corps was vacated after World War II, nothing but hundreds of concrete A few folk migrated there to in trailers and made-over buses, because they liked the others because they have much money.

In the hundreds of snow-birders set up housekeeping as

Knight has used something 100,000 gallons of paint on his work, Salvation Mountain..

At the to The Slab is Salvation Mountain, a painted hillside dedicated to and God. Artist Leonard arrived here one day in 1983, and his car wouldn’t start, he stayed. And has working on his project ever He estimates he’s gone more than 100,000 of paint.

Not many Harleys out at City, but a lot of lightweight motorbikes and that the snow-birders carry them.

The Softie is already a bit dusty. So be it when out traveling. you want to cruise Main on Saturday evening, she does up real good.

I have the pearl blue and vivid version, which requires an $695 bucks over the black $16,999 model. is much chrome to keep from the wheels to the old-look oil tank and the dual exhaust Wheels are spoked, as nostalgia and thus also require much fun with a flat on a with no centerstand.

The windscreen on and off in seconds, since it provides protection for the highway, not so cool cruising the drive-ins looking at the waitresses on roller skates. The and the bags have lots of in the leather, and even half a conchos with decorative ties. One complaint about the they are attached to the frame nuts and bolts, and sticking the bags are the ends of the bolts will scuff up anything comes in contact over a ride…they should be reversed.

Leaving Niland I ride the east side of the Salton a very desolate shoreline—nothing is no houses, no trees. The chemical from agriculture has effectively the water, and few people want to in Bombay Beach, a long-ago at a resort. At the north end of the sea, at is a booming date-palm business—though now the business is in selling trees for rather than in dates.

To the Colorado Desert a final stretch of pavement goes Mecca, at 180 feet below sea through Box Canyon Road and up feet to meet with 10. Low desert is done, high the Mojave, begins. But that’s for trip.

Palm Springs provide a clean bed, and and I can head home in the morning.

chapel sits on the Hill of in the Museum of History in Granite, in Felicity, California, a few miles the Colorado River.

2011 FLSTC Heritage Softail

Harley-Davidson FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic
Harley-Davidson FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic
Harley-Davidson FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic
Harley-Davidson FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic
Harley-Davidson FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic

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