For 2012, H.D. has introduced yet another hard bagger model. This hard bagger however, is a member of the Dyna family rather than the FLH line. That means among other things that it’s about 100 lbs. lighter than a Road King. Yet it comes standard with the 103 motor as does the Road King this year. With a hundred pounds less bulk to move around, the Switchback is a quick cruiser. Less weight also means it’s easier to back out of the garage and very nimble handling at low or high speeds.
The seat height is a very low 26.1 inches off the ground and the riding position is more compact than the FLH models as well. Shorter riders may find the Switchback just perfect.
Harley didn’t just throw a set of hard bags and a windshield on your typical Dyna. Both front and rear full fenders have been added as well as a two into one exhaust. Tires and wheels are also exclusive to the Switchback. Up front there’s a 130-70-18 tire wrapped around a black 5 spoke wheel. Out back a 160-7-17 covers the same styled rim. By the way, these black rims are reminiscent of many ‘60’s muscle cars and they look great on this bike.
The Switchback name refers to the fact that both the hard bags and the wind shield are quick release items. That means, in a snap, you can go from Tourer to Blvd cruiser. Best of all, the bike looks great either way.
Also new for 2012 is the option of ABS on the Dyna line. ABS is packaged with the security system for $1,195.00 and in my opinion, worth every penny.
But of course the big question is; how does it ride? And the answer is, very nicely! As mentioned before, the 103 motor puts out plenty of power and torque for a 700 lb. motorcycle. Both accelerating through the gears and roll on performance at high speeds is all you could want. To compensate for the extra power and torque of the 103, a stiffer clutch spring had to be added, though the additional effort at the lever is barely noticeable.
The riding position is upright and quite comfortable. The mini ape hangers offer plenty of pull-back. By simply adjusting the bar back toward the rider, even riders with the shortest of arms will not have to lean forward to reach the grips. The floorboards fall rather close under your thighs so there’s no problem reaching the brake or shift lever.
The wide ratio six-speed means interstate cruising is very relaxed. While the Dyna Switchback allows more vibration to get through to the rider than a Road King or Electra Glide, it’s not objectionable or fatiguing.
With its light steering and short wheel base, the Switchback is a fun ride in the twisties. Of course, it’s not a sport bike and the floor boards will scrape the ground if you get too aggressive. Around town you’ll appreciate the low seat height and nimble handling as you maneuver through traffic.
So, who are the Switchback’s demographics? I’d say it’s anyone who appreciates a combination cruiser/tourer that’s lighter and quicker than most bikes in its class, with a lower MSRP, and great styling. MSRP starts at $15,999. For a closer look, head to Crystal River Harley Davidson at 1785 South Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34448 or call 352.563.9900. Tell ‘em Motorman sent ya!