1991 Harley Davidson FXR Low Rider
This is my 1991 Harley Davidson FXLR Low Rider Super Glide. I bought it on eBay for $4,800. I was just looking for a rubber-mounted Big Twin Harley for less than 5 grand, and after I bought it, Harley people told me the original Evolution FXR Super Glides were the best motorcycles Harley made. I'll go into detail on why people believe that a little bit further down the page. If you're wondering why a person would want to buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle at all, here's a quick video I made to point out some of the best features and show you how low-maintenance a Harley is. You just change the oil and adjust the primary chain every once in a while. Click here to see my Harley-Davidson primary chain adjustment page to learn how to adjust your primary chain. If you don't have a Harley-Davidson FXR, you may want to buy one if you find one for sale. They're great motorcycles.
here's the story of me and my bike. I bought a brand-new Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 in 1996, and it was a good bike under 65 mph, but I spent most of my time on it on the freeway, commuting to and from work at over 75 mph, and the vibration was terrible. I rode 43,000 miles on it, and every mile I wished I had spent double the money and bought the Super Glide. Eventually, I needed cash and sold the Sportster on eBay for $4,025 and bought a Suzuki GS650G (which was a better motorcycle) for $1,400.
A few years later I wanted another Harley and decided on a Super Glide. It was the beginning of the Great Recession in 2009, and people were giving things away to try and save their houses. I had my eye on a Shovelhead FXR, which is one of the coolest looking motorcycles I've ever seen, and I tried lowballing the owner via email, but got no response. The Harley-Davidson Evolution Engine is better than the shovel in every way, so I decided to look for an Evo FXR, and I found one for sale on eBay with a very brief description. "1991 FXRS Super Glide. Runs Great" and some very small and blurry pictures, which you can see below.
So based on the pictures, it's very dirty, but the guy says it runs great. If you look closely, you'll see that the bike is dirty, and there's no shifter knob on the gearshift lever, as if the bike were covered with a blanket for 7 years, and the owner's wife backed the car into it and broke the shifter knob off and ruined the transmission. I didn't notice all these things and won the auction, bidding at the last minute, for the price of $5,000.
After winning the auction, I called the owner and asked when I could pick it up. He asked me to bring some gas. I said, "But you said it runs great in the description." He said, "It ran great last time I rode it, but the gas tank is empty." "When was the last time you rode it?" "I don't really remember." "Try." "2001." So the bike had been parked for 8 years, and he lied in the description. But it was still a good deal if I could get the bike working, so I went to pick it up. When we put gas in it, it leaked out through the crossover tube on the tank, which had rotted away. I replaced that, and then we tried to start it, but the battery was dead. I bought a new battery and came back the next day, and we got it started. I paid the guy $4800 for the bike, negotiating in $200 for the inconvenience of having to buy a battery and get it running, and I rode it home. On the ride home I realized it didn't want to shift into gears 3, 4 or 5. I could get it into first and second. Too late to bargain now. I owned it.
I proceeded to not panic and go about changing the fluids and cleaning the carb. I thought maybe if I made some adjustments and did some tuning up, the gearbox would work properly. It ran great, but still no 3rd, 4th and 5th gear. I took it to Lawndale Cycle, and they fixed it in half a day for $300. The shift fork and a big bolt were bent, and they got it working right. I was thrilled. I was afraid I would have to spend a lot more on a new gearbox. I go to Lawndale Cycle for parts and advice now, and I highly recommend them if you live in the Los Angeles area and are looking for someone to work on your bike.
On my first real ride, I realized that the Harley-Davidson FXR Super Glide really is a great real-world motorcycle. It handles great for a big bike, and the vibration is completely damped when I'm on the freeway. With the big windshield and comfortable riding position, I could ride this bike all day. It really is twice as good as my 1996 Harley-Davidson Sportster, though the new Sportsters have rubber-mounted engines and weigh almost as much as my FXR. I haven't ridden one yet, so I don't know how good they are. Below is a picture of me going around a corner on Mulholland. It corners nicely for such a big motorcycle. Harley made a version of this bike called the FXRS which they advertised as a sporty big bike for the canyons. The FXRS was the same as the Low Rider, but 3/4 inch higher, and it had an extra disc brake on the front wheel and flatter handlebars.
Below is a video I shot on a ride in the Santa Monica mountains. You can see that my Harley-Davidson FXLR can move at a brisk pace on a twisty road. If you want to know how I made the camera mount, I tell you at the end of the video. It's cheap and easy to make, and it works well.
Origin of the Harley-Davidson FXR
What does FXR stand for?
The creation of the Harley-Davidson FXR is a tale of the triumph of the engineering department over the marketing department. Erik Buell was on the design team, and they insisted upon making a machine which would be comfortable to ride long distances, and would actually be able to go around a corner without flexing. The mission was accomplished, and the frame proved to be virtually indestructible, though the marketing department kept trying to lower it and generally limit its functionality to make it prettier for motorcycle buyers. In 1995 the FXR was replaced with the Dyna frame, which was welded by machines instead of people, and lacked the rigidity and performance of the FXR frame, though it was prettier, hiding the frame, showing off the engine and giving the bike more of a sparse look. Upon seeing my FXR, people have told me "That's the best motorcycle Harley-Davidson ever made."
Here's a movie of a ride I took in Los Angeles rush hour traffic. It's a big bike, but the center of gravity is low, it's reasonably narrow, and the riding position is comfortable, so it's a good urban assault bike and is easy to split lanes on.