In the early 1970s, Harley-Davidson took notice that it was becoming common for motorcyclists to customize their own rides. They were lowering the suspensions, adding low slung seats, and adding pull-back handlebars. The customized bikes were typically cruisers, leaving little clearance between the road surface and the bike, so cornering became an interesting challenge.
Riders customized their motorbikes for personalization, riding comfort, or for just plain fun. So why not offer a factory-made option of this style, with all of these options ready to go right off of the dealership floor? In 1977, Harley-Davidson’s first, the FXS Low Rider, was introduced to the world.
Harley-Davidson added a few of its own touches to the customization with items like mag wheels and raised white lettering.
The Low Rider has gone through a number of updates and improvements over the years, but still keeps its original idea and continues to be a popular choice with riders.
15 1977 FXS Low Rider
Harley-Davidson’s Low Rider introduction to the world was a sleek looking grey model with orange-red graphics across the fuel tank. In a unique move, it was released mid-season.
It has a seat height of 27 inches which allowed just about any rider to stop flat-footed. The FXS Low Rider was powered by a 74-cubic-inch 1206cc V-Twin. This first Low Rider was able to reach a top speed of 105.6mph.
14 1978/1979 Low Rider
The 1978 and 1979 Low Rider models came out with a slight variation on the colors with black being added to the silver and orange-red graphics. Harley-Davidson decided to retire the 74-cubic-inch V-Twin engine with the 1978 model year. An 80-cubic-inch V-Twin was introduced with the 1979 version.
13 1980 FXS Low Rider
The 1980 Low Rider followed in the footsteps, or tire tracks, of the 1979 Low Rider being powered by the 80-cubic-inch V-Twin. It had 67hp at 5800 rpm and could reach a top speed of 102.5 mph.
There were not a lot of revisions to this model year. Possibly due to a lot of the focus being aimed at the release of the new model, the 1981 FXB Sturgis?
12 1981 FXB Sturgis
Harley-Davidson named this model the Sturgis after the week-long rally held in Sturgis, South Dakota every August. This version of the Sturgis was predominately black in color with small splashes of orange and chrome.
The name was revised to FXB, with the “B” standing for belt-driven. This model was updated from the traditional chain drive to a belt-driven drive train.
11 1982 FXB Sturgis
The 1982 version of the FXB Sturgis saw a few revisions. The top of the fuel tank now held the tachometer, speedometer, and fuel filler caps. The rider now had two options for starting up the bike. A kick-start option, or push button if the kick-start was being stubborn.
10 1984 FXR Low Rider
Starting with their 1984 model year, Harley-Davidson introduced the Evolution engine. The Evo offered many improvements including reliability and durability. Rumors have it that the name Evolution came from the V-Twin’s design allowing Harley-Davidson to make a comeback after some restructuring.
9 1991 FXR LowRider
This model year was the beginning of the Dyna chassis. Dyna rubber mounts were used to cut down on engine movement within the frame. A convenience feature for riders, which were released with the 1991 FXR Low Rider, were self-canceling turn signals.
8 1991 FXDB Sturgis
Harley-Davidson came out with a special edition Sturgis to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the yearly Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
The special edition adorned the Harley corporate colors – black and orange. This edition of the Sturgis had a minimal amount of chrome on the bike. This was also one of the first models to sport the Dyna rubber mounts to cut down on engine movement within the frame.
7 1992 FXDB Daytona
Daytona Bike Week celebrated its 50th anniversary the year after Sturgis. So Harley-Davidson stepped up to the plate and released a special edition, the FXDB Daytona, in celebration. The two bikes were nothing alike.
The Daytona sported the traditional amount of chrome and brighter paint color, which was Harley-Davidson’s first-ever pearl paint. The sides of the fuel tank displayed the celebratory decal for the event. The Daytona is a limited edition as only 1,700 units were produced.
6 2014 Low Rider Returns
After disappearing from the market for five years, the Low Rider made its return in 2014. Engineers worked on ideas so almost any height rider could ride it… no matter if you were 5′ or 6′ tall. It came down to the seat and handlebars. The bike now had handlebars with a riser assembly that could be adjusted to fit the rider’s reach.
Instead of having two separate seats, one for taller riders and one for shorter riders, the 2014 Low Rider came with one adjustable seat. To disguise the adjustment area, the seat has a chrome badge that looks like it is part of the design of the bike.
5 2017 Dyna Low Rider S
The 2017 Low Rider model year signified the ending of a major part of the Low Rider. This was the Low Riders last year with the Dyna. The 2017 model came with a few changes and additions.
The bike was “blacked out”. Not only was the paint black, but the engine and exhaust pipes were black instead of the traditional chrome. A helpful addition for winter storage was the included battery tender harness already wired into the Low Rider.
4 2018 Low Rider – Softail?
The 2018 Low Rider model came with some major changes after many years of production. Starting in 2018, the Dyna Low Rider became history…..it is now known as the Softail. It still comes with a low seat height of 27.2-inches, but that is not the lowest seat height in a motorcycle. Also gone is the Twincam, being replaced by the Milwaukee-Eight. Maybe the start of a new era for the Low Rider?
3 2019 Low Rider
2019 saw the Low Rider take a bit of a step back from the modern look and take on a more retro look and feel. The graphics on the fuel tank have a retro ’70s look to them. There is as much chrome on the bike as possible. And the classic look to the wheels all add to the retro influence.
2 2020 Low Rider S
After taking a break for two years, the Low Rider S is back for the 2020 model year…with a few changes.
It is now powered by a rigid-mounted Milwaukee Eight 114 (1868cc). The 2020 Low Rider has gone back to the blacked-out look on many parts – even the LED taillight is smoked out. The aluminum-cast wheels have been finished in Matte Dark Bronze, moving away from the chrome once again.
1 Low Rider – Custom
Motorcyclists have been customizing their rides since, well, since motorcycles have been around. There are endless ways, options, and ideas to customize your motorbike. Maybe a major change like the paint job, wheels, or exhaust pipe? Or a little less involved, like the seat, or footpegs? All are nice to make your ride unique and personalized to you.
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