Smart Money:1999-2005 Harley-Davidson FXDX

Photography by Kevin Wing

It rolled out of Milwaukee as the Dyna Super Glide Sport--FXDX in Motor Company shorthand--and into our hearts on twisted roads such as Stunt and Latigo Canyon. Cool enough to hold its own on the Sunset Strip or Hollywood Boulevard, this Big Twin remains scandalously proficient in the twisty bits where most Harleys fear to tread. Say what?

The roots of such sporting proficiency lie in the details. Start with an adjustable 39mm Showa fork carrying four-piston Hayes calipers and dual front discs. The Showa rear shocks are adjustable for spring preload and both kinds of damping. They're also long enough to create actual cornering clearance. In between, the '99 model was among the first to be blessed with Harley's vastly improved Twin Cam 88 engine. Stronger, tougher, tighter, smoother and easier to work on than its 80-cubic-inch predecessor, the rubber-mounted 88s reduced rotational inertia and let the engine rev easier as well.

Pushing its 651 pounds with a modest 63 horsepower, our '99 FXDX testbike covered the quarter-mile in 13.54 seconds at 96.48 mph; that's quicker than Kawasaki's 1500 Vulcan, but a second and change behind Honda's dearly departed six-cylinder, 739-pound Valkyrie. On the street, the 76 pound-feet of torque that come online at 3250 rpm pull the Dyna along quite smartly.

Recasting an icon is risky business, but this one has proven itself essentially indestructible. Harley changed from ball to roller-type cam bearings in December of '99 to head off potential trouble. The few bikes that developed problems should have been fixed by now, and those that didn't were blessed with a five-year/50,000-mile warranty. Your local H-D dealer can ascertain any candidate's bearing status from its VIN number. According to Alan Barsi, shop foreman at Bartels' Harley-Davidson in Marina Del Rey, California, there isn't much else to worry about.

"Check the wheel bearing seals for rust or corrosion," Barsi says, "and let the bike run and listen for suspicious noises. And I'd be leery of a bike with more [mods] than an aftermarket carburetor and exhaust system." There were a lot of add-ons for the Dyna that didn't fit so well, especially in the exhaust department. Barsi also suggests a close look at the Dyna's rubber engine mounts, especially on high-mileage examples. As with most used bikes, a clean, stock example is best. We're disappointed to see the FXDX cut from Harley's '06 lineup, but if you're after a Big Twin that's at least as much fun to ride as it is to look at, this is the one.

CHEERS
The Harley that zigs
JEERS
Not light or blindingly quick, and the 5-speed box is clunky
watch for
Condition of rear cam bearings; rust drooling from wheel bearings
VERDICT
Here's 651 pounds of proof that Milwaukee metal can corner if you don't mind the bump and grind
$11,765 ('99 FXDX)
$13,780 ('03 FXDX)

EQUALLY SMART
Honda VTX1800C'02-'05
$8315 ('02)
Once the largest-displacement V-twin ever, the 757-pound VTX covers a quarter-mile in just over 12 seconds. It's also reasonably comfy and will humiliate any stock cruiser save Triumph's 2294cc Rocket III. You won't find bigger bangs for fewer bucks anywhere.

Yamaha Road Star '99-'05
$5775 ('99)
Milwaukee isn't the only place to get a big air-cooled pushrod V-twin with tidy belt final drive. It's a second behind Harley's FXDX at the strip, but Yamaha's smooth 1602cc V-twin comes in a plush, comfy, marvelously refined package.


Victory V92C '98-'03
$7790 ('99)
Although vastly underappreciated, the other American motorcycle is surprisingly competent on backroads. The V92C offers a more commanding mechanical persona than most metric cruisers, but early models were a twinge rough around the edges.

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ax1464
The captions in the photo gallery are wrong. Only the 1st photo is of the FXDX- the others are the "Equally Smart" Honda, Kawasaki & Victory.
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