Harley-Davidson’s XG750R Breaks Cover At the Springfield Mile

Harley looks to the future with its first new flat track racer in 44 years.

The all-new Harley-Davidson XG750R
Meet the all-new Harley-Davidson XG750R, the new kid on the AMA Pro Flat Track scene.©Motorcyclist

The next-generation Harley-Davidson flat track racer – the XG750R – finally broke cover last weekend in the Springfield Mile for the round six of the 2016 AMA Pro Flat Track season. The bike already had three rounds under its belt, but the decision was made to make the legendary venue the site of the momentous occasion of Harley's debut for its first all-new flat tracker in 44 years.

To give you an idea how important this motorcycle is to Harley-Davidson, both Willie G. and Bill Davidson made the trip to see the XG750R's big launch. The brand has a long history with flat track racing and they want to see that continue to grow. So although the 44-year-old XR750 is still competitive and winning Grand National Championships, Harley-Davidson wasn't going to keep resting on its laurels.

XG750R, Davis Fisher
So far only one rider gets the honors of racing the new XG – Harley-Davidson’s factory rider Davis Fisher (67).©Motorcyclist

"Well, it's 44 years old," Harley-Davidson's racing manager Kris Schoonover said about the XR750 (click here to see the video of Schoonover and Terry Vance of Vance and Hines). "It is increasingly difficult to support through parts. It's harder and harder to find parts, and the parts are expensive. For the privateer racer, it's tough to have them want to ride an XR750. Unless they have a very well-funded team they're probably going to start out on a different brand. So here the goal is to – freshen everything up. Let's build it off of a platform that's real and alive and living. And the parts are available. We've got those street 750s, the street 500s going down the assembly line every single day. So that's where it starts. That's where the development began for us."

Davis Fisher on the #67 XG750R
Davis Fisher on the #67 XG750R©Motorcyclist

It’s obviously still a V-Twin, albeit in a different configuration – a 60-degree versus 45-degree V-twin – but it also comes with some nice perks of the modern era, things like a rev limiter and a radiator. And that has some very nice benefits to the modern racer, i.e. less of a chance it will blow up, something that Davis Fisher, the factory team’s young rider who gets the honor of being the first rider to race the new XG, is happy about.

2015 GNC2 champ Davis Fisher
The factory Harley squad chose Fisher because the 2015 GNC2 champ is a clean slate.©Motorcyclist
Davis Fisher
Davis Fisher©Motorcyclist

“I feel like this is the future of flat track,” Fisher said. “The XG750R, it’s just a lot different. Where the XR750 comes off the corners a little bit slower, this one accelerates fast and gets going and its got a rev limiter so you’re not scared to blow it up or fold the valves.”

Former Grand National Champion Brad Baker
Former Grand National Champion Brad Baker is still campaigning the old XR750 but has put some time on the new XG as well.©Motorcyclist

Harley-Davidson chose Fisher because he's fresh. He's had next to zero experience on the XR750 and the 18 year old is seen as one of the sport's rising young stars. He's also straight off a GNC2 title. In the meantime, Brad Baker, who's older – but not by any means old at 23 – will continue to campaign the XR750. But just because it's Davis' machine for 2016 doesn't mean Baker doesn't have some time on it as well. The team has had a couple of tests and the 2013 Grand National Champion brought an interesting perspective suggesting that the modern Harley might suit modern racers like himself who grew up racing production 450 motocross machines in the Singles class.

“It almost kind of has more of a resemblance of a 450,” Baker explained. “More of that power where it has more water in the transmission where it shifts a little bit smoother and has that pull right off the corner. Just need to get maybe a little bit power out of the thing so it’ll be a little bit faster down the straightaway.”

Baker and Fisher both feel that the bike is nearly there, but the reality is that there’s limited time on track to develop a new race bike in a one-day program of AMA Pro Flat Track racing. In four races and a couple of test days, Fisher estimates that he’s only had five hours on the XG so far, and that’s even adding the Semis that he’s had race in order to advance to the main. The team and Fisher are not naïve and are well aware of the fact that the bike is a work in progress.

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“We’re still in development, we’re not ready for distribution yet,” said Schoonover about the phase of the program this year. “Eventually we’re going to have to flip that switch and say, ‘Hey, general public, hey Harley Davidson dealers, here’s how you become part of and this is how you can race it.’ But I would say the goal of this year is to finalize development, get the bike consistent where we’re consistently making mains. And just progressing every time.”

And you can see that progress being made just in four races. Fisher didn’t make the main the first two events, but he finally made the main at the third event, the Sacramento Mile. Unfortunately the bike blew up, so the next goal was to make the main and finish it. Well that happened. Fisher squeaked by with the final transfer spot in the semi, made the main at Springfield and went from the back of the pack to finish eighth and earn the hard charger award. Not bad for a rookie. And certainly not bad for a young Harley.