2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 First Ride Review: Strong Performance, Ridiculous Ergonomics

The drag-inspired design looks the business, but its riding position leaves a lot to be desired.

Brian J. Nelson

2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114, By the Numbers

Price (as tested): $21,349 ($21,749, Rawhide Denim paint adds $400)

Powertrain: Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin, 119 ft-lb of torque, horsepower unknown (H-D doesn’t release official power figures, but estimates put this engine right around 100 hp), six-speed manual transmission

Fuel Economy: 46 mpg

Weight as Shipped: 637 pounds

Quick Take: The recently unveiled Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 "power cruiser" is a strong performer, but it's pretty expensive and just plain awkward to sit on.

What is it?

The Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 is an all-new bike for 2019. It’s a sort of spiritual successor to the recently discontinued V-Rod, serving as a muscular cruiser with a focus on performance. It has drag-bike-inspired aesthetics, a big fat rear tire, and an attitude that refuses to be ignored. I was recently in Milwaukee where Harley-Davidson invited me to check out its latest wares as the brand celebrated its 115th anniversary. As part of that celebration, I had an early opportunity to throw a leg over the newest Softail. Its goal is to pack in modern performance without losing any Harley-Davidson character, so how did it do?

Brian J. Nelson

2019 Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 on the streets of Milwaukee

The Pros

  • Strong engine. As its name implies, the only engine you can get in the Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 is the 114 cubic inch Milwaukee Eight V-twin, making it the only Softail that you can’t get with the smaller 107 ci unit. This engine makes a lot of sense in a muscular, more performance-oriented bike.
  • This thing looks the business. I especially like the front end with its LED lighting, a decidedly modern move for a brand that’s usually hung up on heritage. The tail is a little under-designed and the bike just kind of stops once it gets behind the rear cowl, but I think it’s a good looking motorcycle overall. Oh, and it sounds as good as it looks.
  • Harley-Davidson has a great little instrument cluster that it uses on this bike. Big, gaudy gauges can ruin the look of an otherwise clean design, but H-D’s little customizable digital display shows you everything you need and nothing you don’t. Simple digital gauge pods like this one are hit or miss and this one is a hit. It’s the best kind of moto minimalism.

The Cons

  • The ergonomics of this motorcycle are absurd. The big drag-bike-inspired intake sticking out of the right side of the Milwaukee Eight looks cool, but it pushes your leg way out. This puts your right leg in a totally different position than your left, making you look and feel awkward. There was a guy in front of me riding the same bike and I laughed out loud in my helmet when I noticed the goofy position of his legs at no fault of his own. It makes me wonder if anyone actually sat on this bike before it was approved for production.
  • Speaking of ergonomics, even if you ignore the asymmetrical width between your legs, it has forward foot controls and sporty clip-on handlebars. That means you’re kind of stretched out with all of your limbs forward like a clam. It’s actually not as uncomfortable as it sounds, but I was surprised that H-D went with forward controls rather than mid controls.
  • Man this thing is expensive. Sitting at the very top of the Softail line, the Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 starts at $21,349 putting it right in the same territory as the Ducati XDiavel, arguably its only direct competitor. There are a few questionable details that don’t make this seem like a premium bike. There were a few sloppy-looking welds and a few cheap-looking pieces of hardware that seem out of place for a bike in this price range.
  • Handling is good, but only when you get used to it. It has an unconventional steering geometry due to its massive rear tire and normal-sized front tire. It has a pretty steep lean angle, especially for a Harley, but the way that it leans is...different. You kind of have to twist the whole bike with your hips while your legs are in a weird position. Once you get past the learning curve though, it’s an agile cruiser.
Eric Brandt

Look how far away my right leg is from the tank.

Value

The Harley-Davidson FXDR 114 is a strong, showy bike that unfortunately has downsides that are all-too characteristic of the H-D brand; too heavy and too expensive.

I can see this bike having a sort of cult following like the V-Rod does, but it's pretty cost prohibitive for now. I think it would make more sense if it was more affordable, but the FXDR is going to be bought by riders who already have a few Harleys in the garage and want to add this unique piece to the collection for occasionally blasting around town.

H-D added lightness to this Softail and it is fairly skinny for a Harley (I hate how often I have to say “for a Harley”), but it’s still kind of a heavy bike at 637 lbs—about 100 lbs more than an XDiavel. If the price tag and the curb weight of the FXDR were both a bit lower, it would be easier to recommend.

To Harley’s credit, the FXDR 114 is another Harley-Davidson that its chief domestic competitor Indian Motorcycle doesn’t have an answer to...yet.

Eric's Gear

Helmet: AGV Sport Modular

Jacket: Harley-Davidson FXRG Triple Vent System Waterproof Leather Jacket

Gloves: Harley-Davidson FXRG Dual-Chamber Gauntlet Gloves

Jeans: Dainese Charger

Shoes: Alpinestars Faster