What is it?
One of the bikes in the Dyna range, the 2012 Switchback is a 103 cubic Inch (1690cc) bike that can be both a tourer and a sportster, as the luggage carriers and screen can be removed easily, to give the bike a completely different look.
Powered by an air-cooled Twin Cam V motor, the new Switchback is based on the Dyna platform, which is characterised by features that include a rubber-mounted engine, visible battery box, and exposed rear shocks. The engine features a solenoid-operated automatic compression release function (to reduce stress on the starter), six percent more torque (for a peak of 126Nm between 3000 and 3500r/min), and includes a stronger clutch and higher capacity engine compensator.
Style, instruments and equipment
This bike harks back to the early Harleys of the 1960s, those that fuelled the dreams of a generation of Americans. The seating position and handlebars are perfectly defined, allowing for a relaxed ride. Instruments are clear and easy to read. A trip adjuster is located on the left handlebar, and gives quick access to information. A nice addition is the gear selector r/min display. Standard trip information is also available: time, the range in kilometres, trip distance A and B, and overall OD reading. The fuel gauge is on the tank and is a replica of the fuel cap – a bit disconcerting initially, but you get used to it quickly. The luggage carriers are functional, but not very large – my laptop fitted in easily, but the bag didn’t. Although the Switchback weights 320kg it has a lightweight chassis and stunning cast-aluminium wheels (18-inch front, 17-inch rear).
This bike has some serious torque and pulls away quickly from a standing start. The engine idles at under 1000r/min, making the engine vibration barely noticeable. This bike was fitted with a Screaming Eagle exhaust, which backfired sweetly on a trailing throttle. The aural experience is something to give a grown man goose bumps and draws attention from onlookers everywhere you go.
Ride and Handling
The gearshift position takes some getting used to, as do the running boards, but these minor things do not detract from the riding or handling. The little mirrors are not the best on a bike of this class, but you will probably want to replace them from Harley-Davidson’s extensive range of matching aftermarket accessories anyway. Overall, a comfortable ride with decent suspension that absorbs the bumps smoothly.
Like: I liked the seating position and the ease with which this bike turns. I also liked the ABS braking, which really works very well.
Dislike: I didn’t like the wind buffeting over 120km/h, but then again, this bike is a head turner and I didn’t mind keeping the speed lower than 120. Highway speeds of 140 to 160 are attainable, but not recommended.
Verdict and rating
A solid performer and one I can rate highly at 8/10.
Victory Motorcycles have some pretty touring bikes, Honda VT 1300 Tourer and Kawasaki VN 1700
Specifications – Harley-Davidson Dyna Switchback FLD
- Engine Air-cooled, Twin Cam, 1690cc
- Gearbox Six-speed, shaft drive
- Power not provided
- Torque 126Nm@3500r/min
- Weight 320kg (dry weight)
- Seat height 695mm
- Fuel capacity 18 litres
- Fuel consumption n/a
- Warranty and servicing Major services at every 8000km, first service at 1800km
- Price from R189 000
- Ridden by Bikeroutes September
- Review by Mukhtar Mukuddem
More info from www.harley-davidson.com/wcm/af