IT'S a Harley Â¿ but not like any seen before. The iconic American brand has released the Harley Rocker, which is a chopped and raked-out Softail.
While Harley-Davidson has created custom models with more power and special paint in the past, the company only began "chopping" its own bikes a few years ago.
High demand for more customised bikes has been stirred, in part, by the pay-TV hit show American Chopper, which follows the real-life drama of workers in Orange Country Choppers as they weld together orders for clients.
Put some stars and stripes on the Rocker, add a set of ape-hanger bars and it could almost be Captain America, the legendary bike actor Peter Fonda rode in the cult film Easy Rider.
Well, not exactly the same. In the movie, Fonda throws his watch away when he picks up his custom chopper, a nod to the freedom of the open road. The Rocker, however, has a digital clock in the instrument cowl and, even though the bike may look old school, it is powered by a modern fuel-injected engine.
A single-seat version of the Rocker has been dropped from the line-up. I recently rode the Rocker C, which features a black engine, a lot more chrome and a fold-away "Trick" pillion seat. It certainly is a trick-looking piece of equipment, especially with a pillion on board as it appears they are suspended in mid-air with the rear tyre bouncing independently below.
The pillion seat can be deployed in less than 30 seconds and folds away under the rider's saddle to appear as a genuine single seater. The only problem is that this trick makes the rider's seat feel harder due to the added bulk underneath.
That exposed 240mm fat rear tyre provides a distinctive look for the bike but it also makes the Rocker difficult to turn.
However, criticising the handling of a chopper that is obviously intended for show rather than go is ridiculous. Its parent, the Softail, is the worst handling bike in the Harley stable but is the best selling, which just goes to show what buyers really want.
Despite all of this, the Rocker handles surprisingly well for a bike with a 37.5-degree fork angle and lean angles of just 29.5 degrees on the left and 32.5 on the right. Softails now ride better than they ever have. But they remain the worst handling because Harley has improved the dynamics of the rest of its range.
The Rocker C certainly rewards the buyer with good- quality build, lashings of chrome and lustrous paint.
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