PM's 40th Anniversary Bike
It's no secret to any bagger aficionado that many (if not most) Harley Touring rigs rarely leave the big city. Ever since the lowered Street Glide came out five years ago, the focus for these bikes shifted a bit from touring to custom. Many of the attributes that make the FL family fine touring rides also make them very practical city bikes with comfort and storage to spare. And if you don't need much storage, there's always room for a bigger sound system, right?
Now that in the last few years the customizing options have exploded for these bikes, they don't have to play geeky little brother to bikes like the Softail. In fact, we'd go so far as to say that you'd have a hard time making any Softail a better touring bike than the stripped-down, performance-oriented FL shown here. Even with a windshield and bolt-on bags, you'd only succeed in making an awkward-looking 'Tail, as nothing eats miles like an FL, even one with no fairing. Baggers have quite simply evolved into Custom Touring/City Cruisers.
Performance Machine tossed the keys to this '03 Road Glide to Roland Sands' RSD design shop to make it a fitting tribute to the storied brand's 40th anniversary, and (of course) make an eye-catching statement to showcase all of PM's many products for the FL chassis. Not one to shy away from his (or PM's) racing heritage, Roland and his team added a giant dollop of sportiness. Amazingly for a bike this radical looking is that it was accomplished using almost all bolt-on parts, with the exception of the gas tank, number plate and the Zippers 124-inch motor. But even that was based on modified stock cases and heads.
More of the big differences from a stock Road Glide involved unbolting parts rather than bolting them on. Removing the frame-mounted fairing (and its accompanying electronics) simplified the overall electrical system, which was stripped to just the essentials, run by a Zippers Thundermax unit and controlled with PM switchgear. Without a fairing or fork covers to tart it up, the stock FL frontend is a pretty homely unit, so it was replaced with an inverted 50mm fork from legendary Italian maker Marzocchi, adapted via an Alloy Art/Todd's Cycle conversion kit that takes some of the trail out of the bike to make up for the heavier-steering 21-inch front hoop. Wrapped in the faux-number plate, it has a high-voltage PIAA projector beam peeking out to light the way.
Rather than use an off-the-shelf fatty motocross bar, RSD bent one up to fit all the standard H-D-style 1-inch controls. The contrasting divots machined out of the crossbrace are mirrored all over the bike: on the shift linkage, heatshields, and elsewhere. In fact, the Contrast Cut theme extends off of the PM wheels and rotors and such to the whole rest of the bike, with nothing looking untouched. To put an exclamation point on the bike's sporting intentions, our Editor, Toph Bocchiaro, personally saw Mr. Sands grinding parts on it at triple digits...on a closed racecourse, of course. Especially cool on a bike that you could take off for a weekend or win a bike show, perhaps even at the same time.