2008 Harley-Davidson CVO Models


Paint, Chrome and Technology



For a motorcycle company that's been around since the dawn of time, Harley-Davidson hasn't made a name for itself by being on the cusp of ground-breaking technology. No, it’s made a name for itself by not wavering in their commitment to what has become a ubiquitous engine platform: The 45-degree V-twin. The Motor Company spent more of its energies slowly honing that tried-and-true engine rather than chasing after technology that, until recently, was complex and often too expensive to implement.

And I think it's safe to say that no other motorcycle brand has created more division in all of motorcycledom than Harley. Those that are dyed-in-the-wool devotees of the brand often see no need for any other type of motorcycle to exist. Then there are those on the other side of the fence that believe the Harley V-Twin is dated and lacking true performance-oriented qualities. I suppose there's room for both camps, although it's hard to deny the number of Harleys on the road these days.

Whichever band of loyalists you find yourself in, you'll probably be stunned with what Harley has in store for some of its 2008 units. So get with the times, grumpy old Harley owner! Hush your mouth, you faithless Harley naysayers!

Using the CVO line as a launch pad, H-D has leapt to the forefront of motorcycle tech with its version of throttle-by-wire, Electronic Throttle Control. This is technology that has just started to surface in only but a few high-performance sportbikes, most recently Yamaha's R1. But it doesn't stop there. Nope, it stops here, quite literally, with the introduction of ABS.

Both throttle-by-wire and ABS will be standard on the CVO Screamin' Eagle Road King and Screamin' Eagle Ultra Classic Electra Glide. The ABS system will be an option on all 2008 non-CVO Harley Touring and VRSC models.

The Delphi-developed anti-lock system is independent (non-linked) and works in conjunction with Brembo calipers and master cylinders. Using "encoded magnets" that are hidden inside the wheel hubs and a regulating system that is tucked underneath a body side panel rather than hogging up space behind a saddlebag, the ABS is remarkably simple and invisible to the naked eye. Harley knows that appearance is paramount for prospective purchasers of a CVO motorcycle. As such they took great pains to give the bikes a system that works well but doesn't impact the appearance whatsoever.

Here you can see the heart of the new ABS system tucked in descretly behind a side panel. Because of its relatively small size, it doesn't have to take up space behind a saddlebag.

Here you can see the heart of the new ABS system tucked in descreetly behind a side panel. Because of its relatively small size, it doesn't have to take up space behind a saddlebag.

Mmmm... 110 cubic inches.

Mmmm... 110 cubic inches.

Because the anti-lock system works with standard calipers and master cylinders, uses minimal components and is non-linked, feel at the lever is similar to most non-ABS Harleys, and the ABS only activates when absolutely necessary, unlike some systems that can have a tendency to be a bit overzealous.

Since there was a spot of rain during the press intro, I had opportunity to test the ABS. In short, it's as good a system as any I've used, and is better than some found on machines of similar expense.

Speaking of technology found on other brands and types of bikes, Harley's Electronic Throttle Control system is as seamless as the ABS is invisible. It, too, is the picture of refinement, never once making itself known with any hesitation or sputter in the fueling. Well done, Harley.

For those of you who may not yet know, CVO is short for Custom Vehicle Operations and is Harley's in-house custom line. Consisting of four basic Harleys (the Dyna, Softail Springer, Road King and Ultra Classic Electra Glide), each bike is a rolling display of the thousands of accessories found in the fabled Harley-Davidson Parts and Accessories Catalog. Covered in enough chrome to make the Silver Surfer look like a rusty nail, these bikes gleam from tip to tail.

Each CVO model gets the hopped-up Twin-Cam 110 (unveiled last year) and is the largest engine Harley offers; it's joined to the six-speed Cruise Drive tranny. The Road King and Ultra produce a claimed 115 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm, while the Dyna produces 105 foot-pounds at 3,000 rpm. The Springer model gets the Twin-Cam 110B (B is for balanced) and churns out 110 foot-pounds (five more than the previous model) at the same rpm thanks to the truly custom-looking Heavy Breather intake.

Unique to the CVO line are custom paint and graphics. Each bike has three paint scheme options with one being a celebration of H-D's 105th year of production. The Crystal Copper and Black Onyx Paint with gold leaf graphics can be had on all four CVO models for a premium of $495. What's more, each 105th Anniversary edition is serialized and in limited production. A tasteful cloisonne displaying the serial number of the bike is located on the side panel. An additional touch for 2008 is the CVO-exclusive Granite finish to the powertrain.

Here's the Heavy Breather intake on the Springer with the "110" end cap shown.

Here's the Heavy Breather intake on the Springer with the "110" end cap shown.

Speaking of unique and individual, Harley took the press on a tour of Calibre, Inc. This is the humble company that handles all of the CVO paint works. "Big whoop," you might say. Well, it is a big whoop when you consider that a tremendous amount of hand pinstriping and painting takes place to create just one CVO bike. With over 5,000 passes of paint on 450 body parts, Cailbre Inc. is able to cover 50 CVO motorcycles a day. Considering the amount of non-mechanized labor and the array of different skill levels of each painter and pinstriper, these figures become even more impressive when Calibre management boldly claims 100% fulfillment to Harley. Plenty of CVO staff was on hand when that was boasted, and not one of them disputed it.

Finally, though quality control is of utmost importance and each painter is highly skilled, the fact is that no two paint jobs will be exactly the same. Just one more way each CVO model is a custom.

2008 FLHTCUSE Screamin' Eagle Ultra Classic Electra Glide

In its third year as a CVO model, the Screamin' Eagle Ultra Classic is all things tour but with a lot more pizzazz! Because this bike is the loaded luxury liner, weight is going to be a factor. Slow-speed parking lot maneuvers prove to be a handful. It takes a little extra effort and attention to keep the bike moving smoothly, or upright for that matter when attempting a short u-turn. The bike almost feels like it has a hinge in the middle. But once the show is on the road and under power the bike handles nicely for something of its size. Having the extra torque from the biggest of the big mills Harley makes certainly aids this American tourer haul its own heft, that of its rider, passenger and all that they can cram in the cavernous hard bags.

The Ultra is about more than just a big engine and storage capacity. This is one comfy ride. The rider triangle is well-thought and should allow most people to stay in the cozy saddle for days at a time. If distance riding is the name of your game you'll be happy you're aboard the Ultra. Load with amenities like XM radio, WB(weather band, not that crummy television studio), CB/intercom, CD changer, Harmon/Kardon speaker system cruise control, heated seats, a navigation system and so on, anyone should be more than occupied on this, the QE II of Harleys.

New to this bike beyond the list of extras that reads like career-criminal's rap sheet is the following:

  • ABS with Brembo brakes
  • Throttle-by-wire nicely hidden in the internally wired handlebar
  • Six-gallon fuel tank
  • Dual control heated seat with passenger backrest and adjustable rider backrest
  • Power locking system with remote/barrel key fob (just think of your modern automobile) that operates all the hard bags
  • Ultra King Tour Pak with premium luggage rack, color-matched wrap around lights and carry out liner
  • Isolated Drive System (cush drive, really)

The 2008 Screamin' Eagle Ultra Classic Electra Glide retails for $34,995 ($35,095 CA) and will only number 4,200 units (including 1,800 serialized 105th Anniversary models) worldwide. Add $495 for the anniversary edition.

2008 FLHRSE Screamin' Eagle Road King

The Road King is a favorite among Harley aficionados and has become an instant classic in its short life. The RK would probably be my choice for "winner" if this were a shootout between the four CVOs. The wide-set bars contribute to this bike's easy and light steering. It has a good feeling of balance in the weight bias, and ground clearance is exceptional-for-a-cruiser making it my top choice for mild twisty sections of tarmac. Big sweepers make the day even sweeter as the RK drifts effortless through such turns. Get the bike much over 80mph and you'll start to get a slightly "loose" feel in its handling, but never to the point of feeling unstable. Unlike the big Ultra the King requires no need of extra effort to flick it around while lane splitting through 30 plus miles of rush hour traffic.

And just because it's not covered in dials, switches and buttons doesn't mean that it's not as comfortable to ride as full dresser. It does have a different ergo set up that brings the rider a little closer to the bars and knees closer to elbows, but the CVO Road King is plenty accommodating with the standard windscreen and forgiving seat. This bike, like all CVOs, is adorned with chrome goodies and has one my favorite features: cruise control.

New to the 2008 CVO Road King is the following:

  • ABS with Brembo brakes
  • Throttle-by-wire
  • Six-gallon fuel tank
  • Isolated Drive System
  • Adjustable handlebar
  • Custom handlebar riser cover with indicator lights
  • Custom mirrors
  • New design for leather seat, backrests and saddlebags
  • Color-matched frame and swingarm

The 2008 Screamin' Eagle Road King retails for $29,290 ($29,390 CA) and will only number 3,150 units (including 1,800 serialized 105th Anniversary models) worldwide. Add $495 for the anniversary edition.

2008 FXDSE Screamin' Eagle Dyna

Pro Street is the inspiration of this low-ridin' bad boy. This year it picks up a few new styling touches as well as some functional changes. The Dyna was probably the least inviting of the four to ride after I had some miles on it. It has lots of visual appeal, as all the CVOs do, but the forward controls were just a tad too far out front for my stubby 5' 8" frame. Couple that reach with chrome accented foot pegs, and I had a harder time keeping my boots planted than I expected.

Despite that, initial turn in doesn't require as much effort as you would think thanks to the newly reduced steering angle. Braking is what we've come to expect from most Harleys: plenty of power but lacking in feel. Despite the presence of stainless steel brake lines, I couldn't help but think that braking might benefit further if the rotor grew by about 10mm. But when it's all said and done, the Dyna makes up for these mild deficiencies with that pavement scoring brute of an engine. Bump the tranny into first, peg the throttle and dump the clutch to produce an instant rolling burnout. Yeah... So much of cruising is about torquey power!

New to the 2008 CVO Screamin' Eagle Dyna is the following:

  • Mirror-chrome slotted six-spoke cast aluminum wheels
  • Lowered front suspension with decreased fork angle
  • Adjustable handlebar with internal wiring and integrated four-inch spun-aluminum tach
  • Chrome full-length fuel tank console which now includes the speedo, and better access to the ignition switch
  • Reduced reach saddle
  • Shortened, solid stem mirrors


The 2008 Screamin' Eagle Dyna retails for $24,995 ($25,095 CA) and will only number 2,600 units (including 1,050 serialized 105th Anniversary models) worldwide. Add $495 for the anniversary edition.


2008 FXSTSSE Screamin' Eagle Softail Springer

In its second year, this bike does a pretty darn good job of looking old skool in a new world. When I rode the Springer last year in our Godzilla Cruiser's shootout I was really impressed with just how nimble a bike with a 21-inch front wheel could be hustled through the turns. It suffered from ground clearance of course, but sometimes draggin' a peg is half the fun for me.

With the switch to an 18-inch wheel this year, handling has only gotten better. I half expected turn in to be slowed quite a bit from the wider tire. Thankfully I was wrong. The new wheel and tire combo have given the Springer more stability and better front end feel. That's a good thing to have when slinging a $25,000 bike around. This bike is best suited for cruising the strip and looking good... extended freeway time or excessive amounts of twisting roads really are outside of the scope of the Springer's design in the long run. But with all the torque and that kick ass air intake hanging out in front of you, why would you want to do anything but show the bike off on the boulevard

2008 Harley-Davidson Models





Still Fresh After 105 Years




"Ho hum. What to do?" is what I imagine the team of Harley-Davidson designers, engineers and management were asking themselves when planning for yet another year of motorcycles.

At this point in Harley's history they must start to feel like there's nothing new under the sun. It can't be easy after 105 years. Whether you're a Harley fan or not, one thing you can't do is underestimate a company that's been around that long.

So what did they do for year 1-0-5? Squeezed out three (two, really, as one is a slight variation on the same theme) new models from existing platforms, that's all.

Along with the expected new paint schemes, injection of chrome-a-licious accessories and a refresher on models recently released (Sportster Nightster as a late '07 and '08 CVOs) it was time to introduce the world to the Fat Bob, Rocker and Rocker C.

Fat Bob is the latest chunky-tired Dyna, formerly called the FXDF.

The new-for-08 Dyna Fat Bob

The new-for-08 Dyna Fat Bob

Now sixth in the family whose name begins with FXD, the Fat Bob brings some unique styling to the team, but ol' Bob carries the family genes in its ticker. The air-cooled, rubber-mounted, fuel-injected, Twin Cam 96 engine with a bore and stroke of 3.75 in. x 4.38 in. squeezing out a compression ratio of 9.2:1 that's good for a claimed 92 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm is what all Dynas use; including the Fat Bob.

The Fat Bob's 29-degree steering angle doesn't elicit the notion of razor sharp handling, however, it does boast the shortest wheelbase in the Dyna line at 63.7-inches. Combine that with just under five inches of ground clearance and a pair of 16-inch wheels and what you get is sporty-for-a-cruiser handling. Initial steering responses are a touch slow because of the chubby 130/90 tire up front, but once you've started the turn that same tire allows your confidence to grow as the bike continues to lean. Pushing all the way to the 4.92 inches of ground clearance and beyond was cake, and never once did I feel I had reached the limits imposed by the bike’s geometry. I often wished I could lean further as each new turn approached.

Slowing the Bob is the job of twin disc brakes up front and the ubiquitous single disc out back. Although pressure at the hand lever is transmitted through braided stainless steel lines, they still felt a bit numb and underpowered. A strong pull at the brake lever would ultimately result in a decent stop, but that's a little more than I care to apply to haul any bike down. Regardless of my performance-driven whining, the brakes were typical Harley in that they were sufficient but not great.

Conversely, application at the clutch lever was a welcomed light and easy feeling (there's gotta be a song in there somewhere). The six-speed transmission also offered familiar sensations expected from modern Harley trannies: a solid thunk and the impression that it'll last forever.

Speaking of comfort, Harley's has a winner with the cushy, sculpted saddle on this newest Dyna.

"Don't I know you from somewhere?"

"Don't I know you from somewhere?"

Just looking at spec sheet numbers and a list of components one could probably draw some safe conclusions about how the Fat Bob will make power and handle. Especially considering it shares so much of its core with the other Dynas. Where it does seek to set itself apart, quite naturally, is in the look and feel department. This fat Dyna makes a distinct departure from traditional styling by employing the previously mentioned 16-inch front tire and a rather unique headlight duo. Pairing two small headlamps mounted next to one another the design draws obvious parallels to a certain British bike maker; commentary amongst journos in the tech briefing echoed as much.

Another notable element of design and function are the drag-style bars with a mild V bend. These aggressive handlebars are joined to the top triple-clamp via its integrated riser. It creates a tough look, but not so tough that you can't enjoy the benefits of the rubber-mount. The bars grant good leverage for steering and do a good job of creating the rider triangle.

The mid-controls on the Bob work well with the rider triangle, but the factory optional forward controls found on another Bob available for testing at the intro provided a more comfortable fit for riders closer to 6-foot tall or taller. Also note how the shorter rear fender and chrome-covered shocks do a subtle but good job of accentuating the bobber theme.

The mid-controls on the Bob work well with the rider triangle, but the factory optional forward controls found on another Bob available for testing at the intro provided a more comfortable fit for riders closer to 6-foot tall or taller. Also note how the shorter rear fender and chrome-covered shocks do a subtle but good job of accentuating the bobber theme.

The other key equation to rider ergos is the footpeg placement. The Fat Bob I rode had mid-ship controls which helped put me in a very upright riding position. Unfortunately, over time I recognized that the mid-mounts created a cramped position for me as the bend in my knee was nearly 90 degrees. On the surface that may seem like an ideal angle, but with years of knee-abusing sports, stiffness set in at day's end.

Speaking of comfort, Harley's has a winner with the cushy, sculpted saddle on this newest Dyna. At first sitting I was afraid that it was too soft and mushy. But at the end of two days of riding through the lush and beautiful rolling farmland just outside of Baltimore and neighboring Pennsylvania I was happy to dismiss my presumptions about the seat. It remained all-day long comfy.

The look is clean and simple without looking Spartan. Its slash-cut double-barrel 2-1-2 shotgun exhaust is a good example of how this bike differs from its siblings without doing so at risk of being labeled some kind of insecure middle child. "Hey! Look at me... See how different I am!" is not how the Bob seeks approval. It does so by marrying its unique, understated appearance with a good motor and good handling. Despite the dearth of serious twists and turns in this part of Maryland, the few I was able to carve up whilst on Fat Bob had me thinking that this bike was one of the most fun Harleys I've ridden to date. I hope Fat Bob doesn't go on a diet. The FXDF Fat Bob has an MSRP of $14,795.

Party Time!
When you've been around as long as Harley has, celebrating your 105th birthday in big fashion is as natural as ass-less chaps at Sturgis.

The Ride Home, as it's being called, is the largest Harley ride ever according to H-D, and serves as a pilgrimage to celebrate another milestone for The Motor Company. With 105 designated starting points that join up to any one of 25 different ride routes (with 80 additional start points along the way), all roads lead to Milwaukee.

The official ride starts August 17 through 27, 2008 and culminates in a four-day blowout in Milwaukee on August 28th. Along with the usual nightly parties, Main Street exhibition area, kickoff party, demo rides, fireworks and so on, attendees can look forward to a 105th parade (alleged to have over 7,500 bikes), a two-day Harley music and motorcycle festival, H.O.G.'s 25-anniversary celebration and activities at the new Harley-Davidson Museum which is expected to be open in time for the event.

A perennial favorite, the Softail model line picks up two more players this year with the Rocker and Rocker C. Essentially they're the same basic bike save for a more custom look and a very trick feature found on the C model.

It rocks!

It rocks!

The Softail line utilizes the air-cooled, fuel-injected, Twin Cam 96B (B for balanced) powerplant with a six-speed tranny. Though the engine is basically the same as that found in the Dyna line, it isn't rubber-mounted like the Dynas. Rigid engine mounting emulates the pseudo hardtail swingarm/frame combo that so many hardtails are defined by. Thankfully there's a perfectly good shock absorber with 3.4 inches of travel tucked so far out of sight that finding it requires crawling on your belly just to get a glimpse of it.

But what makes a Rocker a Rocker? Before you go out and buy one expecting to join Vince Neil on stage when the Motley Crue reunion tour comes to town, think before you buy. The Rocker name has nothing to do with your second career and everything to do with how that gloriously big rear fender hugs and – believe it or not – moves or rocks with the 240-section rear tire and swingarm.

How did they do it?

The first step was to make a strong fender, one made from bonded construction rather than a typical sheet metal piece. The next step is to move away from the conventional frame-mount point. The Rocker's rear fender is actually joined to the swingarm via a cantilever mount. The end result is a fender that moves in unison with the tire as the swinger travels up and down. Riding alongside a Rocker and seeing the fender in action is a treat.

But the effort wasn't purely fashionable. Harley engineers purport there to be over 100 Gs of force acting on a traditional cruiser or rigid frame chopper's rear fender. That can spell disaster for the welds holding it to the frame. With the Rocker design, broken or cracked mounts are no longer a concern.

Seen earlier this year on the Sportster Nightster, integrated LED turn signal/brake lights are also on the Rocker and Rocker C. Note the profile of the adjustable "V" handlebars. The bars put the rider's arms close to parallel with the ground and allow good steering leverage. What you're not seeing on the bars is switch gear wiring that's routed internally through the bars.

I made mention of the mandatory-for-a-custom-look 240-series rear tire and how it interacts with the fender. What I didn't mention was how such a big rear tire had little impact on the good handling of the bike. With a 19 x 2.15 tire wrapped around a five-spoke painted (or polished on the C) cast-aluminum spinner up front, I expected some pretty crummy handling. Nope, not here. Turn in is quick and handling is light and responsive. Hurray! The only drawback is the limited ground clearance. Here a scrape, there a scrape, everywhere a scrape, scrape.

H-D New Tech

Here's the ABS sensor system in all its simplicity. The larger wired piece is the sensor that reads the encoded magnet (the thin brown ring, exposed for display) hidden away in the sealed bearing residing in the wheel hub.

Here's the ABS sensor system in all its simplicity. The larger wired piece is the sensor that reads the encoded magnet (the thin brown ring, exposed for display) hidden away in the sealed bearing residing in the wheel hub.

This is the ABS sensor as an assembled unit...

This is the ABS sensor as an assembled unit...

Just a month or two ago we reviewed the '08 Harley-Davidson CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) line and were happy to report on Harley's new ABS system and electronic throttle control (throttle by wire) found as standard equipment on CVO touring models.

To share the love, some non-CVO Harley's can be had with the same tech. All touring bikes will get throttle by wire, and as a factory-installed option you can order ABS and/or cruise control. But the tourers don't get to hog up all the new stuff. Again, as a factory-installed option, you can order up any of the three VRSC bikes with the new ABS.


And here it is installed on a bike. That black ring sandwiched between the fork tube and brake rotor is all you'll ever see exposed of the ABS system. Clean.

Here you can appreciate the raked look thanks to the 36.5-degree steering angle and more than 6 inches of trail. Surprisingly, the bike handles very well for having such a big chunk o' rubber out back. You can also spot the 11.5-inch single disc that gets pinched by a four-piston caliper and is aided by stainless-steel lines. Though not great, stopping power was surprisingly sufficient from such a minimal setup.

Here you can appreciate the raked look thanks to the 36.5-degree steering angle and more than 6 inches of trail. Surprisingly, the bike handles very well for having such a big chunk o' rubber out back. You can also spot the 11.5-inch single disc that gets pinched by a four-piston caliper and is aided by stainless-steel lines. Though not great, stopping power was surprisingly sufficient from such a minimal setup.

Now you don't see it...

Now you don't see it...

Now you do. Make sure to look over the rest of the photos in the gallery to see the steps to deploy the pillion as well as seeing it in action in the video in this story.

Now you do. Make sure to look over the rest of the photos in the gallery to see the steps to deploy the pillion as well as seeing it in action in the video in this story.

Forward controls on most cruisers usually mean too much stretch for my 5' 8" frame. I was stoked to find this not so on the Rockers. Although there is a bit of the "C" or clamshell position from the ergos, it's not enough to make me swear off forward controls. What helped greatly was the shape of the saddle. It felt as though it was custom molded for my narrow ass. Overall, I was impressed with the fit.

The C model is the more custom-ified of the two, with plenty of chrome on the headlamp, triple clamps, handlebar riser, fork lowers, tank console, speedometer and polished cast- aluminum wheels. The paint is a bit more special, too, with flame pinstriping front to back. Additionally, the finned oil tank and swingarm are color matched to the frame where on the regular Rocker those two items have a "satin stainless metallic powdercoat."

So what's left to talk about? It's what you can't see on the Rocker C that makes it special. More than just chrome and paint, the C hides a secret. A secret that, depending on your station in life, may be the ticket that either keeps your mate happy or gets you a mate to begin with.

Tucked completely out of sight and under the rider seat is a simple pillion that attaches lickity split and hovers precariously over the rear fender. Called the Trick seat (yes, it's already trademarked), this sneaky saddle requires no tools and only takes about one minute to attach, worse case scenario. It goes a little something like this: Lift the rider saddle, pull out the rider seat pad, pull up and out on the strut, slip it into a groove, pop the rider pad on its perch and lock it into place with a slide pin. Voila! Instant chick getter.

This tiny pillion was about the only thing to create a perceptible ride difference between the two Rockers. The difference being how the rider (driver) sits on the saddle when the Trick seat is tucked away out of sight. Though they share the same saddle, the version on the C causes the rider to sit a bit taller thanks to the necessary clearance needed under the seat for the hidden passenger mount. Handling isn't affected, but the sensation is that you sit higher on the C. Start with and stay on the same bike and you'll never know any different.

I haven't ridden all the custom or custom-like cruisers out there, but I've ridden enough to know that the Rockers pull off what so many can't – combining look, sound and feel with actual riding performance and a reasonable level of comfort. Rock on!

The Rocker has an MSRP of $17,295; the Rocker C has an MSRP of $19,495.

What's New With Rest of '08:
Here's the Ultra Classic in 105th Anniversary trim

Here's the Ultra Classic in 105th Anniversary trim

Stupid Americans!

Stupid Americans!

Because Harley is rightly proud of being around for 105 years, it hasn’t limited special models just to the pricier CVOs. Fourteen OEM models will be available with the special edition Anniversary Copper and Vivid Black paint (different from the CVO Anniversary edition), air cleaner and timing cover inserts, copper inserts on the saddle and pillions, gloss black cast wheels, a special fuel tank cloisonné and serialization to top it off.

The VRSC line has never dominated sales at Harley, but they're not giving up on it yet. This year only three models make up the team: The V-Rod, Night Rod and Night Rod Special.

Some rather disappointing news was delivered at the '08 intro. It seems that once again American riders just don't get it. The highly anticipated street-tracker-styled XR1200 unveiled at Intermot in October '06 won't be coming to U.S. shores anytime soon. Saying that "U.S. demand for the XR1200 will be monitored," Harley will be launching it in Europe for 2008.

2008 Harley Davidson Cross Bones


Harley's Newest Softail Goes Old Skool

By Pete Brissette, Jan. 21, 2008, Photography by Harley-Davidson, Video by Alfonse Palaima

Harley-Davidson unveiled its latest bobber-style Softail this past weekend at the infamous Viper Room nightclub on the Sunset Strip. The tie-in to the Hollywood scene wasn't exactly clear, but a safe guess would be that H-D wants to make it known that the Cross Bones is one cool bike. And what better way to impress that image than to go where all the cool kids go. The other theme they wanted to hit upon was that of a dark scene, a theme that correlates well with what Harley calls "dark customs." If you haven't seen or been to the Viper Room, its exterior is entirely black with virtually nothing to indicate that it's a nightclub.

It was a scene full of young hipster types (including the quintessential loud, obnoxious guy), foxy ladies, plenty of media and free flowing booze and munchies. Yep, the Cross Bones' premiere was classic Hollywood, and in typical premiere fashion some big names were on hand. Big as in persons whose name is one half of the name on the bike. Big names like Willie G. Davidson and son Bill Davidson. When the el jefes come out, you know it's important to them.

With ape-hanger bars, a springer front end, springer saddle, floor boards and chubby tires, the Cross Bones looks like a page out of America's motorcycle customizing past.

With ape-hanger bars, a springer front end, springer saddle, floor boards and chubby tires, the Cross Bones looks like a page out of America's motorcycle customizing past.

When Willie G. and Bill finally lifted the silky cloth to reveal the bike beneath, what we saw was a bike that reaches deep into Harley's past for inspiration. The Cross Bones is a Softail that pays homage to the post-war past with a springer front end, bobbed fenders highlighting fat 16- and 17-inch tires riding on spoked wheels, an adjustable two-position springer solo saddle, ape-hanger bars, simple but elegant paint and dark or blacked-out finishes on everything from the engine to the turn signals. Heck, there's so much darkened componentry it's hard to keep track of it all, but another neat styling cue are the console-mounted indicator and idiot lights that remain hidden from plain sight until they're activated. Cool!

Like its dark cousins the Nightster, Night Train, Night Rod Special and more recently the Street Bob, the Cross Bones leaves chrome at a minimum with only a few engine covers and the exhaust pipes as the shiniest bits on the bike. A few other slick touches include a black face on the tank-mounted console speedometer, nostalgic rounded air cleaner cover and foot boards, and hand-laced leather fuel tank trim. And for you Von Dutch fans, some "wicked" pin stripping is tastefully applied to the fuel tank and fenders.

Note all the blacked-out goodies like the speedo face, tank console, handlebars and mount, etc. Even the faces of the idiot lights are darkened, only appearing when activated.

Note all the blacked-out goodies like the speedo face, tank console, handlebars and mount, etc. Even the faces of the idiot lights are darkened, only appearing when activated.

Innovative styling aside, the Cross Bones is a Softail at its core. As such it utilizes the same air-cooled, fuel-injected rigid-mount balanced Twin Cam 96B mill and 6-speed tranny that the other seven Softails employ. We hope the single 292mm rotor and solo dual-piston caliper are up to the job of slowing the Bones' claimed 737 lbs. running order weight long enough to bend its 64.5-inch wheelbase through a turn. With 32 degrees of rake and 6.3 inches of trail we won't expect this newest Softail to flick into those turns, but if our time on the Rocker C with it's raked-out 69.2-inch wheelbase, 38-degree rake and 6.2 inches of trail is any indication of how well a 240mm rear tire cruiser can handle, the Cross Bones should perform reasonably considering its narrower 200mm rear rubber.

It may look both cool and uncomfortable at the same time, but that springy leather solo seat isn't the only means of cush for the tush. Like all Harley softies a pair of horizontally-mounted shocks are tucked far out of sight in order to keep with the rigid look of yore while still providing a forgiving cruise.

Speaking of Softails, a quick head count shows that with the addition of the Cross Bones this line now consists of eight machines, the most of any in Harley’s line-up.

"Yeah, I'd like the chicken fried steak and eggs... Oh, and can I get a side of Cross Bones with that?"

"Yeah, I'd like the chicken fried steak and eggs... Oh, and can I get a side of Cross Bones with that?"

An Even Tougher Image for Harley?

In addition to the unveiling of a new bike, Bill Davidson announced that Harley-Davidson has signed up with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) organizations as a presenting sponsor and exclusive motorcycle sponsor. The mighty bar and shield of the Motor Company appeared center ring on the mat at a recent December 29, 2007 fight event called UFC 79: NEMESIS at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Sponsorship of the UFC and WEC events will see the Bar & Shield logo placement in the center spot on the Octagon canvas, as a press conference and weigh-in backdrop and in other event locations.

Harley-Davidson motorcycles and advertisements will appear at other UFC and WEC events and locations. H-D is also encouraging its independent dealers to hold UFC “fight night” events and customer parties in conjunction with a limited number of appropriate UFC events. A tough brand of bike for a tough crowd, we guess.

Summing up the Davidson family feelings on the Cross Bones, Bill Davidson V.P. of Core Customer Marketing says that it's inspired as much by the company's early Knuckle- and Pan-head bikes as it is by a desire to employ today's bike technology. "Cross Bones is a bike that makes me want to strap a blanket across the handle bar, hit the campgrounds on my next road trip and get totally in touch with what’s right about this land," said Davidson.

Even if you're not much of a cruiser rider, you have to admit that this is one good looking motorcycle.

Even if you're not much of a cruiser rider, you have to admit that this is one good looking motorcycle.

The FLSTSB Cross Bones is available in Dark Blue Pearl, Dark Blue Denim, as well as Vivid Black, Black Denim, Olive Pearl and Pewter Denim. MSRP is $16, 795 for the black and $17,140 for color models.

2008 Harley Davidson Cross Bones


Harley's Newest Softail Goes Old Skool



Harley-Davidson unveiled its latest bobber-style Softail this past weekend at the infamous Viper Room nightclub on the Sunset Strip. The tie-in to the Hollywood scene wasn't exactly clear, but a safe guess would be that H-D wants to make it known that the Cross Bones is one cool bike. And what better way to impress that image than to go where all the cool kids go. The other theme they wanted to hit upon was that of a dark scene, a theme that correlates well with what Harley calls "dark customs." If you haven't seen or been to the Viper Room, its exterior is entirely black with virtually nothing to indicate that it's a nightclub.

It was a scene full of young hipster types (including the quintessential loud, obnoxious guy), foxy ladies, plenty of media and free flowing booze and munchies. Yep, the Cross Bones' premiere was classic Hollywood, and in typical premiere fashion some big names were on hand. Big as in persons whose name is one half of the name on the bike. Big names like Willie G. Davidson and son Bill Davidson. When the el jefes come out, you know it's important to them.

With ape-hanger bars, a springer front end, springer saddle, floor boards and chubby tires, the Cross Bones looks like a page out of America's motorcycle customizing past.

With ape-hanger bars, a springer front end, springer saddle, floor boards and chubby tires, the Cross Bones looks like a page out of America's motorcycle customizing past.

When Willie G. and Bill finally lifted the silky cloth to reveal the bike beneath, what we saw was a bike that reaches deep into Harley's past for inspiration. The Cross Bones is a Softail that pays homage to the post-war past with a springer front end, bobbed fenders highlighting fat 16- and 17-inch tires riding on spoked wheels, an adjustable two-position springer solo saddle, ape-hanger bars, simple but elegant paint and dark or blacked-out finishes on everything from the engine to the turn signals. Heck, there's so much darkened componentry it's hard to keep track of it all, but another neat styling cue are the console-mounted indicator and idiot lights that remain hidden from plain sight until they're activated. Cool!

Like its dark cousins the Nightster, Night Train, Night Rod Special and more recently the Street Bob, the Cross Bones leaves chrome at a minimum with only a few engine covers and the exhaust pipes as the shiniest bits on the bike. A few other slick touches include a black face on the tank-mounted console speedometer, nostalgic rounded air cleaner cover and foot boards, and hand-laced leather fuel tank trim. And for you Von Dutch fans, some "wicked" pin stripping is tastefully applied to the fuel tank and fenders.

Note all the blacked-out goodies like the speedo face, tank console, handlebars and mount, etc. Even the faces of the idiot lights are darkened, only appearing when activated.

Note all the blacked-out goodies like the speedo face, tank console, handlebars and mount, etc. Even the faces of the idiot lights are darkened, only appearing when activated.

Innovative styling aside, the Cross Bones is a Softail at its core. As such it utilizes the same air-cooled, fuel-injected rigid-mount balanced Twin Cam 96B mill and 6-speed tranny that the other seven Softails employ. We hope the single 292mm rotor and solo dual-piston caliper are up to the job of slowing the Bones' claimed 737 lbs. running order weight long enough to bend its 64.5-inch wheelbase through a turn. With 32 degrees of rake and 6.3 inches of trail we won't expect this newest Softail to flick into those turns, but if our time on the Rocker C with it's raked-out 69.2-inch wheelbase, 38-degree rake and 6.2 inches of trail is any indication of how well a 240mm rear tire cruiser can handle, the Cross Bones should perform reasonably considering its narrower 200mm rear rubber.

It may look both cool and uncomfortable at the same time, but that springy leather solo seat isn't the only means of cush for the tush. Like all Harley softies a pair of horizontally-mounted shocks are tucked far out of sight in order to keep with the rigid look of yore while still providing a forgiving cruise.

Speaking of Softails, a quick head count shows that with the addition of the Cross Bones this line now consists of eight machines, the most of any in Harley’s line-up.

"Yeah, I'd like the chicken fried steak and eggs... Oh, and can I get a side of Cross Bones with that?"

"Yeah, I'd like the chicken fried steak and eggs... Oh, and can I get a side of Cross Bones with that?"

An Even Tougher Image for Harley?

In addition to the unveiling of a new bike, Bill Davidson announced that Harley-Davidson has signed up with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) organizations as a presenting sponsor and exclusive motorcycle sponsor. The mighty bar and shield of the Motor Company appeared center ring on the mat at a recent December 29, 2007 fight event called UFC 79: NEMESIS at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Sponsorship of the UFC and WEC events will see the Bar & Shield logo placement in the center spot on the Octagon canvas, as a press conference and weigh-in backdrop and in other event locations.

Harley-Davidson motorcycles and advertisements will appear at other UFC and WEC events and locations. H-D is also encouraging its independent dealers to hold UFC “fight night” events and customer parties in conjunction with a limited number of appropriate UFC events. A tough brand of bike for a tough crowd, we guess.

Summing up the Davidson family feelings on the Cross Bones, Bill Davidson V.P. of Core Customer Marketing says that it's inspired as much by the company's early Knuckle- and Pan-head bikes as it is by a desire to employ today's bike technology. "Cross Bones is a bike that makes me want to strap a blanket across the handle bar, hit the campgrounds on my next road trip and get totally in touch with what’s right about this land," said Davidson.

Even if you're not much of a cruiser rider, you have to admit that this is one good looking motorcycle.

Even if you're not much of a cruiser rider, you have to admit that this is one good looking motorcycle.

The FLSTSB Cross Bones is available in Dark Blue Pearl, Dark Blue Denim, as well as Vivid Black, Black Denim, Olive Pearl and Pewter Denim. MSRP is $16, 795 for the black and $17,140 for color models.

2007 BMW K1200R Sport


Some years we motorcyclists hit the jackpot with new bikes coming out of the woodwork. For 2007 that couldn't be more true.

We’ve seen the emergence of two stellar 600cc race-bred machines from Kawasaki and Honda. And the literbike war was heated up with innovative technical trickery such as the Yamaha R1’s throttle-by-wire and Suzuki’s switchable fuel mapping on its class-leading GSX-R. (Shame on you if you didn't read our 2007 literbike comparison!)

Lost amongst this and other good stuff such as Kawasaki’s nicely updated Z1000, upcoming Concours 14 and two new platforms from BMW (F800 and G650) is another spin-off of Beemer’s K1200 model line.

Continuing their tradition of squeezing as much life as possible out of a single engine and chassis platform, BMW gave us the K1200R Sport in late spring of this year with little fanfare. Let's step into the Wayback Machine for a minute to see where the K1200R Sport gets its roots.

In 2005 a new K bike, the K1200S, set the bike world buzzing with the most powerful engine BMW ever put into a motorcycle.

Later that year came the funky-looking, bare-bones (or as much as a Beemer can be) K1200R. It lacked a fairing of any kind, thereby exposing much of the frame and 1,157cc engine: the heart and soul of the bike. Save for a slightly smaller airbox that cost it roughly four horsepower and a couple of foot pounds of torque, it was chiefly a K1200S. Well, except for the funny headlight that, as Gabe said of it in his review last year, reminded him of Bender from the Matt Groening cartoon, Futurama.

Who is that masked bike? It’s a K1200R, sportified by the addition of a nose fairing to create the K1200R Sport.

Who is that masked bike? It’s a K1200R, sportified by the addition of a nose fairing to create the K1200R Sport.

Motorcycle.com has given full reviews on the K1200S and K1200R, and since the Sport is really just an R with a Zorro mask on (in the form of a half-fairing), we won't bore you with a full rundown of all the technicalities. But just to give you either a refresher or a quick briefing on what makes the K1200R Sport the motorcycle it is, we'll touch on the basics.

The engine is a liquid-cooled inline-Four with a bore and stroke of 79mm x 59mm which squeezes the fuel-injected charge with a compression ratio of 13.0:1. That, according to BMW, is good for 163 hp at 10,250 rpm and 94 ft-lbs of torque at 8,250 rpm at the crank. Expect about 140 horses at the rear wheel with 85-or-so ft-lbs of torque. That powerhouse is mounted transversally in a composite aluminum frame without the benefit of rubber; that is to say the powerplant is bolted directly to the frame as a stressed member. Front and rear suspension is a cutting-edge tech combo of a Hossack-style BMW Duolever up front and a BMW EVO Paralever single-sided swingarm shaft drive.

Braking is handled by what has heretofore come to be known as "BMW ABS." If you haven't ridden Beemers from the past few years, just know that they've developed a reputation of stopping, like, now!

Aside from the exposed, beefy engine, the next obvious thing most people note is the size of the bike. "Man, that is one long motorcycle!" people say. The wheelbase is unfashionably long at 62.2 inches, and the overall length (drum roll, please!) is a whopping 87.7 inches. Claimed dry weight is 474 lbs.

Those inclined engine cylinders provide massive oomph for blurring the scenery.

Those inclined engine cylinders provide massive oomph for blurring the scenery.

I hadn't been on one of these cruise missiles in some time, but it was only a matter of a day's worth of riding before I was reacquainted with the incredibly-fast-for-a-BMW experience that a current-generation K bike gives. The power the engine develops is enough to out-pony most any naked or standard on the market today. It makes long-distance freeway time a breeze as it will cruise effortlessly at triple-digit speeds.

“Keeping your license is going to be hard work when you can leave a traffic signal and hit 50 mph in about 2 seconds,”

Fonz observes, almost as if he has firsthand experience.

Unfortunately, the motor becomes buzzy starting around 4,500 rpm and comes on fully over 6,000. After a ride that stitched a series of canyons and freeways together, my hands and feet were tingling. Nearly as bothersome as the vibes is an annoying dip in the power that starts around 6,000 rpm and lasts somewhere near to 7,200 rpm. During my ride when I would concentrate on a sharp, decreasing radius bend more than what the tach was doing, the flat spot in acceleration was severe enough to break my thought process. "Oh yeah, there's that flat spot again," I would lament.

After I acquiesced to that motor quirk, I spent the remainder of my eval time on handling and braking. If it isn't obvious by the numbers for the wheelbase, let me make it clear that the Sport isn't a slicer and dicer. What it is, though, is an incredibly stable motorcycle in high-speed sweepers. Even when running up against the redline and into less-than-legal speeds, there was little in the road that could unsettle the chassis. It's as planted in turns as Robert Byrd is in the U.S. Senate. The K12’s steering geometry of 29.4 degrees of rake and 112mm of trail clearly indicate that stability was a greater goal for BMW than flickability.

“In the city the steering is slightly heavy,” Fonz admits, “but it is forgotten after a few miles. On the interstate, the solid and smooth comfort of the hyper-standard really comes out.”

The K12 Sport loves high-speed sweepers. Bumpy hairpin turns, not so much.

The K12 Sport loves high-speed sweepers. Bumpy hairpin turns, not so much.

Although the unconventional Hossack-type front end doesn't allow for superbike front-end feedback, I certainly didn't notice the lack of feel that so many others have often spoken of. There was a degree of vagueness over rough sections of pavement where an uneven surface may have caused the front to search for traction, but I never felt uneasy. After all, that's the nature of that suspension system; to isolate much of the harshness of the tarmac from the rider.

Lucky for us, our model had the optional (and by now, well-known) ESA or Electronic Suspension Adjustment system. With the push of a button, the rider can set the springy bits to accommodate for one rider or two, with or without luggage. Beyond that there are three primary modes that provide different front rebound damping, rear preload, rear compression damping and rear rebound damping settings. When you factor in the passenger and luggage choices, the ESA provides nine different set-ups. That should cover just about every scenario you can think of. It costs a hefty $800 but is indispensable if you’ve got the dough.

I implied above that the BMW ABS system is somewhat legendary in its ability to haul the bike to a stop. Unfortunately, it lacks feel and there is a very minute delay from first application of the lever to when the calipers squeeze down. When they do, you'll know it! It seems as if all at once you've applied more than 70% of the available stopping power for just a second or two even though you may not have intended to. Where this is particularly troublesome is in trying to modulate the brakes and throttle while in a series of tight twists. The ABS option ain’t cheap, at $1040, but BMW estimates 85% of the Sports will be ordered with the safety device.

The expansive length of the K1200R Sport allows plenty of room for even genetically engineered super-humans named Helmut.

The expansive length of the K1200R Sport allows plenty of room for even genetically engineered super-humans named Helmut.

The K12 Sport bristles with technology not found outside the BMW brand. It also has a price tag commensurate with feature-laden BMWs.

The K12 Sport bristles with technology not found outside the BMW brand. It also has a price tag commensurate with feature-laden BMWs.

Transitioning from closed to open throttle can be annoying thanks to yet another delay. There's just the slightest hesitation in fueling when the twistgrip is first, well, twisted. Combine the aggressive braking at the on-set with the closed to open throttle delay, and a very smooth and controlled hand is required to keep mid-corner maneuvers from becoming jerky. (Surgeons can afford it –Ed.)

By now you're probably saying to yourself, "We've already heard things like this since we've already read about the other K bikes last year. What does the new half-fairing do for the rider, yo?"

Naturally, the fairing offers way more wind protection than what you would get on the R model. Fonz, who has put more miles on our K than the rest of us, really appreciated the aerodynamic design of the 1200R’s new nose for its huge addition to rider comfort. And it does so with minimal buffeting. It looks pretty good on there too. What else can be said, I guess?

At a base price of $14,450, K1200R Sport is too steep for a humble working man to ever considering owning. Factor in the optional ESA, on-board computer and heated grips that our bike came with, and the bike simply wouldn't be on my radar.

All the more so when I found the engine buzzy, and the brakes and fueling were a little too unrefined. I'd have to become Editor-In-Chief, or something. Not all is lost, though. These K bikes have great ergos and can be ridden very, very fast if you wish. They have unquestionable stability and offer technology you simply won't find on other motorcycles.

“There’s a huge gap in technology between most regular brands and BMW,” notes Fonz. “To name a few, I’d top the list with stellar heated grips and seats, aerodynamic and ergonomic designs, and the strong brand identity, saturation and owner loyalty the Harley people already understand completely. The K12 is well balanced, fast, smooth and steady.

2008 BMW HP2 Sport





BMW vehicles have always had an air of exclusivity to them. The ownership of a BMW sort of implies that you've chosen to take a slightly different path. Possessing one says to the world that you're willing to pay the piper more than what most are willing to sacrifice in order to have what many only dream of owning.

Indeed, BMW's reputation for making excellent vehicles has raised the marque to that of status symbol. Even here in the Land of Pomposity (L.A.) where BMWs are as common as face lifts, there's still an allurement to them.

In the automotive world, BMW’s M series cars build upon the chic-ness of the German brand. Cars carrying this designation in the model name are unique amongst rank and file BMWs. They may look like their siblings, but beneath the shared exterior beats the heart of a race-inspired mill, with performance-oriented suspension and handling components to complement the extra horsepower.

2008 BMW HP2 Sport. The newest member of the HP2 family joins the HP2 Enduro and HP2 Megamoto. Owning any one of the three puts you in an exclusive club.

2008 BMW HP2 Sport. The newest member of the HP2 family joins the HP2 Enduro and HP2 Megamoto. Owning any one of the three puts you in an exclusive club.

The Enduro was the first bike to wear the HP2 moniker.

The Enduro was the first bike to wear the HP2 moniker.

Larger valves, a compact combustion chamber, flowed intake and exhaust ports and the non-traditional use of overhead cams is what sets this Boxer powerplant apart.

Larger valves, a compact combustion chamber, flowed intake and exhaust ports and the non-traditional use of overhead cams is what sets this Boxer powerplant apart.

An M car to the casual observer looks like all the rest, but to the sharp eye of the motoring enthusiast seeing an M car tells them that the driver/owner cares less for image and more for the performance potential of the machine. Yep, those who know these vehicles know what they want, and they're willing to pay the high price for the privilege.

The two-wheeled branch of BMW hadn't had such a VIP status available for riders until recently. In mid-2006 the company announced the HP2 Enduro. Utilizing a hot-rodded version of the 1,170cc Boxer mill, the Enduro became a high-flying 105-horsepower dirt eater.

Next up was the HP2 Megamoto. With 17-inch wheels, sticky tires and long-travel suspenders, the Megamoto is the hooligan that BMW originally hoped they could create by having Enduro owners simply swap out spoke wheels and knobbies for 17-inch hoops with street tires. The Megamoto has trouble-maker written all over it, just like a true supermoto, save for the fact that it weighs in excess of 400 lbs.

Now comes the HP2 Sport.

The latest member of the high-performance Boxer family is a race bike at heart. This exquisite machine draws its lineage from the endurance-racing-proven R1200S that won its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year.

The key difference in the Sport's engine - and it's an historic difference! - is the use of double overhead cams that employ drag levers, each opening a 39mm intake and 33mm exhaust valve (36mm and 31mm respectively on the R1200S). An OHC hasn't been used in a Boxer head in, like, forever, dude!

The four valves per cylinder are arranged radially for "optimal flow," as well as creating a more compact combustion chamber which eliminates the second spark plug as used on the R1200S. Intake and exhaust ports were machined for better flow, forged pistons are used to cope with the increased torque, as are "adapted" ("beefed-up" in Motorcycle.com speak) connecting rods. Compression is a respectable 12.5:1. Double oil coolers are arranged in series in the nose of the carbon/Kevlar composite front clip that's been wind-tunneled designed to help aid air flow over said coolers.

BMW claims the HP2 Sport produces 130 hp at 8750 rpm and 84.8 ft-lbs of torque at 6000 rpm, with a max rev of 9500 rpm. The more workaday R1200S churns out a claimed 122 bhp at 8250 rpm and 83 ft-lbs at 6300 rpm.

To cap it off, the entirety of the head covers are carbon-fiber/Kevlar, with each having its own little slider puck that comes in quite handy; extreme angles aren't necessary to touch the heads. A number of riders at the press launch had BMW techs raise ride height in order to pick up some ground clearance.

BMW may not care much for my comparison here, but the close-ratio six-speed tranny is of Japanese quality in its slickness and is rather transparent in operation, just like a good gearbox should be. Wailing down a racetrack is not the time or place to be thinking about a clunky gear set.

My slovenly shifting habits had me down one gear too many a couple of times; it was at those moments that the rear squawked and squirmed ever so slightly, leading me to safely assume that the HP2 Sport uses a non-slipper clutch. Something of an odd choice considering the bike's race origins and today's sportbike trends. In any event, clutch pull was very light.

Here's a good example of just how much CFK is used on the Sport. The tailsection is self-supporting carbon fiber/Kevlar.

Here's a good example of just how much CFK is used on the Sport. The tailsection is self-supporting carbon fiber/Kevlar.

Another item on the HP2 Sport to identify its racing bias is what BMW calls the "the gearshift assistant." This bit of wordsmith trickery translates into what is a type of ignition interrupt that allows the rider keep the throttle pinned whilst snicking up through the transmission. BMW says it enables "fast gear changes without having to ease off the gas and operate the clutch." This technology worked very well, but force of habit during shifting of backing off the throttle - for, well, all of my riding life - took a great deal of unlearning before I was able to play racer boy and use the gearshift sans clutch or blipped throttle.

A reverse shift pattern for racing is possible with the turn and twist of just a couple of bolts. And for just such an application, BMW offers (at an additional charge, of course) a replacement pressure sensor to adapt the quick-shifter to a GP-style race pattern.

More ponies and twisting force are complemented with an all-new stainless-steel exhaust system that passes under the oil sump and continues up to the tail section to meet with the silencer. This new routing, says BMW, "guarantees optimum angle of tilt when riding." An exhaust valve that's operated by an electronically controlled servomotor via cable sits at a point where the silencer and header pipe meet to purportedly produces a fuller torque curve.

Here's a peek at the gear shift assistant. It's partially obscured by a section of the midframe, but in this computer rendering we can see the whole thing.

Here's a peek at the gear shift assistant. It's partially obscured by a section of the midframe, but in this computer rendering we can see the whole thing.

The very simple chassis is graced with fully-adjustable Öhlins shocks on the rear Paralever and front Telelever . What isn't quite as obvious at first glance is just how minimal the frame is. It's really nothing more than the tubular steel midframe from the R1200S. Lacking a traditional subframe, the Sport utilizes a self-supporting carbon rear structure as a perch for the rider