Published on February 6th, 2017 | by Boris
2017 HARLEY-DAVIDSON LOW RIDER S 117 – THE IRON THRONE
This is a nasty piece of work.
As motorcycles everywhere become smoother, more refined and moreâŚwell, civilised I suppose, Harley-Davidson goes and commits this act of atavistic brutality.
The 117-cubic-inch FXDLS (or Low Rider S if you canât spell) is not so much a motorcycle as it is an act of primal rage incarnated in metal.
And I love it.
I ride it and it makes me wickedly happy. Or happily wicked. Iâm not sure there is a difference.
It makes me feel like the outlaw I once was, and still am from time to time.
Itâs like being an alcoholic.
An alcoholic is always going to be an alcoholic, but in order to save himself from himself heâs chosen not to drink anymore. But heâs still an alcoholic.
Iâm a bit like that.
So this mechanical assault Harley has cooked up speaks to me like a bottle of rum speaks to an alcoholic.
But itâs not a quiet conversation of whispering and urging. Itâs a guttural exchange of growling and daring.
âGet this up ya!â it declares, backhanding you across the face like youâre some fresh-mouthed twat in need of guidance.
Everything about it is wrong. And hard. And mean.
And paradoxically, ever so bloody right.
Itâs black. Of course it is. It has to be black. Sure, the wheels are not black, but theyâre not Jewish Racing Bronze, either. And they look better in real life than they do in pictures. But everything else is blacker than your ex-wifeâs heart.
It pays the barest lip-service to cutting-edge technology. You get keyless ignition, cruise control and ABS. Oh, and self-cancelling blinkers.
Traction control? Engine maps? Lean-angle sensors?
Bah! We ride like men. Be grateful the brakes are adequate. But do mind yourself in the wet on the standard Michelin tyres. Theyâre reasonable in the dry (the ground clearance will keep you on them), but in the wet they will show you the face of Jesus if youâre ham-fisted with the throttle.
And thatâs just excellent.
That front-facing heavy-breather intake that sticks out the side of the engine is like an affront to niceness. It says: âIâm sucking air in here, bastard!âÂ And because your eye is drawn to it, you canât help seeing that Screaminâ Eagle 117 metallically tattooed on top of the engine case just behind it.
Metrically speaking, this is a 1917cc engine. Itâs beating out 150.7Nm of torque at 3900rpm, and 100.2 horsies at 5600rpm.
There is no sneezing at 150Nm of torque. There are just prayers of gratitude interspersed by lightning bolts of sheer terror and wild joy.
You can ride it around with your manners showing and it will rumble and grumble and occasionally spit some hatred out of its air-nozzle. Or you can man-up and ride like you mean it and it will roar and thunder and vomit steel-heated anger at the world.
The difference between the 117-cuber and the standard 110-cuber is huge. And it terms of return-on-investment, it canât be beat. You can, of course, make a 120-cuber out of Harleyâs vast parts catalogue (and maybe you should), but thatâs a much bigger investment in dollars as well as time. This 117-cube âkitâ, if you will, doesnât require the engine to come out of the bike. And as such, itâs the largest bolt-on kit you can get from Harley. For your buck you get the following bang:
- Bigger 4.125-inch cylinders that slip perfectly onto the stock 110-cuberâs crankcase.
- Forged pistons that fire the compression ratio up to 9.9:1, and piston rings.
- High-flow fuel injectors and a 58mm throttle body.
- High-capacity roller tappets, SE-259E cams, inner cam bearings, and Perfect Fit pushrods.
So it breathes in better and it explodes petrol with more oomph. The difference is, as I said, startling. You should ride the 117 back-to-back with a 110 if you can. You will have no issue handing over the extra money. Even if you leave the pipes stock (and why would you?), thereâs also definite aural edge to the bigger motor.
The actual riding of it all is a bit unhinged, which is fantastic.
Itâs not comfortable. And thatâs fine. Because itâs not uncomfortable, either. The seat is firm and the riding position is fraught and feral. I felt like one of those ninjas jumping off a tea-house. My knees were high, my toes pointed up and my arms were wide and pretty much straight out in front of me. Itâs a tactical fighting posture for ninjas, and itâs perfect for riding the Low Rider. Itâs just not comfy like an armchair is comfy.
But men do not ride armchairs into battle, do they?
Is a warhorse comfortable?
Of course not. But it is suitable, is it not? It is appropriate, is it not?
It is therefore right, is it not?
And like a warhorse, the suspension is not going to love you up any either. What itâs going to do is wham your soft bitch-bits into firm man-parts and make you pay attention. Itâs adjustable at the back and itâs better than itâs been on previous models, but itâs still like a Viking assault on an English village â exciting and pitiless in equal measures. Do not ride with your teeth clenched. Ride with your mouth open and a war-cry in your throat.
You canât really see the dials until you drop your eyes off the road, so they are obviously superfluous.
Whatever speed youâre doing at whatever revs youâre making is the right speed and the right revs for that occasion. Itâs the kind of bike you can actually âfeelâ your way along the road with.
At idle it shakes and grumbles and you can smell it baking oil â which if I were you, Iâd be changing pretty regularly. Big-bores like oil. It makes them smile. It doesnât smell of burning grease like my old Shovelheads did, but it does emit a wonderful primal odour that lets you know itâs enjoying the old dinosaurs youâve fed it very much.
I even love the fact itâs got limited ground clearance. One look at the mid-mounted footpegs will tell you they are a disposable item.
Good. They should be. You will be disposing of them and getting new ones frequently.
I wouldnât care. I wouldnât even give it a second thought, because it doesnât matter.
All that matters is how impossibly awesome this 117-cubic-inch lump of primal wrath makes you feel.
This is not a bike for parades. This is not a bike for touring. This is not a bike for whirring up to coffee shops on sunny days with your best girl on the back.
This is a bike for the dark-of-heart. This is a bike for hard nights on mean streets. This is a bike to get your badness on with.
Thus it is a joy to ride. A shadowy, demonic, price-exacting joy to be sure, but a joy nonetheless. Slam that throttle open in third gear and you will feel every damn one of those glorious Newtons churning through you. Watch that speedo needle point at silly numbers (for a Harley).
The Milwaukee Eight engine is smoother, more refined and addresses, according to Harley, what its world-wide customer base is wanting today.
This engine is not that engine. And I really hope Harley never stops building this engine, and just keeps making bigger capacity versions of it.
Because this engine is the last buffalo. The last glorious, thundering, uncivilised and unrefined hate-bison in a world thatâs convinced itself that is somehow wrong.
But itâs not wrong.
The world is wrong.
Precisely because this Low Rider S is what it is and does what it does, is why I love it.
Itâs totally uncivilised.
Itâs unashamedly unrefined.
Itâs a barbaric meat-eater dressed up in a smooth black killerâs suit â and because it is that and doesnât pretend to be anything else but that, is why Iâm chubby for it.
When thereâs evil in the air and thunder in the sky, this is what you need to be riding.
George RR Martin understood.
You want to sit on the Iron Throne?
You have to pay the Iron Price.
And itâs worth every single damn cent.
A LITTLE BIT OF OUTLAWRY
To make sure I wasnât mistaken in my views about the Low Rider S, I took it down south for a ride with the Black Uhlans MC.
I have spoken about riding with outlaws before and you may read about that HERE and HERE.And I guess if you want to see how well your Harley works, the best way to find out is to take it for a ride with an outlaw motorcycle club.
So I chased Sean and Kev up the Macquarie Pass and I noted several thingsâŚ
Sean is very fast and Kev is very fast.
Sean has sticky tyres on his Wide Glide and far more ground clearance than me. He also rides faster than I do.
Kev smashed his Softail up Macquarie Pass faster than Iâve ever seen a Softail smashed up Macquarie Pass.
Both of them have the view that the more you grind off your bike, the more ground clearance you will have for future corners. This was not a discussion I wanted to have with Harley when I returned the bike, but I have always shared that view.
Both of them liked the Low Rider S very much and Kev went so far as to declare actual love for it, but felt it would need forward controls fitted for bigger blokes.
A 117-cubic-inch Harley cannot out-accelerate a 120-cubic-inch Harley.
It can, however keep Reggieâs thundering VRod in sight at redline in top. Canât pass it. But can see it.
My thanks to the Black Uhlans MC for their hospitality.
HOW MUCH: The 2017 Dyna Low Rider S is $26,250 ride-away. The 117-cubic inch kit is a few grand more and Harley recommends you contact your dealer for a quote using the product code 93500054.
More details can be found HERE.
Once again, thanks to Nick Edards for the photography. His work can be found HERE.