If you look past the engine which is the same 1584cc air cooled, 96B unit used in the majority of models other than the Sportster & V-Rods, it looks totally different to the ‘norm’, is there is such a thing in this genre.
I love the Springer front end, to actually see the workings on the outside is totally different to what I am used to, and if you get the chance while riding to actually watch it working it’s a new experience. Don’t try it while riding through the rush hour though or you could get a closer view than you planned on.
It gives a smooth ride over any surface you are likely to come across on the road, pot holes excluded of course. With a rake/trail of 32 degrees it handles well in the corners and at slow speeds, and with a set of ‘mini’ ape hanger handlebars to hold onto you get the leverage you need.
The fuel tank holds a useful 18.9 ltrs of the best 95 octane petrol which give the bike a useful range, and with a gauge fitted into the tank you have the visual security of not running out-hopefully. A large electronic rev counter with LED speedo, indicators, lights and ignition switch are all tidied up with a leather tank strap.
Seating is supplied by a single, two position, well padded dual sprung seat which is wide and comfortable and at 676mm from the floor makes the bike accessible for most riders.
Looking at the rear you would think it is a rigid frame (Hardtail) but you’d be wrong, hidden away underneath and behind the gearbox are two horizontally mounted shock absorbers, matched to the seat it only improves the comfort level. The system means that the Cross Bones sits 25.4mm lower than any other of the springer range.
Braking is supplied by single discs front and back with a single pot calliper at the front and twin at the rear, a BIG pedal helps put the power into the rear which works well and a sharp tug on the front will stop the bike in a reasonable distance. The wheels are laced with steel spokes and black rims that look nice and wear a 135mm wide 16” tyre at the front, and a 200mm 17” rear.
So as a package it ticks all the right boxes until you take in the whole style which is where I personally think they have missed a trick. From the front wheel to the rear of the seat the bike screams ‘bobber’ until you get to the rear fender which just doesn’t match the rest of the bike.
A tight tyre hugging rear fender would look so much better with the no. plate fixed to the side with the tail light incorporated in it, indicators could be fitted to the frame. You would then have an ‘old school’ style Harley with modern parts.
So what’s it like to ride? It’s quite good fun to be honest – there I’ve said it! There is little if any vibration with the engine running unlike the last Harley I tested, gear changing is by a heel/tow lever and while it is a bit industrial is perfectly acceptable.
The torque from the engine will have you flying away from the lights in front of any car, which is always a giggle isn’t it? The fact you are on this style of bike roaring of into the sunset baffles some drivers but it’s a nice feeling.
A difference in the seating position on the cross bones does make it a handful to hold onto on motorways, and open roads when it is windy. With the position of the bars and the seat you are sitting ‘on’ the bike as opposed to in it as you do on most cruiser style bikes, therefore the wind hits you from just above the waist, remove the wind and you can maintain motorway speeds easily.
Riding around the wilds of Kent and East Sussex it handled well, you obviously have to go into corners slower than you would on a standard bike as the ground clearance is limited, I found out a couple of times when the foot boards scrapped ‘gently’ on the black top. There is a bit of a tug of war if you have to change direction quickly but giving yourself a bit more time helps no end.
As with a BMW the indicators are on the two sides which takes a little time to get used to again, but once your in the flow it is fine. A self cancelling system ensures you don’t give other road users the wrong info, but if it was to miss a beat you can see the reflection of you , the bars and indicators in the back of the headlight-even though it’s black.
You need to be accepting to the fact that you will get noticed on this bike, the front end is what most people notice first and those that remember the original ‘springers’ come over thinking that’s what it is. They are surprised to see that the style is still being used in today’s era of technology when they realise it is a modern machine.
Everyone has their own ideas of what they would have in their ‘if money was no object garage’ and I’m no exception, I want a broad collection from vintage to modern, sport to cruiser and this could well be in the running as the/one of the cruisers.
If it is the style of machine you are looking for and can afford it, the base model is £12,875, give it a try, you might be surprised.
Dave Muckle - BMF