Iron Horses.
To the uninitiated, trying to figure out the Harley-Davidson model line can be a confusing experience. At Harley-Davidson/Buell of Stamford, we try to take the confusion out of distinguishing one model from the next. The most important thing to understand is that Harley-Davidson makes four basic chassis. There are Sportsters, Dynas, Softtails, and Touring bikes. A word of advice is not to try to make sense of the alphabet soup model designations that Harley-Davidson uses. It is much easier to learn the models by family and model name. We will explain the differences between the four families to help you find the Harley which is right for you.

Harley-Davidson 1997 Motorcycles

1997 XLH Sportster 1200S Sport

The Harley-Davidson Sportster first rolled out of Milwaukee in 1957. It is Harley-Davidson’s entry level line of bikes. There are five Sportster models:

The XLH-883

The XLH-883 Hugger

The XLH-1200

The XLH-1200C Custom

The XLH-1200S Sport

The first thing people notice about the Sportster is that it is smaller than the other models. This makes it less intimidating for the new or small rider. The second thing most people notice is the lower price. Sportsters are substantially less expensive than the other models.

Sportsters are good around town bikes. They are quick, light and nimble. The XLH-1200 is the quickest Harley due to its superior power to weight ratio. The Sportster also handles well because of it’s short wheel base and steep head angle. Sportsters come with either a 883cc Evolution engine or a 1200cc Evolution engine. The engines are bolted directly to the frame and do not use rubber mounting systems. All Sportsters come with five speed transmissions and belt drives. More Sportster information and pictures.

1997 FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide

The Dyna chassis is an internal steel frame with a two-point rubber engine isolation mounting system. The Dyna was designed with this system to produce a motorcycle that combines the look of the original rigid mounted Harley Low Riders of the late seventies, with the handling and smoother ride that today’s riders demand. The rubber mounted engine is of great importance to riders who plan to put a lot of miles on their bikes. The rubber mounts very effectively reduce the engine vibration that is inherent in a big V-Twin engine. Like all Harley models, aside from the Sportster models, the Dyna’s have a 1340cc Evolution engine, five speed transmission, and final belt drive. One of the easiest ways to distinguish a Dyna from a Softail is that the Dyna models use a classic two shock set-up on the back end of the motorcycle. Th e Softail models use dual rear shocks running under the engine and transmission to give the appearance of no rear suspension at all.

More Dyna information and pictures.
1997 FXSTSB Springer Bad Boy
Softails are by far the most popular models rolling off our showroom here at H-D/Buell of Stamford. Softails are popular as they reproduce the nostalgic look, but not the ride, of a hardtail (a motorcycle with no rear suspension). A pair of horizontally mounted, adjustable, gas-charged shocks hidden beneath the frame provide the rear wheel with over four inches of travel.

There are two kinds of Softails: FX models with 21 inch front wheels and contemporary custom styling, and the FL models with nostalgic 16 inch front wheels. The FL models are styled to look like they rode out of the past. All Softails have 1340cc Evolution engines, five speed transmissions, and final belt drives. Softail engines are not rubber mounted, so they vibrate more than Dynas, but to some people, a Harley that didn’t shake a little just wouldn’t be a Harley.

More Softail information and pictures.
1997 FLHTCUI Ultra Classic Electra Glide

All Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles come equipped with, among other things, air-adjustable front and rear suspension, rider and passenger floorboards, and saddlebags. The ultra models come with an am/fm stereo cassette player, CB radio, and cruise control. All of the touring models come with rubber mounted 1340cc Evolution engines, five speed transmissions and final belt drives. The touring models are easy to distinguish from the other models. They are big! They are the only models that come with fibreglass saddle bags and fairing. These bikes are designed for long miles on the road with all day comfort; the one-and-only Electra Glide!

Return to