When Harley Davidson announced to the world that the popular Dyna line would be discontinued this summer, reactions were polarized.
The Dyna line never had the notoriety of the rough and rugged V-Rod or the sleek and compact Sportster, yet there was a distinct subset of Harley Davidson fans that preferred their Dynas to all other models.
These fans were distraught to see the line discontinued, while others were apathetic.
However, the Dyna isn’t completely dead. Rather, it has been amalgamated into Harley Davidson’s Softail line (as we will see shortly).
First, let’s take a trip to the 1980s to understand the origins of this unheralded yet quietly popular motorcycle family.
Before the Dyna was a noteworthy part of the Harley lineup, there was the Wide Glide. WIth deadly black paintwork, a flame motif, a bobbed rear fender, ape hanger handlebars and a stunning fuel tank, the Wide Glide had the aesthetics of a custom ride - yet handled like a classic Harley.
This served as the basis for the Dyna chassis several years later. Interestingly, Harley Davidson did extensive customer research and attempted to tackle common criticisms when developing the Dyna. This kind of market research is common now for motorcycle manufacturers, but it wasn’t in the 1980s.
New limited experimental versions of the Wide Glide (as well as other models) were released during this period. After receiving mediocre reviews, Harley Davidson had a clear, customer-centric vision for the Dyna.
In 1991, the first Dyna-frame motorcycle hit the market: the limited edition FXDB Sturgis. The model was designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Black Hills biker rally. It featured a sleek black design and was powered by the now famous big-twin engine.
While the aesthetics of the vehicle were admired by Harley fans, the maneuverability was lacking - partially due to the fact that Harley rushed the production job in order to get market feedback. Over the next few years, subsequent iterations proved to be superior.
In 1992, the Sturgis was replaced by two new models: the FXDC Dyna Glide Custom and the FXDB Daytona. Both models featured nearly identical engineering, which resulted in improved control. The only significant difference was the paint jobs. The FXDB Daytona was black, in traditional Harley Davidson style, while the FXDC Dyna Glide Custom featured a majestic silver design.
After the FXRT Sport Glide and FXRS Low Rider came to an end in 1993, two new Dyna models were created: the FXDL Dyna Low Rider and the FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide.
In 1999, the FXDX Super Glide Sport was introduced and fans admired the improved performance qualities. The model had improved suspension and triple disc brakes. By this point, the Dyna family was solidified in the Harley Davidson lineup, and mass production followed.
In the 2000s, the Dyna became known as an excellent all-rounder to ride. It was smaller than the Touring models, yet was still larger than anything in the Sportster range. Fans viewed the Dyna as a jack of all trades - you could enjoy long introspective cruises as well as showboat on city streets.
While shorter riders have found an appreciation for Sportsters, it was easy to lower the Dyna by installing shorter stocks. The Dyna chassis was popular with riders who wanted to express their individuality - ape hanger bars were a common addition.
In 2007, the Dyna chassis got an upgrade and the Twin Cam engine was replaced with the Evo. The modern Dyna range consisted of: the Super Glide Custom, the Wide Glide, the Fat Bob, the Switchback and of course, the Street Bob.
Death and rebirth
With one announcement from Harley Davidson headquarters in 2017, both the Softail and Dyna lines were no more. Moving forward, the Softail name would remain, but it would represent an amalgamation of the previous Softail and Dyna lines. With this change, the Dyna line would still live on (although not in name), but with significant engineering changes.
The new line includes: the Fat Boy, the Low Rider, the Softail Slim, the Heritage Classic, the Deluxe, the Breakout, the Fat Bob and the upgraded Street Bob.
One of the most visible features of Dyna motorcycles was their exposed dual rear shocks. For the future, models would have an entirely new frame with an inconspicuous uni-shock system hidden underneath the seat.
For those who were used to the traditional Dyna look, this marked a break with the past. In particular, the 2018 Lowrider and Street Bob models were vastly dissimilar to previous models (both of which had diehard fans). Some felt betrayed by their favorite motorcycle brand for producing such an aesthetically weak lineup, while others praised the ingenuity and bravery of Harley Davidson for unleashing something new and evolved.
Functional changes also occurred. The new models featured reduced weight: most of the models lost 30 pounds or more. Steel handlebars and fender struts were replaced with aluminium upgrades, which changed the look and feel of the models.
As you would expect, maneuverability is quite different with the new models. Thanks in part to the new monoshock suspension, there is an improvement in lean angle which helps for cornering. The entire lineup features easily adjustable hydraulic suspension - so you can customize your ride so that it feels right for you.
The Milwaukee-Eight V-twin engine is another departure from the past. Coupled with the reduced weight on all models, the addition of this new engine means a higher power-to-weight ratio and increased speed.
This engine was the result of significant market research. In particular, Harley Davidson led focus groups in order to solicit feedback for how they could improve the Twin Cam. Increased power was requested, and subsequently delivered with higher compression ratios than ever before. The engine is also counterbalanced, which provides a smooth ride without eliminating the rugged feel of riding a Harley.
Will you become one of the fanatics circulating “Not my Dyna” memes, or will you embrace the new changes and pick up a 2018 Lowrider or Street Bob? The choice is yours.