Harley-Davidson Low Rider S -- a closer look

Harley-Davidson has added a third model to its growing "S" line of powerful street cruisers.

For those who can follow the alphabet soup Harley uses for its wide array of individual models, this is the FXDLS.

For everyone else, it's the Low Rider S.

The company's designers call it a "tall bike." Stylistically, it was inspired by Southern California bike culture and recalls choppers and bobbers from the 1960s, particularly the "Billy Bike" ridden by Dennis Hopper in the motorcycle road movie "Easy Rider."

New for 2016, the Low Rider S features high, narrow handlebars -- like the Billy Bike -- and a slender, chopped look.

Harley-Davidson director of styling Brad Richards said the design team stripped away everything that wasn't about performance. The Low Rider S doesn't carry a windshield, or saddlebags, but does feature Harley's best brakes, top of the line suspension, and strongest power plant, Harley's Screamin' Eagle air-cooled twin cam 110 cubic inch engine.

That engine is said to make 115 pound feet of torque, which Harley says is 13% more torque than the standard Low Rider.

The new S will be in stores later this month and will retail from $16,699.

The Low Rider S joins two other recently debuted S models, both from the company's Softail line -- the Fat Boy S and the Softail Slim S -- and runs the same engine.

Unique to the Low Rider S are cast aluminum wheels in "magnum gold," a color Richards said harks to the design style of the 1970s and '80s, and blacked out "tommy gun" mufflers.

Also in black are the headlamp, handlebars, mirrors, forks, engine covers and fenders.

The front wheel is fitted with ABS. Transmission is six-speed and belt driven. The Low Rider S is said to get 44 mpg.

Gassed and ready to go, it weighs 674 pounds. Like all Harleys it comes ready to dress in a wide array of accessories.

Richards stressed that the Low Rider S is another way for an American rebel to express his or her uniqueness.

"Anybody can buy a sport bike and have a vanilla experience, but then you look like everyone else," Richard said. "With a bike like this, it's more about emotion."

The irony, of course, is that Harley-Davidson dominates American heavyweight motorcycle sales, generally selling around 50% of all over-600cc bikes sold every year -- more, in other words, than all other manufacturers combined in the heavy bike market.

The Low Rider S, Richards said, is also intended to attract a younger rider. This is essential for Harley, which is watching its core customer base age out of the powersports industry.

"This is for a younger generation that wants to get into the brand, but doesn't want to get into their father's or grandfather's brand," Richards said.

Richards, 47, is a career Ford designer who only came to the orange and black label about a year ago. But he's been a Harley enthusiast a lot longer. The avid collector has nine Harleys in his garage, representing model years from the 1930s to the 1970s.

The first new Harley he'll ever own, he said, will be the Low Rider S he just ordered.

Twitter: @misterfleming

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