What is a Harley-Davidson Dyna?


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What Is A Harley-Davidson Dyna

Are you an avid biker who is intrigued by the rich history of Harley-Davidson bikes, but you don’t know much about the Dyna? If yes, then you are certainly in the right place.

A Harley-Davidson Dyna is among the most iconic and historic motorcycles released by Harley-Davidson in its nearly 120-year tenure. While the company’s future sounds interesting, it doesn’t hurt to reminisce on the glorious days of the spectacular bikes that have come and gone. The Harley-Davidson Dyna is one of the best Harley-Davidson motorcycles ever created. It was first introduced in 1991, and it has been offered in various different models for almost three decades. Over the years, the Dyna lineup has featured many exciting models like the FXDX Super Glide Sport, FXDL Dyna Low Rider, FXD Dyna Super Glide, FXDLS Low Rider S, and more.

In this article, you will get to know all about the Harley-Davidson Dyna, what is a Harley-Davidson Dyna, the top reasons that make Harley-Davidson Dyna an extraordinary bike, and more. Stick around to get all the answers that you are looking for.

What is a Harley-Davidson Dyna?

Even though the name Harley-Davidson Dyna didn’t come until 1991, the origins of the lineup of Harley-Davidson bikes can be traced back two decades before that. The late 60s saw a sudden spike in the custom motorcycle scene. In response to this trend, Willie G. Davidson, the Chief Styling Director of the company, set out to create a type of hybrid between the smaller Sportster bikes and the larger touring motorcycles.

The bike is known for its solid, rigid structure and the extreme comfort it provides to the rider. This is primarily due to the rectangular backbone that resists twisting and flexing when accelerating or turning.

Another major attraction to the Harley-Davidson Dyna is its customization capacity. While Harley-Davidson doesn’t make these bikes anymore, there are countless customized Dynas that you can find in the used motorcycle market.

The Origins of Harley-Davidson Dyna

In 1971, the Harley-Davidson FX Super Glide was born. It was considered by many bikers to be the original factory custom motorcycle. The company designed the FX chassis to feature the rear suspension and frame from the FLH Electra Glide alongside the smaller telescopic fork suspension from the XLH Sportster.

Fusing the FLH and XLH acronyms gave the “FX” moniker, while many claimed that it actually meant “Factory Experimental”.  The FX Super Glide was largely met with a mixed reception. While the contemporary design was welcomed by some, many weren’t fond of the boat tail-like fender that had also been used with the Sportsters at the time.

Variations of the Harley-Davidson Super Glide got introduced throughout the remainder of the 70s, and sales of the model started improving once the rear styling got modified. 

The first FXR model, the Harley-Davidson Super Glide II, got introduced in 1982. The FXR chassis made changes to the solid-mounted engine and four-speed transmission, replacing them with rubber mounting and a five-speed transmission. 

The FXR line got broadened soon after the release of the Harley-Davidson Super Glide II. The FXRS Low Glide was unveiled in 1982 while the FXRT Sport Glide debuted the following year.

The Harley-Davidson Dyna is Born

In 1991, the first Harley-Davidson Dyna model was released as the company introduced the FXDB Sturgis. The limited-production model was named to honor the annual bike rally located in South Dakota. This rally is still held until now. Around 1,500 units of FXDB Sturgis were produced

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The FXD chassis used the rubber mounting implemented with the FXR Super Glide II, but it reduced the number of mounts (from 3 to 2). It vastly improved the production time on the assembly line and made the motorcycles cheaper to construct, but it, unfortunately, resulted in standard vibration control.

Even though they caused more vibration, the new Dyna rubber mounts managed to cut down on engine movement in the frame compared to the FXR chassis. It helped in eliminating the airy spacing with select units of the motorcycle like the gas tank.

The new FXD frame was significantly stiffer than the predecessor. This gave it the ability to handle the new Evolution engine that the company debuted a few years prior. 

By 1993, the FXR models that were released in the 80s started to be phased out in favor of newer FXD models. The FXRS Low Rider and FXRT Sport Glide were discontinued, and these bikes were replaced by the FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide and the FXDL Dyna Low Rider.

These two models garnered largely positive reviews from the community, and by this point, the Harley-Davidson Dyna model was starting to gain traction and establish itself in the Harley-Davidson lineup.

Harley-Davidson Dyna Motorcycle

Tremendous growth of FXD, eliminated FXR

1995 introduced numerous changes to the world of Harley-Davidson Dyna. Not only was the FXD Dyna Super Glide launched alongside the FXDS-CONV Dyna Glide Convertible, but they also became the first Dyna models to present a 28° rake. In comparison, all previous Dyna models used to feature a 32° rake.

The debut of these two models replaced the FXR Super Glide and FXLR Low Rider Custom, which were the final FXR models in regular production. The lineup got discontinued, but in hindsight, they actually took a 4-year hiatus. The FXR chassis returned briefly in 1999 with the launch of the FXR2 and FXR3. These bikes were limited in production as only 900 pieces were produced.

The Harley-Davidson FXR4 was released in 2000, with only 1,000 units being produced. This marked the end of the line for the Harley-Davidson FXR line.

Building 42, which was previously used for creating military machines, shifted its focus from the FXR to the dawning of the Screamin’ Eagle line. This line eventually got rebranded in 2009 as the Custom Vehicle Operations or CVO lineup as it is known today.

In 1999, the Harley-Davidson FXDX Super Glide Sport was officially released. This model came with triple disc brakes and enhanced suspension, among other features. The FXDX-T Super Glide T-Sport, a variation of the bike also debuted the same year. This bike featured improved removable saddlebags as well as a fork-mounted fairing.

In the same model year, Harley-Davidson also unveiled its first Twin Cam engine, with the first iteration sizing up at 88 cubic inches. This was a major improvement on the 82 cubic-inch Evolution engine.

Dyna’s Prime Era

The FXDX models became obsolete by 2006 when the Harley-Davidson Dyna line introduced a new chassis once again. The first Dyna models that featured this redesigned chassis were the FXDBI Street Bob and the limited release of FXDI35 35th Anniversary Super Glide. The addition of a six-speed transmission was introduced to the Dyna family in the same year.

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The following year, a new fuel-injected Twin Cam 96 engine replaced the Twin Cam 88 in Harley-Davidson’s Big Twin lineup, including in the Dyna series

2008 was another significant year for the Dyna family. The FXDF Fat Bob was launched, and it gave the Dyna bikes a beefier look. Harley-Davidson’s new muscle bike featured twin headlamps, a 130 mm front tire, and a 2-1-2 exhaust system.

Later the same year, the critically acclaimed crime tragedy TV show “Sons of Anarchy” officially premiered. The program was based around an outlaw biker club in a Californian town. Many believe that this moment marked the apex of the Harley-Davidson Dyna’s popularity, as most of the club members were seen sporting blacked-out Dyna models.

The program featured a successful run for seven seasons before the season finale in December 2014. Even though the series ended, it still provided an invaluable spike in popularity for Harley-Davidson, and Dynas in particular. 

The Final Days of Harley-Davidson Dyna

Even after two decades of producing the Harley-Davidson Dyna, the brand wasn’t afraid to mix things and try something new with the established line.

In 2012, the Harley-Davidson FLD Switchback was born, and it became the first Dyna to be truly configured as a Touring bike with saddlebags and floorboards. Alongside the Switchback, a new 103 cubic-inch engine was featured in the Dyna lineup.

27 years after the Harley-Davidson Dyna was conceived, it was time for the iconic bike to officially come to an end. In 2017, the company announced that there won’t be any Dyna line for the 2018 model year. The remaining Dyna models that were still in production got merged into the redesigned Softail line.

That isn’t to say the Harley-Davidson Dyna went out without a fight. The final few years of the bike saw it provide a strong showing and create many motorcycles that many found to be appealing. Interestingly, the 2017 FXDLS Low Rider S was named by Cycle World as the best cruiser of that model year.

Top Reasons that Made the Dyna an Extraordinary Line

While the future of Harley-Davidson Dyna certainly sounds interesting, the past is equally impressive. Reminiscing about the glory days of one of the best Harley-Davidson bikes, here are some of the top reasons that made the Harley-Davidson Dyna such an incredible line.

1. Easy to customize for tall and short riders

One of the biggest attractions of the Harley-Davidson Dyna is the customization capacity of these bikes. While the company doesn’t make them anymore, there are still several fantastic customized Dyna bikes in the used motorcycle market. Moreover, the Harley-Davidson Dyna doesn’t discriminate by height.

A tall biker can easily mod their bike by adding forward controls to get extra legroom. Meanwhile, short riders can easily lower their bike by making use of shorter shocks. Moreover, you can easily and accessories to go anywhere and take them off later with no fuss.

2. Come with a solid rigid structure

When riding the Harley-Davidson Dyna, you’ll feel the awesomeness of its frame’s solid, rigid structure. This is primarily due to the rectangular section backbone that resists any flexing or twisting when you are turning or accelerating.

The Sportster front end and the Big Twin chassis definitely helped in creating an extremely versatile bike. Moreover, the 16-inch Fang wheels made up of cast aluminum were incredibly lightweight and helped improve the performance of the motorcycle while adding the classic race-bike styling.

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3. The Dyna had the charm of the retro look

The modern-retro category of motorcycles is among the most popular classes of bikes today, and this category features motorcycles inspired by bikes of yesteryear. 

The Harley-Davidson Dyna offered the charm of the retro look across its trim. The trims in all the bikes were classic through and through. For instance, the Harley-Davidson Dyna Street Bob trim featured the rear fender chopped off to ooze the classic bobber styling, while the Wide Glide was a throwback to the custom chopper glory days.

4. Dyna became a success despite being Harley’s middle child

Many bikers consider the Dyna to be the company’s “middle child”. The motorcycle had many bigger and smaller siblings, ranking it somewhere in the middle. Generally, the middle child does not get as much attention as the smaller or bigger siblings. Similarly, the Harley-Davidson Dyna also went largely under the radar, getting overshadowed by the smaller and compact Sportsters, the larger ultra-plush Tourers, and the entry-level Street.

In terms of size, the Dyna was somewhere in between the Sportsters and the Tourers. This made it unique in that it attracted riders of all kinds. Despite being the middle child, the Dyna line still ended up being a massive success.

5. More balanced than the Softail

For 2018, Harley-Davidson ditched the Dyna family, replacing it with the Softail lineup as the brand looked to move to easier handling bikes with lighter, faster accelerating. However, the Softail name is not new, as it has been around since 1984.

While the Softail brings in many features like the counterbalanced win Cam engine, both the bikes are equally great and offer numerous accessories available. The Dyna is much more balanced than the Softail and is better at steering in traffic.


What does Dyna mean for Harley-Davidson bikers?

The Harley-Davidson Dyna was a raw, sporty Harley-Davidson bike that served as a viable upgrade from the smaller Sportster models. In many ways, the Dyna could have been considered a Sportster but a bit bigger. When you see a high-performance build of a massive Harley-Davidson bike, it is usually based on the Dyna.

Do they still make Harley-Davidson Dynas?

No, Harley-Davidson stopped producing the Harley-Davidson Dyna line, with 2017 being the last year a Dyna was released. Harley stopped including the Dyna since 2018, eliminating the line after it debuted back in 1991.

What is the difference between Dyna and Softail?

The Harley-Davidson Softail offers a smoother ride, but the Harley-Davidson Dyna will have more power behind it. Both of these bikes offer a 6-speed transmission and other similar specifications. However, the Harley-Davidson Softail engine makes use of both air and oil for its cooling. Meanwhile, the Harley-Davidson Dyna only used air for engine cooling.

What are the different types of Harley-Davidson bikes?

These days, there are five major types and models that Harley-Davidson has been producing these days. Each of these styles will be built with different specifications and for different purposes. The different types of Harley-Davidson bikes include the Cruiser, Touring, Sport, Trike, and Electric motorcycles.

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