What is a Harley Dyna? The difference between Dyna & Softail

What is a Harley Dyna? Although the Dyna name itself did not come about until 1991, the origins of this line of Harley-Davidson motorcycles can be traced back two decades prior to that. The late 1960s brought forth a spike in the scene of custom motorcycles.

In response to this trend, Harley-Davidson’s Chief Styling Director Willie G. Davidson set out to create a type of hybrid between the smaller Sportster models and the larger Touring models.

What is a Harley Dyna?

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.

What is a Harley Dyna

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.

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.

Dyna Origins

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

Fusing the FLH and XLH acronyms produced the FX moniker, also referred to as “Factory Experimental.”

The FX Super Glide was met with mixed reception. The contemporary design was welcomed by some, but many were not fond of the boat tail-like fender that had also been chosen for the Sportsters at that time.

Variations of the Super Glide would be introduced throughout the remainder of the 1970s, and sales on the model began to improve once the rear styling was modified.

The first FXR model, the Super Glide II, was introduced in 1982. The FXR chassis replaced the solid-mounted engine and four-speed transmission from the FX in favor of rubber mounting and a five-speed transmission.

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The FXR line was broadened not long after the release of the Super Glide II. The FXRS Low Glide was unveiled later in 1982 and the FXRT Sport Glide debuted a year later in 1983.

By 1987, the FXR line had completely supplanted the original FX bikes. Although the FXR line was doing well, Harley-Davidson began to work on replacing the new chassis not long after its launch.

The Dyna is Born

In 1991, the first official Dyna model was released with the introduction of the FXDB Sturgis. This limited-production model was named in honor of the annual bike rally located in South Dakota that is still held to this day. Approximately just 1,500 units were produced.

What is a Harley Dyna

The FXD chassis kept the rubber mounting implemented with the FXR Super Glide II, but reduced the number of mounts from three to two. This vastly improved production time on the assembly line and made these bikes cheaper to construct, but unfortunately resulted in substandard vibration control.

Although they caused more vibration, the new Dyna rubber mounts cut down on engine movement within the frame compared to the FXR chassis. This helped eliminate airy spacing with select units of the bike, such as the gas tank.

The new FXD frame was considerably stiffer than its predecessor, though, giving it the ability to better handle the new Evolution engine that Harley-Davidson debuted a few years prior.

The FXD line expanded in 1992 with the release of the FXDB Daytona as well as the FXDC Dyna Glide. These bikes were very similar apart from their respective paint schemes, with the Dyna Glide being completely silver and black upon initial introduction.

By 1993, the FXR models that had launched in the ‘80s began to be phased out in favor of newer FXD models. The FXRT Sport Glide and the FXRS Low Rider were both discontinued, and in their places came the inception of the FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide and the FXDL Dyna Low Rider.

These two models specifically garnered rave reviews from the community at large, and by this point the Dyna model was really starting to gain traction and establish itself in the Harley lineup.

Growth of FXD Eliminates FXR

The year of 1995 brought a couple of different changes to the Dyna world. Not only did the FXD Dyna Super Glide launch alongside the FXDS-CONV Dyna Glide Convertible, but these were the first Dyna models to present a 28° rake. All previous Dyna models featured a 32° rake.

The debut of these two models essentially replaced the FXR Super Glide and the FXLR Low Rider Custom, which happened to be the final FXR models in regular production.

The line was discontinued, but in hindsight only took a four-year hiatus. The FXR chassis returned briefly in 1999 with the creation of the FXR2 and FXR3.These models were of limited production, though, as only 900 of each were ever produced.

The FXR4, of which 1,000 units were produced, was released in 2000. This effectively marked the end of the line for the FXR line.

Building 42, which had previously been used to create military machines, shifted its focus from the FXR to the dawning of its Screamin’ Eagle line. This line would eventually be rebranded in 2009 as the Custom Vehicle Operations, or CVO, line as it is known today.

Additionally in 1999, the FXDX Super Glide Sport launched. This model advertised triple disc brakes as well as enhanced suspension. A variation, the FXDX-T Super Glide T-Sport, debuted the same year. This model featured improved removable saddlebags and a fork-mounted fairing.

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

Dyna’s Prime Era

These FXDX models would then become obsolete by 2006, when the Dyna line once again introduced a new chassis. The first Dyna models to feature this redesigned chassis were the FXDBI Street Bob and the limited production FXDI35 35th Anniversary Super Glide. The addition of a six-speed transmission came to the Dyna family that same year.

What is a Harley Dyna

The following year, in 2007, a new fuel-injected Twin Cam 96 engine replaced the Twin Cam 88 for Harley-Davidson’s complete Big Twin lineup, including the Dyna series.

The Dyna family celebrated another significant year in 2008. The FXDF Fat Bob first launched, giving the Dyna a bit of a more beefy look. Harley’s new muscle bike featured twin headlamps, a 2-1-2 exhaust system and a 130 mm front tire.

Later in 2008, critically acclaimed crime tragedy television series Sons of Anarchy premiered. The program was based around an outlaw motorcycle club in a fictional Californian town. Many believe this marked the apex of the Dyna’s popularity, as most of the club members sported various blacked out Dyna models.

Complex media even created a list of the top 15 “coolest” motorcycles featured in the hit TV series, and seven of the bikes chosen were Dyna models. Protagonist Jax Teller (portrayed by Charlie Hunnam) rode a modified 2003 FXD Dyna Super Glide during the series.

The program had a successful run for seven seasons before concluding in December of 2014. Although the series has ended, it provided an invaluable spike in popularity for Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Dynas in particular, helping make them coveted models to this day.

The Final Days of Dyna

Even through two decades of producing the Dyna, Harley-Davidson still wasn’t afraid to mix it up and try something new with the established line.

In 2012, the FLD Switchback was born, becoming the first Dyna truly configured as a Touring bike complete with saddlebags and floorboards. Along with the Switchback, a new 103 cubic inch engine was also offered along the Dyna line.

Twenty-seven years after the Dyna was conceived, its time had officially come to an end. In 2017, Harley-Davidson announced there would be no Dyna line for the 2018 model year. The remaining popular Dyna models that were still in production at the time were merged into the redesigned Softail line.

That’s not to say the Dyna went out without a fight, though. The final few years of the Dyna produced a strong showing, creating bikes that many found to be appealing. Cycle World named the 2017 FXDLS Low Rider S its 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.

What is a Harley Dyna

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Above is information about What is a Harley Dyna? that we have compiled. Hopefully, through the above content, you have a more detailed understanding of Top reasons that made the Dyna an extraordinary line. Thank you for reading our post.

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