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Harley-Davidson introduces the 2011 lineup (Updated)

Harley-Davidson unveiled their new model year bikes today, expanding the product line to 32 motorcycles. OK, so its really more like 32 versions of the same 4 motorcycles. Whatever.

Still missing from the Harley lineup for 2011: a beginner bike of any kind, and more specifically, one that can be used in the company’s proprietary Rider’s Edge program for training beginning riders. H-D indicates such a bike will be available within three years. I doubt that’s very comforting to dealers who need the bikes for the program now, however. And I’m not sure that Harley is going to like the image of riders on Honda Rebels taking their proprietary training.

Anyway, the full press release can be found here.

The three new models are shown below.

2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra

2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra

2011 Harley Davidson XR1200X

2011 Harley Davidson Sportster XR1200X

2011 Harley Davidson Sportster Super Low

2011 Harley Davidson Sportster Super Low

Of the three new bikes, only one is relatively new, the XR1200X–which has been out for almost a year–one is an “Ultra” trim model of the the existing Road Glide, and one is a lowered Sportster 883.

The Super Low is the bike Harley-Davidson now says is suited for beginning riders. Personally, I think anything over 650cc is a bit too much for a beginning rider.  If you positively have to start riding a V-Twin, I’d recommend the V-Star Classic or the Suzuki S50, both of which are substantially lighter, and substantially less expensive–$1500 in the case of the V-Star–than the Super Low.

If you really want a good beginner bike, skip cruisers and sport bikes altogether, and get a Kawasaki Versys. It’s 100 pounds lighter, it sits the rider up high enough that you can see over traffic–and traffic can see you–far more maneuverable and confidence inspiring, and still costs $500 less than the Harley.

In my opinion, you need some miles under your belt before buying a Harley–or a Kawasaki Vulcan 900, or a Honda VTX 1300, for that matter. Later on, if you want a big cruiser, then save your pennies for a Road Glide. As far as I’m concerned, the Road Glide is the nee plus ultra of big V-Twin  cruisers.

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