Harley Davidson Blackline Ride Review

Harley Davidson Blackline Ride Review hd-blackline-6
Click this link for larger size images of the Blackline

Harley Davidson Blackline Ride Review

Blackline. Bobber. Minimalist…

Perhaps the designers wrote that on the clean sheet before they started sketching out the Blackline. If so, they stayed close to the plan. Lots of black, and stripped down. The Blackline doesn’t even have a tail light. Why add a tail light when you can cleverly push the flashers into service, doubling as twin tail and brake lights.

The lack of wiring keeps the bike looking clean, and there is a back story to that as well. Harley Davidson chose the Blackline to be the first with the new HD LAN system, essentially a computer controlled wiring system that uses far less wires to make things happen.


Based on the Softail line, the Blackline runs the 96 cube Twin Cam motor, has the familiar hardtail look and a large and skinny 21″ front wheel. The rear wheel is a change, no fat 200 series tyre here. The Blackline doesn’t stray far from its retro roots, running a more sensible 140 series 16 inch rear.

Whether or not this was done for style, it has had the effect of making the Blackline quite easy to change direction on, you don’t fight the tyre profile to turn. Let’s be realistic of course, this is a bike built for cruising, not racing, and as such has the usual features of limited ground clearance and a suspension designed more for ride quality than attacking high speed sweepers.


The split drag bars are extremely narrow, and if you are below average in limb length, they are a bit of a stretch forward. The low seat height adds to the distance needed to span. Changing the bars is one option, and would be easier given each switch block is powered by only a few wires thanks the the HD LAN system.

Narrow bars also equals narrow mirrors, which provide an excellent view of your shoulders, or the road behind if you do a little body twist.

Seat height is very low, foot controls are in the usual forward position. The riders view is clean, one single round analogue style speedo mounted between the bars is the sum total of instrumentation. The speedo does have a small LCD screen inside, with multiple trip and clock functions, as well as a digital tachometer.

The left hand switch block holds the mode button needed to scroll through the various functions. As per usual HD, the flashers feature a button on each block, left and right. Takes a bit of getting used to if you’ve been marooned in Japan. All of the switch gear is high quality and works as it should.

Riding is what it’s all about, and the Blackline’s 1580cc vee twin provides a torquey seamless drive. The fuelling is spot on, with no flat spots or stumbles.

Top gear (6th) has a handy little green light come on in the speedo to let you know, and top speed is probably limited more by the wind drag on your C shaped riding posture than the big twins power.

Cruising (or prowling as I like to imagine it) on the freeway gave a solid 110kmh at exactly 2500 revs. Very relaxed. Be warned though, relaxed and cruising does not equate to long distance comfort.

Feet forward and arms forward means long rides get a little iffy after a couple hundred k’s, and unlike a standard peg position, you cannot stand up to stretch out now and again. If you ride a cruiser already, you probably know this of course. Could be I’m a bit soft too.


The quality of the chrome and paint was great. If you so desired, you could probably pass the Blackline off as a custom built show bike to one of your numpty car driving mates. Lots of black, black chrome and glossy paint. The engine has a nice look with raw alloy on the heads atop a blacked out motor.

Sound quality from the huge twin chrome cannons was acceptable, with a pleasing rumble. Pipes are one of those things that most owners change, it wouldn’t be too hard to change to something much more offensive.


The de-badged fuel tank holds around 18 litres, we refuelled at around 300 kilometres on the trip meter, so a range of up to 400 could be possible depending on throttle opening. There is a distance to empty counter available on the the LCD scroll, but I didn’t put it too the test.

As an overall package, the clean “bobbed” look, with the blacked out “Dark Custom” theme works well, many people complimented the appearance when parked, and several thumbs up in the traffic. Yes, the Blackline does perhaps pack more form than function, but the reality is that is what this market wants.

H-D are likely hoping this genre of style will appeal to a younger audience than they currently have a lock on, and the bobber, retro style is certainly a growing trend. The Blackline would seem to me a far better choice than butchering some mid size Japanese commuter twin from the 80’s.


A quick check around the net shows that as usual, there is already available a host of accessories both genuine and aftermarket for the Blackline, from bars to pipes, seats to aircleaners. Or just buy, ride and enjoy as is.

The Blackline is available in three colours, blue as tested, a candy orange, and for a blacker Blackline, black. Retail price is around the 27,995 mark ride away, with the two candy colour options demanding an extra 500 bucks.



Styling, clean and pleasing to look at.
Great motor
Paint and finish quality
Chillin like a villian


Riding position a little too intense for short arms.
More ground clearance would help
RH Flasher switch too far from throttle hand


Click here for Large versions of the  Harley Blackline pictures

Harley Davidson Blackline Specifications

Rigid-mounted, counter-balanced Twin Cam 96B 1584 cc V-Twin
Bore and Stroke 3.75 in. x 4.38 in. (95.3 mm x 111.1 mm)
Compression Ratio 9.2:1.
Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection
89 ft. lbs. peak torque at 3250 rpm.
6-Speed Transmission

Front Suspension: 41.3mm telescopic, with 143 mm Suspension Travel.
Rear Suspension: Shocks Hidden, horizontal-mounted, coil-over, and 91 mm. Suspension Travel

Profile Laced Aluminium wheels with black anodized rims.
Front wheel 21 x 2.15 inches
Rear wheel 16 x 3 inches.
Dunlop D402 tyresMH90-21 front MU85B16 rear.
FX front end with black powdercoat triple clamps and black painted fork lowers.
Split Drag internally-wired handlebars
18 litre fuel tank

Analogue speedometer
LCD screen – low-fuel warning and “miles to empty” display function.
Combination stop/tail/turn lights
Laden rider seat height 63cm
Dry Weight 292kg

Optional Security Package with Anti-lock Braking System and Smart Security System.

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