Saturday, November 28, 2009

The FXRDG and the FXDG

After I mentioned the FXRDG, and the FXDG in my post below on the solid wheel equipped FXB Sturgis, I recieved a bunch of Emails asking for more info on them, and photos if I had any. I told everybody it would be easier if I did a post here on the blog with the requests. I hope you find this interesting as well.
A great photo of the '84 FXRDG Disc Glide. Total production for the FXRDG was 863 units, including 10 FXRSDG's with the longer Sport front ends.

The '84 FXRDG is a pretty interesting link in the development and history of the FXR. By '84, the Evolution engine was ready to go into production, and from the beginning of the FXR program, the FXR (and the FLT) frames were constructed for Evo power, with the Shovelhead filling the interim. Harley wanted a Factory "custom" FXR platform for the Evo, and the FXRDG Disc Glide was designed to fill the bill.

The Disc Glide got it's name from it's unique 2pc. 16" spun aluminum rear rim, something that had been around in the custom bike world for a few years, but in the form of an adapted automotive 15" rim. Along with the rim, the Disc Glide received the first chrome and silver engine package available from the Factory.

The Disc Glide also received one of the first paint packages that were developed by H-D in unison with PPG's Custom Paints Division. The color was a black powdercoated frame, with a killer candy Blackberry and Brandywine two-tone for the sheetmetal, applied over a gold 'flake base. The "blackberry" was accomplished by applying a coat of candy red with a slight hint of red pearl over Harley's Vivid Black as a base. The result was a very deep black, until you had it at the right angle, and then you could see bright, almost burgundy highlights on the rounded surfaces.

Finishing off the Factory custom paint was a single hand-painted gold pinstripe to seperate the panels, and the old "Genuine Harley-Davidson" decal for the tank panels. The whole paintjob was then overcleared to remove the "steps" in the decal and the pinstripes. Overall, it was probably Harley's best finish they had applied up to this time, and set the Factory standard in this department for all their bike from there on out.

The FXR Disc Glide's 2pc. spun aluminum rim by Centerline, and final chain drive. Note the riveted construction to join the wheel halves, and the factory .750" offset rear sprocket that was unique to the chain driven FXR's.

Factory photo of the '84 FXDG Disc Glide, or the "Willie G." or "Willie Glide", as it was more popularly known. Total production on the FXDG model was 810 bikes. Willie G. and Louie Netz rode a pair of prototype belt driven Wide Glide FX's VERY similar to this FXDG, from the Factory in Milwaukee to Sturgis in '82. I saw them both parked on Main St. by Gunner's Bar that year, and Willie G. was taking everybody's comments on them, and putting them in his mental notepad.

H-D refered to this model as their "ultimate Wide Glide". It was a Harley Factory custom in every sense of the word. The bike's sheetmetal was painted a dark oxblood (along with the dash and outer primary cover), with the frame being black powdercoated.

The complete Shovelhead engine, transmission, and the inner primary were done in both black wrinkle, and gloss black powdercoat. The exhaust received a matt black ceramic coat, and the lower sliders received the gloss black treatment, as well as most of the rest of the parts on the bike that would be traditionally chrome.

The big news in the styling department though, was the addition of the 2pc. spun aluminum 16" disc wheel out back, which it shared in '84 with the FXRDG that you saw above. Along with the wheel, the back of the Disc Glide got an 11 1/2" rotor, and the front end sported two 10" rotors, which were on their way out by '85. A piece of trivia for you - the front end on the FXDG was 3 1/2" longer than stock, vs. the standard Factory Wide glide extension of 2" over.

Also part of the package was a custom 2up seat, sissy bar, and two hand stitched and laced leather bags, which Harley referred to as "Stash Bags" - one on the front fork, and a larger one on the sissy bar. Can you imagine Harley calling those bags by that name today? In my opinion, the FXDG was one of Harley's best early factory custom efforts ever rolled out of the factory.

Harley gave the FXB Sturgis' primary and secondary belt drives one more encore performance, and included both of them in the Disc Glide's drivetrain - the last appearance of the primary belt drive on any production bike from H-D. Also getting one more hurrah was the inclusion of both kick and electric starters
The L/H side shot of the FXDG. Unfortunately, this bike is missing the factory sissy bar, and rear "stash bag", but still has the front fork bag. This color picture almost makes the paint look brown, it was really a darker oxblood color.

In a way, both these bikes mark a passing of one era, and the beginning of another. Both the big twin chain final drive, and the old 4 speed swingarm frame (and the 4 speed itself) were on the way out. In '84, the FXR Lowrider already had a secondary belt, with the FXR Superglide II, and the Disc Glide having a chain drive. By '85, all the FXR line had a secondary belt. And, in '85 the only big twin models to have a rear chain (aside from the FLT line, with enclosed rear chain) were the Electraglide Classic, the FX Fatbob, and the Softail.

In '85, the last vestage of the old style 4 speed swingarm frame (along with the 4 speed transmission) was available, and it wasn't exactly the same frame, either. With their gas tanks on, you would be hard pressed to see the difference. To retain the old look of the 4 speed frame, and allow the Evo motor to mount in it, the factory took the rear section of the old 4 speed frame, and added it to the front section of the '85 Softail frame. Harley used this frame on the chain driven Electraglide Classic and the FX Fatbob, the FX Low Rider, and the FX Wide Glide - the last two being secondary belt driven.

By the 1986 model year, all of Harley's big twins were 5 speeds and secondary belt driven, and only three big twin frame configurations were available - the FLT, and FXR (both designed by Eric Buell back in 1975), and the Softail.......wow.

8 comments:

loserrules said...

Rich, as usual, you rule!

Mike said...

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BustenNutz said...

I LOVE that wheel! I have one on my 48' PAN...get lots of attention...just ask Eric and Rico...

Chris K said...

Great post. I remember them both well. In some ways, it's hard to believe it's been 25 years. You don't see either of them anymore. Where did they all go?

JokerJ said...

I used to work w/ a guy in 90-91 that had the "Willie G special" unfortunately he had stripped it down and got rid of all of the bike original character. It was all black w/ high apes,spoked wheels front & back, no front fender, solo seat, etc.

adebell813 said...

I have this bike. My father bought it off the floor at the new york bike show in 83'. It's a great bike. the HD factory has always put out great customs.
Anthony D

Sparky said...

I really enjoyed reading this entry. I am in the process of bringing my '84 FXRDG out of storage (since 2000) after a lengthy sailing adventure. All original with < 15,000 miles.
I'll update next month when she's fitted out with new rubber and fluids.

HDManny said...

Very Interesting.
I have an 85 FXWG and bought a Disc Wheel for it on E-Bay a few years ago. Never knew it was a stock HD Item at one time. Never seen another one wheel like it since.