HARLEY-DAVIDSON SWITCHBACK (2012 - on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£350|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
There’s more to the Switchback than the brilliance of being two bikes rolled into one. Rider ergonomics have been looked at and now suit normal-sized Europeans. There’s also the changes in suspension, braking and more which make riding a Harley-Davidson a much more pleasurable option over the custom fakes from Japan. The determining factor is that the Switchback is a Harley-Davidson - and a particularly good Harley-Davidson at that.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The biggest difference between the Switchback and other Dynas we’ve experienced is the ride-quality. The Switchback is very neutral and steers with little input from the rider. Harley has got it together with the suspension too - the cartridge-type front forks aren’t adjustable but they don’t really need to be and the two rear shocks work well too. While the stylish set-up of one front caliper copes surprisingly well, preference for total stopping power would involve a dual disc set up. But it was the ABS that surprised us most. Firstly, by not being so openly noticeable and, secondly, because it doesn’t intrude until the last possible moment.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The Twin Cam 103 is a torque-monster and it has to be to pull 330kg in the smooth, compliant way it does. It doesn’t feel particularly powerful because peak torque of 93ftlb is at just 3,500rpm and the engine doesn’t rev much higher than this. Simply put, this Twin Cam engine is the finest air-cooled motor from Milwaukee yet. Even the gearbox is decent - a bit noisy and clunky in the first two gears maybe, but like the other four gears they too slot home and stay there.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
They may look old but Harleys have always been relatively reliable bikes and there's no reason the Switchback should be any different.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The removable screen and panniers are standard items in the Switchback’s £13,499 price (£13,799 for red or silver models). But whichever colour scheme is chosen, both are considerably cheaper than any of the present Harley-Davidson Touring range.
Being a Dyna model, the Switchback is a traditional-styled heavyweight cruiser with visible rear twin-shock suspension and a large capacity engine (1690cc). But with the addition of a quick-to-fit tall, clear screen and solid, lockable panniers the Switchback becomes a viable touring machine too, so you're essentially getting two bikes for one. The black five-spoke, blade-like wheels with polished rims are cool and make the chromed headlight, handlebars and fork shrouds stand out even more.
|Engine type||Air-cooled, 4v, Twin Cam, four-stroke, fuel-injected V-Twin|
|Frame type||Tubular steel|
|Fuel capacity||17.8 litres|
|Front suspension||Non-adjustable cartridge-type telescopic forks|
|Rear suspension||Twin rear shocks, adjustable for preload|
|Front brake||Single fixed disc with 4-piston caliper|
|Rear brake||Single floating disc with 2-piston caliper|
|Front tyre size||130/70-18|
|Rear tyre size||160/70-17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||42 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||£350|
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||76 bhp|
|Max torque||93 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||160 miles|
Model history & versions
Introduced in 2012 as the latest member of the Dyna range
Owners' reviews for the HARLEY-DAVIDSON SWITCHBACK (2012 - on)
2 owners have reviewed their HARLEY-DAVIDSON SWITCHBACK (2012 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£350|
Annual servicing cost: £200
This is by far the best handling Harley I've ever owned.
I've ridden Street/Road Glides, Road Kings, and I am just as comfortable on long rides on the Switchback
Ran great after I did the stage one tune. Runs way too lean from the factory
Other than constantly tightening bolts, it's been rock solid.
Annual servicing cost: £500
The best feature is the bike's versatility. The worst feature is the inadequate cornering clearance. I would definitely recommend a Switchback to a friend.
Brakes are adequate. Not great but not poor either. This bike could really benefit from two discs up front. The handling is excellent, especially with better tyres. The factory Dunlop bias tyres don't do this bike justice. I'm running Michelin Pilot Road 4 radials, with the GT in the rear and it's like night and day. Front forks work well, but could use more preload. Rear shock shrouds squeak once in a while. Overall, being 100 pounds lighter than a Road King and with the more nimble Dyna chassis, this thing really flies.
Engine produces more than enough power to move this machine. It feels like a freight train. The torque will easily bring the bike to the 120 MPH mark fully loaded and beyond, if that's where you want it to be. Of course it responds far better with a decent aftermarket exhaust and the cat gone. The transmission is heavy and clunky, like most Harley transmissions but smooths out when it's broken in. Clutchless shifts can be made in every gear except the 1-2 shift.
Build quality is excellent! Paint and chrome is flawless. Like many Harley products, the fastener quality consists of zinc-plated nuts and bolts which quickly dull. The brushed aluminum fork lowers are plastic coated, like a lot of Japanese motorcycles and looks poor after a couple years. It would be better if Harley simply polished these. I've ridden mine several times a week for 4 years with no breakdowns whatsoever. I've only had two headlight bulbs burn out.
The biggest service cost are tires each year. Oil changes are easily done by the owner.
I highly recommend the factory spotlight kit. Well worth the money. I've also added a crash bar, to save the bike if it's dropped at slow speeds. With the old FLH badges added, it looks a lot like an old 68-72 Panhead. The mags look and perform well too. The footboards will touchdown quickly in most turns and I recommend adding some hard plastic bumpers to the bottom of these.
Buying experience: My buying experience was perfect. Great dealer in Camarillo, CA and an excellent price that was way below list. I paid $13,000 and the bike listed for $15,000 at the time.