A few have come before it and many after, but Harley Davidson is hard to compare with another. The American motorcycle manufacturer is a true industry icon, and it has become an American cultural symbol in many ways. The company has been known primarily for its hardtail chopper styles early on, but Harley has evolved over time, broadening its platform to include other more contemporary and middleweight designs. Harley has also done much experimentation with motorcycle forms in order to give riders unique experiences. One such result is the Harley Davidson Cross Bones, and we’ll take a look at the legacy this model has imprinted on the motorcycle industry.
What is a Harley Davidson Cross Bones?
From 2008 to 2011, Harley Davidson created a line of motorcycles that had a special identity. Although it’s of a Softail make, the Harley Davidson Cross Bones had qualities and characteristics of a vintage hardtail—only with a cruiser personality. This cruiser offers a surprisingly comfortable ride, and that’s largely due to the nicely detailed padded sprung seat and wide footboards. You’d have to be careful not to fall asleep on this machine, especially since the extremely quiet exhaust might let you forget you’re actually riding. It’s difficult not to imagine roaring exhausts when you think of a Harley, but the Cross Bones has enough Harley spunk to remind you of its kind.
When it was announced before the 2008 release, the Harley Davidson Softail Cross Bones was slated to come as part of a six-model segment. Designed to be custom bikes, the Cross Bones was to be part of the Dark Customs series, which included the Nightster, the Night Rod Special, the Street Bob, the Night Train, and the Fat Bob. All motorcycles in the segment came with a dark motif and an equally dark vibe, but something set the Cross Bones apart from the rest. The Cross Bones is much like a bobber—a welcome nod to bike bobbing traditions of days past. In the end, the overall experience of riding a Cross Bones stands out compared to the rest.
Cross Bones specs
Its bobber qualities make the Cross Bones look like a bike from the WWII era. It’s a good reflection of the past in a world of contemporary bikes, especially since the Cross Bones also happens to ride like a bike with modern comforts. Upon first glance, you’ll immediately notice the bobbed fenders and various stripped parts. In a few ways, the Cross Bones is much like any other Softail—utilizing the same frame and drivelines. But that’s really where its Softail characteristic ends.
Sitting on the hand-stitched padded seats, you’ll notice half moon floorboards that offer not only style but supreme comfort as well. The round brake pedals are as vintage as they come. Perhaps one of the more impressive features of the Cross Bones is the Springer front end. It looks even cooler blacked-out along with other components including the wheels and drive line, the rear fender, the sprung solo seat, the dash, and the ape-hanger handlebars. In fact, it’s the very lack of chrome that makes the Cross Bones all the more striking. It stays true to its sinister name and nature without the flash of chrome getting in the way.
A Nod to the 1930s
Not that it needs any flash at all. The Cross Bones has so much character in the subtlest of ways that it would take one to examine all parts to truly appreciate it. As another nod to the past, the Cross Bones seat pan actually uses a number from the 1930s. Although the seat pan design itself has been reimagined and updated over the years, the number has remained the same. This seat pan has also been used on many police bikes, which attest to its utility and comfort.
The Cross Bones sits high, which gives you an excellent view of the road and all around it. The cat’s eye dash is easy to see and offers you a view of all you need to know on your ride—trip meter, odometer, clock, mileage distance, and a fuel gauge. The 5-inch wide, 16-inch Dunlop front tires will basically run over anything without giving you a hard time. The back tires give even more support with its slightly bigger 17-inch tires. Of course, the massive weight of the machine does its part as well.
With a 737-lb weight, you’ll feel your ride to be mostly effortless regardless of the terrain. The V-Twin, four-stroke engine produces a maximum output of 87.9-ft lbs of torque at only 2750rpm. You won’t have any issues with speed on the Cross Bones, but you might find it easier to maneuver on the highway at or below 80 mph. Besides, the Cross Bones look much cooler on a stride than on a rush. As noted before, you won’t be turning heads with your Cross Bones’ muffler sounds, as they’re practically nonexistent in comparison to other Harleys. You’ll appreciate the lack of roar, however, when you happen upon a longer ride—something you’ll find you might enjoy more often on a Cross Bones than any other bikes.
The Harley Davidson Cross Bones is one exceptional piece of machinery that evokes modernity and classicality at the same time. It’s probably one of the more sophisticated bikes we’ve seen in recent years, and it’s unfortunate that Harley has discontinued its production. Even the notion that it's been discontinued adds to the sinister mysticism of this model. While you may no longer be able to purchase a Cross Bones brand new, there are plenty of used and customized options out there should you wish to pursue. The Cross Bones is definitely a worthy pursuit. Once you have it, you might not want to let it go.
You can also read:
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith