The first sales of the NEW FXR's actually occurred during the fall of 1981, however these sales were attributed to the 1982 FXR Model Year, thus:
1982 FXR Super Glide II Sales Totaled: 3,065
1982 FXRS Super Glide II Sales Totaled: 3,190
The first year sales for the FXR "model" were quite good, totaling 6,255. The 1982 FXRS Super Glide II and the 1982 FXR Super Glide II were the Number 1 and Number 2 best-selling "Big Twins" for 1982. However, as history would point to.....at the end of the day…..sales at best were mixed year in and year out and continued to drop for the FXR, ultimately being defined as too “Japanese” in appearance for the “staunch” traditional “FX” crowd….the conflict of purchasing a cheaper version of the FXR coming from abroad for some combined with the “failed” look of the “triangular” frame resulted in effort by the motor company to go to it’s roots, that of building a bike that could only come from Milwaukee like the “softail”. As remembered by Mark Tuttle, “we got a lot of “negative” response to the triangular area under the seat, even though we had created what we were indeed after, a very stiff chassis, very neutral handling, and a really good lean angle, which resulted in a fair amount of ground clearance and a higher seat height, and while it was probably the best-handling Harley ever built, Unfortunately, it just wasn’t selling as well as the rigid mounts were”.
“Best handling” it was and still is, but the original FXR was a whole lot more, first, it was the best motorcycle Harley’s engineers knew how to or were allowed to build.
Mark Tuttle, states that, “we found that other than a “handful” of riders, nobody was using that “capability” the market would, “rather have had lower seats and more of a low cruiser look than all that “handling capability”.
“IF” the original FXRS bike had started out as an “engineer’s bike”, in 1982, then in 1984 it could have just as easily been stated that the FXR was indeed “recast” into a “marketeer’s bike” with shorter shocks that took away some of that “ground clearance” and “lean angle” that had originally been engineered into it, in favor of a lower seat height that Harley’s marketers thought would revive it’s flagging sales.
Because the shorter shocks still had to control the same load, fork and shock springs were made stiffer. The result was a great loss in cornering clearance (now less than that of the Wide Glide or Softail, but noticeable only by the few who actually tried to ride the FXRS the way the original was meant to be ridden and a stiffer ride balanced by a lower, more Harley Davidson like feel. To emphasize the “charge” in “stature”, the marketeers gave the shorter FXRS a new name, ie: Low Glide. The “irony” was, once the FXRS was given a “motor” as good as its chassis (evo engine replacing the shovel) the chassis was taken back a half-generation in function. A few noticed and complained, but the majority were pleased their feet were now flat on the ground, and sales went up as well.
Turning from the "chassis" and looking at the power plant of the FXR we see that once the evo engine came into the chassis of the bike, major changes for the evo engine were kept at a minimum until 1992, receiving cases with the oil filter boss out front, and a breather system redesigned to vent through the cylinder heads and then into the carburetor. The new breather worked well for normal highway or in-town use. Unfortunately, it became known for dumping oil into the air box under extended high-rpm use. Carburetors had recalibrated jetting for easier cold-starting. As a running change in January 1992, the factory switched to an INA-type cam bearing (from the Torrington / Timken B138). This is an update that stood up well in normal service but NOT so well under “hot-rodding”.
The evo engine, close to bulletproof from the start, had slowly been refined to the point where it was bombproof. The major update for 1994 was a revision of the primary ratio from 3.37 final gearing which had begun in 1989 and moved to 3.15 final gearing to put the gearing more in the starter’s favor in turning over the engine. It could be said this too was another step towards "cruising" and another step away from "aggressive" cornering. Not only did the gearing move towards the starter's favor, in the end it awakened a even more comfortable vibration free isolated riding experience. What this all speaks to is the amazing flexiblity of the FXR "chassis/frame" experience as once again not only could one modify gearing to the pleasure of one's own predetermined riding experince, but indeed, the "chassis/frame" of the FXR was proven to be accomodating in which ever direction it's engineers or stylers wanted to explore. Isn't this the overwhelming evidence that proves and supports when something is as special as the FXR chassis/frame is, that its most wonderful compliments can be expressed through the eyes of so many successfully different riding variations?
Midyear, new cylinder studs and base gaskets were introduced that really helped eliminate base-gasket leaks. IF you look closely another modification for the 1999 FXR2’s FXR3’s and 2000 FXR4’s were given the same outer primary cover as used on the Twin Cam outer primary for touring models with more “ribs” to stiffen it. While the Evolution engine was mainly an “update” “from the base gasket up”, the Twin Cam was essentially all new, top to bottom. (By 1999, though, you could also call the Evo all new from top to bottom, too, because nearly every part of it had been updated between 1984 and 1999. Though 1999 was the end for the EVO Big Twin engines being only used in the 1999 FXR2’s FXR3’s and the Softail models, the ONLY 2000 model to carry the EVO motor was the 2000 FXR4 produced in the silver powdercoat on the engine cases.