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2010 Harley-Davidson Cross Bones Review


by Dustin A. Woods ,

For nearly as long as motorcycles have existed, so too have people who wished to modify them in order to suit their own personal tastes. Whether for comfort or style (rarely both it seems), riders would set to work swapping pipes, paint jobs, seats, handlebars and forks to set up their bike the way they wanted. Somewhere down the line a business savvy entrepreneur noticed the amount of money being funnelled into the aftermarket industry and couldn’t see why a major manufacturer couldn’t get in on some of that action.

Dustin actually enjoyed the riding position - in shorter doses for sure, but really appreciated the killer look, universally admired or envied everywhere he went. (Photo: Dustin A. Woods/

They were right; Harley-Davidson’s CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) shop has never been busier, and high-dollar, custom-inspired bikes like the Rocker C, Nightster, Forty-Eight and Cross Bones keep rolling out of Milwaukee.

When a bike like the Cross Bones is introduced, it could easily cause disappointment for failing to live up to the expectations its visual persona creates. To be honest, the only reservation I had before getting on this bad-ass Bobber was that it couldn’t possibly be as enjoyable to ride as it was to look at. Thankfully, my concern was unnecessary; the Cross Bones offers road manners that are predictable and a surprisingly comfortable riding position. It is however more conducive to cruising than it is to vigorous corner-carving, but is that really a big surprise? I doubt such an obvious notion would deter any potential buyers anyhow. The only time having all of my limbs outstretched became a nuisance was when I ascended north of triple digits on the 401 and felt about as aerodynamic as a brick. Getting anywhere in a hurry is not what the Cross Bones is about though. With oodles of torque on tap, it feels most at home on smooth, sweeping turns and wide open blacktop -second only to the enjoyment of hearing the pipes bellow as you pull away from a stoplight.

Instead of purchasing a stock bike and investing a great deal of time and money to modify it, one can simply stop by a Harley-Davidson dealership to buy an out-of-the-box Bobber like the Cross Bones. While ape hanger handlebars, matte black paint jobs and pin striping have traditionally not been common among mainstream manufacturers until very recently, Milwaukee’s legendary bike maker has been proactively going after new riders by creating custom-inspired rides that are anything but conservative. One thing is for sure, this bike stands out in the crowd. Custom pin striping, a “Wille G” skull and cross bones decal and braided leather tank accents recall common trends of the period, as does the spring seat – a necessity on hard tails of old –suggesting a meticulous attention to detail.

Wearing a blacked-out version of the Springer front end swapped for wider and higher handlebars, the Cross Bones has the DNA of a Softail, including the 96B powerplant mated to a six-speed transmission. Firing up the air-cooled V-Twin rewards your ears with the soothing and predictable rumble for which Hogs have become famous. Despite appearing to be a hard tail and rocking the aforementioned old-fashioned spring-mounted seat, the Cross Bones rides much like the rest of its siblings in the Softail family. Navigating uneven terrain in a straight line is done with ease thanks to the additional suspension in the seat and handlebars but their shock absorption tendencies differ enough to make things hairy when navigating tight turns or braking too aggressively while on rough pavement.

The high up front end, with springs out there for everyone to see, and Monkey bars to stretch your arms, shoulders and back - if you like that sort of medieval torture. (Photo: Dustin A. Woods/
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