"That motor smoothness combined with the rubber-mounted chassis and suspension adds up to
There are few images so burned into our collective psyche as the sight of a Harley-Davidson out on the open road. We hardly notice the details, if any, when a cage passes by. Yet we can recount in vivid detail the lone rider that imprinted our retinas. This is certainly true of H-D's FLTR, the Road Glide.
In a general sense, there are three types of H-D touring bikes with similar yet easily definable characteristics: the Electra Glide's iconoclastic batwing fairing, the Road King's classic/retro styling lines and, perhaps the most distinct of all, the Road Glide. Visually, people seem to either love or dislike the large, protruding, shark-nose fairing. Unlike the slimmer Electra's fairing with little depth, the Road Glide's is deep, extending beyond the vertical plane of the front axle. Aside from aesthetics, the two fairings diverge dramatically in how they're attached to the motorcycle. The batwing mounts directly to the fork, thereby moving as the handlebar does. On the FLTR, the fairing is fixed to the frame, the dual headlights always pointing straight ahead regardless of bar orientation.
HELMET: Icon Strongarm II PANTS: Icon Anthem BOOTS: Icon Standard GLOVES: Icon Merc
Having just put 4,000-plus miles on an '08 Electra Glide and 1,500 on this Road Glide, I felt a noticeable difference between the two bikes. The Road Glide feels more manageable at slow speeds due to less weight attached to the bar and fork as well as greater resistance to crosswinds. The batwing fairing, acting like a sail, can introduce unwanted steering. As with many things, there was a tradeoff for this rider-wind protection and buffeting. While the Electra Glide has a 12-inch tall windshield, it's placed much closer to the rider than the FLTR's and provided a calm riding pocket. The Road Glide's 16-inch windscreen (placed directly at eye level) didn't provide nearly as much wind (or rain) protec-tion. Trying to look over the windshield caused turbulent air to buffet my helmet. Conversely, if I hunched down to avoid the air, I was both physically and visually uncomfortable. This could be remedied with a different-height windshield.
Right off, the Road Glide, shod in flat Crimson Red Denim with slashing graphics, wrapped my body like a custom-fit motorcycle (for reference, I'm 5 feet 9 inches, 155 pounds). There was no problem flat-footing the deceptively large bike. The two-up seat is narrower at its tip to give more legroom without sacrificing comfort. With a relaxed reach to the handlebar, the hand controls were easy to use and intuitive, although the left radio control button (volume/ options) often took coaxing to operate. The right-side control contains channel switching and cruise control functions. A cockpit-style instrument cluster provides speed, rpm, oil pressure, battery voltage, ambient air temperature and fuel level info. The speedometer has two tripmeters, an overall odometer and a nice miles-to-empty feature that also automatically kicks in when "reserve" is hit. A yellow gas pump lights up when there is approximately 1 gallon remaining in the spacious 6-gallon fuel tank. A green "6" lights up on the speedo face when sixth gear is engaged. The jewel in the setting is the 40-watt Harman/Kardon audio system with AM/FM/WB/CD and MP3 capabilities that drives two front-mounted speakers. It's plenty loud enough to hear with a full-face helmet with earplugs in. An added bonus is an auxiliary port that can accommodate an iPod.