Another goal of the redesign was addressing heat felt by the rider. Due to the way the exhaust headers exit the motor, particularly the rear, engine heat was directed right at the rider's right thigh. The old system had the rear exhaust split, that sent some gasses to the left side muffler and some to the right. To take care of this H-D made the new 2-into-1-into-2 exhaust system with a hidden crossover underneath the transmission and frame. The "Y" junction is gone, and there's no pipe exiting down the left side of the bike. The catalytic converter has been relocated forward in the one-piece header pipe. These changes not only take care of any unwanted heat, but it also cleans up the lines of the bike. An additional heat management system, the Engine Idle Temperature Management System (EITMS) is a Rider-Activated Rear Cylinder Cut-Out that electronically deactivates ignition to the rear cylinder when the bike is stopped, idling, and the motor reaches a temperature threshold. The motor will then pump fresh air through the rear cylinder, aiding in cooling the engine.
In addition to the triple disc Brembo brakes that work extremely well our test bike is equipped with H-D's ABS system. The ABS is designed to prevent wheel lock-up in emergency or wet-weather conditions. Other than a small wire going to one of the front calipers, the system is transparent. It doesn't cause any ill effects during normal riding, only activating if the bike speed changes from the wheel speed. On the feel side, the ABS-equipped lever pull is more solid than a non-ABS FLHX. It has a little harder pull, with a slight loss in the modulation 'feel' of the lever pull. It's not bad, just different. Once we had a few miles on the bike, the brake lever felt perfect.
On the cockpit side of things, all of the familiar faces are there: easy to read speed and tach gauges, oil pressure, voltmeter, ambient air temp, and fuel level. The handebars are comfortable to reach and control the bike with. Controls for the audio system and optional cruise control are easy to use on the fly without moving your hands from the grips. H-D's throttle by wire is as good or better than any cable actuated system and there's no cables or wires to look at or maintain. The mp3 device capable AM/FM/WB radio works well enough to hear at most speeds. Some extra power would be a nice uggrade, particularly when wearing a full-face helmet. The CD player performed flawlessly without ever skipping during daily city riding. The stylish looking shorty windscreen looks great but isn't the best screen if you're looking to get out of the windstream. We felt no buffeting from the short shield, but it does allow a lot of wind to reach the head and upper body. That's easy enough to remedy if one wanted to, as H-D offers numerous sizes of accessory windscreens.
These new Street Glides reach a great balance between form and function. The bike is nimble enough for everyday commuting yet doesn't shy away from hitting the Ironbutt circuit. We love the hard saddlebags that seem to swallow anything we can throw at them while keeping our computers and cameras dry and safe during the worst rainstorm. We're hanging on to this bike for a while in order to customize it even further. Keep on the lookout for upcoming articles and more road reports with the 'Glide. As Willie G told me as we ended our meeting "Harleys make you smile," and we couldn't agree more.