2009 Harley-Davidson FLHTCU
Like the rest of the 2009 Harley-Davidson Touring models the big daddy of the lineup received an entirely new chassis. Although the appearance of the bike doesn't look like much changed from previous year's Electra Glides a whole new frame and swingarm were employed by the factory. The engineers had a few goals in mind while creating the platform including better road manners, heat management, and increased load carrying capacity.
Coming in as the heaviest of all Harley's two-wheelers, the Ultra Classic Electra Glide tips the scales just shy of 900 pounds. That's a lot of weight to account for and doesn't include the rider(s) or luggage. A fine line had to be drawn that included manufacturing a frame that was stout yet not overly heavy and yet retain the look that H-D traditionalists love. The solution was found by designing a two-piece frame and a beefy forged swingarm.
Comprising the new frame is the main section up front that cradles the 96ci motor and Six-speed transmission and a triangular, bolt-on rear section that includes the fender struts and top frame rails where the seat rests. The new, stiffer, swingarm has been lengthened and widened to accommodate the new Dunlop 180 rear tire. At the factory the new frame is made with 50 percent fewer parts than the old one, reducing assembly time, and allowing for stricter tolerances due to less welding distortion. As far as strength is concerned the new frame supports a 70-pound increase in load capacity, including an extra five pounds of carrying capacity in each saddlebag as well as the Tour-Pak.
Many of the changes in the frame and overall redesign were a result of market research with riders around the country. Riding habits, comments, complaints, and suggestions were all taken into account. H-D went as far as weighing people's loaded bikes to see how folks were using them in the real world. This direct feedback from consumers helped hone in on areas that needed attention from an engineering standpoint.
In keeping up with the current market trend for bigger rear tires the whole rear of the bike is wider to conceal the larger rear tire, still wrapped around a 16-inch wheel. Up front the change was made to a 17-inch 28-spoke cast aluminum wheel. Tires were developed in tandem with Dunlop to meet the needs of such a large bike that's likely to rack up serious miles. The Multi-Tread tires contain a harder rubber compound in the center with softer sections on either side to aid in handling and grip. Wear has purportedly increased by 25 percent. Tying into the new tires is newly calibrated front and rear suspension to balance comfort, handling, and stability. On the rear are air shocks that can now accommodate 50 PSI for better adjustability while the non-air, conventional damper rod front forks employ Showa damping valves to smooth the ride.
Thumbing the starter on the Ultra wakes up the 1584cc Twin Cam to a soothing rumble through the newly designed two-into-one-into-two exhaust system. Noticeable immediately is the reduced vibration felt and seen at idle. Part of the new chassis design was the addition of a fourth engine stabilizer that helps to quell that annoying vibration often felt on earlier models while waiting at a red light. Sitting on the amazingly comfortable one piece, two-up seat all of the controls and instruments look like an old, familiar friend. Information is right in front of you on easy-to-read gauges. Aside from the requisite speedometer (with trip meters, odometer, and a reserve/miles to empty readout), there's a tach, oil pressure gauge, battery voltmeter, fuel gauge, and a useless ambient air thermometer. The thermometer never seems to accurately measure the air temp and might only be included to maintain visual symmetry within the inner fairing. An oil temperature gauge might be better. Indicator lights sit between the tach and speedo alerting the rider to low oil pressure, high beam status, and blinkers.