2009 Harley-Davidson FLHTCU Ultra Classic Electra Glide - Ride It!
Ready For Life On The Road
By Toph Bocchiaro, Photography by Toph Bocchiaro
The Ultra comes standard with cruise control and front, clear-lens reflector optic spotlights with switches for both located within the inner fairing cap assembly. An accessory switch and speaker switch also reside there. Although the stereo on the Ultra resembles the other Touring radios, the Ultra has a higher output 80-watt Harman/Kardon audio system that feeds four speakers. Two speakers are in the fairing and another two out back on either side of the passenger seat and backrest. The rear speakers can be turned on or off as well as adjusted for fade; a nice feature is the separate passenger volume control that gives the passenger some say over how loud (or not) they like the tunes. New shorter antennas came standard in '09 also, including both the radio and standard CB antennas. Although we didn't use them there is a CB radio and intercom system wired into the bike.
Out on the road the Ultra is about a smooth a ride as possible. The suspension soaks up all manner of road imperfections with ease. There is still a bit of a wallowing feeling in the big bike, likely due to the weight and the aerodynamic properties. There is a lot of air being pushed by such a large frontal area and that tends to reduce aerodynamics. The windshield is tall requiring all but the taller riders to have to look through the windshield. In addition the lower fairings that attach to the engine guard add to the rolling resistance of the bike. Although the lowers, with integrated storage within them, have adjustable vents there's still not a lot of air getting through to the rider's legs. Adjustable fairing wind deflectors are on either side of the fork-mounted fairing and can be positioned to block or direct air toward the rider. They work well too, with a noticeable difference in cockpit temperatures by changing the angle of the deflectors. The large Tour-Pak and the associated backrest adds wind resistance too that further prevents a smooth flow of air through the rider. The Ultra is definitely the most insulating of all the H-D models, which is good or bad depending on weather conditions. In the rain or cold all of this makes for a very pleasant ride, however in the heat of the summer, the lack of airflow makes for a hotter ride.
Thankfully the '09s have some new features that reduce the heat felt by the rider. The largest change was in the routing of the exhaust system. Gone is the left side crossover pipe and the catalytic converter has been moved to within the header pipe. The exhaust crossover is instead routed under the bike, from the right side to join up with the left muffler. This change also allowed for a reshaping of the rear head pipe to keep it farther away from the rider. Mid frame air deflectors placed under the seat and rear rocker box also aid in heat deflection. All of this combined with the rear cylinder ignition cutout (that pumps cool air through the rear cylinder when at idle and the motor is hot) still doesn't make riding the Ultra a cool experience. It's definitely improved but we were still getting pretty roasted riding, especially in stop-and-go traffic. Surely, and in H-D's defense, most of the unwanted heat comes courtesy of your elected lawmakers and their overly strict emissions control measures directed at motorcyclists.
By Toph Bocchiaro
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