Electronic fuel injection brings the motor to life as expelled hydrocarbons exit via a Siamese, chrome 2-into-1-into-2 exhaust culminating in tapered mufflers hugging each side of the beefy swingarm. For a stock bike the exhaust sounds decent and throaty.
Chassis, Suspension, Brakes
Felt vibration is kept to a minimum through the rubbermounted attachment of the motor to the frame. A four-point motor mount system (including the transmission) reduces rider fatigue during the long haul. The two-piece frame is suspended with twin, air-adjustable shocks in the back and a conventional, non-adjustable fork with triple-circuit damping. Suspension feel is plush yet a bit soft for spirited riding; the front end is particularly undersprung, diving under heavy braking and damping is average. This isn't necessarily a knock on the handling as the bike is a luxury tourer, not a sport-designed machine. The RG Ultra weighs in at a claimed 888 pounds yet rides like a much lighter bike.
Out back, the rear shocks do an adequate job of soaking up the bumps while still giving the road-feel back to the rider. Adjustable from 0 to 50 psi via a hand air pump the shocks can be adjusted for load and riding style, I always pump mine up to the max, as I feel there's usually too much weight towards the rear, especially when packed with gear and riding two-up.
Braking is amazing thanks to the triple disc setup and four-piston Brembo calipers. Feel through the brake lever is smooth and linear allowing good modulation of the front brakes. When the situation dictates and maximum stopping is needed the ABS system kicks in and hauls the bike down fast. This feature is especially nice when riding in the rain. Having ABS gives riders a chance to focus on getting out of a hairy situation and not have to worry about sliding either tire from a lockup. When the passive ABS activates there is a gentle pulsation transmitted through the brake lever(s). In addition, there is no linked braking so, for example, if the rear brake is stomped and the ABS comes on the front brakes are unaffected.
On the Road
Harley gave the people what they wanted in this ride and delivered the goods for the touring enthusiast. Riding the RG Ultra is a luxurious endeavor and begs you to want to get out on the open road. I'll reiterate plush and comfortable and throw in utilitarian at the same time. Whether your idea of a great ride is a Sunday putt around suburbia, the grid of the city, or taking a vacation this motorcycle can do it all. With six gallons of onboard fuel it's easy to cover more than 200 miles between stops.
I've been saying it since the intro of the '09 Touring bikes, but these modern FL machines are a night and day difference compared to the previous H-D offerings. Increased stability and confidence along with extra carrying capacity make for a more enjoyable and safe ride. You get a lot of bike for the money with top-notch fit and finish, brakes, audio, storage, and the engine.
While the 96ci Twin Cam is a worthy motor with lots of low-end torque, the 103 engine feels perfect cradled within the RG. Don't be misled by power ratings you may see on the internet-it's all about torque and more importantly where the power is in the rpm band. Torque is what snaps you back in the seat when you crack the throttle and it's easily obtained right off idle with the PowerPak option. I rarely, if ever, found myself downshifting for a pass even in the tall Sixth gear. Other than the signature first gear clunk the transmission is smooth and quiet with neutral always easy to locate whether going from First or Second gear.
Ground clearance and lean angle is more than adequate for most riders. I rode this bike hard and even when railing on the floorboards the bike maintained stability and predictability. The Dunlop Multi-Tread tires gripped the road well whether the conditions were cold and/or rainy.