Having ridden the 2014 Street Glide Project Rushmore, I thought Harley-Davidson Motorcycles had neared the pinnacle of its touring motorcycle design.
But this year, Harley gets even better with the Road Glide Special, equipped with the company’s latest engine – the 1,745cc twin-cylinder Milwaukee-Eight.
While some would attribute the Road Glide’s “oomph” to it merely having a bigger engine (Project Rushmore had a 1,690cc Twin-Cam), I found during a recent ride to Malaysia that other elements made the new machine stand out.
Shark-nosed fairing, twin headlamps, infotainment system (with navigation), airscoops on the dashboard and one-finger operation for its panniers have been carried over from Project Rushmore.
Its robust oil-cooled V-twin engine is special. The new Milwaukee-Eight – named because it has four valves a cylinder – takes performance and refinement up a notch. It runs cooler, making it less likely for your thighs to get “roasted” when you are caught in a traffic jam.
Output is 10 per cent higher than that of Project Rushmore, with 150Nm available from 3,250rpm. As previously, Harley does not reveal horsepower figures.
In sixth gear, the bike’s classy analogue gauges show a cruising speed of 130kmh and 3,000rpm. Clearly, the Road Glide is capable of greater speed.
SPECS/ HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD GLIDE SPECIAL
Price: $ 59,900 without insurance and COE
Engine: 1,745cc eight-valve V-Twin
Transmission: Six-speed manual, belt-driven
Torque: 150Nm at 3,250rpm
0-100kmh: 6 seconds (est)
Top speed: Over 200kmh (est)
Fuel consumption: 5.9 litres/100km (tested)
Agent: Harley-Davidson Singapore
It is fairly efficient too. I took two half-tank measurements on the Road Glide, which comes equipped with a 22.7-litre fuel tank. On the first run, I clocked 185km. On the next, it was 206km – giving it a range of 16 to 18km to a litre.
Thanks to its effective windscreen, wind blast is reduced at higher speeds. My 670km jaunt felt like time spent on a sofa.
The Road Glide is a stable platform, with new and bigger pistons for its front and rear suspension. Road bumps are inconsequential, save for nasty potholes.
Despite its size, the bike can lean on open roads. Negotiating bends on it is done in a smooth and flowing manner where you pick a line and stick to it.
A plus for the tourer is its Reflex Linked Brembo brakes, which offer a balanced performance between its front dual and rear brake calipers. But like all Harleys, the Road Glide is heavy metal. Given its 2.43m length and dry weight of 372kg, you won’t be able to squeeze past stalled traffic. Picking up the Harley – should you drop it – would be a strenuous affair too.
The bike is equipped with a hydraulic clutch, but its clutch lever is stoutly sprung. This easily numbs your left hand in stop-go situations.
But give it a long, open road with sweeping curves and this Harley is a breezy, cushy ride befitting its name.