Harley-Davidson charged into the economic headwinds that started blowing last year in an incredibly strong position, but like all of the manufacturers has since had to make some tough decisions. Surprisingly, although the 2010 model year will not see the return of five models (Sportster 883 Custom, Dyna Low Rider, Softail Nightrain, Softail Rocker, and the original Road Glide), the Milwaukee Motor Company is replacing them with five new 2010 models and once again introducing four new Custom Vehicle Operation hot rods.
We had the opportunity to sample the new 2010 models in and around Denver, Colorado. First among them and certainly the most fully equipped is the Electra Glide Ultra Limited, the new top of the H-D touring line. This is the next regular production (non-CVO) step up from the Ultra Classic Electra Glide, with enhanced performance and styling that includes premium extras previously offered only as accessories. At 103ci vs. the standard 96, the Limited’s larger rubber-mounted Twin-Cam engine offers a claimed 10 percent boost in power. Our sister publication American Rider reports that its Ultra Limited test bike made about 9 percent more torque and 4 percent more horsepower than our 2009 Ultra (November 2008) on a Dynojet dyno.
The Ultra Limited’s Brembo triple-disc brakes have ABS as standard equipment, and more perks include the H-D Smart Security System, a Premium Tour-Pak luggage rack, Premium saddlebag and Tour-Pak liners and a 12-volt/15-amp Tour-Pak power supply. It employs all the major chassis and engine upgrades from last year, and this year’s 96 and 103 powerplants get new helical-cut fifth gears for quieter running, so it really is a very smooth and polished all-around road warrior.
Although the power boost was not overly perceptible in Denver’s high altitude, the Limited is very comfortable with its good fairing protection and lowers, decent cornering clearance and potent brakes. Bottom line, with the Ultra Limited’s $24,699 price tag, it’s all about value—you couldn’t come close to that price trying to similarly accessorize a standard Ultra.
Replacing the standard Road Glide is the new Road Glide Custom, a model that projects a meaner, leaner and cleaner persona than previous Road Glides. Some trim and badges have disappeared; the single taillight has given way to a trick LED taillight system; and the frame-mounted fairing has a new smoked, short Lexan windscreen. Harley also put on a larger 18-inch front wheel with a lower-profile tire, slammed the rear suspension a full inch, then added a nice-flowing 2-into-1 exhaust. It’s definitely a low-slung, built-for-business road hugger now. Based on the touring bike platform and utilizing the same rubber-mount Twin-Cam 96 engine, it can blow down the highway with nearly the same comfort and smoothness as the dedicated touring bikes, and despite being lowered, it still has enough cornering clearance to make it a competent road carver. A very good choice for the spirited enthusiast who wants to do it all—profile, tour and burn. The new Road Glide Custom retails for $18,999 for solid colors and $19,479 for two-tones.
The bikes in Harley-Davidson’s Dyna family are sometimes referred to as blue-collar Harleys; they are distinguished by a low rear end featuring two coil-over rear shocks, an exposed underseat battery box and a moderately raked front end, all contributing to the low and lean “chopper” look of the bikes since the first Dyna appeared in 1991. This year the Wide Glide returns to the Dyna family. It’s old-school chopper, low and stretched-out with drag bars, forward foot controls, chrome “Tommy Gun” 2-1-2 exhaust, a 21-inch front wheel and a signature wide front end. Harley lowered the Wide Glide’s suspension a tad (its 25.5-inch seat height is 1 inch lower than current Dynas) and tilted the front of the gas tank up .75-inch for a better “sitting in the bike” feeling.
Throwing a leg over this Wide Glide, I was reminded that a little self-sacrifice is required to enjoy any chopped Harley. That first stretch to the high footpegs is a long way, not really conducive to long-term comfort. Time on the open road does reveal a really well-mannered machine, able to profile with the greatest of ease. The Wide Glide’s 96ci engine’s rubber-mounting system allows a little engine shake at idle, but really smoothes out as the revs build. Beautifully appointed with liberal amounts of polished aluminum, chrome and powdercoated finishes, the Wide Glide is reasonably priced at $14,499 for solid colors.
From the darkest corner of Harley’s design studio comes a leaner, lower and oh-so-very-dark new addition to the Softail family, the Fat Boy Lo. H-D Director of Styling Willie G. admitted his biggest challenge is creating new looks, and that hot-rod cars often supply inspiration. This low-slung Prince of Darkness adorned in Denim black, satin chrome and black powdercoating from front to rear has the four-wheeled “Rat Rod” look scrolled all over it. More notable is the ground-hugging seat height—by lowering the rear suspension 1.2-inch and adding a slimmed-down saddle, seat-to-ground has dropped to a mere 24.3 inches, the lowest of any Harley-Davidson model. The Fat Boy Lo is powered by the familiar rigid-mounted, counterbalanced Twin Cam 96B engine (which doesn’t shake at idle) with a six-speed transmission and belt final drive. Price is $16,299.
Finally, the three-wheeled Tri Glide Ultra Classic is joined by a new leaner, stripped-down, hot-rod model called the Street Glide Trike. It has the same rubber-mounted 103ci powerplant as the Ultra Classic, but sports a smoked mini wind deflector, sleeker bench saddle and is sans Tour-Pak luggage carrier over the molded-composite trunk. With considerably less storage space then the Ultra Classic’s trunk/Tour-Pak combo (4.3 cubic feet vs. 6.5 cubic feet), the Street Glide forfeits some all-out touring appeal, but is roughly 65 pounds lighter, so shorter rides can be much more spirited. The Street Glide Trike is less expensive at $26,999, too, about $3,000 under the Ultra Classic’s base price.
Factory Customs SIDBAR: 2010 Harley-Davidson CVOs
Now in its 11th year, Harley-Davidson’s Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) group builds limited-production, factory-custom machines for “alpha” customers—affluent, exclusivity-driven enthusiasts who are the silverback gorillas of the cruiser jungle. Four 2010 models were introduced in Half Moon Bay, California, famous for foggy, rocky coastlines and redwood-dense mountains.
Leading off is the FLHTCUSE5 CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide ($35,999), which has been in the CVO lineup for five years running. As with the others, it is powered by a CVO-exclusive Screamin’ Eagle Twin Cam 110 (1,803cc) Granite-powdercoated engine. Stand-out features for 2010 include the King Tour-Pak’s LED brake/tail lamp and 12V outlet, the full line of Rumble Collection accessories and Roulette wheels. This Ultra has the best of everything, and with the new touring chassis introduced last year, it may be the most stylish, comfortable, compliant Harley ever. Available in Scarlet Red Pearl/Dark Slate, Riptide Blue/Titanium Dust and Burnt Amber/ Hot Citrus, all with Flame Graphics.
Also returning is the FXDFSE2 CVO Fat Bob ($25,299), which strikes a pit viper pose with its aggressive front wheel and beady eyes. It is made all the more sinister with Midnight Pearl (dark chrome) plating on the dual headlamp shell and elsewhere, industrial-cool knurled Diamond Black Collection accessories and Fang wheels. The brown distressed-leather two-piece seat (convertible from solo to two-up) is left unfinished so it will develop a well-worn patina. The 110-inch motor accelerates quickly, but the weak single-disc front brake doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain. It feels very stable, but limited suspension travel is jarring over bumps and boot heels scrape in tight curves. The Fat Bob, which is available in Cryptic Black or Opal Blue, both with Hellfire Flames, or Satin Pewter with Sandstorm Grind, delivers the most visceral CVO experience.
For a dose of practicality with your cool, the FLSTSE CVO Softail Convertible ($27,999) is two motorcycles in one. Standard touring accessories include a compact fairing with smoked windscreen, leather saddlebags and passenger pillion and backrest, all of which can be detached quickly for a solo cruise down Main Street. Chrome aluminum 18-inch Stinger wheels with matching sprocket and brake rotors are very trick. One of the lowest seat heights (25.6 inches) of any Harley was achieved by reducing rear suspension travel by an inch. Despite recalibrated damping in the rear shock, the ride can be harsh, and its single-disc front brake is weak like the Fat Bob’s. This high-zoot, versatile Softail is available in Inferno Orange/Vivid Black or Abyss Blue/Sapphire, both with Silver Braze Graphics, or Crimson Red Sunglo/Autumn Haze with Metal Grind Graphics.
Last but not certainly not least given the hot-rod bagger craze is the FLHXSE CVO Street Glide ($30,999). Carry plenty of loot in the one-piece, injection-molded extended saddlebags, and wow folks with the 18-inch black seven-spoke Agitator wheels with contrast-chrome highlights and matching seven-spoke floating brake rotors. Every CVO bike has first-rate fit and finish, such as the Street Glide’s custom, low-profile seat and matching passenger backrest pad with leather inserts and freedom, er, make that French stitching. The 27.9-inch seat height and my 34-inch inseam conspired to put my knees high up thanks to floor boards with ample cornering clearance. Hand-adjustable preload in the rear shock and ABS (also on the Ultra) contribute to a comfortable, confident ride. Available in Candy Concord, Spiced Rum and Tequila Sunrise (paint, not cocktails!), all with genuine Gold Leaf Graphics.
For a more complete list of features and the paint schemes available on each CVO model, visit harley-davidson.com.