By Reg Kittrelle
[This 2010 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited Road Test was originally published in American Rider]
If you haven’t ridden a recent Electra Glide you owe it to your riding soul to do so. They are impressive machines that handle well and brake excellently with an ease that is both smooth and powerful. They are being pressed by competition from both the metric and domestic side, but the Limited sits atop the list.
The first Electra Glide appeared in 1965, powered by the Panhead engine in its last year of production. In 1969, the batwing fairing made its first appearance on the Glide, and has been the signature of its design ever since. Today’s Electra Glide Ultra Limited visually connects to its forefathers with ease, yet it’s a modern machine perfectly capable of taking you across town or across country.
Throw a leg over the Limited’s saddle, settle in, and hit the start button. The 103-cubic-inch Twin Cam engine fires instantly. The rubber mounts dampen the V-twin’s vibrations, with only a satisfying engine rocking coming through at idle. At 901 pounds ready to ride, the Limited is a formidable piece of iron, but clutch engagement is seamless and smooth, and moving the bike onto the highway is easily done.
At speed, the Limited feeds back a solid feeling that made me think of a train; heavy, yes, but glued to the rails and vibration-free. Those who haven’t experienced these motorcycles will find it hard to believe how much fun they can be on a winding mountain road. With its rigid, predictable chassis, and the excellent standard ABS Brembo brakes, the Limited is a hoot to ride aggressively. Add in that 102 pounds-feet of torque delivered by the TC103, and you’ll find yourself coming out of every turn grinning.
Besides the motor, the differences between the Limited and the two other Glides are fairly subtle. One that you notice immediately, however, is the titanium-tone gauge faces. The font is now larger, and the white LED backlighting makes it significantly easier to read the gauges quickly. Apart from that, the differences mostly fall into the category of what-was-once-an-option-is-now-standard. These include, among others, the aforementioned ABS, Contrast Chrome 28-spoke aluminum wheels unique to the Limited, a Smart Security System, heated handgrips, Premium saddlebag and Tour-Pak liners, and special Limited badging. Additionally, a 12-volt 15-amp power outlet is nestled in the Tour-Pak.
The best motorcycles are not the sum of their accessories and features, but rather the successful integration of these accessories with the right chassis, motor, suspension and brakes—the total package. Within the Touring group of Harley-Davidsons, the Limited comes the closest to matching this ideal. This motorcycle also serves to point out some concerns with which Harley needs to deal. First, the engine. The TC103 is a good match here, and should be the powerplant of choice with all the Tourers. Interestingly, the TC110, as found in the CVO models, produced better gas mileage numbers than did the TC103. Freeway miles with the TC110 I tested several months ago returned 42 to 44 mpg; I did not see anything more than 39 mpg with the TC103.
Weight is my second concern. Each model year the Electra Glides pork up a few pounds more, and this added weight is often finding its place in the fairing and Tour-Pak areas, making the motorcycles feel top heavy. Continuing to just add accessories to the Electra Glide is not a good option. It will be interesting to see where Harley takes these flagships in coming years.
Now in their 45th year, the Electra Glides may be a bit long in the tooth, but they are still the standard by which other V-twin touring motorcycles are judged. The 2010 FLHTK Electra Glide Ultra Limited does nothing but reinforce that status.