2014 Harley-Davidsons: Project Rushmore | First Ride Review

2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited
Among the many changes introduced under the Project Rushmore banner is precision liquid cooling, which helps stabilize cylinder temperatures in the 2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited. All of the new baggers get restyled front fenders, fairings and luggage, too. (Photos by Riles & Nelson)

Like a cavalry charge of the Rough Riders led by Teddy Roosevelt waving his cowboy hat in the air, Harley-Davidson recently launched eight new Touring models under the auspicious banner “Project Rushmore,” a customer-driven enhancement effort it is unabashedly calling the largest and most important in its 110-year history. In addition to a long list of new features and improvements, the Touring lineup will include a partially liquid-cooled model for the first time. There’s also a nicely upgraded Dyna Fat Bob and new CVO Softail Deluxe for 2014; ABS is standard on the V-Rods and a factory option on the Sportsters; and the Twin Cam 103 V-twin is now standard in the Dyna Street Bob and Super Glide Custom. Absent models include the Road Glides, which Harley says will take at least one year off for some “freshening-up,” and the Softail Blackline, which has been discontinued.

Like all of the baggers, the Electra Glide Ultra Classic gets new wheels and a beefier front end for better handling.
Like all of the baggers, the Electra Glide Ultra Classic gets new wheels and a beefier front end for better handling.

Project Rushmore was the code name for a four-year, unprecedented effort by Harley’s stylists and engineers to connect with its customers and give them the improvements they want more quickly, and the name stuck for a couple reasons. There’s the emotive association of the brand and eight bikes with the iconic American monument in South Dakota, of course, also home to the Sturgis rally. And perhaps the more literal interpretations of the two words “rush” and “more”—as in a strong rush to your senses and more power. Whatever—it’s the visible results that count.

2014 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
The 2014 Street Glide Special nicely improves upon Harley’s most popular motorcycle model with uprated suspension, top-line sound and more.

The new consolidated Touring lineup comprises the Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited, Tri-Glide Ultra trike, CVO Road King and CVO Ultra Limited. All of the regular production (non-CVO) bikes benefit from uprated “High Output” 103ci V-twin engines, with new camshafts and high-flow airboxes that Harley says give them 5 percent more torque in the midrange for quicker passes. In addition, the Ultra Limited, Tri-Glide Ultra and CVO Ultra Limited (with its 110ci engine) add the Twin-Cooled feature, a combination of air and precision liquid cooling. Harley says the Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103 engines deliver 10.7 percent more peak torque than the standard 103. In the Twin-Cooled system, an electric pump circulates coolant through the cylinder heads in the areas around the exhaust valves, then to a pair of radiators—one in each fairing lower—with thermostatically controlled fans. In addition to enabling a higher 10.1:1 compression ratio in the Twin-Cooled 103 for more power, the stabilized head temps prevent power from dropping off in higher ambient temperatures. They will run without the liquid cooling long enough to reach service—in the event of a leak, for example—though all of this year’s Harleys still require 91 octane fuel.

2014 Harley-Davidson Road King
The 2014 Road King benefits most from the power increase due to its lighter weight, but it doesn’t get the new hydraulic clutch.

Hydraulically actuated clutches finally replace the cable on all of the Rushmore bikes except the Road King. Other improvements include either standard or available proportionally linked brakes with ABS (except Tri-Glide Ultra); super-bright LED headlights and fog lamps on some models; and new twin-halogen headlights on others. Comfort is enhanced with a restyled Batwing fairing that has a closable “splitstream” central vent to reduce buffeting, and wider, deeper seats with new back and arm rests. New reshaped handlebar switches are more tactile and easier to use, and new One Touch latches on the restyled saddlebags and top trunks open them with a single latch.

Harley-Davidson Boom Box 6.5GT infotainment
Redesigned inner fairing with new instruments and high-end 6.5GT sound/navigation system.

One of two new “infotainment” sound and navigation systems with color screens are available for the center of the redesigned inner fairing, which has four easier-to-read instruments vs. six smaller ones now. All of the features you can imagine are in there, including AM/FM/Weather plus USB aux input. On the high end, the 6.5GT system adds GPS navigation and a large touchscreen, and it can also be controlled entirely from the handlebar with the use of twin joysticks. If it’s not already standard, adding the intercom and CB module enables the first original-equipment Voice Recognition, so you can control the sound system and GPS using voice commands over a wired headset.

2014 Harley-Davidson High Output Twin Cam 103
Revised High Output Twin Cam 103 touring V-twin gets new cams and airbox for more midrange passing power.

Although many other bikes in the 2014 lineup have received notable changes, Harley quite understandably chose to focus on the Rushmore Touring motorcycles at the press launch outside Denver, Colorado. There we enjoyed two days of riding the Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic and Ultra Limited in the Rockies, the latter of which was in high demand because everyone wanted to sample a Twin-Cooled machine. From my short ride, it’s clear that the Ultra Limited doesn’t put out much heat that the rider can feel from the fairing lowers where the radiators reside, thanks to ducting that routes it away from your legs. Ever since Harley bumped the touring bikes up to the 103ci engine, their passing power—say, in fifth gear—has been very good, but at the high altitudes in the mountains above the already Mile-High City, I couldn’t tell if the High Output engines were making noticeably more grunt. They are nicely smooth and make a wonderful rumble, though I’d prefer a little less intake noise under acceleration.

2014 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
Blacked out and restyled Fat Bob gets a Dark Custom makeover for 2014—think Mad Max meets NASCAR.

Other improvements were easier to note. The Voice Recognition for the sound and GPS systems is nothing short of remarkable. Press a button, say “Go to 101 West Main Street, Frisco, Colorado,” for example, and the GPS routes you there, or tell it to tune to a particular radio station or iPod track and it’s done. Although the VR only works with a wired headset, the system does support a Bluetooth connection with your phone.

Harley-Davidson One Touch saddlebag latch
Single “One Touch” latches on trunks and saddlebags can be opened with one hand.

That new vent in the Batwing makes a nice reduction in helmet buffeting; the linked brakes seemed to work well and interestingly remain separate until above 25 mph; and the One Touch luggage latches are perhaps the best thing to come out of the entire Rushmore project. Harley also beefed-up the Touring bike front ends with a sleeker front fender, stronger suspension components and larger 49mm fork legs, and the handling improvement is quite noticeable. We’ll have a full test of the Ultra Limited in a future issue, and a comparison test with Harley’s new competition ASAP.

2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited Twin Cooled radiator grill
Radiator grill and closable vent in the Ultra Limited’s left fairing lower.


  1. Good initial review on the 2014 Harley (Rushmores). I am willing to bet that some older hardcore purists will insist that the partial water cooling is a communist plot, however, they’d likely complain about electric start on cars and enlcose cabins on airplanes! I bought my first Harley in 1973 and this was inevitable in light of increasingly tough EPA standards. Harley took a very timely, necessary and tolerable step to make their bikes run better, longer and reliability withut dramatically impacting the overall appeal of the old V-Twin engines. This doesn’t even take into account the great new sound/nav system, frame/suspension system and better braking. I doubt that I can afford to switch from my 2011 CVO, but I’d sure be willing to try!

  2. Problem with Harley is the twin cam motor was never designed for handling that amount of cu in. I have a friend who sold his 07 Screaming Eagle Road King, due to motor problems, 1st time the whole rear cyclinder needed replacing, then at 42,000.00 the crack came apart, it’s only a press fit crank. Add 10,000 & the motor started leaking oil. The die hard Harley rider is now riding a ST1300. We all gave up and are mostly on Kaw Concoures, BMW, Goldwing & Multistrada.

    • Nonsense. Absolute drivel. I could fabricate any thing and post it. FWIW I have never had a pronlem with a 103. In fact Ive just bought another low mileage 103 Rushmore RK because my M8 114 had major issues.

  3. Friend bought the Limited replacing a 2010. Definitely nice work. Rode it plenty recently and can tell you the heat I feel on my 11 Road Glide is missing. Sound system is great. Vent eliminates buffeting. Brakes, suspension and clutch are as advertised. The one touch bags though long overdue are great. GPS and voice controls are nice upgrades. Suspension feel is improved. Overall a winner and will keep me away from the BMW 1600 GTL that was calling me…

  4. Would love to have one of the new glides! My ’09 looks brand new with 55,000km (about 33,000miles). Front wheel bearings needed replacing but that’s it. Just did a tour of Alberta, B.C. Washington, Idaho and Montana this summer, then another trip through B.C. with my wife. The bike is excellent and more reliable than the bike I owned before getting this one in ’09 (a Honda Goldwing)

  5. The biggest problem with Harley is have you ever changed a tyre it takes for ever not easy and like it or lump it flats do happen look at other bikes and no problem but Harley big ,heavy and pipes in the way just basic matinance no joy my 42 is better to work on than the late models

    • Funny, I’m used to changing tires on a Goldwing and was amazed how much easier it is changing tires (and doing brake work) on the Harley touring bikes. The exhaust slip-ons come off easily and the saddlebags come off without tools. The secret is buying a motorcycle jack (which is useful with all bikes, (center stand or no center stand). No plastic body work that needs to come off to do anything and then have to line up the fastener screw holes etc. Even the outer bat wing fairing comes off easily to do any accessory work that has to do with wiring.

  6. I have a 2014 Street Glide Special. The bike is great except the Fade/Speed Volume does not work. You can’t hear the radio at highway speeds (55 to 65 mph) without turning the volume up manually. The old radio worked great. The faster you went. The volume would go up automatically. When you slowed down it (volume) would go down. I was wondering if this problem was being addressed

  7. As a new rider coming into the bike world after doing
    Some research on motorbikes I must say I grew up as a kid
    Wishing one day I would buy one but now I’m really thinking
    Twice about buying a HD why I say that is because I would
    Really like to see something different from HD for example a different engine
    Or different style on the bike perhaps with a little more grunt
    I don’t understand why HD went with the Germans with the design of the v-rods it’s good to see the liquid cooled system that’s great but why the Germans not with an American company ? As to what bike I will get still researching but I really like the new Indian with all the features that come standard

    • Hey Adem, have you actually ridden a Harley? Like so many people, you are looking at horsepower ratings rather than torque. Find out when your local Harley dealer is having a “Test your Metal” demo ride and sign up to ride the bikes you would be interested in. You may be quite favorably impressed when you open it up, that V-twin torque is addictive.

    • How about Germans make everything that bit better? Porsche IIRC were involved with the 60 degree V twin in the VRSC. Porsche? Hardly an inexperienced company when it comes to engineering.
      It’s almost as if you have a grudge with the country.

  8. No I haven’t riden a harley as yet, but I will soon. I really liked the v-rod, the style is impressive and as for the power and torque I’m not that concerned otherwise I would of been looking at racing bikes. What I really want is that new models new designs from HD will be fantastic but like I say I’m still researching for a cruiser have plenty of time no rush

  9. I have a new 14 ultra limited. Rides great. I have an issue though with temp and check engine light activating. Checked the fluids, let it sit and continue without prob. Now it keeps reactivating the warnings and cant find reason. Going to the shop. Question is, anyone else experiencing similar?

  10. I rented a 2015 Limited a couple of days ago. It had 202 miles on it when I picked it up that morning and several hundred more when I turned it back in that afternoon.

    Without doubt or reservation, IMHO anyway, This is far and away the best bike in every way that the MOCO has ever produced.

    Out of the park home run with the bases loaded!

    I’ll be getting a black one later this summer.

  11. Old sotry but for people researching I thought I would post . I just bought gave up my metric Vulcan a 2015 Road King after test driving Victorys and Indians. Love the retro look and I was impressed with the ride ( HD are usually known for their bad ride … not so this thing rides great ) . The Victory twin maybe felt al little more refined ( if you want that Harley lope that is ) , a little more metric / euro / 4 cyl like . But the Harley still looked better and the engine felt as strong as the Victory 106 . The Victorys didn’t have a good dealer local either. Our local Indian dealer was horrible to us so that killed that. To me the dealer matters and the HD dealer new their stuff and had the right attitude . -Vegas Valley

  12. i ahve owned more than a handful of Harley bough my first new bike in 1981 they couldnt hardley give them away back then, the fact that Harley is modernizing their machines is enviable, as time and tech marches on so do the engineers on these product, now thi nk what ever you want but HDs are not for every one they dont try to be, my 1992 Springer rolled along over 100K with out missing a beat, that Evo motor is just almost indestructible , had it not digested a roller bearing structure ( aftermarket part) i would not have torn it down at 106k it was still working perfectly but had roller lifter noise, again from an aftermarket roller lifter, HD do what THEY do best they always have, the new upgrades to the stereo and cell phone are lost on me i dont care, upgrade brakes more power and upgraded chassis are all extras on an already popular reliable and proven motorcycle. If you are enamored with high tech gizmos and trickery buy a honda, they are great bikes, need super high tech over the top engineering, buy the BMW great bikes as well, want a race bike, buy a Vmax and go shut down everything in sight, as i stated before the HD does what it does perfectly, they are powerful, comfortable, reliable easy to maintain, they are not for everyone, they never have been…….If i have to explain it you wouldn’t understand!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here