Custom – Long-distance test: 1400 km in duet with the Road Glide Ultra – Road Glide Ultra test: engine and behavior


Long-distance test: 1400 km in duet with the Road Glide Ultra

Custom - Long-distance test: 1400 km in duet with the Road Glide Ultra - Road Glide Ultra test: engine and behavior

Reintroduced in France last year, the Harley-Davidson Road Glide with its shark nose went to Ultra in 2016 for long, comfortable journeys. What is this motorcycle, close to the luxurious Electra in duo and loaded with? ?

Answers after 1400 km of testing.

Road Glide Ultra test: engine and behavior

The Twin Cam 103 "Twin Cooled" is truly the soul of Road Glide Ultra. This mechanical cathedral is strikingly beautiful with the chrome of its huge housings, its fins and its long silencers that sparkle at the slightest ray of sunlight….

At start-up, this long-stroke motor (98.4 x 111.1 mm) and with tumbled distribution makes the bike vibrate joyfully over its entire length, temporarily making the elegant metal mirrors illegible and giving rise to fear of a "vibrator" side moderately compatible with the desired comfort…

But as soon as the first is engaged – slowly and with a perceptible "klong" at least 200 km away – and the electronic throttle (yes, yes!) Slightly turned, the intensity of the vibrations drops to a very acceptable level. Instead, only the famous "Good Vibes" remain, which tickle the ends without disturbing them. Milwaukee engine manufacturers are decidedly excellent in the art of combining character and pleasure. !

Flexible, the "big block" resumes at 1500 rev / min on all speeds, or even at 1250 rev / min on the first three reports in solo. In charged duo, on the other hand, he needs more speed at the risk of making him gasp. Added to its long transmission, this characteristic forces to play the clutch below 30 km / h in 2nd to maneuver comfortably in two. We also plague against its infernal neutral point to find, as on the Electra Glide Ultra LTD.

Reasonably noisy at idle (yes, Harley too must meet the standards!), The engine expresses itself more as soon as the accelerator is copiously turned. The exhaust valve opens and then releases a huge flood of additional decibels, surrounding the pilot and his passenger with a unique and deep sound, bomber style of the Second World War !

Acceleration is generous – if not dazzling – and torque is delivered consistently between 2,500 and 4,500 rpm. Above, this twin cylinder with marked inertia resumes vibrating strongly, as if to remind that it delivers the best of itself well before its red zone at 5500 rpm. But who will be surprised ?

Of type "Overdirve", the sixth makes lose some 500 rev / min compared to the fifth: to engage in two preferably requires a flat road and without convolutions, under penalty of lack of punch despite the 138 Nm of torque. Overshoots at 80/90 km / h are therefore done in 5th, or even 4th to keep some "under the foot" when climbing..

Clearly, the modest 87 ch would deserve reinforcement to tow the heavy crew, especially in duo. Because with its 424 kg, the Road Glide Ultra weighs no less than 11 kg more than one, whose engine has yet 4 additional cylinders! We must see the price of its "solid" construction, where plastic has practically no right of citizenship…

This very high weight is permanently perceptible: when stationary first, when maneuvering the motorcycle requires anticipation (we will avoid sloping or gravel passages!) And a good dose of muscles to compensate for the lack of walking rear (not available, even as an option). Total nonsense on such a heavy and bulky motorcycle…

At low speed then, its generously recumbent steering (26 °) engages copiously, making it difficult to use a turning radius, however excellent. But the handlebars are so wide and the front so clumsy that taking the opportunity to turn around in a small space requires the arms of a bodybuilder. !

And to think that Harley-Davidson precisely ensures that the "shark nose" attached to the tank lightens the steering … The situation is settled between 30 and 40 km / h, the bike balancing itself remarkably and then offering a healthy behavior and a relaxed driving. But next to it, a Goldwing 1800 or a K 1600 GTL (read our ballerinas that are so much more obvious to register in curves and precise inside !

Due to the low fixed running boards, the ground clearance of the Road Glide Ultra is not exceptional (125 mm). And that obviously does not work out in a loaded duo … Like most customs of this type, it requires to trace round and smooth trajectories, taking advantage of its irreproachable stability even at high speed.

This fluid driving goes perfectly with the behavior of the engine and the flexible setting of the suspensions. The fork plunges generously on heavy braking, as a surprise by the significant power – for the genre – of the calipers developed by Brembo.

At the rear, the shock absorbers also play on a "velvet" register, smoothing out every imperfection as surely as a Babyliss overcomes a rebellious loop! This flexibility is at the origin of a certain lack of holding on large downforce, such as a generous exit from the curve on the gas handle with long but precise pulling. But that’s not the vocation of this bike, is it ?

On the other hand, due to a lack of travel and hydraulic sensitivity, the rear damping lacks progressiveness on larger shocks: poorly integrated manhole covers and speed bumps are dryly absorbed, putting the one and only time to harm "Ultra" comfort offered.

Verdict: on the Road (Glide) again !

At the end of this long-term test, the Road Glide Ultra appears to be a remarkably equipped, comfortable and endearing motorcycle. Like all Harley-Davidsons, the generous character of its engine largely compensates for its modest performance: 87 hp for 424 kg does not offer a great weight / power ratio, even in a "relaxed cruising" perspective….

However, the large 1690 cc V-twin has undoubtedly gained in enjoyment, taking advantage of its partially liquid cooling to deliver fewer calories in town and in congestion. Its low consumption should also be noted: from 5.55 to 6.14 l / 100 km in solo and from 5.97 to 7.12 l / 100 km in a loaded duo, very close to "5.6 l / 100 km"announced by Harley in mixed conditions.

We also welcome the technological leap forward triggered by the, vast improvement program taking into account the feedback from bikers. In addition to the arrival of the remarkable "Boom Box" and its innumerable features, high-end Harley Touring motorcycles now benefit from more functional luggage, better protection and particularly sophisticated LED lighting..

Extensively tested by MNC, the "Daymaker" headlights project an incredibly powerful and deep beam of light, without any shadow area. Although the headlights do not follow the handlebars and they have no steering system, visibility in curves is excellent thanks to the considerable width of the illuminated part.

In the end, only the perfectible ergonomics (shape of the handlebars and annoying air filter, in particular), the really heavy steering, the absence of reverse gear and heating equipment are really criticized. At 27,850 euros, some moderately practical aspects such as its not easy to identify commodo buttons, its non-locking storage compartments and its luggage compartment without central locking are also a bit ticking..

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