If you’ve never ridden a Harley-Davidson Road Glide before, or if it’s been a while, do yourself a favor and swing a leg over and go for a test ride. The streamlined bagger benefited from a host of enhancements for the 2009 model year, and the big tourer continues to progressively evolve.
There are some who seem to feel that both the Road Glide and Electra Glide are nothing more than Road Kings outfitted with a fairing. Not so….even though the mechanical architecture may share similarities, there are several worthwhile differences that exist. Take the fairing for example – the Road Glide’s fairing is a Sharknose affair featuring dual headlamps and a fixed “shorty” windscreen, fixed to the frame rather than being mounted on the front fork assembly – in other words, it doesn’t turn with the handlebars, which is the case with the Electra glide models.
The Road Glide fairing provides streamlined aerodynamics along with an aggressive attitude and look thanks to a 26-degree rake, while the fork angle is 29.2 degrees. Additional aesthetic enhancements include: a black powder-coated engine with machined cooling fins and chrome covers, gloss black handlebars and crash bars, flat black exhaust pipes and air cleaner (the stock bike features a chrome treatment instead), silver faced gauges with chrome bezels, a custom stitched seat and bullet design directional signals front and rear.
The Harley-Davidson Road Glide is available in two versions: The FLTRU Road Glide Ultra, featuring an Electra Glide comfort seat and trunk pack for two-up cruising comfort; and the Road Glide Custom FLTRX for the solo rider with a simpler one-piece two-up Street Glide-style perforated seat. Power for both Road Glide models comes from a 1690 cc Air-cooled Twin-Cam 103™ pushrod operated, OHV (4-valve) motor with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters, Electronic Sequential Port fuel Injection and electronic throttle control that cranks out 100 pound feet of torque at 3,250 rpm.
The motor mounts in a mild steel tubular two-piece stamped frame with a welded backbone, cast and forged junctions, twin downtubes, a bolt-on rear frame section with forged and MIG welded fender supports. The swingarm is also constructed of mild steel in a two-piece drawn and welded section with MIG welded, forged junctions. The motor connects to a six-speed Cruise Drive® sequential manual transmission that gears motive force to the rear wheel via a chain primary and belt final drive.
Essentially, the Custom model is a lower, more aggressive looking Road Glide featuring a big, low profile, 18-inch front wheel, two-into-one exhaust and a smooth custom slotted taillight similar to that of the Street Glide. The Road Glide Custom rolls on Harley-Davidson Dunlop rubber (D408F 130/70 B18 63H front / D407 180/65b 16 81H rear, mounted on black 5-slotted cast aluminum wheels with machined face- 17×3” front and 16×5”-rear. Lace spoke wheels are optionally available.
Helping to smooth out the ride, suspension consists of 41.3 mm telescopic forks with triple-circuit damping and 4.6-inches of travel up front and air adjustable rear shocks with 3-inches of travel in the rear. Bringing the Custom low-riding bagger to a halt are Brembo 4-piston front and rear calipers with optional ABS and a dual front rotor brake system.
My test 2012 Harley-Davidson FLTRX Road Glide Custom featured Chrome Yellow trimless front and rear fenders, fuel tank with a low profile chrome console, lockable hard bags, oil cover and fairing. Subtle Black pin-striping highlighted the bodywork. The base price was set at $19,994 but adding Cruise control, the H-D® Factory Security System and ABS, CA emissions (deduct $200 for other states) and Dealer Prep and handling bumped the final stock sticker to $22,479. Additional custom touches were added to my test bike including: painting the inner fairing gloss black along with the 11” handlebars, crash bars and lower front fork tubes. Special flat black exhaust and mufflers with Rinehart tips were also added, as well as other details that combined, added another $3,000 to the final price – $25,479.
The Road Glide for 2012 continues the Harley-Davidson cruising heritage and tradition, not only with refined, custom good looks, but with practical and functional features and equipment as well. My test bike was exceptionally well balanced, responding easily to steering input, seeming much lighter than it really is. I wasn’t a big fan of the replacement 11-inch mini-ape grip bars, but they could well prove to be a plus for shorter riders.
Power is plentiful from the 103-inch motor, with instant throttle response. Gear changes come smoothly and quietly from the Cruise Drive 6-speed gearbox, with an easy clutch pull, eliminating fatigue in around town riding. The fuel tank capacity is 6 gallons – good for a longer cruising range. The ride quality is comfortable with an ideal riding position. Cushioned, full boards are provided for the rider with pegs for passengers.
The cockpit-style inner fairing houses a large centered speedometer and tachometer, flanked by smaller fuel level, oil temperature, voltmeter and ambient temperature gauges. There’s even a cigarette (or cigar) lighter, and an accessory outlet to plug personal accessories into. A 40-watt, two speaker Advanced Audio System by Harman/Kardon with AM/FM/XM capability and a CD/ MP3 player is included for listening to one’s favorite tunes rides above the other instrumentation with a digital readout format and preset station select buttons. Volume and station seek switches are mounted on the bars for ease of operation with gloves without taking your eyes off the road. The exhaust note sounds so good though, that you may just want to leave the audio system off and enjoy the rumble.
Bottom line, the 2012 Harley-Davidson FLTRX Road Glide Custom is a no nonsense touring bike that takes the motto “Live to Ride and Ride to Live” and making it even more positive by adding the word ”comfortably” Tacking on “In Style” would also be appropriate.