A while back a gal pal and I were sitting around having a grand old time getting fully loaded. Before that night ended, my friend pointed out that she personally associated me with the term, especially in regards to my drinking and gun collection. That was a good night, but that’s another story.
The funny thing is that a short time later it was just that phrase that caught my attention while I was trying to choose what model Harley I wanted to ride home from the 70th anniversary Sturgis Rally. Let me explain.
One of the main reasons I picked the 2011 Cherry Red Sunglo/Merlot Sunglo Electra Glide Ultra Limited (MSRP $24,699) you see here was because I heard the bike comes fully loaded. My many stalkers know that I’ve never been a fan of full-blown, luxury touring bikes that feature batwing fairings and windshields, but it was time to take one for the team.
In all seriousness, the way I see the Ultra Limited fitting into the H-D Touring family tree is as a newer, more evolved limb of the Electra Glide branch. What I mean is, all the extras you get with this bike are mostly things that can be found in the P&A catalog. However, on this model it’s all stock. For example, the heated handgrips and the Tour-Pak’s 12-volt power supply and luggage rack are standard on the Limited, but can be purchased separately and then installed on any lower-rung Electra Glide with relative ease. Other Limited treatments include custom versions of the stock 28-spoke cast aluminum wheels, upgraded instrument displays, and a special paint scheme.
In 2011, the Motor Company started offering would-be-buyers a new Power Pak factory option on several Touring models. Basically, for just shy of $2,000, you can now get a larger Twin Cam 103″ engine, antilock braking system (ABS), and Harley-Davidson Smart Security System with hands-free fob. This is all standard on the Ultra Limited, and it’s worth noting that when the model was first introduced in 2010, it was the only way to get a factory-installed 103 in your ride.
Personally, I have always been a fan of these motors, although they can run a bit on the hot side, especially when installed on touring bikes that limit the airflow to the rider in the first place. To address the heat issue, an integrated oil cooler is a standard addition on this sled. Regardless of the specific numbers the 103 engine puts out, I found that it had plenty of usable power and torque.
On the ride home, I mostly used the bike on highways and fast secondary roads, and I found that I averaged about 40 mpg. Not bad, considering I have a heavy throttle hand, and my bike was fully loaded in more ways than one. This beast was so reliable on that ride that it almost became routine to fully load the 6-gallon tank with fuel, hit the highway, set the electronic cruise control, find something to listen to on the Harman/Kardon 80-watt, four-speaker stereo, and watch the country fly by until I had to do it all over again in about 250 miles. It is probably worth noting that during these stints I would cruise in sixth gear at 75 mph at 2700 rpm, but I found the sweet spot to be at 3000 rpm going roughly 85 mph.
Overall, I really have no complaints about this bike, besides the fact that I’m personally not a fan of any combination of a fork-mounted batwing fairing and clear windshield. I was hoping that the newly-sculpted-for-2011 seat might make a difference, but no. I was still in that full upright sitting position looking through the windshield.
The smoked Lexan adjustable air deflectors mounted below the batwing fairing did a decent job of circulating some air as did the midframe air deflectors and removable vented lowers. However, I found that in order to really cool off I needed to ride on the back of the seat where I could get some fresh air and see over the tall Lexan windshield without stretching my neck like a giraffe. By the end of my journey, it was the norm for me to ride that way, unless I had a passenger onboard, all of whom seemed to be in heaven riding on the back of this bike, with the Tour-Pak-mounted backrest, wraparound armrests, rear speakers, and height-adjustable footboards. Talk about fully loaded.
Like all of its family members, the Limited comes with Brembo four-piston calipers — dual up front and single in the rear — and air-adjustable rear shocks. The brakes do a great job of stopping the whole load, and I especially appreciated the ABS connected to them. Like the other Electra Glides, the whole package rolls on a 17″ front wheel and a 16″ rear wrapped with Dunlop rubber, 130 front, 180 rear.
The things I liked the best about the Limited are the heated handgrips that allowed me to wear thinner gloves on cool days. (Thinner gloves sound so soft. Don’t take that the wrong way.) Then there’s the 103″ motor. Also, I was surprised to find out that the simple addition of a Tour-Pak rack made my life easier when packing since I could easily strap a bag to it for things I might need quick access to, like my foul weather gear. Since this bike comes with bag liners, it would have been cool if it came with a soft rack bag made specifically for the Limited. Again, I’m sounding soft.
Over the years, I have made the ride from Sturgis back home to the Northeast almost a dozen times, but never has it been as plush as it was this past year when I rode the Ultra Limited. If you are in the market for an Electra Glide, it’s my opinion that you’d be better off getting fully loaded with the Limited model. Heck, it’s not even $3,000 more than the next bike down, the Ultra Classic Electra Glide. And that’s a bargain considering all the additional stuff you get.
Now, excuse me. My gal pal just came over, and we’re heading to the liquor store and gun shop so we can make sure we’ll be fully loaded. Soft no more. AIM
NEW BIKE REVIEW by Joe Knezevic
Story as published in the August Issue of American Iron Magazine