2015 H-D Road Glide Special – Preview

RoadGlide ride

On The Road Again

By Dain Gingerelli, photos by Pam Proctor

 

The collective sigh of relief emanating from South Dakota’s Black Hills last August was justified. The occasion marked the return of the Road Glide to Harley-Davidson’s lineup, and fans of the shark-nosed model were delighted to see the 2015 version rolling through the streets of Deadwood when Harley-Davidson unveiled the updated Touring bike.

Missing in action for 2014 when The Motor Company first unveiled its Project RUSHMORE collection of Touring models, the Road Glide returns with plenty of improvements for 2015, making this the best Road Glide yet. It includes all the major features found on the revamped 2014 Electra Glide platform. Fittingly, the reveal took place near Mt. Rushmore, located within the epicenter of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. There are two 2015 models, the Road Glide (the base model, if you will, with a starting MSRP of $20,899 for Vivid Black) and the Road Glide Special (boasting additional features that boost MSRP to $23,199). I had the opportunity to spend the bulk of the Sturgis rally aboard the Special, and I can tell you that the model lives up to its name.

RoadGlide1First, a quick rundown of the RUSHMORE features shared by both: the 103″ engine received the High Output upgrades that boost torque to 104.7 ft-lbs. at 3250 rpm, and the chromed air cleaner cover, emblazoned with the 103 signature logo, shares the same new shape that marks all RUSHMORE models. The compression ratio is set at 9.7:1, and the rest of the powertrain retains the usual chain primary, Cruise Drive six-speed transmission, and belt final drive found on every new Big Twin. The fork now boasts the hefty 49mm fork legs and reinforced triple trees found on RUSHMORE models, and Brembo brakes — 300mm rotors pinched by two four-piston calipers up front and one in the rear — whoa the 849 pound (claimed wet weight) Road Glide. The Special also includes the RUSHMORE-bred Reflex Linked braking system with ABS as part of the package. Harley claims suspension travel for both models to be 4.6″ front and 2.1″ rear, the difference being that the Road Glide relies on air adjustability while the Special has the mechanically adjustable rear suspension for more precise damping and spring preload. The claimed seat height for both models is set at 27.8″ (unladen).

Naturally, too, both new Road Glides are equipped with the easy-open saddlebags. These lockable bags have slightly wider mouths for more convenient loading and unloading of gear, one-touch latches and a total capacity of 2.3 cubic feet. RoadGlide fairingTwo additional smaller, yet surprisingly spacious, storage bins with easy-open lids are found in the fairing, and that’s also where you’ll find many of the Road Glide’s other new features.

At a glance, the shark-nose fairing looks much like the wind cutter found on previous Road Glide models…

 

So how’s the ride? Pick up your copy of our November 2014 issue to read the rest of our review!

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