2017 American Iron Buyer’s Guide: Tourers & Baggers
In the echelons of motorcycling, tourers sit atop the food chain. These bikes are built for the long haul, doing so in style and comfort. Modern touring motorcycles are loaded with the latest techno gadgetry, sophisticated navigation systems and keyless ignitions, windscreens that adjust at the push of a button and tire pressures displayed on multi-function monitors. Anti-lock brakes, cruise control, and pre-load adjustable suspension are standard fare.
Baggers continue to be a hot commodity as well. Gotta love a bike you can show off at your local bike night, then load up and hit the road to Sturgis. Prized for their versatility, baggers are also a palette for customization, big wheels, boomin’ stereos and bold paint. Seeing how baggers and tourers are on the upper end of the price scale places them in a very competitive segment.
While Harley-Davidson has been a dominant force in the segment, motorcycles produced by its rivals like the Victory Cross Country and Indian Roadmaster have encroached on that domination. Harley though has not rested on its laurels, stealing the American touring and bagger segment headlines for 2017 with the launch of a new engine and suspension package.
Harley-Davidson’s big bikes are now powered by the new Milwaukee-Eight engine, standard models receiving the 107 version and its top-shelf CVO models equipped with the 114. The engine’s valvetrain design features four valves per cylinder, dual plugs, and a single camshaft. More efficient and more powerful, American Iron Editor Steve Lita said “I think of this engine as a well-sorted-out Big Twin – it’s better than you ever thought the Big Twin family could perform,” after his first ride on Harley’s new tourers. (Read the full review in American Iron Magazine Issue #342!) Harley also updated suspension on its tourers with dual bending valve technology anchoring the front and hand adjustable emulsion shocks on the rear.
The list of 2017 Harleys receiving the new Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine includes the 2017 Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Road Glide, Road Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Road Glide Ultra, Ultra Limited, Ultra Limited Low, and both H-D trikes, the Freewheeler and Tri Glide Ultra. The CVO Street Glide and CVO Limited both get the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine, an 1870cc monster.
With its new Milwaukee-Eight engine and suspension package, Harley’s 2017 Street Glide should continue to be a favorite with Harley loyalists. Other features that make H-D’s bagger with the fork-mounted Batwing fairing an attractive package is its Reflex dual disc linked Brembo brakes, Enforcer wheels, and a Boom! Box 4.3 Radio with 25 watts per channel. The 2017 Street Glide Special gets the upgraded infotainment center, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with integrated GPS and the BOOM! Box 6.5 GT audio system, ABS is standard (a $795 option on the standard Street Glide), a gloss black inner fairing and color-matched fairing skirt.
The other bagger in Harley’s stable, the 2017 Road Glide with its frame-mounted Shark Nose fairing, is offered in three varieties. The base package of the Road Glide is the same as the Street Glide, from the Milwaukee-Eight 107 to the Reflex brakes to the Boom!Box 4.3 Radio. One difference is the Road Glide’s Dual Daymaker Reflector LED Headlamps. The 2017 Road Glide Special includes Harley’s premium 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system and BOOM! Box 6.5 GT audio system, an AM/FM/WB antenna, CVO-style low-profile rear suspension, a gloss black inner fairing, and a black powder coated Milwaukee-Eight 107. The 2017 Road Glide Ultra is set up for long distance road trips thanks to the addition of a Tour-Pak and luggage rack, a two-up touring saddle with passenger back and arm rests, and fairing lowers. Prices for 2017 Road Glides range from $21,299 to $26,299.
Harley’s apex tourer is the 2017 CVO Limited, an Ultra Classic Electra Glide taken to the nth degree in-house. The CVO Limited runs the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine teamed to a Ventilator Elite Air Cleaner and chrome dual exhaust. A dual control heated seat comes standard. It’s decked out in a long list of goodies from H-D’s Airflow Collection (rider and passenger footboard inserts, shifter pegs, brake pedal and cover, highway pegs, heated handgrips with knurled inserts, and shift lever arms), Chrome Slicer wheels, hand-laid graphics and custom-quality paint. The CVO Limited also runs Harley’s top electronic package, from its security system to digital tire pressure monitoring to speed tuning that automatically adjusts the volume, bass and treble of the radio.
The big news from Indian Motorcycle Co. for 2017 is the launch of its new infotainment center called the Ride Command System. Indian aimed to make its system bigger, faster, and more customizable than its competitors. The Ride Command System features a 7-inch touchscreen that can be expanded and contracted like a cell phone, a fast processor, and a new navigation system. One of its standout features is the ability to split the large display into two screens and the ability to pick what you want displayed on those screens. The display has also been moved closer to the rider than ever before making it easier to use. The system comes standard on the 2017 Chieftain and Roadmaster.
The 2017 Chief Vintage joins Indian’s touring options thanks to a removable windscreen and soft leather saddlebags. The Chief Vintage has heritage styling, from its valanced fenders to the script on the tank to the fringes on its tan leather seat. Dressing the Chief Vintage up in one of the two-tone paint options makes it look even more classic.
Indian’s first hard bagger, the Chieftain, has been a big hit for the company since its 2014 debut. The 2017 Chieftain and its blacked-out version, the 2017 Chieftain Dark Horse, should easily maintain that trend. The Chieftain’s streamliner locomotive-inspired front fairing is distinct, its Thunder Stroke 111 engine is rich in torque, and its suspension is dialed in solidly. In addition to the new Ride Command System and 100 watt audio system, the Chieftains come with power windshields, remote-locking hard saddlebags, and keyless ignition. The 2017 Indian Chieftain lists for $23,999 while the Chieftain Dark Horse is a couple grand cheaper at $21,999.
Completing the lineup is Indian’s top-shelf tourer, the 2017 Roadmaster. It’s a regal-looking bike, from its chrome powerplant to its leather seat to its topcase. Between its saddlebags, trunk, and pockets in the fairing and lowers, the Roadmaster offers 37 gallons of storage. Passengers are perched in the same supple leather as riders, they’ve got their own controls for the heated seat, and the rider floorboards are adjustable.
The strength of Victory’s 2017 models is its Cross Country. With a rigid two-piece cast aluminum frame and inverted fork, the Cross Country is one of the best handling baggers out there, a primary contributor to its popularity. The motorcycle has an aggressive, modern look thanks to its frame-mounted fairing whose lines are matched by its saddlebags and a distinctive tank with a spine running its length. The 2017 Cross Country comes with ABS, cruise control, and Bluetooth connectivity as standard features. With 21.3 gallon saddlebags, Victory claims the bike has “more storage capacity than any other bagger.” A competitive price point of $19,499 also works in its favor.
There’s three other versions of the Cross Country in addition to the base model, the 2017 Magnum, Magnum X-1 and Cross Country Tour. With a 21-inch front hoop, slammed rear, 100 watt, six speaker sound system and stylish paint/graphic combos, the Magnum leans more to the production custom side. The Magnum X-1 takes it a step further with a 200 watt, 10 speaker system, 21-inch Black Billet aluminum wheels, LED headlights and White-Pearl paint with hand-laid electric-red pinstripes. The 2017 Cross Country Tour is road trip ready thanks to a huge topcase, Victory’s collection of vents and deflectors that comprise its Comfort Control System, and a comfortable passenger perch.
The final bike in Victory’s stable is the 2017 Vision. Hard to believe, but the big luxury-tourer is celebrating its 10th anniversary in production. Like the Cross Country, the Vision handles surprisingly well for a bike its size. With upright ergonomics, big floorboards, well-placed handlebars and a big, cushy seat, the Vision is ultra-comfy on long hauls. Heated handgrips and seats, a power adjustable windscreen, linked brakes with ABS, and a huge 29 gallon topcase add to its touring resume.
- American Iron Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide: Performance Cruisers
- American Iron Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide: Cruisers