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HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD GLIDE LIMITED | BIKE TESTS | FIRST RIDE

If cross-continental touring with a pillion is your bag, the Road Glide Limited is the Harley for you

The Road Glide Limited is built for touring on the open road, not for poking around town, but to get out of town most of us need to crawl through the ’burbs, and so it is when I pick up this hefty hunk of American iron from Harley-Davidson’s HQ in Sydney’s north.

First up there’s the off-camber right-hander as soon as I exit Harley’s driveway, and then there’s the crappy roadworks all along the Warringah Freeway on the approach to the Harbour Tunnel, with multiple lanes of traffic funnelling into just two for the underwater run. And then there’s the stop-start traffic as I fight my way to escape the ever-expanding urban sprawl.

It’s in conditions like this that being fully aware of the Road Glide’s size and weight is vitally important. While you can still weave your way through traffic, you have to make sure there’s plenty of margin for error, as its overall length (2595mm) approaches that of some small hatchbacks, and it feels almost as wide. Forget about lane-splitting.

This Limited variant is a substantial 43kg more than a ‘base-spec’ Road Glide, thanks in part to its huge topbox, super-comfy pillion backrest and two additional speakers for the sound system. Yep, it’s no commuter, but for Harley riders who want to traverse continents with a pillion on board this is the weapon of choice.

So just how hefty is it? The Road Glide Limited tips the scales at 423kg ready to ride. You can feel that weight as soon as you hoik it off the sidestand but once moving, even at low speeds, it’s surprisingly agile and easy to ride thanks to a low seat height, a wide handlebar and forgiving geometry. In fact, the only time I struggled with the Limited’s size and weight was when trying to turn it around in a confined garage. Bear in mind that there’s no reverse gear, so it pays to put some serious thought into where and how you park it.

Once out of town, the Road Glide Limited is in its element, loping along at highway speeds without raising a sweat. 

At the heart of the beast is Harley’s 114ci (1868cc) Milwaukee-Eight V-twin, which makes a claimed 65kW (87hp) at 5020rpm and 160Nm at a lazy 3000rpm. No, the Limited isn’t yet endowed with the new 117ci engine found in the ‘base-spec’ Road Glide (as tested by Roothy in AMCN Vol 73 No 23). As a result peak power and torque is down 15kW (20hp) and 15Nm respectively, but even with its additional weight the Limited is still no slouch. 

Crack the throttle wide open at almost any revs and the 114 gets up and boogies, pulling hard (and cleanly) from down low and offering up a meaty midrange, with a tantalising bellow from the twin exhaust system.

I’ll forgive the six-speed gearbox for feeling bit clunky and slow considering it has to handle a truckload of torque, but the fact it can be reluctant to slip into neutral from time to time can be frustrating. The clutch is on the heavy side but offers progressive engagement.

It might not be fitted with Harley’s latest big bruiser 117ci V-twin but the smaller version packs a mighty punch of torque

Harley claims a maximum lean angle of 32° for the Limited allowing you to hustle it through bends at a decent clip. The wide ’bar makes it easy to tip it into corners and it holds a line beautifully once cranked over, but sudden changes of direction aren’t its forte. You simply can’t overcome the physics of a 170mm trail, a 1625mm wheelbase, 18-inch wheels and half a tonne of bike and rider.

Braking performance is decent with four-piston calipers gripping twin 320mm floating discs up front and a fixed 320mm disc at the rear. Front brake feel lacks a little in initial bite, but squeeze it hard and it gets the job done. 

The rear brake works well and is ideal for tightening your line mid-corner.

The suspension is quite basic – a non-adjustable 49mm fork and twin rear shocks with preload adjustment – but it is well set up and offers a good blend of compliance and control. The rear shocks didn’t bottom-out on test, even when riding two-up, although I didn’t have much weight in the panniers or topbox.  

While the Limited is a big bike, the reach to the swept-back handlebar is relaxed, the footboards allow plenty of options to position your legs how you want, and the seat height is a low 735mm so, despite the girth, it’s not a stretch to plant both boots flat on the ground. The seat itself is so, so comfy, with a wide base, supple and supportive cushioning and a decent turn-up at the rear. Even more comfy is the pillion seat with its supportive backrest and armrests, and generous footboards.

The large frame-mounted fairing offers decent weather protection although I would have preferred a slightly lower screen as I found myself looking through it rather than over it, right where there’s some distortion due to its curved shape; taller riders won’t have this problem. There’s a closable flap beneath the screen that allows you to adjust the airflow, but it’s either open or closed and nothing in between.

Twin front disc brakes lack initial bite but we’re talking about a claimed wet weight of 423kg before you add rider, pillion and any luggage

Switchgear is your typical high-quality Harley kit and it’s all easy to operate once you’re familiar with it. Instruments are presented in the form of a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen accompanied by a pair of analogue gauges for speed and tacho. No, the Limited doesn’t get the big 12-inch touchscreen as fitted to the base model Road Glide, but it’s still a decent size and is easy to read and navigate.

The four-speaker sound system is a ripper, and you can easily hear tunes when wearing earplugs and a full-face lid, and barrelling along at 110km/h-plus. There’s a USB cable in the right-side storage box that you can plug your phone into and satnav is included standard. There’s another storage box on the left. 

The top-opening lockable and weatherproof panniers offer plenty of space for gear, while the topbox is simply huge… it accommodates two helmets, is lined and includes a 12V power outlet. If there’s anything you can’t fit in the panniers and topbox, there’s a luggage rack so you can strap down the kitchen sink.

As you’d expect of a big touring Harley, build quality is top-notch. Fit and finish is excellent, the trim is superb and the paint is lustrous. On test fuel consumption was 5.6L/100km so you should get more than 350km out of the 22.7L fuel tank.

The Limited will set you back $47,750, which is $1255 more than the base-model Road Glide. Essentially you’re paying more for a smaller engine, less power, less torque and a smaller TFT screen… so you might wonder why anyone would buy it? I can only think of one reason: load carrying.  If you’re going to be doing big miles with a pillion and luggage, not much comes close to the Road Glide Limited in terms of capacity and comfort. And sure, $47,750 is a lot of money, but the Road Glide Limited is a lot of bike.  

PROS: Supremely comfortable for rider and pillion, loads of luggage space, great fit and finish.
CONS: Smaller engine than base Road Glide, smaller TFT screen, and it’s bloody big and heavy.

WORDS & PHOTOS: DEAN MELLOR

AN ACRONYM FOR THAT

THE ROAD GLIDE Limited has a heap of safety kit including electronic linked braking (ELB), cornering ABS (C-ABS), cornering traction control system (C-TCS), cornering drag-torque slip control system (C-DSCS), vehicle hold control (VHC) and a tyre-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). 

SPECIFICATIONS – HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD GLIDE LIMITED

ENGINE
Capacity 1868cc
Type 45º V-twin, four valves per cylinder
Bore & stroke 102mm x 114.3mm
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Cooling Twin-cooled
Fueling Electronic sequential port injection
Transmission Six-speed
Clutch Wet, multi-plate, slipper type
Final drive Belt

PERFORMANCE
Power 65kW (87hp)  @ 5020rpm (claimed)
Torque 160Nm @ 3000rpm (claimed)
Top speed 190km/h (est)
Fuel consumption 5.6L/100km (tested)

ELECTRONICS
Type Not given
Rider aids Cornering ABS, traction control, drag torque slip control and vehicle hold control
Rider modes NA

CHASSIS
Frame material Tubular steel
Frame type Backbone
Rake 26°
Trail 170mm
Wheelbase 1625mm

SUSPENSION
Type Showa
Front: 49mm non-adjustable upside-down fork, 117mm travel
Rear: Dual shocks, preload adjustable, 76mm travel

WHEELS & BRAKES
Wheels Cast aluminium
Front: 18 x 3.5 Rear: 18 x 5.0
Tyres Dunlop D408F & D407T
Front: 130/70-18
Rear: 180/55-18
Brakes
Front: Twin 320mm discs, four-piston calipers
Rear: Single 320mm disc, four-piston caliper

DIMENSIONS
Weight 423kg (wet, claimed)
Seat height 735mm
Width 930mm
Height 1425mm
Length 2595mm
Ground clearance 130mm
Fuel capacity 22.7L

SERVICING & WARRANTY
Servicing First: 1600km
Minor: 8000km
Major: 16,000km
Warranty Two years,
unlimited kilometres

BUSINESS END
Price From $47,750 (ride away)
Colour options  Billiard Grey, Vivid Black (+$750), Sharkskin Blue (+$1465)  

CONTACT
harley-davidson.com/au