While new stars claw for a spot in the motorcycle business every year, some models just keep rolling.
While touring motorcycle riders are buzzing about the 2015 line additions of a new Road King for Harley-Davidson and the Roadmaster for Indian, a recent tour through Montana with Best Western hotels reminded me what a stalwart of long distance riding the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic is.
A couple weeks ago, I took control of a 2014 Electra, riding from hotel review spots from Helena, through Glacier National Park and back again. An overview of those Best Western properties is inbound, but we’re looking at the bike that got me to all of them for now.
The Electra Glide sits in the midrange of Harley’s touring bikes. With a price tag ballpark’d around $23,000 to start, it’s ergonomics and leather seat exist to keep your ass speaking to you over long rides. I did about 300 miles during my Best Western Montana tour, and the cramping aches and pains associated with all long motorcycle rides (regardless of make and model) didn’t creep up my spine until late in the day.
Powered by the Harley-Davidson’s classic Twin Cam103, the Electra offers perfectly adequate speed for turing use. It’s not a fast bike. It’s not an overly aggressive or loud bike. It’s a machine built for comfort – for being about as sophisticated as a motorcycle is allowed to be.
That sophistication is enhanced by the bike’s Project Rushmore treatment. To the uninitiated, Project Rushmore is Harley-Davidson’s longterm program involving riders’ opinions directly in the design of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles. Rushmore brought a set of improvements to this 2014 model including a restyled fairing and fender, a throwback fuel tank, a badges, bullet turn signals and a 17” front wheel with brake rotor.
That starting price tag listed above is fairly meaningless as the Electra Glide is not a “starting price” kind of bike. It’s built to be accessorized and personalized by the owner. It’s obviously a bagger, but the type of saddlebags is up to personalization. It can carry a trunk, detachable or fastened. It’s handlebars, grips, pegs, running boards, etc., can all be swapped out and enhanced for the devoted rider.
My kitted out version included the Harley-Davidson Boom! Box infotainment system with the 4.3 radio putting out 25 watts per channel. You also get 5.25-inch front and rear speakers, a 6.5-inch full color touch screen display, Jukebox system with USB port for iPod/iPhone, larger buttons on the touch screen and voice recognition with the right Bluetooth add-ons.
Big touring bikes like the Electra are adventures in trade-offs. You gain comfort, while having to deal with considerable weight addition. You get to play with countless more toys than on a sportster, but you lose some maneuverability and live with a turning the circle the size of Missoula. When you consider all of the options and choose to commit to a touring ride, the Electra Glide Ultra Classic is a can’t miss.