1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday
I arrived at the Tehachapi rendezvous on my 2013 Road Glide eager to see how the 2014 Electra Glide Ultra Limited measured up. We all know that Harley's entire Touring fleet has been redesigned as part of its Project Rushmore initiative. Who knew the MoCo would ever make so many changes and all at once?
The Ultra Limited definitely looked more aerodynamic. It has been equipped with sleeker-looking saddlebags, bag lids, pizza box, and a completely redesigned batwing fairing with adjustable vent to reduce turbulence for the rider. Harley definitely took a more 21st century approach in the aesthetics department here. No more, "they're boxy, but they're good!" thinking, which is representative of H-D's overall focus from both engineering and design perspectives—outside the traditional box all the way.
I spent a few moments familiarizing myself with the Ultra Limited's new Boom! Box 6.5GT infotainment system at a fuel stop. After about 30 minutes on the road, I completely forgot everything I learned. Am I an idiot? Maybe. But I'd like to think I wasn't the only one scratching the back of my helmet after fidgeting with the touchscreen or toggling the joysticks on the handlebar switches when cruising then completely giving up due to frustration. The other thing I had to remind myself was that cruise control was repositioned to the left handlebar switch housing. Since my wife says I have short-term memory loss (debatable), more times than not I ended up adjusting the wrong function because of this.
Speaking of cruising, I immediately noticed the difference in vibration from the Road Glide. Or lack thereof. After 150 miles, I still felt fresh as a daisy, ready to charge on for the second half of our six-hour stint. After our entire leg concluded—just five minutes over six hours—I didn't experience the pins-and-needles effect in my shoulder blades nor did I need a shoulder rub from my riding buddy, Marc Cook. I definitely didn't feel the need for Advil. The smooth-operating Ultra Limited offered just that: an ultra-plush ride with limited fatigue.
Usually I can't comfortably flatfoot a bagger at stoplights. I also have very tight hip flexors, so I tend to cramp when my legs are spread too far apart for extended periods of time. (Yes, I just said that. Get your minds outta the gutter!) That bowlegged effect we shorter riders (29-inch inseam) experience was gone thanks to the narrower front/wider rear saddle.
One of the biggest things I was looking forward to testing was the difference in heat dissipation from Harley's first-ever liquid-cooled Twin Cam engine. Since it was a fairly warm day (upward of 90 degrees at times), it was hard to tell if the warmth on my legs was caused by not receiving enough air from the too-stiff-to-move vents in the lowers or if the high-output cams and upped compression were the culprits.
The 2014 Ultra Limited offered the complete package that a Baggers reader looks for: comfortable, functional, and definitely stylish. H-D's Project Rushmore addressed a lot of the gripes its customers have made over the years. I know it takes some serious cojones to risk your reputation with HOG faithful. You definitely have this rider's respect, if that means anything…