7 Cool Things About the 2016 Harley-Davidsons

Technology Advances, Even If You Can’t See It

Harley-Davidson just finished introducing its 2016 model-year lineup, with a new version of the Road Glide, called the Ultra, updates for Sportsters, and two new big-inch Softails. In terms of big, bold initiatives, this is not a watershed year, but there are some quiet advances informed by the so-called VOC, or voice of the consumer.

Fast or slow corners, the new Sportster suspension is a huge improvement.©Motorcyclist

1/ Suspension does matter. For years, we've poked fun at the suspension quality of most Sportsters, especially those with limited travel for that "long and low" look. Well, there's still a long-and-low option, but now all 2016 Sportsters benefit from greatly upgraded emulsion shocks and cartridge fork internals that replace the stone-age damper-rod setups. Finally!

A new 49mm fork for the Sporty Forty Eight.©Motorcyclist

2/ Fat means fat. With the '16 Forty Eight, Harley's stylists were going for a beefy look at the front of the bike, so the solution was to adapt the 49mm fork used on the larger bikes to the XL chassis, giving it a much more rigid platform for the thick, 16-inch front wheel.

An improved seat for all Sportsters!©Motorcyclist

3/ Seating for one. Harley made further across-the-board changes on the Sportster line that should please everyone who rides more than five blocks from the sustainable tattoo-itorium to the artisanal composting store. By moving the engine control module, Harley freed up space under the thin XL saddles for, get this, some actual 3D-modeled foam.

Ride for distance, single handedly thanks to cruise control on the Softails.©Motorcyclist

4/ Putting the cruise in cruiser. By making factory cruise control either standard or a dealer-installed option across the entire Softail lineup, Harley says it answered the powerful hollering of current Softail owners who want to go the distance with one hand.

The loudest CVO on the planet is the Street Glide, and not because of the pipes. Or paint. It’s all about the audio system!©Motorcyclist

5/ There is no straight-up cruiser in the CVO lineup. Normally, Harley spreads the CVO love around the basic lineup, applying the Custom Vehicle Operations goodness to multiple platforms. That's not true this year, since the three models that make up the 2016 CVO line include the CVO Street Glide, the CVO Ultra, and the CVO Road Glide Ultra. Makes you wonder what Harley has in mind for 2017, doesn't it?

Touring models including the new Road Glide Ultra all have Harley’s EITMS, which helps reduce rear-cylinder heat. Now you can turn it off if you never want your 103 to run like a thumper.©Motorcyclist

6/ The idle control is now in the rider's control. To combat roasted-thigh (and cylinder) during hot-weather, low-speed riding, Harley introduced a technology called EITMS, which is a fancy way of saying that under certain circumstances the fuel and ignition to the rear cylinder is interrupted to keep it and the rider cool. Until last year, EITMS was enabled or disabled by the dealer reflashing the bike's ECU, but since 2015 it's rider selectable. Harley showed us how it's done, by holding the throttle against the cruise-control disable switch (which is beyond fully closed) and watching the display. Pretty simple way to do it if you ask us.

A Screamin’ Eagle 110 finds a home in the new Softail Slim S and Fat Boy S. Torque of the town, for sure.©Motorcyclist

7/ The 110ci engine in the S models is the largest ever offered in a stock Softail. From humble beginnings with an 80ci Evolution engine through to the standard 103ci engine in the rest of the line, the Softail has grown with the S models (Softail Slim S, $18,499, and Fat Boy S, $19,699) to pack 1,802cc from a 4-inch bore and a 4.374-inch stroke, giving 109 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. The regular 103 has a measly 3.87-inch bore and offers up 100 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm. The big engines in the Softail Slim S and the Fat Boy S have hydraulic clutches. That makes it easier to squeeze the stronger clutches. Because torque.