3 types of Road Glides are represented in the 2017 Model Year of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. What exactly makes each of them unique? Here is the breakdown:
Here's what is similar between the Road Glide, Road Glide Special and Road Glide Ultra:
- The Road Glide, Road Glide Special, and Road Glide Ultra all feature the new Milwaukee-Eight™ engine which utilizes the latest design and manufacturing technology so you can count on outstanding power, economy and durability. For a full overview on the Milwaukee-Eight you should definitely check out our article.
- A new primary cover slims down the left side of the powertrain to give you more foot room and for many riders, shorten your reach to the ground.
- With ratios selected for touring performance, the Six-Speed Cruise Drive® Transmission delivers strong acceleration to help you pull away from traffic plus relaxed highway engine speed and enhanced fuel economy in sixth gear so you can ride longer in comfort.
- Dunlop®/Harley-Davidson® Multi-Tread Tires are designed specifically for the Touring chassis with a special center tread compound so you’ll get longer rear-tire life and enjoy good allaround performance. More on Dunlop tires here.
- The new Showa Double Bending (DBV) front suspension offers better reaction to all changes in road surface to give you and your passenger a more comfortable and confident riding experience. The new Emulsion Rear Suspension coil-over shocks offer a broader pre-load range so you’ll almost always be able adjust for the load of passenger and gear, or to suit your handling preference. This new suspension is also featured in an article of its own.
- Shaped in a wind tunnel the distinctive Road Glide® sharknose fairing (if that isn't your style check out this article comparing the sharknose fairing to the batwing fairing of the Street Glide models) with a 13.5-inch touring windshield delivers world-class touring aerodynamics to give you and a passenger the ultimate in comfort. You’ll also enjoy light, precise steering because the fairing is mounted to the frame rather than to the handlebars.
- Each model features the Dual Reflector Daymaker™ LED headlamps which put out a focused beam of bright-white light to give you outstanding night-riding visibility and make you and the bike more conspicuous in traffic, day and night.
- The triple splitstream vents below the windshield alters the air pressure in the rider area behind the fairing so you’ll notice significantly less head buffeting at speed but still enjoy comfortable airflow at highway speeds.
- One-Touch Design makes it possible to open and close Tour-Pak® carrier, saddlebags, Jukebox, fairing lower storage compartments, and fuel tank door with a push or pull of a finger, a small convenience detail that you’ll really begin to appreciate when touring. The One-Touch latch and hinge design of the hard saddlebags make is possible to open and close the lid with one hand, which you’ll find out is really handy when you want to open the saddle bag while holding gear in the other hand.
- Harley-Davidson® footboards let rider and passenger relocate feet to keep you both comfortable on long rides; are height-adjustable for passenger comfort and isolate feet from road vibration for all-day comfort. The heel/toe shifter offers smooth action and a shifting option for riding ease.
- A new high-capacity Assist and Slip clutch and hydraulic actuation reduces lever effort by 7 percent; you’ll find it’s much easier to manage the clutch.
- Electronic cruise control is smooth and precise and adjusted with the left thumb so you can keep your right hand steady on the throttle. Set the cruise and give your right wrist a break.
Now here are where the models become their own:
- The Road Glide Ultra features 10-spoke Impeller Cast Alluminum Wheels which have a black finish with machined highlights for custom style and are stiff and lightweight to give you a better ride and precise handling. Meanwhile the Road Glide and Road Glide Special have 5-spoke Enforcer Cast Aluminum Wheels.
- The Road Glide has High-performance Brembo brakes that feature four-piston calipers front and rear with dual front discs to give your confident,
controlled stopping power at all speeds. ABS is offered as an option. The Road Glide Ultra and Road Glide Special have Reflex™ Linked Brakes with ABS - also made by Brembo - which link front and rear brakes at speeds over 20 mph and prevents wheel lock-up in less-than-optimal conditions, so in any situation you’ll have more control with optimized braking performance.
- The Road Glide® Special Model features exclusive hand-applied pinstriping and a painted inner fairing to set it apart from the Road Glide® motorcycle and let you ride with a little extra pride.
- The Road Glide comes in solid colors - 4 options. The Road Glide Special comes in 5 solid color options, 1 solid custom option or 3 Hard Candy Custom metal flake color options. The Road Glide Ultra is offered in 2 solid color options, 3 two-tone color options and 1 custom two-tone color option.
- The Road Glide Ultra has the Tour-Pak® luggage which also features One-Touch design to make it easy for you to load and unload luggage, generous capacity, additional rear audio speakers and integrated LED lighting so you can pack more touring gear and is adjustable to optimize the position of the backrest and keep your passenger comfortable. This allows the passenger seating area to be designed with armrests, back rest, passenger audio controls, and headset connection. The rear exhaust pipe has been tucked in to move it away from the passenger leg as well. This means that not only can you carry more luggage on the Road Glide Ultra, your passenger will be living the life of luxury.
- The Road Glide Ultra also has aerodynamic fairing lowers that offer adjustable air flow and weather protection to give you and your passenger more comfort and contain the Twin-Cooled™ heat exchangers so your bike looks sleek.
- The Road Glide and Road Glide Special have a standard Road Glide Handlebar which reduces your reach to the hand grips and puts your wrists at a more-comfortable angle for touring or cruising. The Road Glide Ultra has a 1.25-inch diameter mini-ape handlebar which offers an ideal long-haul touring posture for many riders.
- The Road Glide® Seat found on the Road Glide and Road Glide Special combines a sporty profile with a deep-bucket rider position that will cradle you in comfort, and a narrow nose to give you an easier reach to the ground. The passenger pillion lets a friend join in the riding fun. The classic Road Glide® Ultra Model Comfort Stitch Seat found on the Road Glide Ultra is shaped to support you for a more-comfortable ride, has a narrow nose to give you an easier reach to the ground, and is slightly lower to work with the handlebar to create an ideal touring rider triangle. You’ll ride longer with less fatigue.
- The factory-installed H-D® Smart Security System can be found on the Road Glide Special and Road Glide Ultra and is controlled by a pocket-size fob that automatically disarms and arms the system as you approach or walk away from the bike – you’ll never have to worry about whether you armed the security system, or if you’ll set if off accidentally. This is offered as an option on the Road Glide.
- All 3 models feature the Boom!™ Box 6.5GT Radio which pumps out 25 watts per channel with factory-equalized sound quality that self-adjusts for
bike speed so you can ride with clear sound at any speed or volume. The system is easy to upgrade with Boom!™ Box components if you want to add premium speakers, more amplifier power or CB radio and intercom functions. It also offers full voice recognition control and Bluetooth capability to control system functions and interface with a cell phone so you will have a hands-free interface while riding. All models also provide a jukebox, a dedicated location for a phone or MP3 player which is cushioned and water-resistant to protect your phone. A USB port allows you to charge your device and access your store music and phone functions. The big difference is the Road Glide has a 4.3-inch color display whereas the Road Glide Special and Road Glide Ultra have the 6.5-inch color touch screen display and color GPS Navigation System. The color GPS navigation system features voice recognition, route options, and Harley-Davidson® exclusive features; you’ll find it’s more than a navigating tool when you’re touring because the motorcycle-specific tools add so much convenience.
In summary the Road Glide is an excellent motorcycle with a great look and all of the basic advantages of the Touring line-up. If you are looking to get into the Touring line up or plan on doing a lot of customizations, the Road Glide is a great option. The Road Glide Special gives you a little bit more - like Reflex linked brakes with ABS, more paint options, H-D® Smart Security System, and a larger color display with touchscreen capabilities as well as GPS. This is an excellent motorcycle for just about all types of street riding and a great bike for those long trips. The Road Glide Ultra is set up more for touring with a slightly different riding position and all of the creature comforts many passengers love. If you and your passenger are looking for the ultimate comfort mile after mile, this is the way to go.
There is a rider for every motorcycle. And there is a motorcycle ready for you. The best way to tell which bike is right for you? Take a ride on all 3 models and feel the difference for yourself.
*Information taken from Harley-Davidson training materials.