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2011 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra First Impressions


by Marc Cantin ,

I liked Harley’s TC103 engine when I first rode one last year aboard a the 2010 Electra Glide Ultra Classic Limited, as it felt like a real incremental improvement over the somewhat underpowered TC96 when motivating that fully equipped and massive Touring bike.

Photo: Harley-Davidson

I felt the same “Right” feeling when I took off aboard the new-for-2011 Road Glide Ultra, lent to me by enthusiastic owner René Pelerin. After a 30 sec discussion, he simply told me to bring the bike back in an hour – no more.

AMF, whose disastrous ownership of H-D from 1969 to 1981 almost bankrupted it, developed the Road Glide’s top half fairing shape in a wind tunnel – leading edge stuff in the late 70s – and current management has kept this unique model alive since then, despite a few near-death experiences in recent years.

You want torque? This way please.
The 103cid engine focuses on torque, with 10% more than the regular TC96, pushing noticeably harder than the 96 does from 2000 to 4500rpm. Keep going to the 5400rpm red line and you can feel the torque gradually drop until the rev limiter cuts in – not stirring stuff, but this is a heavy bike punching a big hole in the air. And what are you trying to prove at 140kph on a Harley anyway?

The six speed box first seen in 2009 and improved in 2010 is up there with Honda in terms of smoothness and positive shifting.

Not agile yet – but getting there
In keeping with recent trends, the chassis techies in Milwaukee are allowed to actually improve the bike’s suspension, providing it with liveable rear suspension travel, and some real compression damping at both ends. Long live the Vehicle Dynamics Group!

Owner René is of the same generous shape as I, and we agreed that the ergos could hardly fit us better – I guess 260lbs packed into a 5’11’’ frame is within the American 75 percentile amongst Harley owners.

Photo: Harley-Davidson
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