Harley-Davidson’s touring bikes are huge sellers, the best in the world, and even if Indian weren’t on such a heavily publicized warpath, Milwaukee’s cruisers were due for upgrades. And today we learned what they are. During its annual summer dealer meeting in Denver, Colorado, The Motor Company launched Project Rushmore, a customer-driven package of enhancements designed to give Harley’s luxury-tourers (and performance baggers) more power, better brakes, improved ergonomics, fresh styling and upgraded infotainment with voice-recognition software featuring text-to-speech capabilities. What’s more, in addition to fresh new looks, these 2014 touring models boast low-profile front fenders and cast aluminum wheels that are said to be lighter and stiffer than the previous units.
Eight 2014 Harley-Davidsons get the Project Rushmore treatment: the Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Limited, CVO Ultra Limited and CVO Road King, plus the Tri Glide Ultra trike. Here’s a rundown of what Project Rushmore brings to these 2014 Harleys.
Increased Power, Better Cooling
The High Output Twin Cam 103, equipped with a new camshaft and a high-flow airbox, has been tuned for more low-rpm torque. Harley, specifically, says it has 5 percent more torque than a standard Twin Cam 103 powertrain, which translates to a “dramatic” improvement in 60-to-80 mph roll-on tests in fifth gear, even with a passenger and gear aboard. Moreover, the airbox is said to improve legroom and airflow around the rider. This High Output engine is standard in the Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special and Electra Glide Ultra Classic models.
Far more significant, Harley is introducing a new Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103, an air- and liquid-cooled V-Twin that powers the Ultra Limited and Tri Glide Ultra models, plus the CVO Limited. This engine has liquid coolant that gets routed through the exhaust areas of the cylinder heads before reaching ducted heat exchangers in the left and right fairing lowers. This new Twin Cooled motor, “designed to maintain performance in the most challenging situations,” has a high 10.1:1 compression ratio that helps it produce a claimed 10.7 percent more peak torque than a standard Twin Cam 103. Engine coolant is circulated by an electric pump, and Harley says the thermal comfort of the rider is significantly improved in situations such as hot stop-and-go traffic.
For the record, all of Harley’s 2014 touring models, with exception of the Road King, get a new hydraulic clutch. Because the clutch springs have been strengthened for 2014, Harley opted for a hydraulic system to keep lever effort the same as before. Harley says the new hydraulic clutch never will need adjustment, and that lever effort will stay consistent over the life of the bike.
While the rear suspension of the 2014 touring Harleys remains unchanged, Project Rushmore has led to these bikes being fitted with a larger and significantly more rigid fork. Last year’s 43.1mm tubes have been replaced by ones that are 49mm in diameter, an increase of 14 percent. Moreover, the steering stem is now supported by larger bearings, and the damping has been re-tuned for a smoother ride over what Harley calls “minor pavement irregularities like tar strips.”
Linked Brakes With ABS
On the stopping front, all the new Rushmore models come with Reflex Linked Brakes with ABS, available either as standard equipment or as a factory-installed option. With this system, linked braking is active whenever the motorcycle is above 20 to 25 mph. At slower speeds, the front and rear brakes act independently. When the linked system is active, braking force is applied to both wheels if either brake is applied, and the fore/aft balance is automatically optimized while ABS is at the ready to help the rider maintain better control of the bike, particularly in bad conditions. Linked Brakes with ABS is standard on the Street Glide Special, Electra Gide Ultra Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Limited; they’re a factory-installed option on the Road Kings and Street Glides.
New Batwing Fairing
“When we got this assignment, we knew that we were messing with the Holy Grail of motorcycles,” commented Brian Nelson, lead stylist on Product Rushmore, who later explained that his goal was to make a lasting design that’s neither trendy nor trying to make a fashion statement. Has Harley succeeded? Only time will tell, but in the meantime know this: Harley says the goal with the new batwing fairing, a collaboration between design and engineering, was to create a “fresh yet recognizable” interpretation of an iconic design, with a significant reduction in head buffeting for the rider.
Notable details include a centered intake port for the slipstream vent that transitions smoothly to the base of the windshield, plus slightly better hand coverage and a bit more overhang for the headlamp. Storage compartments in the lower fairing are a claimed 27 percent larger than before, and they now feature hinged doors with one-touch latches. What’s more, a new Jukebox compartment with a USB port looks like a perfect place to charged mobile phones and the like.
The nighttime view forward is also improved for 2014, thanks to new Daymaker LED headlamps (with LED foglamps) that are standard on the Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited and Tri Glide Ultra models. These lights, with D-shaped lenses and a bright white color quality, offer great “punch” into the darkness, says Harley. The headlights on the 2014 Road King, Street Glide and Street Glide Special models are also new; they are a Dual Halogen design without the bright white look, and their low beam stays illuminated when the high beams are employed, helping it to perform better than a single-element halogen headlight.
Carry (slightly) More
On the cargo-carrying front, there’s a new Tour-Pak for 2014, and although Harley say this hard trunk on the tail looks more compact than the previous case, it offers 4 percent more volume, which means it’s still able to hold two full-face helmets. New LED rear lighting takes up less space in the new Tour-Pak, which is equipped with a single one-touch latch, a self-centering catch and a retractable tether that makes it possible to open and close the lid with one hand. Revised hinges are said to eliminate exposed rivets, and a new support structure allows the Tour-Pak to be adjusted one inch fore or aft to help reposition the passenger backrest.
Complementing the Tour-Pak are new hard saddlebags, fitted with one-touch latch handles located between the seat and bags themselves. The bags are slightly larger than before (by 1 percent, says Harley), and a new hinge allows their lids to be opened with one hand. Moreover, the tubular saddlebag guards have been reshaped for increased passenger leg room, and new cast aluminum supports are lighter (and comprised of fewer parts) while providing better bag alignment than the steel supports they’ve replaced.
With is upgraded Boom! Box infotainment systems for 2014, Harley says it aims to please customers accustomed to interactive automotive electronics. That tall order begins with high-quality audio via radio, satellite and other sources such as an iPod, and the system is complemented by Bluetooth connectivity and voice-recognition software with text-to-speech technology. The box, controlled by five-way joysticks mounted on the left and right hand controls, also allows for intercoms and CB connections.
The Boom! Box 4.3, fitted on the Street Glide and Electra Glide Ultra Classic, has a high-resolution 4.3-inch color screen, plus large faceplate buttons designed for use while wearing gloves. In addition to numerous audio and Bluetooth options that allow you to make and receive calls while riding, the system has a handy Vehicle Information Screen that displays ambient air temperature and oil pressure, among other vitals.
Moving up to the Boom! Box 6.5GT means a larger 6.5-in. high-resolution screen and a full-color GPS navigation system with features that include Digital Terrain Modeling and an extensive Point of Interest library with handy features such as nearest gas stations and Harley dealers. There’s also a “dead reckoning” feature that aids navigation in downtown areas with tall buildings, and Sirius/XM satellite radio can be ordered as an option through Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Accessories. The 6.5GT is original equipment on the Street Glide Special, Ultra Limited, CVO Limited and Tri Glide; it’s a factory-installed option on the Electra Glide Ultra Classic model.
The Verdict, Please
Harley says the eight motorcycles of Project Rushmore—with innovations and technical enhancements driven by the company’s constant customer interaction and feedback—will “fundamentally transform the touring motorcyclist’s experience.” Hyperbole? For sure. But let’s cut Harley some slack here; rather than resting on its laurels, the easy thing to do, The Motor Company has substantively improved its touring bikes for 2014, both mechanically and aesthetically, and we see Project Rushmore as a well-timed step to keep the brand firmly affixed at the top of the touring segment.
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