2020 Harley Road Glide Limited First Ride

New for 2020, the Road Glide Limited replaces last year’s Road Glide Ultra.

Road Glide Limited
New for 2020, the Road Glide Limited slots into Harley’s Touring lineup, replacing last year’s Road Glide Ultra.Harley-Davidson

When you're a major OEM it's a time-honored practice to engage in a little bit of product shuffling every now and again to keep the lineup looking fresh. Add some paint and accessories, call it a new model, and rotate out an older bike to placate the faithful. Everybody does it. The Motor Company's latest exercise involves the new Road Glide Limited, which is billed as a "premium luxury tourer" and makes its debut in Harley-Davidson's Touring line for 2020.

blue or purple
What do you think, blue or purple? Harley officially calls this color Zephyr Blue (with Black Finish) but a couple of us weren’t so sure…Harley-Davidson

It began with the Road Glide Ultra, another luxury long-hauler, which got booted from the Touring group this year in favor of the Limited, presumably because both bikes were very similarly configured, featured, and priced. In fact the only differences we could find between the two—and this is straight off the spec sheet—are wheel sizes, new paint and finishes, slightly taller handlebars with heated grips, and fresh badges on the new 2020 Limited. Harley says the fuel tank is "new" too, but we couldn't really tell from a quick glance. Otherwise, you have the shark nose fairing with dual Daymaker LEDs carved into the front face and a Boom! Box GTS infotainment unit on the backside, the Milwaukee-Eight 114 Twin-Cooled engine, the Tour-Pak, the 13.5-inch shield—you know the drill.

From a distance, the Limited is a dead doppelganger for the Ultra, and up close is no different, revealing the same 49mm fork with Showa Dual Bending Valve tech inside and a hand-adjustable rear monoshock that lets you dial in preload (it's the Premium version, which nets you 3 inches of travel). But let's talk about the differentiation: Customers get a wider variety of paint colors, finishes, and other options to choose from, and the 2020 Road Glide Limited rides on new wheels. You'll see a pair of 18-inchers on the Limited whereas the Ultra rode on a 17-inch wheel up front with a 16-inch hoop locking down the rear. And whereas the Ultra wore Impeller wheels, the Limited gets the Slicer II style. Reflex Linked Brakes with ABS make a return as well on the standard Road Glide Limited model, but the good news is that you have the option to upgrade—all Harley Touring models (except the Electra Glide Standard) now offer an optional suite of electronic rider aids called RDRS. That's something the Ultra never had and we can tell you straight up, it makes a world of difference.

RDRS electronics package
The RDRS electronics package is a $995 option on the Limited, but if there’s any kind of serious cornering or bad weather in your future, you might want to consider it.Harley-Davidson

RDRS stands for Reflex Defensive Rider Systems and, in simple terms, constitutes a sophisticated electronics package designed to match the bike’s performance to available traction during acceleration, deceleration, and braking—even while cornering. It includes:

Cornering Enhanced ABS (C-ABS), which balances front and rear braking, even when leaned over; Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System (C-TCS), which is supposed to stop the rear wheel from spinning out under acceleration; Drag-Torque Slip Control System (DSCS) that’s meant to manage rear wheel slip and lock during engine-braking (upon deceleration on slippery roads); and Vehicle Hold Control (VHC), which you can engage to apply brake pressure to keep the bike from rolling, say, backward down a hill while stopped. A Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is also part of the RDRS suite, but you can get it as a stand-alone accessory on select 2020 Touring models if you choose.

premium Tour-Pak luggage carrier
The Road Glide Limited retains luxurious goodness as its mantra, with touring amenities like a premium Tour-Pak luggage carrier to contribute to the claimed 4.7 cubic feet of capacity.Harley-Davidson

The Road Glide Limited we whipped around San Diego County came equipped with the RDRS suite, a $995 option on Touring models but standard on all CVOs this year, and we can tell you it’s worth every penny, especially if you’re prone to getting in way too hot in corners (ahem) or expecting sketchy weather and even sketchier roads along your travels. It saved our bacon multiple times, the traction control coming in especially handy in the often-sandy twisties we tackled in San Diego’s high desert, and the cornering ABS and linked brakes… Let’s just say that heaving a 900-plus-pound motorcycle around a long run of sinuous roller coasters while constantly toggling between throttle and binders can be an eye-opening exercise even with the benefit of electronic rider aids. Straight-line ABS is one thing, but cornering ABS? In the V-twin touring cruiser world that’s tantamount to sorcery. Not that I’m complaining.

The third or fourth corner out of Julian is where it really hit home, on a decreasing-radius dirty left-hander, white-knuckling it with a bunch of other dunderheaded journos. No shoulder, the turn closing fast, leaned way over, too much throttle—all that was left to do was mash as much brake as I could muster. The RDRS adjusted, balanced, reapplied, and bailed me out, big time. Sandy spots with uneven surfaces tested the system again and again, but even if I was standing the big luxo-tourer up with all four fingers on the lever, the brakes—and the traction control too, frankly—never failed to give me a solid contact patch in those tight dirty esses (even if lever effort is a bit on the high side). Credit the incredibly clever Bosch six-axis IMU (inertial measurement unit) for sending all the right pitch, roll, and acceleration signals to the Limited’s ECU and keeping my keister out of the bushes.

Twin-Cooled 1,868cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine
As it did in last year’s Road Glide Ultra, the Twin-Cooled 1,868cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine provides motivation to the new 2020 Road Glide Limited. Here it’s seen in the Silver Pine/Spruce with a standard chrome finish.Harley-Davidson

But the RDRS is not standard equipment, and the foundational stuff we’ve come to take for granted needs a shout-out too; the M-8 114 engine is a dream in this chassis, feeling totally up to the task of pushing a 900-pound bike without breathing hard. The 122 pound-feet of torque is available right when you need it, and we needed it at every turn; 20-mph corners meant always having to crank the throttle upon exit and the 114 was never snappy, never pushy, just ready to roll on with authority. The pullback tiller-type bar was also right up my alley, allowing for a relaxed riding position and giving shorter pilots like this guy great leverage for back-roads hustling. A cushy, wide touring seat was comfy and supportive enough for at least a couple of hours, but that touring shield’s a nonstarter for riders under 5-foot-8—the top edge hits right through your line of sight, so looking through corners becomes a chore. A slight curvature just below the top also makes for a distorted view of the road, though your results may vary.

Boom! Box GTS infotainment unit
Other premium features include painted pinstriping, a gloss finish inner fairing, heated hand grips, and a Boom! Box GTS infotainment unit.Harley-Davidson

It was made clear to us that the other main feature of the new Road Glide Limited is the dizzying array of paint options, and that’s about right for this segment. It’s full-boat grand touring and, as equipped, the Limited is probably as close as you can come to a CVO in the main line.

The 2020 Road Glide Limited will ding you $28,299 to start, a tick pricier than last year’s Ultra, but the RDRS adds $995 to the total. It’s available now.

Black Finish
The standard finish is chrome, but if you’re feeling moody, opt for the new Black Finish, which darkens nearly every non-painted surface for a custom look from the factory.Harley-Davidson
2020 CVO Limited
The 2020 CVO Limited rolls on a 19-inch front wheel and serves up gobs of lavish paint, with RDRS, Boom! Box Infotainment, cruise control, security, and more as standard equipment. It’ll cost you though.Harley-Davidson

Speaking of CVOs, we kept swapping between the 117-equipped 2020 CVO Limited (seen last year as a mainline 2019 Touring model) and the 114-outfitted Limited, and to be perfectly honest, both bikes were amazingly composed and impressively competent for the winding roads we tackled. With either machine tipping the scales at well over 900 pounds, we didn’t even feel the added displacement of the 117 engine in the CVO that much, except for a slightly bigger punch (125 pound-feet of torque) out of low-speed corners. As with all CVOs for 2020, the CVO Limited comes with RDRS standard too, as well as the H-D Connect service, which links your bike to your phone (but was not enabled on our bike at the time).

There were a couple of other features we really dug on the CVO bike, namely the super-plush seat with rider back support that frankly made the Road Glide Limited’s saddle feel like a piano bench. The CVO Limited also rocked the Daymaker Adaptive LED Headlight, the most advanced such lighting offered by Harley at this time. Our ride was in the full light of day so we didn’t get to see the additional LED lights in the right environment; these lights sense lean angle and activate to throw illumination into corners you wouldn’t normally see with standard LEDs.

The CVOs are all about premium touches, tech, and finishes and the Limited has all that in spades, but underneath it all is also an excellent touring motorcycle. It is a pretty pricey one too: MSRP is $44,039.

2020 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited Specifications

Price $28,299–$30,499 (RDRS adds $995)
Engine 1,868cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin; 8 valves
Transmission/final drive 6-speed Cruise Drive/belt
Claimed horsepower N/A
Claimed torque 122 lb.-ft. @ 3,000 rpm
Frame Tubular steel
Front suspension 49mm fork w/ Dual Bending Valve; 4.6-in. travel
Rear suspension Premium Standard Height dual shocks w/ hand-adjustable spring preload; 3.0-in. travel
Front brake 4-piston calipers, 300mm dual discs w/ ABS
Rear brake 4-piston caliper, 300mm disc w/ ABS
Rake/trail 26.0°/6.7 in.
Wheelbase 64.0 in.
Seat height 27.2 in. (laden)
Fuel capacity 6.0 gal.
Claimed wet weight 932 lb.
Available Now
Contact harley-davidson.com

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