After ten years with the Springer, it was time for a more comfortable scooter, something we can take on trips without beating ourselves up. The Road Glide is one of Harley's best handling bikes, too. My wife loves her "Queen Seat" and claims the bike is hers - just ask her!
The Road Glide's theme is black with chrome accents, kind of a stealth look. Basic and clean lines.
FIRST PHASE UPGRADES
Engine: The engine modifications were specifically chosen to land right at the optimum price-performance point, giving the bike the most power for the "least" money, while maintaining long-term reliability. The dealer installed the engine upgrades before I took the bike home. That's right, this bike was never ridden with the engine stock.
- The 88 CID stock jugs were swapped for bored-over 95" (1550 cc) jugs with 10.5:1 compression pistons (vs stock 8.5:1) and a 211 cam installed. If you go more than a 211 cam and you'll end up doing significantly more work to other components, like flowing the heads, etc., which I didn't want to get into. Speaking of head flow, the 2005 heads HD redesigned to have a single (vs dual) valve spring and they flow better than previous heads. It is possible to get 105 rear wheel HP from this setup if you do a two-into-one exhaust - not possible on pre-2005 heads without flow work. Latus Motors has a jug exchange program, saving bucks over buying buying new oversize jugs from HD, plus you get a closely matched set (tight tolerances).
- HD Race Tuner. This replaces the stock electronic brain and allows tuning the engine in ways that can't be done otherwise - unless you add a module between the engine and the stock ECM to fool it. This is more effective, but as soon as your dealer hooks it up, the computer will upload the configuration to Harley and your warranty will be automatically voided. Latus Motors put the bike on a dyno and tuned it for optimum performance.
- Rinehart Racing true dual exhaust, manufactured by Bub Enterprises. Look good. Sound good. Kinda loud, a bit raspy. Nice bark when you get on it. However, for 5-10 more HP, go with the Bassani 2-into-1. As a bagger, I went for the balanced look of duals.
- This setup gave 93 HP and 100 lbs torque at the rear wheel (see dyno results). Substantial improvement over stock, but still doesn't jerk your arms off. Now redlines at 6,000 RPM vs. stock 5,500. So far I've pegged the speedo at 120 MPH and wasn't topped out (speedo appears to be quite accurate). Front-end gets a little light above 110 MPH.
- For me these pipes were a little too loud, especially on longer rides, so I did some research. Bub makes an optional quieter baffle. The "Performance" baffle that comes with the pipe is 2.5" in diameter and the quieter one is 2". I talked to the tech guys there and was told the quieter baffle does take a couple HP off the top end but fattens up the mid-range, which means most people find the quieter baffle to have better performance in the real world. Fortunately changing to the quieter baffle richens the air-fuel mixture slightly (up to 5%) so I was told to just put it in and ride it and not worry about having the Harley Race Tuner adjusted unless I had flat spots or throttle response issues, which hasn't been an issue. While these baffles are supposed to be 2 - 4 db quieter, they sound like more difference to me than that. Slightly quieter but still a nice rumble.
This set up gives me anywhere from 30 to 55 MPG, depending on "conditions." Usually I get in the mid to high 30's.
Wheels: Black 18" Pro-One three spoke Sinister II wheels and rotors with silver accents (stock are 16"). Wanting a clean, uncluttered look, at first I didn't put the optional bolt-on inserts in the wheels, but that leaves a bump and hole where they normally attach which looks funky, so I put on the "Torturous" inserts.
Tires: Initially I put an Avon Venom AM 41 130/70 on front, and AM42 150/70 on the rear. The stock 140 rear is 5 1/2" wide on an 16" rim and the Avon 150/70 on an 18" rim is only 5 5/8". The stock 130 front on an 16" rim is 5 1/4" wide but the 130/70 Avon on an 18" rim is only 5" wide.
At 6,000 miles the rear was down to the tread wear bars and the front took a large nail and went flat-flat-flat, so I shopped for some tires that were up 10 mm front and rear. Neither I nor two other shops could find any matching sets of those sizes, so I went with a mismatched set, both radials. Also of consideration was the rapid wear on the rear tire. I hear Dunlop is the best wearing, but since they didn't have a size anywhere near what I wanted I decided to try the new Continental Road Attack 160/60 on the rear (at least it is on the lower end of the cost spectrum) and stayed with the Avon Venom AM 41 140/70 on the front. (click for pics of how they look on the bike).
I got a little over 6,000 miles on the Road Attack, but it was literally down to the cords. I also found that it was too large for the rim size even though it fit on the bike. I didn't like what it did to conering balance, whether that was the rim being undersize or having two different manufacturers, it just didn't work out well. So at 12,200 miles I went back to the Avon Venom AM42 I used to begin with. Makes a better balanced bike.
What I didn't realize when I ordered 18" rims was that tire selection was so limited. If you want to go oversize from stock, 17" rims have a lot more tire size choices.
Accessories: I went with a slotted theme for parts. Here are the primary accessories:
- Handle bar mounted MP3 player is slick. Uses the Secure Digital card. Adapter plugs SD card right into your USB port to download music.
- Radar detector, with removable mount on fairing. Developed for Harley Davidson by Escort.
- Swept wing style footboards with chrome bottoms and mounts.
- Chrome handlebar switch housings and buttons, slotted mirrors, handgrips to match footboards. Stock bar was a little bit of a stretch for me so replaced it with Harley Davidson's "Pullback" bar, which comes an inch or two closer to the rider. Fits me just right now.
- Slotted rear brake, shift levers, and shift linkage.
- AM/FM antenna is hidden in the fairing. It works fine around town, but isn't a whole lot of good on the open road, but that isn't real important to me ('d just as soon listen to the MP3 player and plan to get a satellite radio in the future). What it does gives me is the clean look of no antenna sticking up, which is important. If you want to get rid of the stock antenna and reception is important to you, try the unit that mounts out-of-sight (but still outside the fairing) from eGlideGoodies. I haven't tried it, but it looks like it would have better reception than the one I used.
- Focal 130CV 4" speakers. Bolt right in. Significantly better sound; still no bass (Can ya fit a 5" sub inside the fairing? Someday I'll try it...)
- Blacked out engine guard.
- Blacked out forks.
- Saddlebag billet latches and tank panel, grooved.
- Smoked blinker lenses and chrome lens rings.
- Low profile removable tour pack. Removable rider and passenger backrests.
- Easy Boy clutch (installation how-to article )
- Rear LED turn signal bulbs & module to add running light functionality
- 3" higher windshield.
- Numerous chrome parts, covers, and bolts.
Still Stock: A few things have stayed stock...
- I like the stock seat and find it adequately comfortable. Someday I'm sure I'll replace it, but I'm in no hurry.
- Shocks are stock. Maybe replace them after some miles rack up, but that is on the back burner.
- No changes to the frame.
Future Enhancements Include:
The following are the maintenance issues I've encountered.
Valve train issues at 5,000 miles:
- I started hearing a tapping sound that was a lot like push rods that were sloppy. I was on a trip to Laughlin at the time so wasn't able to take it in for repair immediately. However, later during the trip the sound became so loud that I stopped and had the bike trailered home, fearing substantial problems would occur if I didn't. It was a good thing I did. The rear cylinder rocker arm support plate (inside the head) had cracked into three pieces (click for a picture). The bolts holding it down had apparently not been torqued properly and had no thread lock on them (per my mechanic). One had worked its way out, breaking in two and hitting on the bottom of the head cover. The broken plate was replaced with Harley's Screaming Eagle unit, stronger and only a few more bucks. On further investigation, the front cylinder also had the bolts beginning to loosen and had no lock tight on them either. These would have been issues directly due to the engine assembly done by Latus Motors, but since I have moved out of state, it was impractical to take it back to them and they had made it clear it no longer was covered under factory warranty when I had the engine work done (no, I didn't call them to discuss it - I wanted my private local mechanic to work on it that I knew was top notch).
- The front intake valve seal was leaking, fouling the spark plug, so all of the valve seals were replaced.
- In my new location, I'm using a great private mechanic who works out of his home garage. He was previously employed as a Harley mechanic. When you can find one of these guys, it is invaluable.
Here's some biker resources I've found useful:
- For LED lighting, check out Custom Dynamics. Customizable light strips made for motorcycles. Decent pricing.
- Chicago Harley Davidson. Good on-line source of HD parts and supplies. They seem to perpetually have a 20% discount for on-line orders.
- For an alternative to Arlen Ness Extended bags, check out Milwaukee Bagger. These guys produce extended bags with storage space in the extension. Very nice. They also have bag lids with LED's inset in them.
- Also try Fat Baggers for extra wide bags.
- Bad Dad also has bag extensions and some very cool hidden LED lighting systems.
- Klock Werk Kustom Cycles has some VERY nice bagger parts.
- Best wax I've found is Zymol. All natural ingredients. Deep mirror surface. Not the usual application methods so read the directions.
- I love Odyssey batteries. This is truly a get-what-you-pay-for deal. I got one after the battery in my Springer went dead a couple years old, but wondered if it would be worth the price. Boy was it. The Odyssey battery lasted nine years! Never needed charging after sitting a winter and never failed to start in all that time. I recommend www.batteryweb.com as a supplier. Nice ordering process, application and conversion guides, and good pricing.
- Want some great boots? I challenge you to find better boots than "Westco" (West Coast Shoe Co.) boots, hand made for generations to your specifications and custom sizing if desired. Heavy and tough. (picture of my boots)
DAVE'S H-D DEALER PRICING POINTERS
- In my book, the best time of year to buy a Harley is just before year-end, like the week between Christmas and New Year. Your Harley dealer, like many business, is motivated to make a sale just before the end of the fiscal year to get their numbers up.
- Many dealers run a "20/20" program from late fall to January or February. Under this program you get 20% off all HD parts and shop labor when you buy a new bike.