HD Road Glide: 15 months, 22,000 miles

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Cakeeater, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Been here awhile

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    In late July of 2011 I bought myself a big hunk of Milwaukee touring metal.... a new Road Glide Ultra. Now I'm just about to pass the 22,000 mile mark and thought I'd pass along a few observations.

    First off, I'm the guy who posted this comparision last year:

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=706119&highlight=smackdown

    I have racked up a lot of miles by taking several long trips, and by using the Harley as a "work" vehicle when I have to travel. I don't do any commuting on it, and the bike will stay in the garage for several days at a time when I'm busy. And, living in Minnesota, the bike sat in storage for months last winter.


    Three years ago if you asked me what I thought of Harleys I would have said: They suck, big time. They're loud, they're slow, they're stupid, their riders are stupid, etc.

    Then I rode one, had fun, rented a few, and finally bought one. When I bought one I wondered if it would fall apart, take a lot of repairs, wobble into the ditch, give me a pot-belly or all those things that HD is supposed to do to....

    Well, 22 thousand later, and just back from a quick trip from Minnesota to Los Angeles via No. California and Wyoming and back home I can say here's the verdict:

    The bike is just a damn joy to ride..and the quality has been very good.

    Here's what I've done for repairs:
    I tightened a loose bolt that connects the passenger seat strap.
    I had the dealer tighten the steering head bearings at 14,000. It eliminated a much-written about Road Glide no-hands steering wobble that had developed at about 10,000 miles.

    Maintenance:
    I gave it three oil changes (I run with Amsoil). Gonna give it another soon.
    I replaced the paper air filter.

    That's it. It's still running original tires...(!) The back tire needs replacing, asap. The front can go another 10,000 it looks like.

    Bike looks new. Paint and chrome are flawless. One tiny chip on the front fairing. I've been pegged by rocks, hit a pretty big bird in wyoming at 90 mph...and the paint looks great.

    I replaced or added: A windvest 16 inch windshield. Waaaay better than the stocker for turbulence. I added a HD backrest and hiway pegs (Both fantastic quality and adds greatly to long distance comfort). I put in PIAA lighbulbs. The stock HD bulbs were crap of the first order. I've had flashlights that put out more power. And I added a supposedly super loud horn, which isnt that much louder than the stocker.

    The engine is completely stock. No pipes, air intake, tuner, etc. Just bought it and rode it. Runs just fine, gets on average about 42 mpg. More when I slow down.

    When I ride, I like to cruise at 80 to 85 unless I'm in an area swarming with cops. I'll sometimes run faster, but the bike has a sweet spot from 70 to 85 that really makes me smile. Almost no vibrations, smooth as butter. Above 90 and it gets a little growly, and the cruise control will only hold at 90 or below.

    From San Fran heading east this week I put in a 1077 mile day, and felt pretty fresh when I was done. It was cold tho...in the 30s when I stopped for the night, and I don't ride with heated gear, and it was time for some bourbon and a shower when I got off. But, my arse wasn't hurting. This bike allows me to move all over. I stretch out, stand up, lean back, lean forward, rest my shins on the passenger footrests...I constantly move around.

    With the tank I can can pretty much always go about 200 miles between fillups. Less if I'm really on the gas or pushing a headwind.

    I've ridden the bike from 25 degrees to 110, and engine heat is a non-issue WHEN I"M MOVING. If I'm in stop and go traffic, and it's really hot, I notice it. Last week I was paddling around in L.A. in 90 degree weather and I thought, "yeah, this is getting warm on my thighs). It wasn't a deal breaker, but it wasn't like riding a scooter. Normally I wear aerostich riding pants, and those deflect the heat really well.

    Granted, when I'm riding at night and it's 35 out, it's nice to put a hand on the motor to warm up my gloves.

    The bike has always started, first time, but it always...always...sounds as excited to get going as an old and tired Labrador when I fire it up. It turns over and goes chuff.chuff..wheeeze...chuff... and then fires up. It never fails to amuse me.

    The engine likes high octane juice, esp. at higher altitude. And while it's no rocket, at all, the motor has enough grunt to stay away from semis and texting commuters. I would like more power (who wouldn't?)...but it's not an issue that has caused me to pay the Harley Tax.

    The handling of the bike is really superb. It loves to cruise all day, rock steady, in bad winds, through bad rain, on bad roads. I ride one handed much of the time...it's just very steady. The hands-down biggest surprise is that the big lady can really move along nicely on the twisty stuff. Yeah yeah yeah...it's a 900 lb chunk with 32 degrees of max lean angle....but, it just surprises me every time I get on it. Very predictable....a great deal of fun.

    Now, I did once take a corner too fast at an intersection and planted the frame into the ground and got myself a nice powerslide out of the deal...but the bike corrected itself and I kept going...and promised myself to lay off the gas the next time.

    And the frame will do a little wobble on fast sweepers above 80 mph. It's never gotten nasty...but the bike just starts moving around and tells you, That's Good for Today.


    This is getting long, and I gotta run soon, but a couple other notes:

    The bike is really good in the dirt, much better than other big touring bikes/sport tourinng bikes I've ridden. Somewhere in Nebraska a few days ago I was heading down a little road to a gas station and I spaced out and rode onto the shoulder. But, the shoulder had a couple inch drop off the pavement, and the shoulder was rough gravel. I didn't want to do anything drastic, so I cruised along the loose gravel for a while until I found a spot to drive back up on the pavement. When I got to the station I found a semi blocking the entrance, and several cars lined up behind it...so I thought, "oh hell, I''ll just keep off-roading it." So I drove down the ditch and down a hill and across a small field to the pumps. I never felt the bike was going to fold its front end into the dirt. I'll take this bike on very rough trails. I've never dropped it, and I go slow, but it will plonk along with steady feet in pretty rough ground.


    HD dealers in my experience have been fantastic. Other retailers should take a page out of their book. When I replaced my windshield I messed up a couple tiny little rubber grommets that attach the sheild to the fairing. I went to my dealer, and he said they were out. But he had some delivered the next day, called me, and gave me a couple extra. All for a buck or two.

    And, this: I now make certain that my bike is spotless when I leave on a trip. I am THAT HARLEY GUY who polishes his chrome on a Sunday night. Chrome indeed does get you home :rofl


    Over and out....

    Cakeeater
    #1
  2. Shooter1

    Shooter1 Been here awhile

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    :lurk .........:lol3
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  3. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    96 inch, or 103?
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  4. EricD10563

    EricD10563 Been here awhile

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    Well written and couldn't agree with you more; including how the bike will let you know when you're pushing it. I'm a first time Harley owner and my Road King puts a smile on my face everytime, might sound stupid but it's just cool riding it and it's damn pretty to look at. I've owned two bikes that have made me smile even though there were so many better bikes available my 1976 CB750F and the Road King, both just provided a visceral feeling that other bikes don't do for me.
    #4
  5. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Been here awhile

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    It's the 103. I've ridden a couple of rental 96s, and I think the 103 is a big improvement.

    Oh, one other thing: I'm on 8,000 miles since my last oil change and I've burned 1/2 quart of amsoil.

    Cakeeater
    #5
  6. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Been here awhile

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    Thanks...and I agree with you. There's something about this bike that makes me grin every time I approach it. I have to say, I REALLY like that the engines of HD are right there in the open. Not covered in plastic.

    And one of the bikes I owned in the past was an 82 cb750f...a bike I had lusted after in high school.


    Cakeeater
    #6
  7. motoracer51

    motoracer51 Been here awhile

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    Nice report. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us.

    I've been a life long sport bike owner. Been thinking about either a HD or maybe a BMW sport tourer.
    #7
  8. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    :huh Why don't you change your oil?
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  9. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Been here awhile

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    Cuz I'm lazy. And the last trip came up on short notice...and I believe that Amzoil hype.

    I'm changing it tomorrow.

    Cakeeater
    #9
  10. Xdriver

    Xdriver Been here awhile

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    I've currently got a BMW 1200RT, I keep going back to HD and test riding the RK's(not a RG, but still touring frame). I come home, I ride the RT, and love the performance. Love the light weight, lack of heat, and electric wind screen. But, I still keep testing the HD's, and really like them. Don't care for the costume party as most on this site, but really like the bikes as they stand on there own. Also, even with risers just recently added, the RT just isn't as comfortable for me as I'd like. I may be headed for HD as well. Thanks for the report.
    #10
  11. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Been here awhile

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    Just fyi, I ride in full gear: hi viz aerostich, boots, ...and switch between open face and fullface helmets (I travel with both, really nice luxury...and plenty of space on the bike for that).

    Harley guys never ever give me shit about my gear. I get asked a lot of questions and get favorable comments about my aerostich gear. I think they are amused by me.

    And the BMW guys look at me funny too.

    But...on my last blast across the country in really cold weather I counted about a dozen harley long-distance guys, a trio of Gold wingers, a pair of victories...and only one BMW! We all waved like long-lost cousins. Serious Harley guys are out there amongst the pirates.

    Cakeeater
    #11
  12. Garbage Marc

    Garbage Marc Adventurer

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  13. Buck760

    Buck760 Been here awhile

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    Same for me, which is why I'm getting the HD itch; I found the 96 to be insufficient...can't beat the dealer network either.
    #13
  14. ramon

    ramon weezin' the juice!

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    I agree 100%. I just picked up a Streetglide and have more miles on it in 2 months, than I put on my BMW, in the same amount of time. I kept my BMW and will likely just have both. They both serve a different purpose, but the SG just wants to be ridden long and hard!
    #14
  15. flipr

    flipr Scofflaw

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    Cakeeater, nice write-up, congrats on the shark and running stock mufflers.

    My 2012 Road King runs stock mufflers, and... paid taxes. Jackpot stainless 2-1-2 head pipe, Fuel Moto Pro Billet Air Kit, and Dynojet Power Vision tuner. Benefits include increase in MPG, usable power, Harley sound.

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/EaM4GlvKmeQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
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  16. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Been here awhile

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    Toad, for me the bike is very easy to hold up. And in stop and go traffic I play the 'how slow can you go without touching" game. It's impressive how stable the bike is at barely-moving speeds.

    I've put some extended time on my brothers 2007 Goldwing and I find that to be much more of a handful in the slow stuff.

    As to mpg: I've traveled enough with my bro's wing to know that my Road Glide gets a pretty dependable 4 mpg better than the wing. He gets 38...I get 42. Etc.

    I'd say that over life of bike I'm at about 43 mpg. If I travel with my wife, we go a lot slower, and then I get upper 40s.

    Cakeeater
    #16
  17. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Been here awhile

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    I like a quiet bike. What you did is interesting. I've been curious to do upgrades but keep stock pipes. I find loud pipes obnoxious, and they wear me out on a long ride.

    Any idea what kind of HP increase you got?

    Cakeeater
    #17
  18. motoracer51

    motoracer51 Been here awhile

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    Forgot to ask in my earlier post - what kind of bike(s) did you come from prior to the Harley Davidson?
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  19. EricD10563

    EricD10563 Been here awhile

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    I have the same setup Fuelmoto is a good company and they will/can sell you the entire stage one as a package, which is what I did, their site as the dyno numbers and the kits come pre-loaded with the fuel maps, I recommend calling them rather than Email, Jamie is the main guy there, but they all seem to be good. I can tell you that it made a difference in the butt dyno and that my firend who would routinely back down so not to run into me when we took off told me he hit the rev limiter trying to keep up after the upgrade. Also my top speed went from 106 mph to 113 mph thats more that a 6% increase and both speeds were measured with the same GPS not the optimistic speedo. I did take a hit in gas mileage, at speeds less than 70 it might have gotten better than stock but at higher speeds I'm getting less than before, sometimes even in the mid 30's depending on the headwind etc..

    Noise wise it took me a while to like it and get used to it after running the bike stock for more than 50k miles, they do make quiet baffles, I have the standard and they make competition baffles. After more than 10k miles I can now say I like it and it sounds nice and really only barks when getting on it, both my Harley and Non-Harley friends tell me in no way are the pipes obnoxius.

    I have the 96 motor and it really woke it up, my main purpose for doing it was being able to pass cars easier and spend less time exposed in the oncoming lane. Before the bike just wouldn't pull at higher RPM and upshifting wouldn't get you much, not sure about other bikes but Harley's truly benefit from the upgrade.

    I did a mini review here http://travelwithe.com/travelwithe/...012/04/07/Fuel-Moto-Power-Package-Review.aspx

    BTW if I was to do it again I would get the Power Vision tuner that flashes the ECM instead of the piggyback unit. I'm using the 4 inch Jackpot mufflers.
    #19
  20. flipr

    flipr Scofflaw

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    HP and torque curves virtually mirror stock curves (a bit smoother)... with 10+ HP and 10+ torque at max. Ridden at similar speeds and conditions as stock, MPG increases. On my Road King, wind noise and exhaust sound balance at 55 ~ 60 MPH cruise... at lower cruising speeds I can hear the exhaust. Exhaust sound is noticeable when accelerating at all speeds. The major improvements to my scoot are in the just-off-idle to 4,000 RPM range... where I do all my riding.
    #20