Story and Photos: Gary Koz Mraz
Ode to Road Glide: Introduced in 1979 as the Harley-Davidson Tour Glide, this infamous shark nosed motorcycle officially transformed into the “Road Glide” in 1998. Harley’s only frame-mounted faring motorcycle stirred mixed emotions. As the bagger craze exploded, the Road Glide became the custom bagger of choice and remains so to this day. Mothballed by Harley-Davidson in 2014, the Road Glide returns reborn in 2015 and is so immediately recognizable that badging on this bike is limited to a single moniker that only the rider sees.
Shark Attack: Available this year in a Standard, Special and CVO model, the feature that most distinguishes the Road Glide is of course, its frame-mount “shark-nose” fairing. Extensive wind-tunnel testing has resulted in an all-new design that’s been narrowed by 1.75-inches and moved back 2-inches, rounding out its edges to make it more slipstream. Its new “triple splitstream vent” improves airflow while reducing buffeting. Side vents flank the new dual reflector LED headlights. A centrally located top vent in the top of the dash can be closed in inclement weather. The biggest design problem for the Road Glide has always been the distance of the windscreen to the rider. Street Glide riders are seated approximately 23 inches from the top of the windshield; the Road Glide is a full ten inches farther. The factory low profile tinted windshield is primarily for looks and I immediately ordered the Windvest 12” windshield to give this new faring a real run for her money.
I met Dennis Cherewick (a proud 2015 Road Glide Special owner) at Huntington Beach Harley, and took my maiden Road Glide voyage to the Lookout Roadhouse on Ortega Highway. Every improvement Harley made turns this reincarnation into their best handling cruiser hands down. This bike is impressive and the venting system works as designed. Distance riders will want a taller windscreen and I will review more options in another article. The buckhorn bars are 5.5-inches closer to the rider and reduce wrist fatigue plus making it easier than ever to steer. The front end fork is larger and has a slightly larger cast aluminum front wheel. The new Enforcer front wheel is an inch bigger at 19 inches but steering isn’t heavier, and any weight gains in the fairing are supported by the frame. The stability and predictability of the bike’s handling is partly due to the fact that the Road Glide continues to utilize a single-spar steel frame with a rigid backbone. The convenient placement of the bars, low seat height, (26.1 inches) and frame-mounting of the front fairing facilitate graceful slow-speed maneuvers. High speed handling is a dream. This bike allows novice riders the confidence to handle a large touring motorcycle that almost turns itself and yet challenges skilled riders to push the envelop and fully experience the road before them. The 2015 Road Glide invites short inseam riders to six footers and above to a comfortable, confident riding experience.
The Lookout Roadhouse is one of the great riding destinations in Southern California. A spectacular view overlooking Lake Elsinore, and the food here is always great. I’m a creature of habit and usually get the vegetarian sandwich and a Rat Bastard root beer. They serve breakfast all day and their pork is unbelievably tender; you can eat it with a fork right off the bone. If you are lucky, Rebecca may have some of her home made chocolate cake left for you. People ride to the Overlook Roadhouse just for a slice of her cake. Dennis has been a rider all his life and has owned everything from Goldwings, Road Kings, to CVO’s (all at the same time). At 5’5” he had test ridden everything manufacturers had to offer for 2015. The new Road Glide fit the bill and he ordered it immediately at Hunting Beach Harley-Davidson. “It handles like a dream and I stop flat footed. It’s modern technology married to everything that’s pure Harley-Davidson,” Dennis Said.
Power to the People: Harley put the Project Rushmore treatment on the reborn Road Glide which included a high output version of the Twin Cam 103 with new cams and a high-flow air box with compression bumped a fraction. Shifting is solid and reliable as gear ratios of the six-speed transmission remain the same as before. In the braking department, the 2015 Road Glide continues to use dual front discs and a single rear, all with 32mm 4-piston fixed calipers. The demo unit I rode had the optional ABS linked brake system ($795). The dual Brembo units provide a firm bite on the front with consistent, even power. The rear shock is air-adjustable; the air valve on the 2015 Road Glide is located in the same spot between the saddlebag and rear fender, but a separate air pump is required.
High Tech, Low Hassle: Front and center inside the fairing is a 4.3-inch screen and a pair of 5.25-inch speakers that are mounted in a contained closure in an attempt to improve sound quality. The distance of the dashboard from rider was always a stretch but the new joysticks on both sides of the hand controls are so easy to use that riders almost never have to reach again. Yes, there is a ton of technology. You will probably have to actually read the owner’s manual but will love all the options available. The media storage doors on each side of the inner fairing flip up while a convenient USB resides inside the right door. The dual speakers above them pump out clear sound and with the Windvest windscreen, are audible at higher speeds. While the gauges are ample-sized, well-lit and easy to read, the gear indicator is located in a little digital window of the analog speedometer. Also, if the sun is up high directly behind a rider, it will reflect off the 4.3-inch screen making it difficult to read.
Tales of the Midnight Rider: Another notable addition to the 2015 Road Glide is the reflective optics of the new headlights, which provide better punch and spread than the Daymaker Headlights, which is already impressive. Remember, this is a fixed faring motorcycle and the headlights do not move in the direction of the handlebars so lighting was a big concern for me. This Midnight Rider took on freeway and motorcycling the mountains at night, and was duly impressed with the Dual halogen/ LED headlamps, brighter turn signals, and brighter brake lights.
Final Thoughts: Harley’s attention to the detail and conveniences differentiate the new Road Glide not only from prior models but from the rest of the pack. From the joysticks used to operate the audio system, to the saddlebag latches that are a cinch to operate and access, even while seated, it has the versatility to be a daily rider or a competent longdistance traveler. At a base price of $20,899 (only $300.00 more than the Street Glide) I believe this reborn Road Glide Standard will be a home run.
Length – 95.6 in.
Seat Height (laden) – 26.1 in.
Wheelbase – 64 in.
Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series
• Front – D408F 130/60B19 61H
• Rear – D407T BW 180/65B16 81H
bias black wall front and rear
• Front – 19 in. x 3.5 in. Enforcer Cast Aluminum
• Rear – 16 in. x 5 in. Enforcer Cast Aluminum
Fuel Capacity (U.S. gal.) – 6 gal.
Weight as Shipped (lbs.) – 813 lbs
Engine – Air-cooled, High Output Twin Cam
103 with Integrated Oil-Cooler
Displacement (in./cc) – 103.1/1690
Fuel System – Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Transmission 6-Speed Cruise Drive
Miles Per Gallon – 42 mpg combined City/Hwy
Solids • Vivid Black
• Amber Whiskey
• Mysterious Red Sunglo (Road Glide only)
• Black Denim
Vivid Black $20,899 (Road Glide)
Solids $21,399 (Road Glide)