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Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom: One Slick Bagger

By Arv Voss, April 21st, 2012

If you've never ridden a Harley-Davidson Road Glide, then swing a leg over and go for a test ride.

There are some bikers who feel the Road Glide and Electra Glide are nothing more than Road Kings outfitted with a fairing. Not so. Though the mechanical architecture may share similarities, there are worthwhile differences. For example, the Road Glide's fairing provides streamlined aerodynamics, along with an aggressive attitude, thanks to a 26-degree rake, while the fork angle is 29.2 degrees.

The Harley-Davidson Road Glide is available in two versions: The FLTRU Road Glide Ultra, featuring an Electra Glide comfort seat and trunk pack for two-up cruising comfort; and the Road Glide Custom FLTRX for the solo rider.

Essentially, the Custom FLTRX model is a lower, more aggressive looking Road Glide featuring a big, low profile, 18-inch front wheel, 2-into-1 exhaust and a smooth, custom-slotted taillight similar to that of the Street Glide. The Road Glide Custom rolls on Harley-Davidson Dunlop rubber mounted on black five-slotted cast aluminum wheels.

Power for both Road Glide models comes from a 1690 cc Air-cooled Twin-Cam 103 pushrod operated, OHV (4-valve) motor with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters, electronic sequential port fuel injection and electronic throttle control that cranks out 100 lb.-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm.

The motor mounts in a mild steel tubular two-piece stamped frame with a welded backbone, cast and forged junctions, twin downtubes, a bolt-on rear frame section with forged and MIG welded fender supports. The swingarm is also constructed of mild steel in a two-piece drawn and welded section with MIG welded, forged junctions. The motor connects to a six-speed Cruise Drive sequential manual transmission that gears motive force to the rear wheel via a chain primary and belt final drive.

Helping to smooth out the ride, the suspension consists of 41.3 mm telescopic forks with triple-circuit damping and 4.6 inches of travel up front and air adjustable rear shocks with 3 inches of travel in the rear. Bringing the Custom low-riding bagger to a halt are Brembo four-piston front and rear calipers with (optional) ABS and a dual-front rotor brake system.

My test 2012 Harley-Davidson FLTRX Road Glide Custom featured Chrome Yellow trimless front and rear fenders, fuel tank with a low profile chrome console, lockable hard bags, oil cover and fairing. Subtle Black pinstriping highlighted the bodywork. The base price was set at $19,994.

My test bike was exceptionally well balanced, responding easily to steering input, seeming much lighter than it really is. I wasn't a big fan of the replacement 11-inch mini-ape grip bars, but they could well prove to be a plus for shorter riders.

Power is plentiful from the 103-inch motor, with instant throttle response. Gear changes come smoothly and quietly from the Cruise Drive 6-speed gearbox, with an easy clutch pull, eliminating fatigue in around town riding. The fuel tank capacity is 6 gallons -- good for a longer cruising range. The ride quality is comfortable with an ideal riding position. Cushioned, full boards are provided for the rider with pegs for passengers.

The cockpit-style inner fairing houses a large centered speedometer and tachometer, flanked by smaller fuel level, oil temperature, voltmeter and ambient temperature gauges. There's even a cigarette (or cigar) lighter, and an accessory outlet to plug personal accessories into.

A 40-watt, two-speaker Advanced Audio System by harman/kardon with AM/FM/XM capability and a CD MP3 player is included. Volume and station seek switches are mounted on the bars for ease of operation with gloves. The exhaust note sounds so good you may just want to leave the audio system off and enjoy the rumble.

The 2012 Harley-Davidson FLTRX Road Glide Custom is a no nonsense touring bike that takes seriously the motto "Live to Ride and Ride to Live."

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