The shark-nose fairing-bearing Harley-Davidson Road Glide motorcycle has always stylistically been my favorite H-D, and swinging a leg over one has never been easier. For 2010, the Road Glide Custom FLTRX has tastefully been slammed in the rear, lowering the seat height to a mere 26 inches laden, and 29.5 inches unladen. It gives the bike a mean-ass hot rod look and when seen up close from the rear, makes the rising view of the bike seem to stretch on forever.
The Road Glide Custom has a new taillight assembly that incorporates a chrome bracket that contains turn indicators and brake lights, and is also the visor for the license plate. Beneath the plate, there is a trick three-line LED light at the bottom edge of the rear fender that enhances the bike’s look and, importantly, reinforces your braking signals in traffic.
Weighing in at a claimed 805 pounds in ready to ride form, I initially had a little concern over getting used to such a hefty machine. But, it took one morning commute for me to get up to speed with its handling. Once underway, the weight is largely unnoticed and the machine is quite maneuverable. The Road Glide corners with aplomb, being able to lean 32 degrees to the right and an impressive 29 degrees to the left, according to Harley-Davidson.
As far as getting out of the tricky situations that often come with commuting, I was relieved to find that the bike’s air-cooled, Twin Cam 96, 1584cc engine pulled with absolute authority. Having a respectable 92.6 ft/lbs of torque on hand is a confidence-inspiring thing indeed. The engine is rubber-mounted in the chassis so you get that classic shake but even more pronounced when stopped at a light, which ups the cool ante once again.
When it came time to slow down, that was done confidently, as well, thanks to front dual discs and Brembo grabbers that stop the heft of the Glide with assurance. Boasting a big 18-inch front wheel with a lower-profile 130/80B18 tire and a new 2-into-1 exhaust, this H-D met and exceeded my expectations as a daily ride. This was finally determined when I began to examine the braking capabilities.
The version I had was equipped with their optional Anti-Lock Braking System. In rainy conditions as well as loose gravel, it performed flawlessly. Even when I tried a quick stop maneuver, it would correct any over-application of the brakes. I am not usually fond of ABS, but this one was a winner. Another pleasure is the Cruise Control, which is also optional. I went on a few 200+ mile runs with the Road Glide Custom, and it really was a welcome break for my right hand.
The 40-watt, two-speaker Advanced Audio System by Harman/Kardon with CD/MP3 player is punchy, but you can still hear everything around you. The finger controls are easy to use and non-distracting, as were those of the Cruise Control. Comfort-wise, H-D’s Touring chassis is based on their single-spar, rigid backbone frame and a strong swingarm developed together to meet long-haul touring needs, as well as the demands of such a powerful engine. The air-adjustable rear shocks get your preferred ride height just right. It’s easily adjustable for a passenger, who will be able to rest her feet on height-adjustable footboards.
The front forks are 41mm units with triple circuit damping. They soaked up everything I threw at them, almost mocking me. If you are cruising through the night, the dual headlight setup of the Glide is very effective. The Road Glide has Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) that delivers a crisp response and the bike started confidently every time I cranked her over. If your trip takes you over mountains or through a downpour, the ESPFI self-adjusts to both changing elevation and atmospheric conditions.
One more item that makes touring effortless is H-D’s 6-Speed Cruise Drive transmission with integrated Isolated Drive System (IDS). Sixth is a full-on overdrive gear for sure, and is also nice and quiet. The new helical-cut 5th gear at times felt like it was the overdrive, so imagine a gear feel that is even more subdued–that’s sixth. Or you can just look down at the silver-faced gauges and see the green sixth gear light. It’s the only gear that lights up so it is hard to miss.
The Glide has injection-molded hard saddlebags with color-matched latches and an impressive 2.26 cubic feet of volume. Speaking of volume, you also get a six-gallon fuel tank on the Road Glide Custom, which make gas stops far less frequent–always a plus for the long haul rider, as is the ability to get a claimed 35/54 mpg city/highway. The motorcycle rides on rubber that is of Dunlop Multi-Tread rear tire construction, said to extend tire life by 25 percent so that helps.
There’s a lot of black and a lot of chrome on this bike, and with all the powdercoating, it looks simply menacing. You get a black powder-coated powertrain with chrome covers, and a one-piece, two-up Street Glide style seat with a perforated insert. This Hog has a tachometer, which I always appreciate, plus fuel, voltage, oil pressure and ambient air temperature gauges. That’s all just bonus material, though, because the bottom line is that this bike is simply ferocious and clean. I had bikers asking me to trade their Harleys with me all day long, and all others just complimenting me on it a lot.
The FLTRX is one of those bikes that makes other bikes give you a little extra room when you role up to your favorite watering hole. If you’ve got a lot of lefts and rights to make on your way there, you’ll enjoy the self-canceling signals; it’s always better to concentrate on negotiating the turn then on operating controls. If your hangout is not in the best neighborhood, you can opt for H-D’s remote-fob security system.
So to me, the 2010 Road Glide Custom could easily be your daily commuting bike, serious long-distance hauler or bar hopper. The Road Glide Custom is also set up for a sidecar rig, if that’s your thing. That would probably look very cool. If you want it in a solid color, you are looking at spending $18,999, while the two-tones go for $19,479. Colors include Vivid Black, Scarlet Red and Black Denim.
Alan Tecchio is a freelance writer based in the NY metro area who has interviewed hundreds of celebrities. He is an avid motorcyclist and active Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach. Alan has also written a weekly motorcycle column for nine years in Steppin’ Out Magazine, a NY metro area entertainment publication. He is also the lead singer of the rock band Autumn Hour (autumnhour.com) and sings for the heavy metal band Hades (myspace.com/hadesusa) and the prog-metal project Minds Mirrors (myspace.com/mindsmirrorsproject).