Harley-Davidson Project RUSHMORE – Demystified & Amplified Through Experience
Do you know how many people have asked me what Project RUSHMORE means? The questions came not only from some serious Harley riders I’m acquainted with, but a few fellow industry friends as well.Let’s start with a Project RUSHMORE explanation from Harley-Davidson’s US Media Relations Manager, Jen Hoyer: “The term Project RUSHMORE has a dual meaning. First, it’s rooted in the monumental image of Mount Rushmore and its significance to so many motorcycle riders around the world as the iconic destination of a dream ride – the relationship to Sturgis and the South Dakota’s Black Hills. It’s that kind of ride that really brings these Harley-Davidson products to life.
“Second, RUSHMORE is also about the combined ideas of ‘rush’ and ‘more,’ representing the performance and features we have designed into these new motorcycles. Working with our customers, we’ve created motorcycles that allow us all to see more, feel more, hear more and of course rush more. We wanted this era of Touring bikes to be distinguishable in terms of all the changes that we made.”Visit the Ultimate MotorCycling Cruiser PageThe improvements were based on real-world rider feedback, and Project RUSHMORE was implemented in 2014 to the entire Touring lineup. For 2016 that includes the Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Road Glide, Road King, Road Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Classic Low, Road Glide Ultra, Ultra Limited, and Ultra Limited Low.But definitions are not enough; Harley wants you to truly experience Project RUSHMORE, and this is just what its latest display – the rightfully coined Project Rushmore Experience – completes.
Are You Project RUSHMORE Experienced?
I rode out to Laconia Bike Week – a nine-day event that ends every year on Father’s Day – to get a first-person perspective and tour of the Project RUSHMORE Experience from the folks at Harley-Davidson. I learned much more than expected.This was the fourth time Harley used the display, including a stop at Americade on Lake George in New York, and it will continue on tour throughout other Harley-centric gatherings, including the infamous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. And don’t think this display is just for riders; it is extremely valuable for passengers also, considering the emphasis Harley placed on the pillion pilot.The Project Rushmore Experience, popping out of the former trailer used to promote Harley’s Project LiveWire electric prototype, immediately attracts attention with music, decked-out display bikes, and Harley-branded everything – including cooling fans and garbage cans. The highlight is surely underneath the pavilion, which houses five different displays. The center of attraction at Laconia was a 2016 Street Glide aboard a jump-start platform. The Street Glide display was joined by a pre/post Project RUSHMORE comparo; a batwing fairing display to play with Harley’s latest Infotainment system; a huge cell phone demonstrating Harley’s App; and the new latch system across the Project RUSHMORE luggage lineup.Visitors can simulate piloting the Street Glide, which is featured on a jump-start unit surrounded by three 65” curved television screens projecting the clearest images ever, allowing a virtual experience of riding a RUSHMORE edition. Participants can choose from a few virtual riding situations – from the streets of Pittsburgh to Blue Ridge Parkway – to truly experience the the feeling of a RUSHMORE bike. During the virtual ride, smoke was also channeled through two huge Harley-branded industrial fans, showing the batwing fairing and windscreen’s ability to deflect wind/weather elements.During the virtual ride, Harley employees will answer any questions and assist the experience with explanations of what makes the RUSHMORE bikes valued as touring machines.To the left of the Street Glide was a the comparison display – a 2016 Ultra Limited Low next to a 2011 Ultra Limited (pre-RUSHMORE). The side-by-side experience is highlighted by an 8×8 foot fabric wall that explains the 34 different things polka dotted on the RUSHMORE. Each detail explains the enhancements of the RUSHMORE bikes.Another part is a just a batwing fairing and controls to provide an interactive experience with Harley’s Infotainment system, which provides everything from music, to GPS, to phone accessibility via BlueTooth. Behind this is a super-sized cellphone, titled “Cellzilla” which shows the Harley Apps’ interface. Harley staff are also on hand at these displays, answering any questions and providing hands-on explanations. Also in the pavilion are Tour-Pak and Saddlebag setups – both RUSHMORE and pre-RUSHMORE – showing the the one-finger touch design of the RUSHMORE bags. While testing pre-RUSHMORE tourers, I always complained of the sloppy latch mechanisms to secure the hard luggage. But that’s no more; the one-finger design is true innovation, and provides simplicity – something most motorcyclists strive for while traveling. Another feature of the Tour-Pak is displayed here – the redesigned passenger backrest. The RUSHMORE backrest arrives with more depth and width, wrapping around the passenger more, providing more comfort and sense of security while riding.Outside of the Laconia display, the V-Twin candy continued. Featured out front were a 2016 Road Glide with every accessory thrown at it; a Limited that’s constantly plugged in with Boom! Audio system blarring; a Road King with over $10,000 worth of accessories; and a cut out of a 103 engine to see the inner workings of one of Harley’s best performing engines to date.Innovative marketing is the underbelly of success, and the Project RUSHMORE Experience is the type of tactic that allows Harley to repeatedly lead the US market by over 50% in new larger displacement cruiser sales. Since introduced in 2014, the Project RUSHMORE motorcycles have delivered more horsepower, better handling, and savvier electronics. The natural byproduct added value to an already valuable product, created happier customers, and an increased stronghold on the American cruiser market. But now there’s more than just the Project RUSHMORE name and the idea behind that name – now there’s an entire traveling display for customers to truly reach into the soul of Harley’s latest Touring lineup. The next questions is…Are you Project RUSHMORE Experienced? Visit any major American V-Twin rally and experience it for yourself.Photos by Andrew Roccograndi