In spite of the economic times and the downturn in motorcycle sales, Harley- Davidson introduced ten new models this year. Well ok, the motor company didn’t exactly spend a ton of money in retooling new frames and engines but they did come up with some with enough variations on existing bikes to classify ten of them as new models. The subject of this road test the 2010 Road Glide Custom, is set apart from the other touring models by the distinct frame mounted fairing and incorporating duel headlights. “Custom” model designation is derived from not so much what has been added, but rather what has been stripped away to afford the motorcycle a cleaner look. If you know the difference between a Street Glide and an Electra Glide Classic, you get the picture.
The Road Glide Custom has been stripped of just about all the chrome pieces normally adorning the fender, tank and saddlebags. Also gone are the rear saddlebag guards. At the back end saddlebag filler strips and fender extension has been added along with new LED tail lights.
Up front, the slotted black aluminum wheel now holds a 130/70/18 tire. Out back there’s a wide 180/65/16 tire. Lest you think the different sized wheels will off balance the machine, keep in mind that its tire circumference that matters. Though the tire up front fits an 18inch wheel, the rubber is of the low profile type for quicker handling. The rear suspension is lowered one full inch on the Road Glide, however, giving the bike the slammed custom look.
Also new this year, is a two into one exhaust system. While this system is set to offer slightly more horsepower, to my eyes it gives the bagger an unbalanced look when viewed from the rear.
While the frame mounted fairing offers good wind deflection and slightly lighter steering, the shorty smoked wind deflector doesn’t do much to keep the wind off your face and helmet from buffeting at anything approaching highway speeds. Fortunately, numerous options are available from Harley-Davidson Accessory Catalog to remedy the situation.
Walking around the bike, I could attest that Harley-Davidson, as usual, did an excellent job of styling on the Road Glide. Though the bike I rode had a denim black (flat paint job) the scarlet red would be a better choice if you like attention at your local bike night.
The one piece dual seat appears to be taken directly from the Street Glide, the rider portion is quite comfortable, however, the narrow passenger section won’t win any friends on a long trip.
The Road Glide comes standard with the 96 cubic inch V-Twin and of course the 6 speed transmission. New this year is a helical cut 5th gear that eliminates the whining some riders complained about since 2007. The ratios of the 6 speed were tightened up in 2009 and carried over to the 2010 model. That makes 6th gear more usable now from about 60mph on a flat road. Cruising at 80 on the interstate is smooth as silk. This is especially noticeable if your last Harley was a 2008 or earlier model with the old frame.
The aerodynamically designed frame mounted fairing also seems to all but eliminate the side wind blast normally felt when passing an 18 wheeler at interstate speeds.
In spite of the lower suspension, which does decrease the lean angle, the Road Glide still handles the twisties with the best of the heavyweight touring motorcycles. The lower profile front tire offers noticeably quicker turn in when the going gets aggressive through the curves.
Since the Road Glide is based on the touring Harley-Davidson line, all that’s needed for a five or six hundred mile ride is a bit taller windshield. Of course, if you’re riding two up, your better half may need a little more storage space then the two saddle bags provided, but again, the accessory catalog can take care of that.
In conclusion, if you liked the previous Road Glides’ looks, you’ll love the Road Glide Custom even more. It’s cleaner and meaner than Road Glides of old. MSRP starts at $18,999 for vivid black and either of the two color options runs for $19,479.
For a closer look at the Road Glide Custom and to take your own test ride, head to Harley-Davidson of Crystal River: 1785 S Suncoast Blvd Homosassa, FL 34448-6414 Telephone Number: (352) 563-9900