Pros: Classy, powerful, accessories
Cons: Seat a little small for long distance riding
2002 Harley-Davidson Road Glide
As a confirmed enthusiast, I have kept in the market looking for motorcycles. I had a 2006 H-D Heritage Softail Classic but that bike was T-boned on Interstate 20 by an out of control SUV. The bike was totaled and I was off my feet from mid June for about 2 months after spending 5 weeks in the hospital. Since late August or September I have been looking at used bikes because the settlement has not been finalized so I want to get that old H-D off my payables before I get my next scooter.
The bike I want is going to be a full dress H-D because the comfort level is there with the windshield, large seat, and footboards. Carrying capacity of the saddlebags is another important feature to me. I recently examined a used Road Glide and also a Road King, which will be the subject of another review.
The Road Glide FLTR is a large dresser with most of the available options, including windshield, fairing, footboards, and saddlebags. This is a cruising motorcycle that can eat up the miles on the Interstate or driving on the scenic routes, too.
The bike is a little more sporty in appearance than most of the big Harley dressers, and has a distinctive fairing and saddlebags as part of the standard equipment. The fairing is called "shark nose," and that is an apt description as you see the dual headlights peeking out of the shark's "mouth." Unlike typical Harley fairings, the Road Glide's fairing is frame mounted which is great because it takes the weight of the wind off the forks and handlebars, freeing up the steering and maneuverability.
This Road Glide was red on the fenders fairing, tank, side covers, and saddle bags. Red is a very nice color and the paint is applied very well as is usual with Harley-Davidson.
Powering up the 2002 Road Glide is the Twin Cam 88 cubic inch (1450 cc) motor. The Twin Cam motor is solid and dependable, having been introduced in 1999 with its 88 cubic inch iteration. It is the same reliable V-Twin power that Harleys have been sporting for nearly a century. These motors are rubber mounted for less vibration when idling. The engine cases and barrels are smoothly finished in powder coat black with all possible parts chromed in keeping with the luxurious image of Harley's big dressers.
This 88-inch power plant is updated with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI), just like a new car. No more carburetors and choke starting on a cold engine - just turn on the key, turn on the kill button, and hit the start button and the computer will take care of the rest. The air cleaner is football shaped and chrome. The exhaust exits through two large Screaming Eagle chrome mufflers, one on either side of the bike. The exhaust note is better than a new Harley because they are putting quiet mufflers on them to pass state requirements.
Coupling the engine to the rear wheel is a 5 speed transmission, which gets up to speed and maintains it. The final drive is a belt like all Harleys now use. You can even turn on the electronic cruise control as it comes standard with the Road Glide. Of course the bike has large Dunlop black wall tires on both ends, mounted on styled aluminum wheels. Dual hydraulic disks on the front and a single on the rear bring the beast rapidly down from cruising speed.
From riding position you can see the nice appointments like the handlebar-mounted dual tachometer/speedometer, the 40-watt CD/AM/FM/WB/MP3 Advanced Audio System by Harman/Kardon, complete with speakers, and dual glove compartments. Dual chrome mirrors give you a view to the rear.
For your stuff, there are hard saddlebags included and these will carry quite a bit compared to a bike with none.
Riding the Road Glide is quite nice with a smooth takeoff and very refined acceleration. Of course the exhaust note is going to draw attention, as is the bright red paint. It has good low speed maneuverability and is quite nimble in the parking lots jockeying to find a space. The bike does accelerate well when called upon and will easily cruise at 70 mph or more. One con is the seat is a little small for a long distance ride.
The handling is much better than you'd expect from a large bike and the secret is probably the frame mounted fairing - all the weight is borne by the frame while the front end is light and free. The Road Glide could gain a few customers who think Euro or Japanese cruisers have the upper hand. Riding one of these might make a believer out of them.
The traditional Harley 5 gallon fuel tank limits continuous cruising to no more than a couple hundred miles before you have to stop at 40 or 45 mpg.