Harley Davidson’s Electra Glide Ultra Classic is the ultimate touring bike for some people; a two-wheeled Winnebago, which can Rock-Ola around the world to its own unique soundtrack.
For others, the Harley is a second choice to a more hi-tech, faster, and sweeter handling offering from Honda, Yamaha or BMW. The Electra Glide has an extra few cubes of engine capacity for 2007, plus a sixth gear, but has it raised its game against the opposition?
Alastair Walker went to Ireland to find out, he took a few snaps too.
The entire Harley range for 2007 has had a serious makeover, with a new 1584cc engine, plus 6 speed gearbox being the most important changes for the Electra Glide.
Why? Simple really. The increased torque of the bigger motor and the sixth gear overdrive allows a really relaxed touring kinda ride, with the Electra Glide steaming off the line a bit quicker, feeling less vibey at motorway cruising speed, plus the overdrive 6th gear also saves a bit of fuel too – I reckon the new Glide averaged around 45-47mpg over in Ireland.
Maybe good fuel consumption doesn’t matter if you have £16,500 to lash out on a motorcycle, but it matters to me, because most of the cost is tax, and why donate more cash to our immoral and shameless government than you have to?
Once on a sweeping road, you soon discover that the latest Electra Glide handles and brakes much better than you expect. Although ground clearance is limited, it’s possible to make decently quick progress on a twisty road, chucking the big Hog around feels like fun which is a basic requirement of any motorcycle as far as I am concerned.
The Harley will wobble a little bit when cornering on badly repaired roads, or if it hits a pothole mid-corner, but you can level the same criticism at most 790lbs-ish heavy motorcycles – it’s just basic physics. Big chunky bikes, loaded with two people and luggage will waggle their ass occasionally, end of story.
There is an achilles heel in the big Harley V-twin range however – the brakes. I have never been impressed with the brakes on any of the big 1340/1450/1584 range – only the V-Rod has really top class brakes quite honestly.
The new Glide stops reasonably well, but that’s all, the triple 292mm discs and calipers are nothing special. The Glide lacks the stopping power of a Honda Pan-Euro, or say a BMW K1200LT. The bottom line is that you never quite feel 100% confident that the Harley has enough stopping power to save you if the worst happens.
OK, let’s get one thing straight, Electra Glides are all about looking cool and cruising around Europe at moderate speeds. Handling and braking might not be as sharp as the competition, but does that matter as much as the styling, the luggage capacity and the on-board gizmos? Well, on that front, the new Electra Glide ticks most of the right boxes.
For example, the music system sounds wonderful and is almost impervious to the rigours of biking. The CD player only went slightly loopy once and when I turned off the ignition and fired the bike up from scratch, it worked perfectly again – no track skipping on bumpy roads at all. The radio/CD can be worked easily from the handlebars whilst on the move and the volume automatically increases the faster you go – neat.
The bike offers luxurious accommodation for the rider and pillion, with an armchair comfy dualseat, massive top box behind the pillion perch and footboards, rather than footpegs. My luscious girlfriend Anne reckoned that the guard rails for the panniers pressed into the back of her biking boots occasionally, but otherwise it was a perfect touring ride. I spent four days in the saddle and could have ridden another 40 days – absolutely no aches or pains at all. Brilliant.
The screen keeps most of the windblast off the rider, plus allows you to hear the music clearly. The wind turbulence does increase as you pick up speed of course, so about 90mph is as fast as you can go and still hear Barry White doin’ his lurrve thang…
The Harley is a heavy bike, a bit too heavy to paddle about easily at petrol stations etc and it has no centre-stand, which means that you must take more care when parking on cambered roadsides. You will struggle to reverse this bike when loaded with luggage, as the dry weight is some 800lbs, so park it very carefully indeed.
The top box and panniers can hold enough luggage for about one week’s tour, for two people – providing the woman takes all the top box space for her hair-fluffing equipment, make-up, ladies items, plus a couple of evening outfits, shoes and so on. The Glide’s panniers are a shade narrower than on say a BMW K1200LT, or Gold Wing. Plus they are firmly fixed to the bike, so you need the inner bags provided by Harley to cart your stuff into a hotel.
On the downside, the top case and panniers lock with a simple `Crooklock’ type of key, which looks and feels a bit flimsy to me, I think a £17,000 motorcycle deserves better luggage security. Talking of locks, one useful feature for 2007 is the Harley’s proximity alarm/ignition key, which means once you walk away from the bike the alarm is set and the bike’s ignition won’t work.
WILL IT PLAY FROM SKEGNESS TO ST MORITZ?
The Electra Glide comes in both solid and two-tone colour options, plus chrome bits and more accessories than Elton John´s fancy dress closet. The Glide is cool, it makes small boys go `Wow!’ and grown men start waffling on about packing their jobs in and travelling the world.
The Harley Electra Glide has a truly classic elegance and makes the right motorbike noises when the engine fires up. I liked details such as the extra spotlights, the foldable radio aerials and the `proper’ front mudguard, which is a feature more touring motorcycles should have these days.
I wouldn’t doubt for a moment that the Harley Electra Glide will clock up 50,000 miles without too much bother, apart from regular servicing and replacing the drive belt, brake pads, filters and perhaps steering bearings on the way. Like most Harleys it will hold its resale value exceptionally well – better even than a BMW K1200LT I would guess.
Why? Because the Electra Glide is an aspirational icon, a true dream machine for bikers and non-bikers alike. It doesn’t tour quite so fast, so adroitly, as rivals like the Pan-Euro, the Yamaha FJR1300 or the BMW K1200LT, but it has an undeniable Fonzie-like aura about it, which makes it unique in motorcycling. This machine is a shire horse, a Fender Stratocaster or a hand made pair of crocodile skin boots – it provokes an emotional response from almost everyone who rides it, or simply sees it.
All that is what makes Harley-Davidson the most famous motorcycle brand in the world. That’s why, despite its slightly antiquated ability when it comes to the actual job of touring, the Electra Glide sums up a whole stack of reasons for wanting to own a Harley. It rumbles by and shouts; “I’ve got it made baby” to the world and his wife.
There are days when we all feel like saying that, and then just disappear over the horizon.
Get Harley Davidson motorbike insurance for the harley davidson electra glide 2007.
|Engine||DOHC, four stroke, air/oil cooled|
|Bore and Stroke||95.3mm X 111.1mm|
|Claimed peak power||54bhp @ 7000rpm|
|Frame||Steel tubular cradle type|
|Forks||Telescopic, air adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Twin shocks|
|Brakes||Twin 292mm front discs, single 292mm disc|
|Wheels/Tyres||16 inch diameter front and rear|
|Est. Top Speed||120mph|
|Fuel Capacity||18.9 litres|
|Price (April 2007)||£16,745 (Two tone option)|