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2010 Road Glide Custom First Ride

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Road Glide Custom adheres to the pavement similar to what you’d expect from a more sport-oriented motorcycle.
This is the second new edition in this year’s touring line and by far the best looking Harley-Davidson motorcycle, especially in its vibrant Scarlet Red colorway. From its oversized front metal fender to its Airstream-style forward fairing, complete with a pair of inset headlights, and its tidy rear end, we applaud the Harley design crew as they managed to fuse styling elements from the classic hot-rod and motorcycling scenes together, giving us one gorgeous looking motorcycle. Seriously, out off all of Harley’s models, including the CVO line, this would be my top pick. And the best part? It only costs $18,999.

Aiding its hot-rod appearance is the low-slung stance courtesy of an inch-lower rear suspension. This brings the seat height to just under 30 inches from the ground. The rear of the motorcycle sports a unique LED taillight assembly that integrates the turn signals and stop light into one fixture. It not only looks better, but is easier to see too. The Road Glide Custom also gets a reworked 2-into-1 exhaust, which exits from a 4-inch diameter chrome muffler on the right hand side of the bike. The new pipes replace the previous twin muffler exhaust system, further cleaning up the rear end of the motorcycle.

Other less notable differences include its larger 18-inch black slotted aluminum wheel fitted with a low profile 130/70-series Dunlop tire, though we’re not as fond of these wheels as the 28-spoke ones on the regular Glide. There are three solid colors to choose from including Vivid Black, Scarlet Red and Black Denim.

H-D’s styling department got it right with the 2010 Road Glide Custom. We simply love the way it looks.

Where the Electra Glide Limited comes with a fair number of bells and whistles, the Custom is stripped down offering only the basics as standard equipment. Of course there is a two-speaker Harmon/Kardon audio system, but with only has 40 watts of power it isn’t quite enough for an audiophile to enjoy his or her tunes when flying down the road. Cruise control, security system and ABS are all optional but we most missed the two rear speakers.

Although the center storage container is deleted, two smaller storage compartments are added on either side of the front fairing. Our only complaint is that you have to be stopped to access them as the handlebar is directly in the way.

After hopping into the seat, you notice just how low the rider sits in the bike. Yet, despite only the rear of the motorcycle being lowered, the tail end doesn’t feel disproportionately lower than the front and the rider still has a clear view of the road. Although the standard Harley-Davidson seat height won’t be a problem for taller riders, we still valued its lower height, which makes balancing the bike at a stop much easier. We also noticed that with the more compact, frame-mounted front fairing fumbling around at parking lot speeds was less cumbersome than on the Electra Glide.

The Road Glide Custom sources the standard Twin Cam 96 engine and like the Electra Glide it benefits from chassis upgrades that grace the entire 2009 Harley-Davidson touring line. Since the Custom weighs nearly 100 pounds less than the Electra Glide Limited, its smaller engine makes acceleration seem right on par with the bigger 103 engine. Motoring up steep mountain grades will require you to grab a downshift or two, but like always the 6-speed gearbox and friendly clutch help make gear changes feel solid and precise feel. And besides the audible clunk you hear at each gear change, it’s quiet too. Like the Electra Glide, its stopping capabilities are more than adequate even during aggressive, fast-paced rides.
The 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom comes in three solid colors. Pictured above is it in Vivid Black.
The 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom comes in three solid colors. Here it is in Vivid Black.

Since the Road Glide Custom’s smaller front fairing is mounted directly to the frame, getting the bike to turn from side-to-side in the corners is noticeably easier, which is only exacerbated by its reduced rolling mass. But motoring through the fastest bends is where you’ll really appreciate this bike’s pavement-hugging capabilities. It’s almost as if the Custom has suction cups adhering it to the asphalt similar to what you’d expect a high-performance bike from Japan to do. Then again, the bike does use a dual-compound Dunlop rear tire just like you’d find on a new sportbike. Despite the rear suspension’s limited travel (3 inches), the back end of the motorcycle does an admirable job of soaking up rough tarmac. Sure it’s not quite as plush the Glide, but it’s still a comfortable platform to spend all day in.

We were also surprised at just how effective the forward fairing and fly windscreen were at deflecting wind and debris over the rider. Wind buffeting was never a problem and while we did encounter some rain during the course of our ride, as long as you’re wearing a helmet with a visor, as we were, the rain doesn’t get in the way either.
The Twin Cam 96 cubic-inch V-Twin engine delivered adequate acceleration for the 805 pound Road Glide Custom.
The Twin Cam 96 cubic-inch V-Twin engine delivered adequate acceleration for the 805 pound Road Glide Custom.

Quite often Harley’s get a bad rap for their overall build quality, but I have to say the motorcycles we tested are extremely solid machines. The paint job alone is far deeper and more lustrous than I’ve seen on many new cars. Plus the attention to detail and fit and finish is on par with some of the high-end motorcycles coming out of Japan these days.

At the end of the day if I could only choose from one Harley-Davidson as my personal ride there’s no doubt the Road Glide Custom would be it. Not only does it look awesome, it’s comfortable enough to ride all day, plus it shreds on curvy roads. Not to mention it’s got a passenger seat and a decent amount of storage.

Thank you, Harley-Davidson, for finally building me my ideal touring motorcycle.

2010 Road Glide Custom Photos
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2010 Road Glide Custom Tech Specs
Although the center storage container is deleted  two smaller storage compartments are added on either side of the front fairing.
2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom
Engine: Air-cooled Twin Cam 96
Bore/Stroke: 3.75 x 4.38 in.
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Fuel System: Electronic Fuel Injection
Transmission: 6-Speed; belt final drive
Clutch: Hydraulic-actuated, multi-plate, wet
Front Suspension: 41.3mm telescopic fork; 4.6 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Showa shock absorber with air-adjustable preload; 3.0 in. travel.
Front Brake: 300mm discs with Brembo 4-piston calipers
Rear Brake: 300mm disc with Brembo 4-piston caliper
Front Tire: Dunlop D408F 130/80-18
Rear Tire: Dunlop D407 180/65-16
Rake: 26-deg. Trail: 6.69 in.
Length: 95.0 in.
Width: 35.8 in.
Seat Height: 29.5 in.
Wheelbase: 63.50 in.
Curb Weight: 805 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 6-gallons
MSRP: $18,999 solids; $19,479 two-tone 
Colors: Vivid Black, Scarlet Red, Black Denim
Warranty: 2-year, unlimited mileage

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Your Old Dog -A "real" biker and one of thousands or reasons Harleys are still being made....  December 23, 2010 04:59 AM
At 64 and a yuppy I guess, I can finally afford the bike I want and not one that fits my budget. Lifes to short to start with a dinky bike and work my way up. I'll be starting at the top of the heap and I'll have the title too. Color me an asshole for that but I'll have a good time on it just like I have my 07 Bobber. I plan on keeping the Bobber too because I love the feel of it for short jaunts. I had my 750 Kawasaki twin and it was fun but least you have any doubts, the Bobber is tons more enjoyment and I expect the same of an Electra Glide. I don't need grease on my Levy's and in my hair to be a biker :D
been through it all bob -ultra classic vs limited  November 16, 2010 05:41 PM
had motorcycles since 1972, minibike, cafe racer, moto x, enduro's, crotch rockets, trials bike, english bikes, german, crashes, hardware in my legs and arms, Love them ALL, infacuated with them, they might even kill me, To all, respect one another, ride safe and smart, you don't have to wave to them, just respect them. Keep the sport alive and support the people who are fighting to keep our right to ride !!!
MauiRob -Too much hype  September 29, 2010 07:04 PM
I have been a veteran rider for 20 years now and I have to say I was a sucker for all the hype when it came to HD. I have been riding rice burners all my life and I made a big mistake in buying HD. First of all I was not aware that many of the parts are made over sea's I guess no longer American made oh well.I bought a 2010 Ultra Electra Glide and like all the options but not the dealership pranks.I was better treated by the Honda Dealerships and so on verses the HD dealerships.All the trickeries had me a little miffed if I hadn't taken photo's of the bike before purchase including VIN# I would of gotten a complete different bike at final purchase I caught the Dealership in the act of cheating even though they would not admit it. But once they received full payment all bets were off and their service was shameful. I learned my lesson and I hope this message helps others. Safe riding ans God Bless.
chaz -2010 Road Glide  June 11, 2010 08:09 PM
It's funny how all you "veteran" riders bicker about who rides what. I'm still a young guy (25). I just purchased my first new Harley a 2010 Road Glide. Before this bike I owned a 73 Ironhead chop, a Suzuki Marauder, and a CB 750. All were good bikes. I rode them alongside my friends on their Harleys with no thought about what I was riding. Yes Harley makes a nice bike (thats why I bought my new bike)but as you can see I ride whatever I can afford. The real yuppies are the guys who have forgotten why people ride in the first place.
live wire -stripped down for 15k  June 9, 2010 06:23 PM
its called the dyna fat bob and its a great bike.
lespaul -Jesus H. Christ  May 24, 2010 10:14 PM
This is the most assinine thread that I've had the pleasure of reading in recent history. I'm a 59 year old "recent" rider who owned a 2003 Kawa Nomad and traded it in for a 2010 FLHX. I loved that Nomad, but I've found a new lover in the FLHX.

I'll ride with any decent person no matter what they ride. After all, we all have the love of riding im common.

BTW-what's the love affair with loud pipes? When is loud too loud? I crack up when I see a full dresser with a nice sound system and they can't even hear it because their pipes are farting bombs all the time. I could never figure that out!
BW -Wow  May 14, 2010 10:54 PM
How old are you people? I feel like I'm stuck back in high school, and I was the asshole back then! Unreal, I didn't know this 'Harlier-than-thou' attitude was this real. Now I know why the ONLY riders that don't wave back are some washed-up dbag on a 'Hog'. See you in a nursing home in a few years.
jw -1%er  April 3, 2010 07:37 AM
who cares what you spend,if you can afford buy.Its about riding the damm thing anyway.to many fucking yuppies out there that get the veteran riders killed.
O.C. RUSS -RETIRED  March 29, 2010 12:51 PM
Pete -Pete the bad Guy.  March 7, 2010 12:08 PM
Took my Street Glide for a ride today, yes it was freezing cold, but whos cares along as I was riding. Done the stage one and it goes and sounds great.
Street Glide or Road Glide you cant beat them, best bikes on the road.
Biker Boy -2010 Road Glide  March 4, 2010 10:54 AM
The Raod glide is a love or hate bike. I like mine. Timing also helped with the dealer wanting to sale it before the months end. Got it at cost with factory installed ABS, Cruise, and Security. And some free chrome.

Happy Riding
unionthug -sour gapes  February 10, 2010 07:43 PM
I hear a lot of sour grapes here. HD has been around 105 years and will be around another hundred or more. I paid $25k for my used 2008 Streetglide and I agree it was the best money I've ever spent.

Indeed it came from a guy with more money than sense (cents) rock star who had twice that in the bike. I'm taking it to Sturgis this year and went to Street vibrations in Reno last year.
Pete -Pete the bad Guy.  February 3, 2010 10:10 AM
I don't know why your all having a beaf about Harley's, me got a 2010 Street Glide in September, just about the best bike I ever rode.
Its got everything and I love it.
Yea it was a lot of money £16,420 here in England but what the hell.
Ive had faster bikes, Ive had most makes of bikes in my time including a few Harley's but my new Street Glide is the nuts.
I have been riding for 42 years and I know my bikes and the SG is the best, okay I gotta change them pipes so I can hear it, but I still the best thing on the road.
GVDobler -Yuppie money  December 21, 2009 11:59 AM
I agree that some of the sales staff think they are still in a high rollin economy and we should be thankful they let us in the showrrom to look around.

If it were not for "yuppie" money buying those new bikes, I am afraid that the "real" bikers would see the end of the brand they hold so dear. I don't remember anything in the "Biker's Code" about buying a new $25k bike every two years to keep H-D alive.

That's also where a bunch of low milage used HDs come from at a good price.

Next time you see a yuppie with a new bike that they barely can ride, why not offer some guidance instead of putting them down.
Milwaukee william -children! children!!  November 22, 2009 07:16 AM
Life is to short for all this comparison and bitchin, Ride what ever you want. smile be friendly. C;m on whats all the fightin about its a great life if your smart enought to just enjoy it, I would only own a haley thats me, But id ride with anyone , anyone thats a decent person ,, William
butch -go skeeter  October 29, 2009 11:28 AM
i'm with ya skeeter,i wouldn't ride with him either. these limey riders are still mad at the mo co for buildin the sportster, which i rode in the mid sixties& chewed up all the limey riders 1965 xlch. we don't care if you buy a hog. your loss not ours!!!!!!!!!!!1
Another reader -Skeeter  October 23, 2009 01:40 PM
skeeter, shut your face. You have no idea what you're talking about.
skeeter -Y2khonorsgrad  October 16, 2009 06:44 PM
You are just another idiot on here that's trying to justify why you don't ride a Harley, when we all know that the real reason is because you are intimidated by Harley. Go sip your latte', eat your sushi, and ride your ugly Triumph, we don't care! You can get over the fact that we kicked your a** back in high school. As far as Harley's "sales woes", it's called a recession! If you look at Triumph sales, you would see that their sales are down more than any of the Japanese companies, more than Victory, and more than Harley-Davidson. Next time, before you talk out of your a**, get your facts straight. The Triumph dealer near me still has some new 2007 bikes on the floor! You are right about one thing though, as a Harley rider, I would never ride with you.
Y2khonorsgrad -You guys need some ...  October 15, 2009 04:34 PM
At my age (55) the culture of if you don't ride what I ride, then you're not a real biker just makes me believe YOU are just as much to blame for HD's sales woe as anything else. Turning away would be HD sales with the attitude. It has kept me away for 40 years, including several resent visits. I ride a Triumph Rocket III 2300cc (138c.i.) 140hp, 148ft-lb, 700lb cruiser. 25k the first year and currently 41k. When my bike parks in the HD parking lot all the HD riders huddle around it and bitch - but they DO huddle around it! No one huddles around their HDs. It's not the greatest bike, admittedly, but it is a rush to ride and will blow almost all the HDs off the road, especially in the twistys. But, I will ride with anyone, ANYONE, but the reverse is not true of most of the HD riders I've met. I'd like to see more support for growing the RIDING culture, no matter what the ride. My wife is a new rider at 50yrs and rides a trouble free VStar 650 because it fits her size. We went to a HD dealer thinking about an upgrade, attitude and price turn us away. Too bad, it could have been a plus for all concerned.
Big Al -Awesome bike!  October 14, 2009 01:21 PM
I just took delivery of my 2010 Road Glide, and I love it. It's not as fast as my Wing, but it makes up for it in sheer style. This thing is smooth as butter and has fantastic handling. It feels much lighter than my wing even though both bikes are close in weight. Anyone interested in buying a 2002 Goldwing in titanium with 87,000 miles, let me know?
HDBreeze -Woops!  October 12, 2009 10:24 PM
Sorry, Harley made the E-Glide Standard up to 2009.
HDBreeze -Harley Electra Glide Standard  October 9, 2009 08:35 PM
Harley did offer a Stripped down touring bike, the FLHT/FLHTI, for many years. They stopped making it in 2008 because sales slowed down, and people that were looking to buy touring bikes opted for the Street Glide. I bought an Electra Glide Standard in 2001 for around $12,000 give or take. When I bought mine, they only were available in black and you couldn't get fuel injection, but it was a great bike. I put 77,000 miles on it, and sold it for $11,500 on eBay last October. You can get thousands off of 2009 touring bikes that are still on the floors in the dealers, and then there's the rental bikes that get replaced when the new model year bikes come out. You can but those with super low miles and full factory warranty. Usually the dealers add stage one breather and SE exhaust. My friend just bought an off rental Electra Glide Classic for $15k. It had 11,000 miles, SE slip-ons, Stage one breather, detachable rider backrest, and he was able to extend the original factory warranty for an additional 5 years.
butch -superior h.d.  October 3, 2009 11:15 AM
glad to see you've mellowed out big ron. admitting harleys are superior will be the first step in your recovery! just hope your yuppie homeboys don't dis own you. what i would suggest for you & your yuppie buddies is to look long & hard for a month or so & count the "vintage" jap bikes you see on the roads. hmmmmmm, maybe there's a reason for this. give it some thought next time before you engage your mouth without hooking up your brain first!!!you too keep it between the lines ron & i don't mean the ones on your mirror. butch
Big Ron -Big Ron - Re: Butch Bikes  September 28, 2009 08:01 PM
Only if your buying; other wise its elk steak and a budweiser. Keep it between the lines.
butch -big ron  September 21, 2009 11:26 AM
wow big ron, you are way better than i, you only took six days to reply!!!! gosh, your not liking me will probably give me nightmares!!!!!!!!!!!!ha ha ha ha , go have a glass of saki& some chop suey
Big Ron -Re: Butch Bikes  September 14, 2009 05:00 PM
Butch, I am impressed, it only took you 18 days to come up with that creative rebuttle. You must have had one of those guys from the geek squad come over and show you how to turn on your computer again. I can see that laying off the sauce has really paid off for you. Dont think too much, we wouldnt want you to overwork the few remaining brain cells that you have left. I am curious, what are you are doing hanging out at the saloons with your Harley riding buddies if your not drinking? Did I miss something; isnt riding the reason to have a bike! Butch lets get one thing straight, I have nothing against Harleys or 95% of the people that ride them as it doesnt really matter what your on as long as you ride. Harley makes a beautiful bike that clearly leads the cruiser class. I just dont like you. Its spelled Kawi DS.
butch -bikes  September 8, 2009 11:36 AM
wow big ron, i sure am impressed!!! now i know why your big ron. gotta be the mouth. i don't drink anymore, haven't for almost 20 years. i quit after almost killin some green beret loud mouth on a cowie
BIG BK -HATERS  August 21, 2009 04:58 PM
Can't we all just get along. Just rode my new road glide to the MOTO-GUZZI dealership to check out there line of sport bikes. The sales guy came out to check out my bike. He loved it, when i went back there a week later he said he was still talking about the road glide and said its his new favorite bike. Don't be haters.
Big Ron -Re: Milwaukee Mike and Butch  August 21, 2009 02:24 PM
People like you is primarily what has driven me and many others away from the HD and the "lifestyle." All of your macho crap and continual labeling with the most creative words that you can put together from your limited vocabularies.

"Real Bikes", what does that mean? Lets see, I did the PCH 3-times last year (thats the Pacific Coast Highway); once on a Harley and twice on my beloved ZX10R, thats a Kawasaki in case you didnt know. All three trips felt real, I have photos to prove that I didnt just imagine the two sport bike trips. HD has made some major improvements to there bikes over the last three years but the technology that goes into them is not even on the same scale as sport bikes. You have obviously mistaken a sport bike with an HD by implying that the improvements are limited to new graphics because until recently thats the only way I could distinguish the year of most HD's. To there credit, HD produces a nostalgic bike that is fun to ride and doesnt need continual technological advances to compete as they are not a performance built bike.

So I guess I am a "Yuppie" because I can afford both; sucks for me doesnt it. Guess what, the yuppies are what have enabled the motor company to grow like it has. If you dont like it, than call Willie G. as he is the one that is marketing the "Yuppies." I guess I am not a "real rider"; 12k non-commuter miles last year while having a 6-month riding season. Huh, it felt real and I was on a motorcycle, It must be real and so am I. I attended the Jason Pridemore Star School and this year substantially improved my skills, thanks Jason, which probably diminished (reduced) my street credit in your feable mind. I grew up pour and had to pay my own way through college by joining the military, former 18C, thats a Green Beret to you civilian. Does all of that machismo give me some street credit and bring me back to "real rider" status.

Lastly, the fact that you reference hanging out in a saloon while your counter parts are riding really makes me wonder about you Butch. So do you really have a bike or are you so stupid that you ride it drunk. I guess we wont be hearing from you much longer since you will soon be a statistic with your Alcohol induced "Real Riding" on "Real Bikes." Perhaps you should go out and ride with some of the sport bike guys, you may actually learn how to ride.

To the rest of the riding public, please dont let Mike and Butch effect what your ride or cause you to judge others by what they ride. Its all good!
butch -h.d. big&small  August 19, 2009 07:36 AM
been buildin& ridin harleys for 43 years. wouldn't own or ride anything else. currently have 5 in the garage. 51 pan/shovel,rigid,stock springer////48 servi-car/with sportster heads&barrels///86 softail///05'1200c///05'road glide. love em all for different reasons. gotta say , i'll be glad when all the "yuppies" go find something else to make themselves feel cool. as for the jap bike riders out there, i still love seein you hudle up at the gas station,while the harley riders are at the saloons.ha ha ha
Tom -Well, you know, him again  August 16, 2009 06:10 PM
Wohooo... There he is again, Milwaukee Mike, with the last resort of the feeble minded: namecalling and creating a club for himself excluding others. Excluding seems to be the name of the game here, have fun with that...

"HD doesn't need these cry babies"... Lol, because someone is pointing out the ridiculous prices and decidedly low tech nature of these bikes. Well, of course, calling them cry babies immediately gives away your argumental high ground and any point you might have made, were you not one of those redneck HD lovers...

Yes, HD doesn't need cry babies, they're all about creating image anyway. Talking about a bag of hot air. With cry babies, what else can they market, right? Well, those cry babies as you call them will certainly not be won over by your retarded retoric, and gladly spend their well earned cash somewhere else. Oh right, HD doesn't need the cry babies, that's why they're in such a good shape right now? Laying off employees. Apparently, there are more cry babies then you might have imagined.

Let them start by not having total dimwitted arrogant numbnut clueless a-holes in their dealership. Staring at you the wrong way for not turning up in expensive cars of clothing, obviously thinking you're not worth the 'exclusive' HD experience. I've been in two harley dealerships, ready to spend my cash. No thx.

Besides, then what? I'm all for spending more money for the X-factor on a certain product. So don't even start about that. I buy APPLE computers, bmw cars, etc, etc... But there's got to be a substantial upside to the product, something that makes it better as a whole. HD's clearly don't, except for allowing some sort of 'lonely biker' fantasy to middle class suburban lawyers.

Only Harley I'd buy is the V-rod. They can scrap the rest for all I care. But hey, ain't that a big shock for you, right? Someone who doesn't think like you?

You're starting to sound like a broken record, just give it up and take your harley for a ride...
milwaukee mike -2010 HDs  August 16, 2009 01:33 PM
Clearly the best Harleys ever. Continual improvement versus bold new graphics of the jap bikes.
And those that whine about the costs of these premium motorcycles should just shut up and continue riding their metric crap. HD doesn't need these cry babies anyway.
Big Ron -Re: Snail  August 10, 2009 08:45 AM
Snail take a look at the dyna line, they offer a pretty nice bike starting around 11-12k. Not all Harleys are expensive.
Big Ron -Great Article  August 10, 2009 08:43 AM
Adam, You have such a hard job, flying out to Colorado to test the new Harley line, where do I apply. Nice to see another sport bike rider can appreciate these big touring bikes. I am an avid sport bike rider living in Western Colorado and have had the opportunity to take a street glide out to the PCH as well as on some local rides and have been absolutely amazed at how well these touring bikes handle. We have a new track in Byers and the local roads are fantastic so I guess I will have to keep two bikes in the garage; one for the track and one for the street.
erik -OMG  August 9, 2009 06:05 AM
I am just wondering when the HD will hit the ground.
snail -Economy is tanking and they trying to sell $25K peanuts  August 6, 2009 04:31 PM
Who is the marketing genius in this company? They need to try and build a less expensive bike. The cheapest touring bike they had is the RoadKing which still about $19K on the road. HD is trying to capture the younger rider, then provide a lower cost bike...How about a strip down road glide for $15K