After missing the cut for 2014, Harley’s popular bagger is back, the 2015 Road Glide and Road Glide Special receiving a slew of updates aimed to improve performance and make it more rider-friendly.
On the performance side is the High Output Twin Cam 103 engine, providing a claimed 5.7% boost in torque compared to the standard TC103. This is achieved with higher-lift cams and a high-flow airbox. While the low-end surge feels about the same, it definitely has better midrange and roll-on, but signs off abruptly at redline. And while the engine has an integrated oil cooler, a good amount of heat comes off the back end of the big, round air cleaner.
The Road Glide’s signature Shark-Nose fairing has been reconfigured. Harley narrowed the fairing 1.75-inches and moved it back 2-inches, rounding its edges to make it more slipstream, and equipped it with a tri-vent system. Scoops next to the headlights and a channel formed in the center of the fairing control the flow back to riders. With all vents closed, wind brushes the crown of our head but doesn’t jostle it around. With all three vents open, a refreshing stream funnels back to riders mid-face. A small push-button below the smoked windscreen makes it easy to open and close the top vent while moving, but the other two sit down and in a bit and are better adjusted at a stop.
Inside the fairing is a 6.5-inch touchscreen, the 2015 Road Glide Special equipped with Project Rushmore’s high-end infotainment package. The pair of 5.25-in. speakers are mounted in a contained closure to improve sound quality. Even the bars are a bit different, Harley placing them 5.5-inches closer to the rider and bending them down a little to reduce wrist fatigue. The new placement makes leveraging lock-to-lock a cinch. Though the fork is larger at 49mm, steering doesn’t feel heavier. If anything, the new fork stiffens up the front end with better resistance to bottoming. The hand controls sport a new wrinkle too, small joysticks used to toggle through options and adjust volume.
The Road Glide Special comes standard with Project Rushmore’s Reflex Linked Braking with ABS. The system doesn’t engage until speeds above 25mph. At that point, speed sensors in the wheels keep tabs on slippage, the system working both front-to-back and back-to-front. Engagement is identified by a heavy pulse in the brake pedal and is calibrated to intervene earlier than we prefer.
Harley took a popular motorcycle and made the riding experience that much better. Changes range from a reflective headlight with better punch and spread to saddlebag latches that are a cinch to operate and accessible while seated. The joysticks operating the audio system are easier to use and even the clarity of the radio has been improved. Upright ergos, an all-day comfortable seat and generous saddlebags provide the versatility to be a daily rider or long-distance traveler. With everything in the right place and easier to manage, riders can focus on tapping into its more powerful engine, utilizing its intuitive braking system, and enjoying the familiar rumble of Harley’s bagger.