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Best Touring Motorcycle 2011: Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra

Friday, December 30, 2011
Before storming our offices with torches ablaze and pitch forks set at full stab, consider this: Honda didn’t produce any 2011 Gold Wings and the all-new BMW K1600GT is a 2012 model, so both bikes are ineligible here... Now, deep breath, let’s introduce our pick for Touring Motorcycle of the Year, the Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra.

Tearing up the corners aboard the 11 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom.
When bagging work is work, life is good. Our crew throroughly enjoyed the cruiser route for touring duties in 2011.
Our high-performance Road Test Editor, Adam Waheed, isn’t known for gushing over V-Twin cruisers, but he dug the H-D Road Glide Ultra right from the get-go. After riding it at the 2011 Harley press intro, MotoUSA demanded a long-term tester and logged thousands of miles on it – as a touring platform and everyday commuter. We then pitted the Harley against the Victory Vision in a head-to-head V-Twin Luxo Tourer Comparison where it emerged victorious.

Harley took its popular hotrod bagger and added its PowerPak as standard equipment; a combination of Harley’s 1690cc Twin Cam 103 V-Twin, ABS and the H-D Smart Security System. The Road Glide Ultra’s Shark-Nose fairing is frame-mounted so action at the bars is light and manageable, and since Harley introduced chassis upgrades on its touring bikes a couple of years back, the big Hogs track much better in the corners. For 2011, Harley also gave the Road Glide Ultra a higher windscreen, and along with mid-frame air deflectors and vented fairing louvers the combination does a great job of diverting air around riders.

On the highway we’d set the easy-to-use cruise control, crank up its jammin’ 80-watt Harman Kardon four-speaker stereo system, sit back and enjoy the ride in one of the cushiest stock seats around. Passengers will enjoy their own backrest with lower lumbar support while kicking their feet up on their own floorboards. And the new top case ensures plenty of room to bring provisions for two.

So the venerable Wing and new six-cylinder Beemer can duke it out next year, this time around Old Milwaukee gets the nod for Best Touring Motorcycle of 2011.


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Gray22   June 15, 2012 08:41 PM
What about the K1300GT? The Japanese have some sport touring bikes I wonder if they were considered for this section or were they thought to be too sporty? The Harley offers a "unique" experience and if you are a Harley rider that is great, ride safe and enjoy it, but, I just can not see how it can be reasoned that it is a better touring bike than the competition. Unless you see it's only direct competition as the Victory.
Gray22   June 4, 2012 11:55 AM
What about the R1200RT. That is a touring bike that has all the bells and whistles. You can pull wheelies with it and lean it over like a proper motorcycle. How on earth could this Harley get the nod. I worked at a Harley Dealership and I can tell you that their products do not stack up to the competition from the Japanese or the German's. I was at bike week in Laconia few summers back and I can't count the number of Harleys that were coming into the shop because of electronic issues. They are heavy, slow, can't break and from what I saw had reliability issues as soon as it got wet. Oh and the engines are hot as hell and will kill your sperm. And Wildpig how can you get after BMW for overcharging. Harley is the worst offender.
Poncho167   January 3, 2012 12:57 PM
I can't believe this thing could be the touring motorcycle of the year. There are so many better bikes than this. Try riding this bike in Texas or Arizona and watch it overheat on the side of the road. One surely doesn't want to get caught in road construction with this.
wildpig   January 3, 2012 06:40 AM
BMW NOR HONDA WILL ever be able to make a better touring bike than harley. Bmw is a joke in reliability and parts--well bring your wallet aint what bmw stands for --bmw means bring more wheelbarrow piled fulla money.
JC   January 2, 2012 07:57 PM
Dont worry, guys. We have plenty of good things to say about the K1600GT. It is not a 2011 model so it wasn't even on the table this year. It will get its just desserts in 2012.
DTWOR   January 2, 2012 09:09 AM
After trading a 2010 103" FLHTK w/26kmi.on a 2011 Victory Vision last Aug. I will rate the Vision higher marks on top end power,reliability,comfort,handling,ease/cost of maintainance,lighting,brakes,sound system and $5,000 less msrp.Other than thsat Harley wins hands down.
Mitch   December 31, 2011 11:26 AM
A little out of left field IMO although I do acknowledge that Harley does make a competitive touring bike now with the 103 standard this year. My personal choice would have been the Cross Country Tour but if I were the editor of M-USA my unbiased pick would definitely be the K1600GTL.
Piglet2010   December 30, 2011 03:25 PM
No love for the Kawasaki Concours 14? Would spend my own money on the Connie any day before the 1961, er 2011 H-D.
mudman   December 30, 2011 02:07 PM
Oh, please. Best touring M.C. of 2011. H-D Roadglide Ultra??!! Afraid to give B.M.W. two wins in the same year? The Harley is a pathetic antique compared to K1600GT.