2009 Harley-Davidson Touring Motorcycles

August 4, 2008
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
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Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

The Street Glide has a traditional  bat wing  fairing and a smoked mini-wind deflector to give it the stripped-down dresser look.
The Street Glide has a traditional ‘bat wing’ fairing and a smoked mini-wind deflector to give it the stripped-down dresser look.

While the Muscle is the only all-new motorcycle The Motor Company introduced, the seven models in the touring class are all the beneficiaries of Harley-Davidson’s new chassis.

“Pull the motor out, and everything is brand new,” said Ben Wright, Project Leader for the 2009 Touring Platform.

The stamped and welded single-piece frame that has anchored the touring platform for almost three decades is gone. In its place is a cast single-spar, rigid-backbone frame that supports a greater load capacity said to be at 70 lbs. It also has a new wider, longer, stiffer swingarm to go along with a bolt-on tail frame. The frame supports a rear tire that is two inches wider. This allowed H-D engineers to widen the rear fender in return and to eliminate the rear hoop. We had already tested the new arrangement a month prior in the form of the 2009 CVO Ultra Classic and CVO Road Glide. As we prepared to leave Infineon for a spin through the vineyard-saddled hillsides of Sonoma, I chose a 2009 FLHX Street Glide to further test the upgrades to the touring chassis.

The front end continues to feel much improved at speed and during cornering. Spring rates on the fork have been stiffened, and just a tad more trail has been added. A lot of attention has gone to the wheels and tires. The 130/80-17 front is taller by an inch and the new Dunlop D407 felt solid while chasing an ’09 Sportster and ’09 Muscle in the hills above Napa. It didn’t feel like an 810-lb bike as I worked the edges of the Dunlops trying to keep the faster bikes in sight.

Harley engineers not only focused on smoothing out the performance of its touring class, they also kept a rider’s needs in mind when they’re not in motion. The black powder-coated Twin Cam 96 of the 2009 Street Glide has gained an engine mount. The rubber engine isolation system now has four points with redesigned mounts and vibes through the bars are nominal.

Harley made further refinements to the touring rider’s experience by turning down the heat. The exhaust has been rerouted under the frame instead of under the seat. The left side pipe is gone and is replaced by a crossover pipe that runs under the bike in the 2-1-2 system. This is aimed at taking heat off of a rider’s thigh and a passenger’s ankle.

The molded composite trunk provides 4.5 cubic feet of storage space and along with the Tour Pak have 6.56 feet of capacity.
The molded composite trunk provides 4.5 cubic feet of storage space and along with the Tour Pak have 6.56 feet of capacity.

To further shield riders against the inevitable heat blast from a Big Twin stuck in summer traffic, all FL models come with a rider-activated rear cylinder cut-out. The system was introduced after the introduction of the 2008 line, and gives riders the ability to manually turn off the rear cylinder. To activate the system while idling, simply roll the twistgrip forward and hold for five seconds. Then check the cruise control activation light which will inform you whether the Rider-Activated Cylinder Cut-Out (RARCC) is activated. The RARCC system comes standard on all 2009 H-D tourers and can be retrofitted to older models.

And what good would it be to have a stronger frame and tires with greater load capacity if you didn’t have increased cargo-carrying capacity to go along with it? Riders can now pack each saddlebag and the Tour-Pak with an extra five lbs. The supports have been strengthened and are said to be easier to install and remove.

Despite all its structural changes, the 2009 Street Glide continues to sport the same profile. It still features the classic GTX hard saddlebags on its lowriding rear end. Its front end is still distinguished by its signature ‘Batwing’ fork-mounted fairing with a smoky wisp of a wind deflector. Maintaining a bike’s identity despite all the changes to its internals was high on the Harley-Davidson priority list.

“There is likely no profile on the American road more distinctive than that of a Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycle, and we were able to retain the character of each model while significantly improving the riding experience in many ways,” said H-D’s VP of Operations, Bill Davidson.