Best Touring Motorcycle 2011: Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra

December 30, 2011
By Motorcycle USA Staff
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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