Harley-Davidson's Road Glide appears ready to return to The Motor Company's touring lineup as a 2015 model. The popular design, which was conspicuously dropped from the 2014 model year, has been spied testing.
Photos acquired by Motorcycle USA from KGP Spy Photography demonstrate significant styling revisions, including changes to the Glide’s distinctive shark-nose fairing (KGP also spotted a new H-D Trike
on the road as well). The redesigned Road Glide also appears to showcase many of the Project Rushmore updates that debuted on H-D’s 2014 Touring models.
The most obvious update on the new Road Glide is its signature fairing, which is frame-mounted as opposed to the fork-mounted units used on the Street Glide (the latter being the most prolific model in the H-D lineup). This 2015 Road Glide mimics updates H-D made when it redesigned the Street Glide’s iconic Batwing fairing in 2014 – attempting to strike a balance between retaining the traditional shape while still updating the look.
This most prominent departure from the old model’s fairing design is a recessed channel in the centerline above the headlamp. The channel leads up into an intake slot below the windscreen. This appears to be modeled after a similar update on the Street Glide, in which the intake incorporated a retractable vent operated by the rider which dramatically reduced helmet buffeting when we sampled the 2014 H-D Touring Rushmore Lineup
last summer. Also note the gaps in the fairing around the headlights, which will also route air through to the rider. H-D touted that it spent oodles of time wind tunnel testing to refine its 2014 Project Rushmore updates to maximize rider comfort, including reduction of the dreaded phenomenon known as “beard lift.” Yep, that’s a real thing.
And speaking of the headlight, the Road Glide seen here sports an LED design, the Daymaker lights debuting on the 2013 CVO Road Glide Custom and a standard feature on several of the 2014 Project Rushmore bikes.
The distinctive badging on the air-cleaner cover indicates the engine power this Road Glide is the up-spec High Output version of Harley's Twin Cam 103. Having debuted on the 2014 Rushmore models, the HO 103 claims a 5.7% boost in power from the standard 103 with its 105.5 lb-ft of peak torque. H-D also claims an increase in acceleration performance, particularly at higher speeds between 60-80 mph.
Another obvious Project Rushmore carryover on this new Road Glide is the new floating brake rotor design, which opens up the contrast cut front wheels. Presumably, this braking change indicates the Road Glide will also benefit from ABS and the new-for-2014 Reflex Linked Braking system, in which the linked brakes engage at speeds above 25 mph.
One final Rushmore update we can confirm visually on the new Road Glide are the integrated saddlebags, which match those on the 2014 touring models. Those hard bags featured one-touch accessibility and an intuitive latch release system - a definite improvement over the previous bag designs.
The absence of H-D’s Tour-Pak topcase and lower fairing indicate this is the standard Road Glide, and not the Road Glide Ultra, with past versions of the latter model also sporting a taller windscreen and top-shelf passenger accommodations. If an Ultra version of the Road Glide does debut in 2015, there is speculation as to what engine it would receive. H-D released three “Ultras” in its 2014 model: the 2014 Electra Glide Ultra Classic, which sourced the 103 HO Twin, while the Ultra Limited and CVO Limited debuted, respectively, the all-new Twin-Cooled Twin Cam 103 and 110. The "twin-cooled" engine routes liquid through the cylinder heads, which is then cycled through radiators disguised in the Ultra’s lower fairings.
The 2015 Road Glide’s return is far from unexpected, as HD reps indicated in a conference call earlier this year that the popular model would be back eventually. The 2015 Road Glide’s official public debut will likely occur when H-D announces the upcoming model year in conjunction with its annual Dealer Meeting, slated for August 25-28.