If you're weary of hearing the phrase "in these trying economic times", we can offer up this optimistic spin: Despite a generally slumping bike market, the touring cruiser segment is enjoying an uptick in popularity. Not surprisingly, Harley's FL bikes represent a good portion of sales in that niche, which explains the appearance of the new Road Glide Custom in H-D's 2010 lineup. Luckily for Milwaukee, nostalgia still sells too, because the Motor Company has gone down memory lane once again with the newly reimagined 2010 Wide Glide. We managed to snag a quick ride on both machines at Harley's 2010 model launch a while back and came back with these impressions.
You already know about the much-needed shot in the (swing) arm given to the entire FLH line in 2009, but Harley has continued to tweak the Touring machines for 2010. In fact, it dropped the Road Glide standard from the lineup completely and added the new Road Glide Custom, priced at a suggested $18,999 (the same MSRP as its low-slung Street Glide stablemate).
For starters, the design crew endowed both Road Glide and Street Glide with a (one-inch) larger 18-inch black aluminum front wheel, now wearing lower-profile 130/70-18 Dunlops, and reworked the exhaust into a new two-into-one system instead of the old dual pipe arrangement. Color-matched saddlebag latches and inserts between the bags and rear fender are also new cosmetic treatments shared by both bikes for 2010. You'll still find the familiar rubber-mounted 96-inch Twin-Cam motor and 6-speed Cruise Drive tranny motivating the whole works however, but with the latter now running a helical-cut fifth gear for less engine noise.
But the main differences between the two 'Glides are the fairings. While the Street Glide uses the more traditional, handlebar-mounted Bat Wing, the Road Glide is distinguished by its chunkier, frame-mounted Shark-Nose (Wild Kingdom, anyone?). And because the Roadie adds "Custom" to its model designation for 2010, it gets the Street Glide treatment-rear suspension is lowered 1 inch from last year's model (H-D specs quote the same 29.5-inch seat height on both Road Glide models, though the saddle is said to be lower for '010 with a rider aboard).
A sleeker frame for the dual headlamps and a low-profile smoked wind deflector also result in a fresher face for the Roadie. The rear end is tidied up with a new LED brake/tail/turn light combo and a semi-frenched-in LED fender light at its tip. Otherwise, the Road Glide Custom keeps things stealthy: there's not even a tank badge to be found.
Straddling the R Glide, pilots are greeted by a vast black space punctuated by a Harman-Kardon 40-watt audio system (with CD player and MP3 input) and integrated storage compartments on either side. A chrome console atop the 6 gallon fuel tank houses a silver-faced tachometer, with nicely spaced gauges displaying info for fuel, oil pressure, voltage and ambient air temperature.
The Road Glide and Street Glide share the same one-piece, two-up saddle, which felt fairly comfortable during our half-day in it, although any potential passengers will likely have a good chuckle if you suggest they have a seat-there's not much real estate out back. Rider floorboards are placed slightly forward for a comfy perch, and the passenger pegs are height-adjustable. Reach out and you'll find easily accessed controls on the low-rise handlebar, with the optional cruise control integrated into the right-side handlebar pod.