Harley-Davidson Electra Glide
The Original Bagger
The original Harley-Davidson Electra Glides were not equipped with the fork mounted fairing–otherwise known as the Batwing fairing–that we've become so accustomed to seeing on these models until 1969. The Batwing fairings or "Windshield Fairing Kits" as they were originally known were available as an option in 1969 because the gauges were still positioned atop the fuel tank; however, the Batwing became standard equipment in 1971 and the instrumentation was installed inside the fairing, which made them pretty much fixed to the front fork.
The updates continued for this 52-year-old motorcycle, and in 1983 the FLHT received the Tour Glide frame yet continued to use the Batwing fork-mounted fairing instead of the Tour Glide's frame-mounted fairing. Then, in 1984, the 80 cubic-inch Evolution Engine made its way into the Electra Glide frame and continued to power the FLHT until the Twin Cam 88 Engine was born in 1999 for the 2000 model year. Eventually the Twin Cam 88 was replaced in 2006 for the 2007 model year with the Twin Cam 96, and that power plant continued to remain until 2017.
In 2009, the entire Harley-Davidson Touring lineup received a complete overhaul in the chassis department. Each model came equipped with a new frame, new swingarm, and a new mounting system for the 96-cubic-inch Twin Cam. This change revived the Harley Touring Model platform because the chassis handled better, was more comfortable, and improved the rear-steer effect otherwise known as "bagger wobble" riders experienced from the 2008-earlier Touring frame.
In 2014, Harley-Davidson Touring Models received another enhancement via Harley's Project Rushmore initiative, which introduced the Twin Cooled Twin Cam engines on several of the Harley Baggers. The Twin Cooled design incorporated coolant into the cylinder heads to combat the high-heat output that traditional air-cooled engines produced. However, Harley wanted to retain the architecture of the Twin Cam styling without adding bulky radiators and multiple lines of tubing so engineers decided to direct coolant around the area of the exhaust valve on both cylinders, and incorporated hidden radiators in the lower fairings that used to house small belongings, focused on updating the styling to the Batwing fairing and sharknose fairing, introducing ventilation systems to combat wind buffeting to also improve the overall ride quality. The saddlebags were also redesigned in 2014 to a sleeker, more concave shape with a new latching system to allow easier access to belongings while riders were still on their bikes. The Tour-Pak was also redesigned with more curvature and and a larger cargo capacity. Project Rushmore also introduced its first-ever touch-screen Boom! Box Infotainment system on a few of the Harley Touring Models, which allowed riders a more technologically advanced experience: GPS, Bluetooth-capable audio, easy-to-use communication systems and more.
The Project Rushmore Models were a huge hit but the Touring Model lineup again received major changes in 2017 with the introduction of the all-new 107-cubic-inch and 114-cubic-inch Milwaukee-Eight Engines. The Milwaukee-Eight is also available in a Twin Cooled version on the Road Glide Ultra, Ultra Limited and Ultra Limited Low. The entire Touring Model lineup also received updated front and rear suspension systems. Of course, the Electra Glide is still in production today, and will continue to be one of the best full-dressers on the market and a major player in the cruiser motorcycle category.