To kick off Harley-Davidson’s 2014 new-model press launch, the Motor Company’s President and Chief Operation Officer, Matt Levatich, and Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Mark-Hans Richer, first introduced Project Rushmore. Rushmore, which was spawned in 2009 during the dark days of the Great Recession, is a new paradigm for designing motorcycles, which seeks to reach untapped markets and demographics while retaining traditional repeat buyers. Rushmore employs focus groups, consumer clinics, and other inputs to bring in fresh ideas that lead to new products. It also cuts product-development time from five years to about three by employing new design and engineering processes.
Harley’s 2014 product line contains the first motorcycles developed during the Rushmore Project, which incorporates many new features and requires more than 2,400 new part numbers. The latest touring models that have added power and braking performance along with improved comfort and appearance are the Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited, Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, CVO Ultra Limited, and CVO Road King and Tri Glide Ultra (trike). All touring models now have cast-aluminum wheels and lower-profile front fenders.
Powertrain and Chassis Changes
The models are powered by either the air-cooled High Output Twin Cam 103-cubic inch engine or the new Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103. Harley’s new Twin-Cooled engine, which has liquid-cooled cylinder heads, comes only in the Ultra Limited, CVO Limited, and Tri-Glide models. The Twin Cooled engines have water passages in the cylinder heads that take heat away from around the exhaust valves and combustion chambers, which are the hottest parts of the engine. Everything is nicely hidden, and two compact radiators and electric fans are tucked into the lower fairings. An electric water pump, mounted near the bottom front of the frame, circulates coolant. Harley reports that the Twin Cooled 103 has 10.7 percent more torque than the standard 103, although no horsepower figures are offered.
The High Output Twin Cam 103 gets more cam lift and a better-flowing airbox for more torque compared to a standard Twin Cam 103. H-D claims 105.5 lb-ft of peak torque at 3,750 rpm while 2013 models were rated 100 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm. It’s now standard on Road Kings, Street Glides, Street Glide Specials, and Electra Glide Ultra Classics. The previous Twin Cam 103 powertrain will be standard in Super Glide Custom and Street Bob models.
All touring models (except Road Kings) now have hydraulically actuated clutches. Fork legs have been beefed up to a 49mm diameter. Bigger bearings are installed in the steering head, and shock damping has been re-valved for a comfier ride. Linked brakes that vary with speed and ABS are now standard equipment on the Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Limited models, and the Street Glide Special, as well as being optional on the Road Kings and Street Glides.
Ergonomics and Infotainment
One of the easily spotted changes on Touring Glide models is the new batwing fairing, which now has a center intake vent and adjustable vents that noticeably reduce helmet buffeting. There are also wider and deeper saddles with improved back and arm rests.
The hard saddlebags have relocated latches that may be reached from the saddle. Harley’s stylists also redesigned the tail trunks to make them appear smaller, yet their capacity is 4 percent larger and they can still hold two full-face helmets.
Harman-Kardon developed the new “Boom! Box” audio systems that include regular and satellite radio, iPod inputs, Bluetooth and voice-recognition software that has text-to-speech capability, an intercom, and CB connections. The systems are controlled by little joysticks near the left and right hand grips. The Boom! Box 4.3, which is on Electra Glide Ultra Classics and Street Glides, comes with a 4.3-inch screen. Users can make and receive phone calls, and a Vehicle Information Screen shows ambient air temperature and oil-pressure. The larger Boom! Box 6.5GT has a 6.5-inch screen and GPS with more features; satellite radio can be added. The 6.5GT is standard on the Ultra Limited, CVO Limited, Street Glide Special, and Tri Glide; and it’s optional on the Electra Glide Ultra Classics. The redesigned batwing fairings reduce helmet buffeting significantly, and the audio systems work even better thanks to less wind noise.
We tested the new bikes on a lovely route in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. All of the 2014 touring models provide plush ergonomics and noticeably more engine torque, which makes passing and climbing long grades easier. While the mountains offer a beautiful backdrop for photography, along with an exciting test riding venue, the high elevations sap power. When we reached the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel (11,158 feet), we were losing about one third of the engines’ power compared to that at sea level. However, both 103-inch engines had enough power, and the fuel injection kept the air-fuel ratios correct. Both engine versions offer a noticeable gain in horsepower and torque. Thanks to damping changes, handling has also been slightly improved, and the new models don’t seem to drag their floorboards in turns as easily as before.
Other significant changes for Harley-Davidson’s 2014 launch include a restyled Fat Bob model, optional ABS brakes on all Sportsters, and continued integration of H-D1 factory customization. Sportsters also get new hand controls and brake components as well as an optional keyless H-D Smart Security System.
V-Rods now have standard ABS along with new paint colors and graphics. The top-of-the-line CVO series includes a new Softail Deluxe that comes with a detachable windshield, GPS, LED lights, removeable saddlebags, and a potent Screaming Eagle engine. Both the CVO Road King and CVO Limited return with new features, and the CVO Breakout Softail chopper offers three new paint schemes.
An online factory customization program allows buyers to select factory installed options on their Sportster 1200 Custom or Street Bob, and new colors are offered on both models. By using the online Bike Builder feature, customers may choose from different wheels, paint, and engine finishes. Also, various combinations of foot-control locations, seat choices, and handlebars may be selected.
We found that the changes for 2014 noticeably improve the new models. Liquid cooling the Big Twin had been rumored for years, but it still came as a surprise. Although the engine isn’t fully water cooled, Twin Cooled engines provide most of the advantages of this method, and we expect to see more models with it become available in coming years.