2014 Harley-Davidsons: Project Rushmore
August 28, 2013
Filed under Cruiser + Touring Motorcycle Reviews, Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on Harley Motorcycles, Top Stories
Like a cavalry charge of the Rough Riders led by Teddy Roosevelt waving his cowboy hat in the air, Harley-Davidson recently launched eight new Touring models under the auspicious banner “Project Rushmore,” a customer-driven enhancement effort it is unabashedly calling the largest and most important in its 110-year history. In addition to a long list of new features and improvements, the Touring lineup will include a partially liquid-cooled model for the first time. There’s also a nicely upgraded Dyna Fat Bob and new CVO Softail Deluxe for 2014; ABS is standard on the V-Rods and a factory option on the Sportsters; and the Twin Cam 103 V-twin is now standard in the Dyna Street Bob and Super Glide Custom. Absent models include the Road Glides, which Harley says will take at least one year off for some “freshening-up,” and the Softail Blackline, which has been discontinued.
Project Rushmore was the code name for a four-year, unprecedented effort by Harley’s stylists and engineers to connect with its customers and give them the improvements they want more quickly, and the name stuck for a couple reasons. There’s the emotive association of the brand and eight bikes with the iconic American monument in South Dakota, of course, also home to the Sturgis rally. And perhaps the more literal interpretations of the two words “rush” and “more”—as in a strong rush to your senses and more power. Whatever—it’s the visible results that count.
The new consolidated Touring lineup comprises the Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited, Tri-Glide Ultra trike, CVO Road King and CVO Ultra Limited. All of the regular production (non-CVO) bikes benefit from uprated “High Output” 103ci V-twin engines, with new camshafts and high-flow airboxes that Harley says give them 5 percent more torque in the midrange for quicker passes. In addition, the Ultra Limited, Tri-Glide Ultra and CVO Ultra Limited (with its 110ci engine) add the Twin-Cooled feature, a combination of air and precision liquid cooling. Harley says the Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103 engines deliver 10.7 percent more peak torque than the standard 103. In the Twin-Cooled system, an electric pump circulates coolant through the cylinder heads in the areas around the exhaust valves, then to a pair of radiators—one in each fairing lower—with thermostatically controlled fans. In addition to enabling a higher 10.1:1 compression ratio in the Twin-Cooled 103 for more power, the stabilized head temps prevent power from dropping off in higher ambient temperatures. They will run without the liquid cooling long enough to reach service—in the event of a leak, for example—though all of this year’s Harleys still require 91 octane fuel.
Hydraulically actuated clutches finally replace the cable on all of the Rushmore bikes except the Road King. Other improvements include either standard or available proportionally linked brakes with ABS (except Tri-Glide Ultra); super-bright LED headlights and fog lamps on some models; and new twin-halogen headlights on others. Comfort is enhanced with a restyled Batwing fairing that has a closable “splitstream” central vent to reduce buffeting, and wider, deeper seats with new back and arm rests. New reshaped handlebar switches are more tactile and easier to use, and new One Touch latches on the restyled saddlebags and top trunks open them with a single latch.
One of two new “infotainment” sound and navigation systems with color screens are available for the center of the redesigned inner fairing, which has four easier-to-read instruments vs. six smaller ones now. All of the features you can imagine are in there, including AM/FM/Weather plus USB aux input. On the high end, the 6.5GT system adds GPS navigation and a large touchscreen, and it can also be controlled entirely from the handlebar with the use of twin joysticks. If it’s not already standard, adding the intercom and CB module enables the first original-equipment Voice Recognition, so you can control the sound system and GPS using voice commands over a wired headset.
Although many other bikes in the 2014 lineup have received notable changes, Harley quite understandably chose to focus on the Rushmore Touring motorcycles at the press launch outside Denver, Colorado. There we enjoyed two days of riding the Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic and Ultra Limited in the Rockies, the latter of which was in high demand because everyone wanted to sample a Twin-Cooled machine. From my short ride, it’s clear that the Ultra Limited doesn’t put out much heat that the rider can feel from the fairing lowers where the radiators reside, thanks to ducting that routes it away from your legs. Ever since Harley bumped the touring bikes up to the 103ci engine, their passing power—say, in fifth gear—has been very good, but at the high altitudes in the mountains above the already Mile-High City, I couldn’t tell if the High Output engines were making noticeably more grunt. They are nicely smooth and make a wonderful rumble, though I’d prefer a little less intake noise under acceleration.
Other improvements were easier to note. The Voice Recognition for the sound and GPS systems is nothing short of remarkable. Press a button, say “Go to 101 West Main Street, Frisco, Colorado,” for example, and the GPS routes you there, or tell it to tune to a particular radio station or iPod track and it’s done. Although the VR only works with a wired headset, the system does support a Bluetooth connection with your phone.
That new vent in the Batwing makes a nice reduction in helmet buffeting; the linked brakes seemed to work well and interestingly remain separate until above 25 mph; and the One Touch luggage latches are perhaps the best thing to come out of the entire Rushmore project. Harley also beefed-up the Touring bike front ends with a sleeker front fender, stronger suspension components and larger 49mm fork legs, and the handling improvement is quite noticeable. We’ll have a full test of the Ultra Limited in a future issue, and a comparison test with Harley’s new competition ASAP.
(This article 2014 Harley-Davidsons: Project Rushmore was published in the November 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)