Harley details 2015 touring line-upComment on this story
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Labour Day, the first Monday in September, marks the end of the summer holiday in the United States and the beginning of the new school year - and in keeping with its blue-collar roots, it's also traditionally when the next year's Harley-Davidson motorcycles are revealed to the world.
And the world's most determinedly blue-collar motorcycle company has certainly been busy this year: in addition to the global launch of the Street 750 entry-level machine and the electric buzz of Project Livewire, we've already seen details of the Road Glide Special, still the only Hog with a frame-mounted fairing.
But wait, as they say, there's more…
STREET GLIDE SPECIAL
The Motor Company calls this a 'performance tourer' because it has the most muscular version of its 1690cc Twin Cam 103 engine (all right, Cyril, you asked: 58kW at 5010 revs and 126Nm at 3500rpm) with smaller panniers, a lower screen, only two speakers for the radio and less commodious pillion accommodation.
Ideal, in fact, for the long-hauler who rides alone.
For 2015 this very selfish motorcycle gets the reshaped batwing fairing of the Project Rushmore touring machines (complete with splitstream vent but still with the low screen), a Boom! Box 6.5GT infotainment system, dual halogen headlights, new cast-alloy wheels and linked brakes with ABS.
NEW BRAKING SYSTEM FOR SOFTAILS
All Softail models get a rigid-mount four-pot, opposed piston calliper clamping a new 300mm front disc, and a new master cylinder with a revised mechanical ratio to reduce perceived lever effort by a claimed 40 percent.
ULTRA LIMITED LOW
The trouble with many big tourers - including Milwaukee's Ultra Limited full-dresser - is that they're only suitable for big people. Now, for those of us as short as 1.65 metres, Harley has built the 'slammed and loaded' Ultra Limited Low, with a seat height of just 650mm, 45mm lower than that of the standard Ultra.
That's mostly due to special suspension that lowers the bike's centre of gravity, making it easier to lift off its side-stand. The width of both the primary drive housing and derby cover has also been reduced to improve leg clearance to the ground.
New handlebars move the grips 50mm closer to the rider to reduce back and shoulder strain, smaller-diameter grips reduce finger stretch to the levers, and a hydraulic 'slipper clutch reduces lever effort.
Thanks to senior vice-president of motorcycle operations Michelle Kumbier it also has new passenger footboard mounts that fold out of the way when you're pushing the bike in a driveway or garage and a toe-tab extension to reduce the stretch when retracting the stand.
But it also has all the touring comforts - a touch screen-operated satnav and 100-watt Boom Box 6.5GT sound system, panniers and top box as per the Project Rushmore upgrades.
CUSTOM VEHICLE OPERATIONS
CVO STREET GLIDE
This limited-edition bagger is a rolling concert venue that makes all the right noises thanks to a Boom! Audio system that pushes your favourite music through two 300-watt amplifiers with special static and dynamic equalisers, a sophisticated midrange DPS cross-over and four three-way speakers.
And, for the first time in a Street Glide, an 1802cc Screamin' Eagle Twin-Cooled Twin Cam 110 V-twin with liquid-cooled cylinder heads and 156Nm on tap, as well as a custom CVO seat, LED headlight and extended panniers, topped off with a typically intricate CVO paint job that looks like it was done just for you.
CVO ROAD GLIDE ULTRA
This is exactly what it says on the tin: Milwaukee's top tourer, with everything that opens and shuts - but this one was assembled by the CVO backroom boys with an 1802cc Twin-Cooled 110, enough chrome to sink a battleship and a custom sprayjob that makes it stand out even when it's standing still.
The 2015 models are due in Harley-Davidson dealers in South Africa from mid-September.