Harley long-haulers revamped for 2014
Harley-Davidson must be one of the few motorcycle manufacturers with the balls to ask its customers, "What don't you like about our bikes?" - and then incorporate the answers into a four-year programme to update its heavy-duty tourers accordingly.
Project Rushmore (It's a mountain carved to represent the four most important US presidents, Cyril) has resulted in new Bluetooth-enabled colour-screen infotainment systems with voice recognition, text-to-speech conversion (that means it will read your e-mails aloud to you while you ride), revised, more intuitive switchgear, intercom and CB radio connections in a single module and built-in GPS satellite navigation, rather than separate Garmin-supplied units mounted on conventional brackets.
KEEPING IT COOL
Showing the way are new LED or dual-halogen headlights, keeping things cool is a revised batwing fairing fairing with split-stream venting, keeping things amicable on the long road is revised, even more comfortable pillion accommodation for She Who Must Be Obeyed, keeping things on the straight and narrow are revised, linked brakes with ABS as standard, and keeping things rumbling along is a (slightly) updated 1690cc V-twin engine.
The tourpack (Hogspeak for a top box) and panniers have been reshaped, and their latches and mounting mechanism made less fiddly while new, lighter cast-alloy wheels ride inside narrower mudguards.
All of which are already in place on the 2014 model year Road King Classic, Street Glide, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Limited, Tri Glide Ultra Classic, CVO Ultra Limited and CVO Road King.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
The Dark Custom styling of the Fat Bob has had a comprehensive makeover. Black replaces chrome everywhere, including the engine and gearbox, air-filter cover, rear shock shrounds, triple clamps, headlight trim rings, console and the battery box cover.
There's a new slash-cut rear mudguard with a recessed twin-ring LED tail light, and the Fat Bob's signature aluminium slotted disc wheels are powder-coated black and finished with a laser-engraved Harley-Davidson logo and rim stripe.
KEEPING IT SAFE
Antilock braking is now standard issue on all Sportster models except the Iron 883 Iron, as are new hand controls and brake components and a security system roughly analogous to keyless entry in a car - as long as you have the special fob in your pocket you can walk up to the bike, hit the button and ride away - but if you don't your neighbours will call the cops just to get them to shut off the ear-splitting alarm, even if all you are doing is shifting the bike in the garage to get at your tools.
Be warned - like most 'security' systems, unless you think about what you're doing all the time, it can be a real nuisance.
CUSTOM VEHICLE OPERATIONS
For 2014 Milwaukee's own blingshop features a limited-edition Softail Deluxe touring machine with a detachable windscreen and GPS navigation, LED lighting, detachable saddlebags and, of course, the bold paint and big 1802cc Screamin' Eagle 110 engine that's always part of the CVO package.
The CVO Road King and Ultra Limited long-haulers get all the Rushmore upgrades, and the CVO Breakout Softail chopper gets three (really loud) new paint schemes.