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Harley-Davidson FLHTCI Electra Glide Classic FI


  • Harley-Davidson FLHTCI Electra Glide Classic FI

    Harley-Davidson FLHTCI Electra Glide Classic FI

    (NOT a beginner bike)

    I rented Harley's flagship for a day, a big beautiful touring bike, and reluctantly turned it in 24 hours later. It was an all black Harley Davidson Electra Glide Classic FI. What a nice bike that was! This one had a factory alarm in addition to the standard hardbags/trunk, front fairing w/AM/FM/Cassette/Weather Info, spot lamps, full size engine guard, floorboards and heel/toe shifter.

    First things first, the weight. It must be twice what I'm used to, 750 pounds dry (no doubt around 850 wet). So it ain't no canyon carver. It has a mind of its own in a parking lot with a passenger onboard. Fortunately the riding stance was perfect for me, it fits me just as well as my VLX that I've been riding all these years. It's the only modern touring bike I've been able to flat foot at a stop (and even able to bend my knees!).

    Once I got over that, the controls took a little getting used to. The turn signal switches are different, there's one on each side for each blinker. Easy and convenient to reach, but felt awkward hitting what would normally be my "starter switch" while moving! The high/low beam switch and horn button are located above the left turn signal switch (horn is outside button/light is inside), and sport a little wierd of a reach to get to. Above the right blinker switch is the engine on/off switch and starter switch (engine switch is outside/starter is inside).

    Below the grip area is the radio controls, a thumb lever on each side: the left side was volume up/down and pushing it in allows adjusting the bass/treble. The right one is a tuning up/down and pushing it in selects AM, FM, or weather/cassette (if no cassette is inserted you hear the weather info). The dash featured a speedo and tach in the middle, flanked by outside air temperature and oil pressure guages. The windshield/fairing provides excellent protection from wind. One could lose themself for hours in the plush saddle on this bike! I adapted to the heel/toe shifter right away and it became second nature quickly. The brake pedal took a little more getting used to.

    As an additional note, this thing was a real sight at night time, it really lights up. The black powder coated engine flanked with chrome covers, the velvet black paint, and the all-over lighting on these rigs really made a statement.

    The Engine: Power was okay, but then again it's not a drag racer either. None of that arm-stiffening butt-relocating acceleration, but it does roll up to speed quickly and smoothly. Harley does offer the 95ci/1550cc upgrade if that's what you're after...I did manage a fair rolling burnout once, let off as the back end started to go squirrelly. The big TC-88 fires right up with a push of the button, no additional turning or winding ever occured, even after a stall. The motor only shakes at idle, once you start moving it becomes smooth as silk. the 88ci motor winds up to 5500 RPM but I never really took it that far, the exhaust is quiet but the throbbing cadence is ever present. When you rail on it it sounds similar to the stock VLX pipes at high throttle. The FI was no doubt a great addition to this finely sculptured machine, the trip up into the mountains was effortless.

    The freeway experience: What more can I say? This bike feels better at 90mph than mid-sized bikes do at 60, incidently the tach reported 4000 RPM at 90mph, which is about what my VLX turns at 60mph in top gear. Riding the legal speed limit was effortless, and I had to check my speedo often to make sure I wasn't breaking any posted limits as the motor runs so smooth at 65-75mph. I didn't try to max out the speedo. Tracking was straight as an arrow at all times.

    Mud/Gravel/Rough Stuff experience: I ran the bike through a street that was under construction, there was mud and water all over the entire 1.5 mile length of the road construction area. The deeply valanced front fender doesn't keep the stuff from slinging all over your feet, but it didn't spray very high either. The Ultra's lower fairings would have come in handy here. Only the lower frame and outer engine guards had dirt spots on them. The tip of the rear fender was coated and some spray went on the mufflers and rear of the bags. In gravel, you can juice the throttle and the rear doesn't kick out much at all. I didn't attempt any fishtailing though, I was by myself in the middle of nowhere and the bike weighs over 800 handled the rougher roads well enough, the suspension absorbed the bumps quite well without any substantial rebounds, you won't get catapulted off one of these big brutes.

    Brakes: the brakes on this bike are incredible! I never expected a huge leviathan to slow down so quickly. The back tire will lock up before the front though, and I had a couple instances where the rear would start moving sideways so you can't get on the back brake too hard.

    Shifting: The gear changes were swift and solid, and you not only felt the gears engage but there is an audible clunk during each shift. Neutral is a chore to find, I'm sure there is some trick to it that eluded me. Sometimes I could stick it in neutral without a thought and other times it took some serious effort and balance with one foot holding the brute upright. The clutch lever was like any big twin Harley: stiff and long in reach. After a few hours of city riding I found myself grabbing at it with my entire hand rather than my fingers. But then again this particular bike is intended for long distance top gear cruising so for it's role I can't condemn the clutch. But since the Softails and Dynas are the same way, forget it!

    Twisties: The bike was a bit of a bear when the straight lines began to sweep sharper. I had to wrestle the front end a few times to get it pointed in the right direction. Still, the bike didn't shift or shudder in the rougher and tighter turns. I didn't try to scrape the boards, wasn't sure if they would contact the ground first before the solid wide guard. The stiff clutch made the frequent pre-curve downshifting precarious. Therefore, no break-neck velocities were attained in this event. My VLX is better suited for that chore.

    Storage space: Okay, I'll be the first to admit it. I didn't like the styling of the trunk, I would have wanted to remove it right away and sell it off. Then I filled it, and filled it, and filled it some more. 62 quart capacity, it's almost twice that of the Valkyrie Interstate trunk! Just over 15 milk jugs' worth of space. The sidebags were spacious as well, I believe they're rated at 28-32 quarts (can't remember) and the lids removed easily and conveniently out of the way, nothing to obstruct loading/unloading. So the trunk's a keeper; yeah...I'd still remove it for city slickin' but to head out of town I'd slap it right back on!

    Passenger Accomodation: My wife loved the rear seat, and didn't have any complaints of the footing position either. Grab rails are located on either side of the seat cushion, and that backrest was very inviting and offered plenty of support.

    Overall, I give the bike a high rating, especially for the role it was intended for. Comfort, capacity, sheer style, and grace on the open road. This is definitely my choice for the next big bike, unless someone comes out with something better in the next few years.

    High Points: Comfort, comfort, and comfort. Visually appealing, good wind protection, lots of storage space, loved the stereo, good brakes, really loud horn.

    Low Points: Clutch lever, city commuting/slow speed handling, mirrors (couldn't see behind me), OEM mufflers were copper colored w/10K miles on bike.

    First Changes: mirrors w/taller & wider stems to see behind the trunk, V&H Touring mufflers, replacement "soft clutch" kit, exchange the "cyber-eye" air cleaner (the last one is my personal preference...)
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