As we’ve reported in previous road tests and comparisons, Harley-Davidson’s Touring family has been steadily improved and refined over the past several years. The evolution began with the 2014 model year, when Project Rushmore brought performance upgrades, infotainment systems, ergonomic improvements and more to Harley’s long-haul lineup. And hell didn’t freeze over when The Motor Company snuck in precision liquid cooling on several models, with twin radiators tucked into the fairing lowers and the plumbing well hidden to maintain a traditional look.
Another leap forward came with the 2017 model year, when Harley introduced the Milwaukee-Eight engine platform—the ninth generation of the Big Twin, named after its birthplace and number of valves—which offers faster throttle response, more torque, better sound, improved fuel economy and a smoother ride than the Twin Cam engine. Touring models also got new Showa suspension—a dual bending valve fork and emulsion rear shocks with a remote preload adjuster—that enhance ride control and quality. Together, these improvements earned the entire Touring family Rider’s Motorcycle of the Year award for 2017.
The Road Glide Ultra has an air/liquid-cooled 1,746cc (107ci) V-twin, a 6-speed transmission, a hydraulic assist-and-slipper clutch and linked ABS brakes. Standard equipment includes a heel/toe shifter, height-adjustable passenger floorboards, the Boom! Box 6.5GT infotainment system (with a 6.5-inch color touchscreen, voice recognition, navigation, intercom, CB, Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio and more), a Daymaker LED dual headlight, cruise control, the Smart Security System with hands-free fob, a luggage rack, two 12V sockets and a USB port.