As usual, Harley-Davidson introduced its new models for the coming year 'way ahead of everyone else. For 2010, the company is claiming that this is the biggest model launch in its history, with nine new products in total, on six different model platforms. That said, Harley is still falling back onto tradition for much of its inspiration, and refinements, rather than drastic overhauls still carries the day. Here are some highlights.
- Street Glide. Also known as the FLHX, this ElectraGlide derivative gets a makeover for the new year. Among other things, it receives a new two-into-one exhaust system, resized 18-inch front wheel, lowered rear suspension and a variety of cosmetic upgrades. Power is still provided by a fuel-injected 96 cubic-inch air-cooled V-twin mated to a six-speed transmission, and brakes are four-piston discs front and back. The fuel tank carries just under 23 litres of premium-grade gas, and the Street Glide is aimed at those riders who want to announce their presence in town while having the option to chase the horizon. Harley hasn't announced all its prices for Canada , but in the U.S., the Street Glide will start at just under $19,000. Options include ABS, electronic cruise control, and various paint schemes.
- Fat Boy Lo. One of Harley's more popular models, the Fat Boy has been tweaked, altered, stylized, and customized since its introduction, in the early 1990s. This time around, it gets an optional body slam and black paint job, and with this version - or FLSTFB - offers one of the lowest seat heights in Harley's entire line-up....some 669 mm. Power is delivered by a 96 cubic-inch V-Twin with built-in engine counter-balancers. Although it has the same displacement as other big twins in the model range, this engine is not the same, and is used throughout the Softail line-up. The garden variety Fat Boy soldiers on more or less intact from 2009. US MSRP for the Fat Boy Lo is $16,299.
- Dyna Wide Glide. Originally, the Dyna line of Harleys was meant to appeal to riders who like to grab a fistful now and then and actually lean the bike through the corners. Some still do, but the 2010 Wide Glide is strictly for cruisin', baby. This is Harley's version of an "old school" custom, with lowered front and rear suspension, internally wired handlebars, LED rear lights, and a special available flame paint job. Price in Canada: $18,619 to start.
- ElectraGlide Ultra Limited. This is Harley's touring flagship, with every engineering feature and modcon the company can provide. Power is delivered via a 103 cubic inch V-Twin, which delivers a reputed 10 per cent more power than the garden-variety 96 cubic-incher. Standard kit includes electronic cruise control, heated handlebar grips, an 80-watt stereo system, CB radio, adjustable wind deflectors, Brembo disc brakes with ABS, and a power point for recharging cell phones and various other electronic doo-dads. In Canada, the Ultra Limited - or FLHTK - will start at $31,719.
- Road Glide Custom. (Pictured) Another variation on the FLH platform, this time with the distinctive "shark nose" fairing. This is a frame-mounted wind protector and can trace its lineage back to the mid-1980s. For 2010, the Road Glide Custom - or FLTRX - gets a lowered rear suspension set-up, new wheels, lower profile tires, re-designed seat, re-styled handlebars, and a new two-into-one exhaust system. This is the quintessential "bagger" and features a stereo system, electronic cruise control, and hard bags. Price in the US: $18,999 to start.
- Street Glide Trike. Not to be confused with the two-wheeled Street Glide, this three-wheeler is essentially a stripped-down/customized version of the Tri-Glide, which was introduced last year. Power is provided by the same 103 cubic inch engine found in the ElectraGlide Custom, and it's mated to a six-speed transmission....like all the big twins. Reverse is not standard equipment, but is available for an additional $1540. A rear-mounted storage bin provides some 121 litres of cargo room, and the Trike is fitted with Harley's unmistakable "bat wing" fork- mounted front fairing. US price: $26,999.
- CVO. This is Harley's skunk works division, and what they do here is take an existing model, dial up the performance level, apply glitzy paint and accessories, and give each one a special number. CVO models are much more expensive than the regular bikes....the CVO ElectraGlide Ultra Classic costs $36,000 US, for example, which is at least $4500 more than a stock version. But CVO bikes are made in limited numbers, which does give them some degree of exclusivity. For the new year, CVO has wrought its magic on the Fat Bob, ElectraGlide Ultra Classic, Street Glide, and Softail Convertible models.
The other bit of news coming out of Milwaukee is that Harley, like just about everyone else, is feeling the pinch. It recently laid off some 1000 employees, and is making its bikes in smaller quantities than before. For the first time in at least ten years, Harley has also seen its share of the U.S. market drop below 50 per cent.