• Harley-Davidson Steps Up Its Electronics Game Ahead Of MY2019

HD Debuts Its New Electronic Wizardry And It’s About Time

It nearly took two decades to happen, but Harley-Davidson finally joined the 21st century with a host of new electronic gadgets that are meant to increase safety and put the MoCo on a more even footing against the products and systems coming from just about all the other major manufacturers.

Continue reading for more on Harley-Davidson’s new electronic technology.

Harley-Davidson’s Infotainment System

2019 - 2020 Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra
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Harley's Infotainment electronics have long been at or near the top of the food chain and the factory takes it to another level this year

Before I get to the new-new stuff, I want to give the factory its props on the improvements made to the Infotainment system. Unlike the new safety equipment, Harley’s entertainment/communication/navigation electronics have long been at or near the top of the food chain and the factory takes it to another level this year with a 6.5-inch interface that carries the TFT screen — and the Corning Gorilla Glass that covers it — all the way from edge to edge. The Boom! Box GTS will support up to four Stage I speakers in its stock configuration, but a quick trip through the accessories catalog can get you set up with up to four sets of Stage II speakers that push up to 1200 Watts so you can definitely count on being able to share your tunes with everyone around you; whether they want you to or not.

The new processor is much faster than the previous generation. It needs only 10 seconds to wake up, down from 21 seconds, and route calculations were also sped up so they only take 2.5 seconds to update rather than four-times that long as with the 6.5GT. That’s huge, because 10 seconds can feel like an eternity when you’re lost and wondering if the next exit will be your last chance to turn around for miles.

There’s a phone interface, navigation feature and music control that are all manipulated at the screen using just two fingers through intuitive pinch, swipe and drag inputs. Apple’s CarPlay adds another layer of electronic delightfulness to the mix, and the factory piles on with its Ride Planner App that lets you tailor your route for the fastest, shortest, twistiest, or most scenic. You can also research suggested rides and plan your own based on access to restaurants, hotels, dealerships and what not, so you can get the most out of your mileage.

New HD Safety Electronics

2019 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler
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The two biggest new items have to be the traction control system and the drag-torque control system.

Now, all that is all well and good, but it hardly changes much for the MoCo since it was already rockin’ some pretty serious goodies in that department. All that changes when we take a look at the safety gear, though. Harley is testing a new inertial-measurement unit/ABS combination on its trike units this year. It will work with Harley’s established Reflex Linked Brakes system to provide extra stability for its Tri Glide Ultra and Freewheeler units, and that should help it be more competitive in the current market that has so many three-wheeled options available that run in the more stable Delta configuration.

The two biggest new items have to be the traction control system and the drag-torque control system. While most of you will be able to divine the function of the systems easily enough by their names, the way they work may surprise you. First off, the TCS doesn’t modulate the power output from the engine, but instead, when it detects wheel slip, it electronically applies some brake to slow the rear wheels. Yeah, I said “wheels” because the trikes will get it first, and I expect the CVO units will roll with it in a year or so followed by the rest of the Big Twins if recent history is any indication of how things will shake out.

Next is the DSCS that performs the same function as a slipper clutch, but instead of allowing the rear wheel to decouple from the engine in order to bleed off the backtorque, it looks like the system actually speeds the engine up to resolve the wheel/engine-speed differential and thereby prevent loss of traction at the rear wheel. Sure, these systems ain’t quite the same as what the rest of the world is using, but it plugs a pretty serious technology gap for the company.

I’d like to give an honorable mention to the Daymaker LED lights. The lights themselves aren’t new, but the factory takes advantage of the IMU data and uses it to give the light bar a cornering feature that illuminates the road where you need it the most, plus they’re optimized to focus on the road ahead while giving the oncoming traffic a break.

What’s Next?

2019 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
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Harley-Davidson made some much-needed improvements this year, and it's about time.

Harley-Davidson made some much-needed improvements this year, and it’s a good thing, too, since the rest of the world was steadily extending its technology lead over the MoCo at a time when the factory needs to curry favor with an increasingly tech-savvy buyer base. I’d point out that this is on top of the new models that are coming out for the Asian market and the much-anticipated, all-electric Livewire that hits the floors for MY2019. Oh well, looks like the Hate Harley Crowd will have to find something else to whine about.

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Further Reading

Harley-Davdson TriGlide Ultra

2019 - 2020 Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra
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Review pending

Harley-Davidson Freewheeler

2019 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Freewheeler.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire

Harley-Davidson's All-Electric LiveWire To Hit The Streets
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire.

50 New Harley-Davidson Models In Five Years?
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Read more Harley-Davidson news.

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
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