It’s now cool to be seen on a trike. No longer is a trike the ride of old guys too infirm to hold up a two-wheeler. Two things excite me about the Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra: it’s a Harley and it’s one of a Harley’s Project Rushmore bikes. As a biker’s ol’ lady, right away I’m excited about a new Harley with that Harley look, feel and sound. Add to that what I know about Project Rushmore, and I already know I’m going to like the Tri Glide Ultra (FLHTCUTG).

Continue reading to see my review on Harley-Davidson’s Tri Glide Ultra.

  • 2015 - 2016 Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
  • Year:
    2015- 2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Twin-Cooled™ High Output Twin Cam 103™
  • Displacement:
    103.1 cubic inches
  • Price:
    33499
  • Price:

Design

2015 - 2016 Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
- image 670256
If you want a fairing that gives you smoother air flow and reduces head buffeting, the Tri Glide Ultra has that.

The Tri Glide Ultra has Project Rushmore improvements and innovations all through it, from the steering head with stiffer front forks and Twin Daymaker™ LED headlamps and fog lamps in the front, to saddlebags and Tour-Pak luggage carriers with one-touch-opening storage and an integrated trunk in the back.

In Project Rushmore, the folks at Harley not only asked riders what they wanted, but they worked with riders through development and testing to make sure it was right. If you want a fairing that gives you smoother air flow and reduces head buffeting, the Tri Glide Ultra has that. If you want to stow two full-face helmets in lockable storage, the Tri Glide Ultra lets you do that. With ergonomic hand controls, Boom! Box 6.5 GT audio system and voice-activated infotainment system for your music, phone and GPS, you have the comfort and convenience of a sound system to rival those enjoyed by cage drivers.

Chassis

2015 - 2016 Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
- image 670262

The folks at Harley designed the chassis from the ground up because they know a trike chassis has different forces at work than a two-wheeler. To optimize steering, they lengthened and raked the front forks - now enlarged to 49 mm — and stiffened the tripletree. While the steering head is set to 26 degrees, an offset in the tripletree kicks it on out to 32 degrees with 3.94 inches of rake. The air-adjustable shocks on the swingarm suspension make adjusting for load a non-event, and with a GVWR of 1,700 pounds, that’s okay in my book. The front forks come with 4.6 inches of travel and set preload and damping values, but the air shocks in back provide infinite ride adjustment and 3 inches of travel.

Stopping power comes from three-wheel Linked Brake system, with six-piston fixed front and single-piston floating rear calipers. Also note the foot-actuated dual parking brake. The Linked Brakes kick in whenever the rear brake is actuated first, and the system sends brake-pedal pressure to two of the six pistons in the front calipers. This gives you a little extra safety for panic-stomps, but I would remind you that 60- to 70-percent of your stopping power is still on the front wheel, so don’t rely on the Linked Brakes exclusively.

The calipers bind a pair of big, 300 mm discs on the front wheel and a 270 mm disc on each of the rear wheels. cast wheels round out the rolling chassis on a pair of 15-inch, seven-spoke rims on the swingarm, and a 16-inch rim in the forks.

Drivetrain

2015 - 2016 Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
- image 670263
Harley isn't kidding about "high output." This engine has more torque, has higher compression and can dissipate more heat than any Harley Twin-Cam engine before it.

Now we get to the meat of it. The Tri Glide Ultra is powered by the Twin-Cooled™ High Output Twin Cam 103™ engine. Harley isn’t kidding about "high output." This engine has more torque, has higher compression and can dissipate more heat than any Harley Twin-Cam engine before it.

This partially liquid-cooled engine circulates coolant through the head and around the exhaust valves to a radiator tucked away behind lower fairings, keeping the heat away from the rider and passenger. Bolt this to a six-speed Cruise Drive transmission, and you’re cruising down the highway in top form. And since we can’t always move forward, the Tri Glide Ultra features electric reverse actuated by hand controls on the handlebars.

Torque numbers like 106.2 pound-feet at 3,750 rpm put the Tri Glide Ultra into a sort-of power-tourer category, and the rear traction allows you to make use of it. Harley’s trikes with this particular engine are known for strong, straight-line acceleration, so even though this is a proper tour bike with all the trimmings, you can expect a pretty lively ride out of it.

Pricing

2015 - 2016 Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
- image 670246

For 2015, the base trike in Vivid Black starts at $32,999. If you want Mysterious Red Sunglo, your build starts at $33,849. Two-tone colors — Mysterious Red Sunglo & Blackened Cayenne Sunglo or White Hot Pearl & Blue Hot Pearl — start at $34,349 and custom color Black Magic starts at $34,749.

Pricing for 2016 is $500 more but with some awesome new paint choices. MSRP for Vivid Black is $33,499 or you can get it shot in the new Billet Silver for $34,349. Two-tones include Deep Jade Pearl/Vivid Black, new Billet Silver/Vivid Black or new Mysterious Red Sunglo/Velocity Red Sunglo and go for $34,849. Cosmic Blue Pearl or Purple Fire/Blackberry Smoke custom colors — both new for 2016 — will run you $35,249. As always, Harley is the King of Paint, but you pay for it.

Competitor

2016 - 2017 Can-Am Spyder RT
- image 670794
2015 - 2016 Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
- image 668514

Trikes have always been kind of niche vehicles, with very little to choose from outside the custom sector. Lately, this has begun to change with the advent of the backwards trike concept that runs with the two wheels up front and a single in back. Stable and agile, this type of three-wheeler presents a serious threat to the old guard with their traditional setups, so let’s check on this battle for three-wheeled touring supremacy.

In the red corner, we have the Spyder RT Limited, the top-of-the-line touring model from Can-Am, and in the blue corner, you guessed it, the Tri Glide Ultra.

The visual impact of each ride is markedly different. Harley cuts the same figure as one expects from its tour bikes. Big fairing, windshield, saddlebags and a Tour-Pak over the usual bucket seat and chrome bling. In fact, in silhouette from the side, it can be difficult to pick the trike out of the other FLHT models.

Can-Am takes a different approach with molded body panels that leave the RT looking much like a sports car up front, with a sort of GoldWing-ish rear end complete with a trunk and passenger throne with armrests. Honestly, it almost looks like something BMW would put together, and you are welcome to read anything into that you like.

Can-Am powers the Spyder RT with the Rotax 1330 A.C.E. (advanced combustion efficiency) mill that cranks out 96 pound-feet versus the 106.2 pounds from the High-Output 103, not enough difference to make a difference, really. Of course, the Harley lump is prettier to look at, in fact you can’t even see the RT motor, but I like to see a big V-twin, me.

Pricewise the Spyder RT gets a win at $30,949. For that you get a powerful engine, ABS, traction control and a cornering stability system, plus push-button rear suspension adjustment on the fly and a semi-automatic tranny. The Tri Glide comes with a few gee-gaws such as GPS, Linked Brakes and a slipper clutch starting at $33,499 in black, and going on up to $35,249 for the top-shelf paint options.

I think perhaps you might get more ride for your buck out of the Can-Am, but you lose that Harley look and classic, American panache. Decisions, decisions.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, "I like the Tri Glide Ultra for what it is, but I don’t like trikes in general. They don’t corner like a bike, and as long as I can hold a bike up, I’m going to stay on two wheels. Ask me again in 20 years."

She Said

"I wanted to find some little tidbit not to like about the Tri Glide Ultra so I don’t come off sounding like sales promo. I can’t. It has the classic look that I love, it feels like a Harley and it has that distinctive Harley sound — the sexy lope of the 45-degree engine. It’s a trike, so I can’t drop it — nor do I have to muscle the weight of it — and the Project Rushmore improvements and innovations make this a joy to ride. Starting at $33 grand, it’s in the "midlife crisis" price range, but Harley’s in general just don’t feel like midlife crisis machines. They’re elegant, and there’s nothing midlife crisis about that."

Specifications

Engine: Twin-Cooled™ High Output Twin Cam 103™
Bore: 3.87 inches
Stroke: 4.374 inches
Displacement: 103.1 cubic inches
Compression Ratio: 10:01
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Engine Torque Testing Method: EEC/95/1
Engine Torque: 106.2 foot-pounds @ 3750 rpm
Fuel Economy: Combined City/Hwy: 38 mpg
Final Drive: Belt, 30/70 ratio
Primary: Drive Chain, 34/46 ratio
Gear Ratios (overall) 1st: 10.534
Gear Ratios (overall) 2nd: 7.302
Gear Ratios (overall) 3rd: 5.423
Gear Ratios (overall) 4th: 4.392
Gear Ratios (overall) 5th: 3.741
Gear Ratios (overall) 6th: 3.157
Exhaust: Chrome, 2-1-2 exhaust with dual mufflers
Wheels, Front Type: Black, 7-spoke Cast Aluminum, 16 x 3 inches
Wheels, Rear Type : Black, 7-spoke Cast Aluminum, 15 x 5.5 inches
Brakes, Caliper Type: six-piston fixed front with four 31.75 mm front pistons and two 25.4 mm linked rear pistons, 31.75mm single piston floating rear
Parking Brake: Foot actuated dual parking brake
Length: 105.1 inches
Seat Height, Unladen: 28.3 inches
Seat Height, Laden: 27.1 inches
Ground Clearance: 4.5 inches
Rake (steering head) (deg) : 26
Trail: 3.94 inches
Wheelbase: 65.7 inches
Tires, Front Specification: MT90B16 72H, bias blackwall
Tires, Rear Specification: P205/65R15, radial blackwall
Fuel Capacity: 6 gallons
Oil Capacity (w/filter) : 4 quarts
Weight, As Shipped: 1180 pounds
Weight, In Running Order: 1215 pounds
Luggage Capacity-Volume: 6.8 cubic feet
Lights (as per country regulation), Indicator Lamps: High Beam, running lights, front fender running lights, directional lights, battery, neutral, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics, cruise control, speakers, accessory, security system, gear indication, low fuel warning, reverse, park brake, miles to empty display, fog/aux lamp indicator
Gauges: New gauges: 10 percent larger speedometer and tachometer with 68 percent wider numbers; 28 percent larger fuel and volt gauges with 30 percent wider numbers; display features odometer, trip A, trip B, range to empty, and gear indicator; and larger telltale indicators, including new reverse indicator light
Infotainment:
Screen:
Size: 6.5 inch
Type: Color
Color Choices: Orange (default), Blue, Brown, Green, Gray, Purple, Red
Day/Night Dimmer: Standard
Audio output
Watts Per Channel: 25
Speakers: 4.0
Speaker Size: 5.25 inch/6.5 inch - P&A Upgrade
Bass Port Rear Speakers: Standard
Distortion (THD) : 1 percent
Internal Amp: Standard
External Amp: P&A Upgrade
Wired Headset: Standard
Headset Specifications (if equipped) : 16 to 64 ohms
Audio sources:
AM: Dependent on Region
FM: Standard
Weather Band (WB) : Dependent on Region
MW: Dependent on Region
LW : Dependent on Region
MP3 - USB Connection: Supported
SD Card - via USB Connection: Supported
Flash Drive - via USB Connection: Supported
Audio setup:
CB Presets: 6
AM/MW/LW Presets: 6
FM Presets: 15
SiriusXM Presets: 20.0
iPod Device Presets: 20.0
USB-Storage Device Presets: 20.0
WB Presets: 6
Media Player Device Presets: 20
Global Presets: Selectable, up to 20 presets
Favorites: 1 FAV hardkey plus 6 favorites
Classic Mode: Selectable
Seek/Scan: Standard
Interface languages: English (US/UK), German, Spanish (Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, European Portuguese
Voice recognition:
Hands-free Mobile Phone - via Bluetooth: Standard
Voice Recognition Languages: Phone functions only: English (US/UK), German, Spanish (Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, European Portuguese
Voice Recognition Languages: Tuner/Media/Navigation: English (US/UK), German, Spanish (Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, European Portuguese
Communication:
Rider/Passenger: Intercom Standard
Other features:
Vehicle Information Screen (Air temperature, oil pressure and engine temperature) : Standard
Software Update via USB interface: Standard
Text-to-Speech (TTS) Languages: English (US/UK), German, Spanish (Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, European Portuguese
USB: USB/MTP/iPod/iPhone
Bluetooth Phone/Media: Supported
Colors:
2015: Solids: Vivid Black, Mysterious Red Sunglo; Two-Tones: Mysterious Red Sunglo/Blackened Cayenne Sunglo, White Hot Pearl/Blue Hot Pearl; Custom Colors - Black Magic
2016: Solids: Vivid Black, Billet Silver; Two-Tones: Deep Jade Pearl/Vivid Black,Billet Silver/Vivid Black, Mysterious Red Sunglo/Velocity Red Sunglo; Custom Colors: Purple Fire/Blackberry Smoke, Cosmic Blue Pearl
Price:
2015: Black - $32,999, Color - $33,849, Two-Tone, $34,349, Custom - $34,749
2016: Black - $33,499, Color - $34,349, Two-Tone - $34,849, Custom - $35,249
What do you think?
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