Put State Lines Behind You In Comfort

The Electra Glide Ultra Classic serves as Harley Davidson’s entry-level model for its full-dresser lineup. Updated in 2017, it sports improved suspension while reducing the heat felt by rider and passenger for greater all-around comfort. Not only that, but the all-new Milwaukee-Eight engine made its way onto this ride for greater performance than ever before with 111.4 pound-feet of torque and six-speed transmission that comes geared for highway riding at a reasonable rpm. H-D’s Infotainment system made an appearance as well, so the phrase “entry level” is obviously a relative statement. Let’s check out this updated classic to see where the balance was struck.

Continue reading for my review of the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic.

  • 2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
  • Year:
    2017- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Milwaukee-Eight 107
  • Displacement:
    107 cubic inches
  • Price:
    24249
  • Price:

Design

2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
- image 744400
If I had but one word to describe the looks of this machine, it would be “substantial.”

This line has a long and storied history that hails all the way back to 1965 when the factory first mounted an electric starter on the Panhead-powered FL model. Through the ages, the Electra Glide defined the American tour-bike/bagger/dresser look, so this should be considered to be the Real McCoy and not just another knockoff/copycat product. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword since Harley now has a reputation to uphold without resting on its laurels too much.

If I had but one word to describe the looks of this machine, it would be “substantial.” A beefy front end is made to look even more massive with chromed, beer-can upper fork shrouds to take up the slack between the skirted and badges front fender and the batwing fairing. The pimp lights and engine guards add more mass along with another dose of bling with monochrome lower fairings that protect the rider’s legs and provide yet another storage spot.

Splitstream vents in the large-displacement batwing fairing add a nice visual detail below the full-height windshield, but the factory missed a chance to tidy the bars up a bit by using standoff-type mirrors rather than tucking them away into the ears of the bat. Another swing-and-a-miss for me would be the chrome fuel door and tank console that, under broad daylight, can probably be seen from space they’re so bright and make your eyes feel like their being lazed.

A deep-scoop saddle rises to an ample pillion pad that comes complete with a backrest, armrests and the rear speakers. The Tour-Pak and hard-side, monochrome saddlebags come shot to match with a total of 4.7 cubic-feet of dry storage (plus room for an aftermarket luggage rack) and a light bar across the back for good visibility from the rear.

Both rider and passenger get vibration-isolated footboards, though to be honest, excessive vibration is really a thing of the past with the Mil-8 engine. A four-clock instrument display resides in the inner fairing in a row above the color, 4.3-inch Infotainment display that manages the onboard Boom! Box 4.3 stereo system. An AM/FM/Weatherband receiver comes bundled with USB/iPhone compatibility to tend to your entertainment needs (as if riding weren’t enough fun) with SD card,/flash drive/MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity available as an option. Two pairs of 5.25-inch speakers drive the audio signal, but if you really want to share with the rest of the class, you can upgrade to the 6.25-inch cones. A rider/passenger intercom system comes as standard equipment, so at least you can chat with your passenger whilst you ride without having to scream over the wind/engine/music noise.

Chassis

2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic Wallpaper quality
- image 744398
Showa's Dual Bending Valve forks deliver a superior ride due to the self-variable damping action.

Harley’s FL frame is a double-downtube/double-cradle arrangement made of welded sections of mild-steel tubing; not very light, but it is very strong. The steering head sets the rake at 26-degrees with a whopping 6.7 inches of trail on a 64-inch wheelbase for rail-like tracking, and the Classic comes with a steering damper that further helps keep the bike under control and stable.

Harley hasn’t quite got on board with adjustable front suspension components yet, but it has embraced the next best thing: Showa’s Dual Bending Valve forks that deliver a superior ride due to the self-variable damping action. The rear suspension got an upgrade as well with a pair of emulsion shocks that come with a handwheel-actuated preload adjuster for quick and easy changes to compensate for variable passenger and cargo loads.

Laden seat height rides at 27.4 inches off the ground which is relatively low overall, but even with the narrow primary case of the Mil-8 engine, the waist is still rather wide which negates some of that low saddle altitude.

In spite of the 6-gallon fuel tank up high and the 894-pound curb weight, the center of gravity is low enough to be manageable, but you’d better respect the mass and never lose sight of the fact that if you get too far off balance in the parking lot, you’ll have Hell to pay standing her back up.

Frame: Mild steel; tubular frame; two-piece stamped and welded backbone; cast and forged junctions; twin downtubes; bolt-on rear frame with forged fender supports; MIG welded
Swingarm: Mild steel; two-piece drawn and welded section; forged junctions; MIG welded
Front Forks: 49 mm Dual Bending Valve
Rear Shocks: Premium standard height hand-adjustable rear suspension
Rake (steering head): 26°
Fork Angle: 29.25°
Trail: 6.7 in. (170 mm)
Tires: Dunlop® Harley-Davidson® Series, bias blackwall front and rear
Tire Size (Front/Rear): D408F BW 130/80B17 65H/D407T BW 180/65B16 81H
Wheels: Impeller Cast Aluminum
Wheel Size (Front/Rear): 17 in. x 3 in. (432 mm x 76 mm)/16 in. x 5 in. (406 mm x 127 mm)
Brakes: 32 mm, 4-piston fixed front and rear, dual floating rotors (front), fixed rotor (rear)
Brake Size (Front(dual)/Rear): 11.81 in. x .2 in. (300 mm x 5.1 mm)/11.81 in. x .28 in. (300 mm x 7.1 mm)
Anti-lock Braking System: Standard
Suspension Travel (Front/Rear): 4.6 in. (117 mm)/3 in. (76 mm

Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
- image 722953
The Mil-8 resurrects the good old single-cam configuration for a look that will be more familiar to Evo-and-earlier riders.

The crown jewel of any Harley is the big V-Twin powerplant, and that’s more true than ever with the introduction of the Mil-8. Gone are the ugly Twin Cam cases with their unnatural pushrod geometry; the Mil-8 resurrects the good old single-cam configuration for a look that will be more familiar to Evo-and-earlier riders.

The Ultra Classic gets the 107 cubic-inch version that comes with straight-up air cooling (not to be confused with the Twin-Cooled, 114 cubic-inch version), though it does utilize oil jets within the cases to cool specific hotspots. This reduces the waste heat radiating from the cooling fins to wash over pilot and passenger resulting in a more comfortable ride in warmer climes.

As always, Harley lays out the internals with a 3.937-inch bore and 4.375-inch stroke for that characteristic long-stroke configuration, and the 45-degree V-Twin runs that classic off-balance firing order for that distinctive and familiar potato-potato lope at idle. Electronic fuel injection meters the fuel for the 45 mpg fuel economy rating, though you can count on buying mid-grade fuel for the beast due to the 10-to-1 compression ratio.

At 3,250 rpm, the Mil-8 churns out a total of 111.4 pound-feet of torque; well into power-tourer country even considering how much mass that grunt has to push around. This gives the Mil-8 engine a very strong, fifth-gear roll-on for making decisive passes at highway speeds. A standard clutch sends the power to the six-speed transmission where the top gear keeps highway revs relatively low.

Engine: Milwaukee-Eight™ 107 Engine - Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 3.937 in. x 4.375 in. (100 mm x 111.1 mm)
Displacement: 107 cu. in. (1746 cc)
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Clutch: Hydraulically actuated plate wet, Assist & Slip
Transmission: 6-Speed Cruise Drive®

Pricing

2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
- image 722942
MSRP for 2018 is just $100 over last year's prices.

As usual, the King of Paint offers the 2018 Electra Glide Ultra Classic in a variety of prices depending on which color you choose. The Vivid Black model runs for $24,249, while the solid color option costs $24,849 and the two-tone variety will set you back $25,299. Of course, H-D gives you plenty of opportunity to pad the ticket with a security option and premium radio option, nevermind the exhaustive doo-dad and gadget list in the accessory catalog.

Warranty: 24 months (unlimited mileage)
Colors:
2017: Vivid Black, Superior Blue, Billet Silver, Billet Silver/Vivid Black, Mysterious Red Sunglo/Velocity Red Sunglo, Crushed Ice Pearl/Frosted Teal Pearl
2018: Vivid Black, Black Tempest, Silver Fortune, Electric Blue / Silver Fortune, Silver Fortune / Sumatra Brown, Twisted Cherry / Silver Fortune
Price:
2017: $24,149, Colors: $24,749, Two-Tones: $25,199
2018: $24,249, Colors: $24,849, Two-Tones: $25,299
ABS: Standard
Security System: Option $395
Cruise Control: Standard
Premium Radio: Option $795

Competitors

2016 - 2018 Indian Roadmaster
- image 649544
2017 - 2018 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
- image 722955
Performance drops off at the Roadmaster's suspension with a totally vanilla setup that lacks some of the plushness of the SDBV front forks on the Electra Glide.

As far as modern, American-style, full-dress bikes are concerned, there is but one original manufacturer and all others are just trying to ride those coattails all the way to the bank. That said, Indian Motorcycle puts out a comparable product with its tour-tastic Roadmaster; and at least it has an American pedigree, which is more than I can say about the Charley-Davison knockoffs.

I do like the looks of the Roadmaster, truly, but there’s something a little off-putting about the shape of the front fairing; it’s a little too dome shaped and the chrome headlamp trim is not a win for Indian. The front fender, however, is a classic piece with the timeless full skirt, chrome trim and Indian-head ornament that ties it right into Indian’s storied past. From that point on back the two are like different sides of the same coin with infotainment systems, two-up comfort and ample dry-storage capacity. Indian does throw us a bone with its Ride Command system that comes standard with a large, seven-inch touchscreen where Harley makes you pay to lose the button controls, and starts you out with a much smaller stock screen.

Indian’s powerplant fits well with the American market with its big, V-twin arrangement, chrome appointments and decidedly old-school flair due to the flathead-looking rocker covers and parallel pushrod tubes. Did I mention it’s big? Indian’s Thunder Stroke displaces a total of 111 cubic-inches (1,811 cc) against the 107-inch (1,746 cc) Milwaukee-Eight, and it cranks out 119.2 pound-feet of torque versus 111 pounds o’ grunt. While that would hardly even register on the old precisely-tuned heinie dyno, it is a difference worth mentioning.

Performance drops off at the Roadmaster’s suspension with a totally vanilla setup that lacks some of the plushness of the SDBV front forks on the Electra Glide, but to be honest, both manufacturers have some room for improvement here since there’s plenty of adjustable fork options available.

In my estimation, both companies are a little too proud for their own good, and they both seem to attach a little too much value to their name power. Indian takes the cake here with a $28,999 sticker, and even if you buy the most expensive paint you can get on the Electra Glide at $25,199 and add on the upgraded Infotainment screen you still will get off cheaper than with the Indian ride. If Polaris is serious about trying to overthrow H-D as the American King, it seriously needs to re-evaluate its pricing. Just sayin’, guys.

He Said

“I almost bought a used Electra Glide instead of my Sporty, and sometimes I wish I had. This new version with the Mil-8 engine starts that cycle of regret anew as I remember just how good this family really is. Okay, so some of you may have raised an eyebrow at the “entry-level” comment I made early on, but I submit to you that Harley has units that are even more tour-tastic, and expensive, thus making the Electra Glide Ultra Classic the budget bike, relatively speaking. In short, it’s a good place to start, and probably all you need if you’re looking for a long-distance mount.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "For as heavy as the bike is, it feels very well balanced. At no time did I feel like I would tip it even when Fred-Flintstoning it out of the parking space. Overall, I’d call it smooth. The ride is smooth, gear transitions are smooth, and very much less vibration than expected; no shaking mirrors when you come to a stop. It’s obvious this bike is intended for the open road. It is comfortable and roll-on is very nice."

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Milwaukee-Eight™ 107 Engine
Valves: Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 3.937 in. x 4.375 in. (100 mm x 111.1 mm)
Displacement: 107 cu. in. (1746 cc)
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Air Cleaner: Paper, washable
Lubrication System: Pressurized, dry-sump with oil cooler
Primary Drive: Chain, 34/46 ratio
Final Drive: Belt, 32/68 ratio
Clutch: Hydraulically actuated plate wet, Assist & Slip
Transmission: 6-Speed Cruise Drive®
Gear Ratios (overall) U.S.:
1st: 9.593
2nd: 6.65
3rd: 4.938
4th: 4
5th: 3.407
6th: 2.875
Chassis:
Frame: Mild steel; tubular frame; two-piece stamped and welded backbone; cast and forged junctions; twin downtubes; bolt-on rear frame with forged fender supports; MIG welded
Swingarm: Mild steel; two-piece drawn and welded section; forged junctions; MIG welded
Front Forks: 49 mm Dual Bending Valve
Rear Shocks: Premium standard height hand-adjustable rear suspension
Rake (steering head): 26°
Fork Angle: 29.25°
Trail: 6.7 in. (170 mm)
Tires: Dunlop® Harley-Davidson® Series, bias blackwall front and rear
Front Tire: D408F BW 130/80B17 65H
Rear Tire: D407T BW 180/65B16 81H
Wheels: Impeller Cast Aluminum
Front: 17 in. x 3 in. (432 mm x 76 mm)
Rear: 16 in. x 5 in. (406 mm x 127 mm)
Brakes:
Caliper Type: 32 mm, 4-piston fixed front and rear
Rotor Type: Dual floating rotors (front), fixed rotor (rear)
Front (dual): 11.81 in. x .2 in. (300 mm x 5.1 mm)
Rear: 11.81 in. x .28 in. (300 mm x 7.1 mm)
Anti-lock Braking System: Standard
Suspension Travel:
Front Wheel: 4.6 in. (117 mm)
Rear Wheel: 3 in. (76 mm)
Performance:
Engine Torque (per J1349) North America : 111.4 ft. lb. @ 3250 RPM (151 Nm @ 3250 RPM)
Lean Angle (per J1168): Right/Left 32°
Fuel Economy (Combined City/Hwy): 45 mpg (5.2 L/100 km)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 102.1 in. (2593 mm)
Overall Width: 37.8 in. (960 mm)
Overall Height: 56.7 in. (1440 mm)
Wheelbase: 64 in. (1625 mm)
Seat Height:
Laden: 27.4 in. (696 mm)
Unladen: 29.1 in. (740 mm)
Ground Clearance: 5.5 in. (139 mm)
Fuel Capacity: 6 gal. (22.7 L) (warning light at approximately 1.0 gal.)
Oil Capacity (w/filter): 5.2 qt. (4.9 L)
Transmission Capacity: 1 qt. (.95 L)
Primary Chain Case Capacity: 1.1 qt. (1.0 L)
Luggage Capacity Volume: 4.7 cu. ft. (0.132 m3)
Weight:
As Shipped: 860 lb. (390 kg)
In Running Order: 894 lb. (406 kg)
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 1360 lb. (617 kg)
Gross Axle Weight Rating: Front: 500 lb. (227 kg), Rear: 927 lb. (420 kg)
Electric:
Battery (per Battery Council International Rating): Sealed, maintenance-free, 12V, 28-amp/hour, 405 cca
Charging: Three-phase, 48-amp system (600W @13V, 2000 RPM, 625W max power @13V)
Starting: 1.6 kW electric with solenoid shift starter motor engagement
Lights (as per country regulation):
Headlamp: LED 34-watt, 915 lumen low beam, 37-watt, 915 lumen high beam with switchable 20-watt, 1,220 lumen LED fog lamps. Total of 2,136 lumen output at low beam with fog lights.
Tail/Stop Lights: 8W/28W
Front Signal Lights: 8W/28W
Indicator Lamps: High beam, running lights, front fender running lights, directional lights, neutral, low oil pressure, neutral, engine diagnostics, turn signals, security system (optional), battery, low fuel warnings, cruise control, ABS, gear indication, miles to empty display, fog/aux lamp indicator
Auxiliary Lamps (except where prohibited by law): Two LED @ 20W each
Electric Power Outlet: Electric power accessory port in fairing
GPS System: Boom!™ Box 6.5GT audio system with GPS and touchscreen (optional)
Details:
Warranty: 24 months (unlimited mileage)
Colors:
2017: Vivid Black, Superior Blue, Billet Silver, Billet Silver/Vivid Black, Mysterious Red Sunglo/Velocity Red Sunglo, Crushed Ice Pearl/Frosted Teal Pearl
2018: Vivid Black, Black Tempest, Silver Fortune, Electric Blue / Silver Fortune, Silver Fortune / Sumatra Brown, Twisted Cherry / Silver Fortune
Price:
2017: $24,149, Colors: $24,749, Two-Tones: $25,199
2018: $24,249, Colors: $24,849, Two-Tones: $25,299

References

2016 - 2018 Indian Roadmaster
- image 641129

See our review of the Indian Motorcycle Roadmaster.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: harley-davidson.com, indianmotorcycle.com

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