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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Cool The “Twin-Cooled” Twin Cam 103 Test Ride its a Rush

    ScottishHD, along with selected Dunedin Chapter members from Dundee, were invited to try out the new 2014 all-new liquid-cooled V-Twin Ultra Limited stabled at Edinburgh Harley-Davidson. Dunedin member, Joe Day, had first dibs on the ride and he will be quoted through this article.

    Here is my report.

    First Glance:
    Right away, you see it as you approach from the front of this new offering from the Motor-Co. They have a “vent” in the fairing. Yes, it is a vent. It’s the very first thing that riders who own or have owned an Ultra will spot. You are drawn to it right away. Why is it there? What does it do? How does it work? DOES it work? (answers in a moment) Once you take that in, you them begin to look further at the “bat-wing” it’s a new shape, it look more aerodynamic. It has a longer almost aggressive look about it. The other easy to spot changers are the luggage profiles are angled for a more flowing look. The new floating brake rotors open up the front wheel, the better to admire its sharp-looking contrast-cut. The air cleaner cover also brandishes a different shape than the standard 103.

    OK, looking further into that vent. It’s a retractable vent located on the top of the fairing and underneath the windscreen, which is supposed to relieves the back-pressure turbulence. You can close this vent (one button push) if you miss the eye-blurring buffeting (when wearing your open faced helmet) via a quick button, tucked behind the screen. The vent works, simple as that. I had the bike up to motorway speeds and tried it in both positions and would wonder why you would close it (unless it’s raining of course) And speaking of aerodynamics, we are told that the Harley development engineers took the new bikes route comforting airflow around the rider, but in such a manner as to eliminate the dastardly effect of beard lift. That’s right, just ask Joe!


    Joe Day “That 'vent' on the fairing (bat-wing) that everybody's going on about is a fantastic addition to the ride comfort/turbulence. When I opened and shut it at around 70 mph it was like chalk & cheese.”

    Bright Light:
    Check out the dual Day-maker LED headlamps, standard on the Ultra Limited and the air-cooled Ultra Classic, are ultra-bright attention grabbers. It’s about time these baby’s came to the UK. It’s a bit silly that they have made the effort to fit braw LED headlights but leave standard bulbs for the indicators! Still, there are always upgrades!


    Swinging around to the drivers view of the new Ultra reveals …………………… Err, a TV? Well, the Motor-Co call it an new “Boom! Box Infotainment system”. Thumb joysticks on both of the handlebar switch-gears navigate the info menus, which are easy to read on the fine central display (available in 4.3 and 6.5-inch versions). The system takes getting used to, not because the thumb controls are difficult to operate, but because of the massive amount of information available – radio, iPod/phone, navigation and plenty of set-up options. I am told that you can also access the system via accessory voice control audio headset. Thumb the voice command prompt on the left switchgear, and then give commands into the helmet-mounted mike Say, “play, ACDC” and, boom, you have them screaming away ASAP – either on the standard issue Boom speakers, or routed through the headset. I could not try this out as I don’t have the required speakers and boom mike on my helmet so I can only take their word for that J The “dash” does look similar to the Goldwing dash (shock horror) but it does have a neat “glove box” on the right of the screen (that the Goldwing does not have, phew) that flips up and allows you to connect your phone or music player to the system then close the lid back down keeping it secure and dry. I did have a wee play around with the navigation (while stationary or coarse) and this is a definite plus for those who like to tour. It’s a clear viewing screen and the voice is not too annoying.


    Bagger got Betta:
    Yep, the bags on this tour bike have undergone a huge change and for those of us who have got the skint knuckles to prove it, a great and long awaited change. The designers have knocked this out of the ballpark here. The saddlebags are now a sweet one-touch, thumb-operated latching system that’s effortless, closes securely and allows the rider to access saddlebag contents while seated on the bike. It’s such a simple design one wonders why it’s not happened before. To me, it’s a huge change and one not to be ignored. The tour pack receives the same technical touch i.e. one touch. You click open the one latch and open the lip, simple. The lid is on a cord tape retractable roller so no more cord being trapped when you’re struggling to shut the lid. Again, it’s so simple yet very effective. The tour pack does not lose any of its size and will still take two full face helmets. Overall, the saddlebags and the tour pack have been reshaped and given smoother lines. The UK also gets an LED light bar across the back of the tour pack (used to be standard in the USA and an extra here in the UK) This has also received a cool touch up, blending into the new tour pack style.

    Water V Twin?
    The excessive heat is a long-standing issue that the company partially addressed with its cylinder shut-off feature, made standard in the 2009 model year, in which the ECU deactivates the rear cylinder at high temperature. This cylinder deactivation system continues to be employed on the new engine as well. And the primary purpose of the new liquid-cooling is to slake off additional heat for rider/passenger comfort. The twin-cooling system also retains engine performance that the standard 103 loses under thermal stress.
    Similar to the BMW R1200GS, a long-time air-cooled platform which switched to liquid-cooling in 2013, the Ultra Limited is also described as “precision-cooled.” The deep cooling fins surrounding the 103 jugs carry away the brunt of the engine heat. Liquid coolant routes through the cylinder head only, targeting heat from the exhaust valves. Fluid cycles through a pair of flanking radiators, mounted in the Ultra Limited’s lower faring’s, with a thermostat and water pump at the base of the frame down tubes.


    The new engine’s (gasp!) radiators will cause some H-D clientèle to instinctively froth at the mouth on pure principle, but from an aesthetic standpoint the water-cooling is no more intrusive than the familiar oil-cooling already employed. If anything the radiators are less prominent than the oil cooler, and the water hoses are discreetly mounted between the frame down tubes. It’s so innocuous that at a glance the water-cooled Ultra Limited and air-cooled Ultra Classic are indistinguishable. The liquid-cooled 103 delivers plenty of usable, immediate torque – with modest improvement in high-end acceleration. You do loose the leg pods for those little extras you carry but let’s face it, the last time I had an Ultra, those pods carried dust for the most part.

    Twin Braking?
    I was most pleased with the performance of the new Reflex Linked Braking system and ABS, another Rushmore update. The linked system engages at speeds above 25 mph, with independent rear/front braking below that threshold – useful for, say, dragging the rear brake during low-speed manoeuvres. Again, I’m not sure how many of H-D’s hard-core enthusiasts were clamouring for linked braking and ABS… but there’s no bike class that benefits more from these electronic aids than mammoth-sized cruisers and touring platforms. In practice on the street, the stopping power is much improved, with steady, even stopping power exerting a more controlled halt. I tried my best to trick this system and it worked flawless.

    Joe Day : "The bike can certainly shift and it can certainly stop!”

    Let’s Ride:
    Jumping onto the glide, you do note that the stance is slightly wider. The riders seat is a revelation, it puts you in the correct position for controlling this bike. Sitting comfortably and relaxed, I just know I could ride 500 mile days with no issues. You start the bike in the same trusted manor, nothing changed here. The clutch (now a new hydraulic clutch) engages smoothly and the same clunk when you engage first gear. Within 20 feet, you should by now feel the solid change in this bike. Forget the cosmetic changes that grab your eye when you first see this bike. The handling has come into the modern day. This is the real revelation on this bike. You just feel solid with a larger 49mm fork with stiffer settings that promises (and delivers) a more composed ride for the Rushmore Touring chassis and by lord it’s not a lie. At slow speeds there is no more wobbling shake, you point the bike and go. I took the bike from EHD down to Peebles going through town, country, long bending roads, twisty roads and non-head buffeting straits. There are no nasty surprises with this bike. Yes you can scrape the boards and yes, I did on some of the twisty sections but that’s when the smile gets just that little bit wider. This Harley-Davidson knows how to hold the road.

    Joe Day: "Well, after a test ride on the new Ultra Ltd, I can only say that it is by far the best bike I've ridden this year and I've had many different bikes out, believe me.”

    Yep Joe, you’re not wrong. This bike lives up to the “Rushmore” launch in every way. If you’re thinking about changing your touring bike, don’t wait, get yourself down to EHD and book yourself a test ride. Oh, you better bring your check book as well cause you’re going to be buying one.


  2. #2
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    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dundee, Black Cherries county.
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    Re: The “Twin-Cooled” Twin Cam 103 Test Ride its a Rush

    Hey, that's a very professional report.....nice one!....

    (that guy wi' the quotes ken's his stuff, eh?...)

    By the way peeps.....everything in the report is accurate....I should know!...


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