Beaver Creek, Colo., Aug. 19-20—Beaver Creek is an idyllic resort for the upper crust, a security-gated community of ski lifts and opulence. But the 15 moto-journalists that descended upon this picturesque setting during the middle of August weren’t there for the Nordic Center, snowshoeing or dog sledding, but instead to witness the unveiling of what Harley-Davidson labeled as the “largest scale new model launch in the company’s 110-year history”—Project RUSHMORE.
The Motor Company is not noted for making huge leaps in engineering, relying instead on incremental improvements on a proven product to move the brand forward. And owning the lion’s share of heavyweight motorcycle sales is proof that their customer base embraces this approach. We love that the Flathead evolved into Knucklehead, which morphed into the Pan and eventually the Shovelhead. We cling so much to tradition that the riding public even initially rejected the Evolution moniker (the Evo replacing the Shovel) and attempted to rename it the Blockhead in an effort to maintain the “head” linage. So when Project RUSHMORE was first launched almost four years ago, Harley reached out for ideas from their most influential source, the consumer. Staging focus groups and clinics across the U.S., Europe and Japan, the resulting message was clear: riders want to go faster, stop quicker, see farther, increase their comfort level and have only the best in electronic gadgetry. Project RUSHMORE addresses all these areas.
The name is derived from two sources, the first stemming from some of the most choice riding in the nation, the Black Hills around Mount Rushmore. The second comes from the “rush” a motorcyclist experiences while riding and wanting “more.” Yes, it’s quite a stretch, but apparently H-D felt an actual explanation was required rather than simply “hey, it’s a cool name.” But beyond that point, the innovations that have been birthed by Project RUSHMORE does show the Company on a new path of listening to their customers’ needs and responding without violating orthodoxy. The eight models included in Project RUSHMORE include the Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited, Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Tri-Glide Ultra, CVO Limited and the CVO Road King.
All RUSHMORE bikes feature a High Output Twin Cam 103 engine that offers a 5- to 7-percent increase in horsepower and torque due to a new cam profile (higher lift and increased duration) and better breathing through an improved airbox (the CVOs come with a 110). But of course the biggest revision in Harley powerplant thinking is the Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam that is supplied on the Ultra Limited, the CVO Limited and the Tri-Glide. Rumored for years as the next logical step in the evolution of the venerable Milwaukee V-Twin, the Twin-Cooled motor uses a well-hidden electric pump to circulate coolant through the heads via internal chambers (the cylinders are not liquid-cooled), making a single loop around each exhaust port near the valve seat. The coolant then exists the heads, is routed through a radiator concealed inside the left lower fairing (just in front of the rider’s leg) and then travels to a second radiator housed in the right lower fairing for final cooling before making its way back to the pump. Each radiator has an electric fan that is activated only when the coolant reaches a predetermined temperature (the fans may continue to run briefly even after the motor is turned off). Exhaust ducts in each of the lower fairings direct the air to the sides, away from the rider. And while an air-cooled Twin Cam automatically adjusts the timing to avoid spark knock under increased thermal loads, the Twin-Cooled maintains a constant timing setting. The end result is dramatic, especially when conducting side-by-side test rides of the Ultra Classic (air-cooled) and the Ultra Limited (Twin-Cooled). Cleverly cloaked from view, the cooling system is almost impossible to detect.
For 2014 Harley has mated its ABS braking system with their new Reflex Linked Brakes. This system links the front and rear brakes together to operate simultaneously with an ECU controlling the braking ratio calculated on an algorithm according to speed and amount of pressure exerted at either the lever or pedal. Exercising my prudent nature, my first concern was how such a setup would perform on a gravel road when the sole use of the rear brake is deemed more appropriate. But of course a different concern was raised by some of my younger cohorts when they immediately asked, “How am I supposed to do a burnout if I can’t just lock the front brake?” Hopefully the engineers were addressing my concern when they designed the system to only become active when the motorcycle is rolling above 20-25 mph. At slower speeds the brakes remain independent. Once activated, the front and rear brakes will remain linked under hard braking until coming to a full stop unless the pressure is released (at which time it resets itself).
Although this rider is leery of anything that takes control away from the operator and was hesitant at first of this design, it performed magnificently. Whipping through the high-speed twisties and high passes of the Arapaho National Forest north of Vail, at no time did the system ever falter or vacillate, dragging even the heaviest model down to moderate levels with decisive engagement. I have never felt more confident aboard a Harley-Davidson Touring model before.
Improved lighting comes standard on the 2014 models with the Classic, Limited and Tri-Glide being graced with admirable illumination of the Daymaker L.E.D. headlight and Daymaker L.E.D. fog lamps. When used in conjunction, this pairing truly lives up to its name. A Dual Halogen headlamp is the standard for the 2014 Road King, Street Glide and Street Glide Special. This unit significantly outperforms a single-element halogen by allowing the low beam to remain illuminated in high-beam situations, increasing total lumens output. Dual Halogen fog lamps also come as a standard feature on the Road King.
This category is extensive. First, all 2014 Touring and Trike models (except the Road King) are equipped with a new hydraulic clutch (why not the Road King?). This feature allows the use of stronger clutch springs for improved engagement without any additional effort required from the rider and eliminates the need for periodic adjustment (why not the Road King?). A heavily modified front suspension includes an increase in fork diameter from 43 mm to 49 mm, larger steering neck bearings, stiffer triple trees and beefier fork sliders. The damping has also been re-tuned for a smoother ride over road irregularities. The modifications are quite noticeable and most welcomed.
The new Splitstream batwing fairing received some significant styling changes that incorporate a novel (and useful) center vent. A push-button opens or closes the vent with the operation being tested in the wind tunnel and tweaked until the designers were actually able to eliminate “beard-lift” (you riders with long beards know what I’m talking about). For riders without a beard, you will notice less wind buffeting and less noise as the vent reduces air pressure behind the screen. The inside of the fairing also received a facelift with 10-percent larger gauges featuring larger numerals and the elimination of the ambient air temperature and oil pressure gauges. The billboard windshield on the Road King remains the same.
On models equipped with a Tour-Pak, the passenger seat is now 1” longer, 1” wider and there is an extra 2” between the speakers. This design also opened up the space between operator and passenger. The Tour-Pak itself has a new shape and, although it appears more compact, actually offers a 4-percent increase in capacity. A single One-Touch latch is self centering for easy operation, while the lid is now secured with a retractable tether. The hard saddlebags are also slightly larger and have their own One-Touch latch (resembling a toilet lever) located between the bag and the seat. Easily operated with one hand, a rider can now actually open a saddlebag without getting off the bike (if this nifty little apparatus was ever offered as a retrofit accessory, I doubt The Motor Company could keep up with demand). The hand control buttons have been repositioned for a better fit and improved function and include a trip switch trigger on the back of the left control module to cycle through the odometer, trip odometers, range to empty and the clock.
Labeled the Infotainment Boom! Box 6.5 GT, the technological wizardry contained behind the batwing on the 2014 Touring models is dazzling… almost to the point of intimidating (yes, I still have a flip phone). The high-resolution 6.5” touch screen features a full-color GPS navigation system that offers digital terrain modeling, route options (scenic, fastest, twistiest, etc.), an extensive “points of interest” library, voice recognition and much more. Audio output is an impressive 75 watts per channel through the four speakers and is boosted by a bass port in the Tour-Pak. The system is also Bluetooth capable for pairing a mobile phone. Using a wired headset, a rider can make and receive calls without ever removing their hands from the controls. Voice recognition is available in English, Spanish (Mexican and Castilian), French, German, Italian and Portuguese. Radio functions include AM, FM and WB (weather band). All radio functions are operated by a five-way joystick on the left and right hand controls. A new Jukebox compartment inside the fairing dash is equipped with a USB port for charging and playing electronic devices. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on behind that Splitstream and, with no beard lift, you can see it all.
New wheels, abbreviated front fender, redesigned rotors–the RUSHMORE list is extensive. And while the verdict is still out on the buying public’s acceptance of the Twin-Cooled feature, Harley’s approach and execution of the 2014 model lineup ended as quite an accomplishment—an impressive balance between not offending the purists while satisfying those hungry for innovation.
***Click the following link to download a PDF list of ALL 2014 Harley-Davidson models, complete with MSRP – 2013MRSP