Our new CEO, Philip Strauss, has owned a number of bikes over the years and more than one of them has been a Harley-Davidson. Always eager to check out the latest addition to the MO stable, Strauss took the Screamin' Eagle Harley home for the weekend to do a little bit of personal taste testing. When he pulled up to the Rock Store (a local biker hangout) on Sunday morning, he encountered something he's never received on any motorcycle prior: laughter. Well, he'd encountered laughter before, but usually it was directed at him, not his ride.
This weekend's incident included more than just an isolated snicker. There was a myriad chuckles from men and women, young and old, directed at our CEO aboard the nearly $23K steed.
Harley-Davidson reportedly looked to the Screamin' Eagle Pro Stock race team for inspiration in building this limited edition (only 1500 will be made) FLTRSEI. So what's so special about this bike? For starters, on top of the standard Road Glide, you get more than $7,500 in Genuine Harley-Davidson custom accessories and a choice of two paint schemes, both featuring the Screamin' Eagle on the front fairing. In addition to the paint and chrome bolt-ons, there are also a few performance-enhancing modifications which have been performed to elevate the Road Glide from Floundering Beagle to Screamin' Eagle status.
Harley says the powertrain uses Screamin' Eagle performance parts, "configured in a special street-legal package," that includes big-bore cylinders, flat-top pistons, more aggressive cams, an intake calibration cartridge and an air cleaner. The changes result in a ten-percent increase in horsepower and a 14-percent gain in torque.
Compared to Philip's personal Fat Boy, we expected the Screamin' Eagle Harley to be the Big Boy on the street and leave the Fat Boy behind even though it had a high-flow air filter, Vance and Hines pipes, re-mapped ignition and a Mikuni Smooth Bore carburetor. With a big-bore kit and so many modifications (not to mention, again, the price and "influenced by the drag-race team" statement) we expected the Fat Boy to get eaten alive by the Road Glide. Unfortunately for Harley-Davidson, a lightly tweaked Fat Boy beats up on the bigger bike at every opportunity. Not to mention the fact that it sounds a lot more brutish and appropriately obnoxious.
Which brings us to another complaint we had about the Screamin Eagle Road Glide; it's too quiet! This thing's supposed to be a lion but it sounds like a tabby cat who's had a bit of vicodin mixed into his Friskies. We're all against the "loud pipes save lives" argument (we think caution and rider skill saves lives), but what's the point in building a free-breathing motor if you're going to keep things plugged up at the back end and effectively negate all the hard work? When you come up with the answer, please drop us a line.
All this arm-chair quarterbacking and that's not what this bike is all about. The Road Glide was meant for the open road. Load up a few garments, a wife, and head out for a weekend away from all the chaos that is the day-to-day shuffle. Here the bike shines as you start to look at both it and the world in front of you in an entirely different way.
What is a heaving, wheezing horse-drawn wagon around town becomes a thoroughbred once it breaks out of the gate and gets an opportunity to stretch its legs. At 75 mph, this bike is in its element. Everything is just about perfect here except for the odd bit of buffeting from the relatively short windscreen. Harley has a taller windscreen than the tinted one that was fitted on our particular bike and, though it may not be as aesthetically striking, it would probably be the hot ticket for sustained cruising at speeds over 70 mph. When the dash-mounted speedometer clears 80 mph, the motor stays smooth and encourages even more rapid progress, but the buffeting from the rushing wind made riders over six feet tall feel like they were doing a headstand on top of an unevenly loaded washing machine.
Surprisingly, the buffeting lessens with a passenger aboard. What was miserable at 80 mph is now tolerable, and the Screamin' Eagle motor has no problem pulling a passenger along. You hardly notice anybody is back there. But the passengers were quick to notice their right calf toasting and their butt getting sore. People complained when we did not include this bike against the BMW K1200LT and the Honda GL 1500 Gold Wing but we had good reason; the Harley is not nearly as comfortable or competent as is either offering from competing manufacturers.
At speeds above 90 mph the Harley started to "float" on the road. Where most ground-based vehicles are engineered with some degree of downforce above a certain speed, the harder the pilot twisted the Road Glide's throttle, the more the bike felt disconnected with the road's surface. The motor would willingly pull beyond 110 mph, but those speeds became far too sketchy for any sort of real rider comfort. Still, if our touring plans were more localized and placed an emphasis on outlaw style and a high "ooh - aaah" factor, the Eagle would be our choice.
The layout of the gauges is extremely tidy and features classy, chrome-bezels. The radio features only a tape deck, but the audio quality is on par with that of Honda's Gold wing, though only as loud as the BMW K1200LT which is just a shade quieter than the Honda. We would appreciate a CD-player option on this Road Glide, and the passenger would certainly appreciate a set of speakers mounted someplace on the back of the bike since, at speeds above 45 mph, the music becomes indistinguishable from ambient noise. As for the mufflers themselves, they're too quiet to make beautiful music on their own, yet just loud enough to drown out the music. Harley should make them quieter or just ditch the stereo and give us something that sounds like the Screamin' Eagle moniker would suggest.
Harleys are about emotion, and not rational thought processes. Sure, there's resale value, but we have a grandfather clock with good resale value. So what? Harleys are about the feeling you get when riding one. They're about pulling into a parking lot and being on the
receiving end of admiring glances. This bike will definately garner its fair share of glances and comments even if they're not all positive. The motor is not modified to suit the faint of heart or weak of spirit. Obviously, neither is the paint job.
Harleys are still about style first and performance second. And while this bike is no slouch in the style department, its Screamin' Eagle upgrades bring the performance closer to where they belong, though still fall a little short of expectations. But if a brash, in-your-face attention grabber is what you seek, then this Screamin' Eagle is just what you're looking for and you can put your brain back in now and enjoy the ride.
PAGE 2Opinions:Philip Strauss, CEO
As for its looks, you know what they say about beauty being in the eyes of the beholder. Let me just say that the look is bold. If you have a need to stand out in a crowd, the Screamin Eagle Road Glide, with its flying eagle and bright orange and black paint job is just the trick. I rode over to the Rock Store and while I don't know for sure if I got there just as someone was telling the punch line to a joke or they were laughing at the bike, but one thing I will say unequivocally is that the quality Harley-Davidson's paint job is outstanding.
Let me say that I really wanted to like this motorcycle. My own Full Dresser had the prior Evo engine and no fuel injection. It was slow and heavy around town, but a great ride on the open highway. I was sure that the performance of the new motor combined with fuel injection and Stage II performance components would make this big bike scream. I was wrong, it's still heavy and it definitely doesn't scream. In fact it has me wondering whether I even want to go to the expense of installing the Stage II components on my bike.
I started my riding impressions by leaving MO's office just in time for rush hour traffic on the 405 in Los Angeles. Usually, I split the lanes and the traffic doesn't seem so bad. This bike's big so I decided that lane splitting wasn't going to happen. Even though it has a low center of gravity and a comfortable riding position, it is still a very heavy bike. Between, the traffic and the heat this thing puts out, I was very uncomfortable. I hoped that by the time I got onto Pacific Coast Highway the traffic would lighten up and the heat would go down. Well, the traffic did lighten up and the ambient temperature went down, but the Screaming Eagle was still putting out the therms.
I'm not saying that I hated the bike, but I was very disappointed in its performance. Isn't that the point of this bike? Given its overall weight and size, I will say that I was favorably impressed by how well it handled the twisty roads by my house. Maybe I expected too much. After all, this is a touring bike whose mission is to put hundreds of miles behind you on any given day. Or, maybe they should change the name from Screamin to Gleamin.Brent Avis, Managing Editor
So imagine when, to my dismay, Calvin and I were running errands and ended up in a Ralphs Supermarket parking lot, and a little hottie in a sports car compliments him by saying, "nice bike," and giving him that flirtatious smile and wink which are the reasons I bother to eat and breathe. He was on the Screamin' Beagle while I was atop Philip's beautiful and classy-looking Fat Boy; that's the only reason I could think, in my shallow mind, that he got the attention of the opposite sex while I was left standing gape-jawed, thinking about an intervention. But somehow I didn't think blurting out, "that's not even his bike," would have much effect. Both because it was already too late and because neither bike was mine either. "I have a cool mountainbike, though," I thought to myself. Wink, wink.
Hmmm. Not the same effect. Maybe there's something to this gussied up Road Glide that I cannot grasp unless I use an appendage which resides a little bit further up my body to do my thinking for me. Once that occurs, I begin to see the merits of such a bike. It has appeal, not only to the rider - he gets to enjoy a willing motor, brakes and a nice, mellow sound mated to first-class comfort - but to passersby who might otherwise not give a subtle motorcycle a second glance. This bike is gaudy, yet stealthy. It'll sneak up on you and as you are about to profess your disdain for the bright orange paint, you notice how nice it sounds. You notice the chrome and the generally pleasant, not too in-your-face demeanor it has.
At first I hated this big, heavy, slow and waaay overpriced bike. Then I just stopped analyzing it and started riding it. Threw my girlfriend on back, even; and she liked it, too. So now I like it. Does that mean I'm a beat-down, spineless wannabe man? No, it means that it takes uncommon situations for you to appreciate an uncommon bike such as this. If you dig, then buy. If you can't quite fathom what we're swingin' here - then fly.
Oh, and as for Calvin and his parking lot pick-up? Haven't seen him since. Glad we shot photos first. If you see him, tell him Harley wants its bike back. Thanks.Calvin Kim, Associate Editor
Its like a fully loaded Ford Econoline F350 Cargo Van Conversion.
Mainly because they have the same acceleration.
Its like a '67 Chevy Impala with a flat tire. Make that three flat tires.
Mainly because it handles about the same.
Its like a Toyota Camry, the four door version.
Mainly because its just as loud.
If you were to combine all those things together you should end up with the worst motorcycle on the planet. But in this case you get the Screamin' Eagle Road Glide. Granted, this sounds like a negative comment, but the thing is, its not. Lets face it, Harley-Davidson souped up their Road Glide and still made it pass emissions standards. For all you Harley-Davidson owners, you know how difficult that is! In all honesty, it IS a great motorcycle. Its looks are flashy, the radio and cruise control work great. Throttle response and handling weren't exactly surprising, but the ride was silky smooth and the brakes are superb. This bike isn't about tearing up the stop-light to stop-light drag races, its about getting you to your destination in style, comfort and with a few minutes to spare. I got dibs on the key next...Specifications:
Engine : Twin Cam 88, vibration isolation-mounted Bore x Stroke : 3.875 x 4.00 Displacement : 95 c.i., 1550 c.c. Compression Ration : 8.9:1 Fuel System : Elect. Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) Oil Capacity : 4.0 US Qt. Fuel Capacity : 5.0 US Gal. Exhaust System : Duel Primary Drive : Double-row Chain Gear Ratios : (Overall) 1st : 10.81 2nd : 7.45 3rd : 5.29 4th : 4.13 5th : 3.37 Brakes : (in. Dia. x Width) Front : 11.5 x .20 Dual Disc Rear : 11.5 x .23 Tire Size : Front : MT90B 16 Rear : MT90B 16 Wheels : Silver Sparkle 9-hollow-spoke cast alum. alloy Lean Angles Per SAE J1168 : (RT) 31°, (LT) 30° Length : 99.25 in. Seat Height : 27 in. Ground Clearance : 5.1 in. Rake/Trail : 26°/6.2 in. Wheelbase : 63.5 in. Dry Weight (Listed) : 804 lbs. Colors : Vivid Black/VR Racing Orange/Arctic White Three-tone Red MSRP : $22,495, for CA $22,595 66.5 HP @ 5300 RPM
79.1 ft/Lbs @ 2700 RPM