The Nickelback Paradox: How can something be so unpopular on the internet, but so commercially successful? It’s a real thing, and it also applies to Harley baggers.
Nowhere can you find an internet commentator with anything nice to say. OLD. FAT. SLOW. They drone into their keyboards. Conversely, much digital ink has been shed over the losing of Buell.
Spoiler alert. One of these things is the best selling bike in America, the other is defunct.
Seeing this, Harley went ahead and said screw-all to critical success and built the bike the market wants. A new Road Glide Ultra.
It has the 103 CU. IN water-cooled RUSHMORE V-Twin (break out the Google conversion tool Jalops). It has a heavily revised fairing to keep you out of the wind. It has new paint and wheels. They revised the handlebar so you don’t have to reach as high. And most excitingly of all, if you spend $40,229 for the CVO Road Glide Ultra you get TPMS sensors that can be used while you’re parked and every touring accessory you can imagine.
And the best of all. Those CVO customers spend MORE money on aftermarket customization than regular Road Glide Ultra customers.
Forget your Buell dreams, this is the bike that represents America to the rest of the world. And that is awesome.
It is the exact descendant of every great roadtripping machine from finned Cadillacs to freight trains, to DC-3 Planes. It is huge, confident, and loud.
I would shoot a buffalo perched from a Road Glide Ultra.
This is the dad jeans of motorcycles. It is a twin-cylinder scream into the heavens that you’ve made it this long, dammit, and you’re gonna ride whatever the hell you want as long as you want, and as comfortably as you want.
And big and comfortable it is. That revised fairing WORKS. You never feel the tug of the wind unless you pop open the vents. The suspension is soft and compliant. It feels invincible, until you see a corner.
It doesn’t really handle, it just moves the laws of physics to its will. It doesn’t stop that well either. It is also a bit top-heavy. None of this matters.
What does is the Boom!™ Box 6.5GT audio system will scream T. Swift into the heavens making threats of Bad Blood at people in traffic. You will feel awesome rolling through the Kombucha-guzzling masses of Portlandia with a metal flotilla of noise, vibration, and #GRRLPOWER.
And speaking of the entertainment portions. The touchscreen and GPS UI is simply put the best version on the market. Ducati and its TFT bullshit should take note.
The entire package is the best application of Harley’s design and engineering department absolutely nailing what the market demands, and ignoring everything else.
Sean did a moody writeup on the 47 Ronin, which is truly an exquisite piece of industrial design and bespoke engineering. But America wasn’t built on the few and the delicate, it was built on making things big and making them loud. Skyscrapers. Aircraft Carriers. Bunker busters, and baggers.
It is the finest motorcycle that no one will ever admit to wanting. But when it comes down to the sales floor, the baggers will always win.
God bless Baggers. God bless America.
Photos: Brian J. Nelson
Joseph Gustafson is a brand new contributor to Lanesplitter. His mouth is much faster than his riding acumen. He enjoys taking long rides on the road, short rides on the dirt, and finding new ways to use the term “voracious” in a sentence. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter as he butchers welding and words in the pursuit for hashtag glory.