Common Tread

The new Harleys for 2015 break cover: sharknose fans, women tourers rejoice

Sep 02, 2014

I love this time of year! It’s like Boxing Day and Chanukah all rolled up into one. Why? Harley-Davidson has dropped the new 2015 models.

Looking at the lineup, I think H-D has a few great ideas mixed in with some stinkers, and like every other wag who can type and has internet access, I’ll tell you why I’m smarter than the oldest continuously operating American motorcycle manufacturer. Harley, are you listening to Lemmy?

2015 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Low
2015 Ultra Classic Low. Harley-Davidson photo.

Electra Glide Low

Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Low controls
The Low Touring models get smaller grips and more compact ergonomics, in addition to a lower seat. Harley-Davidson photo.
I never thought I’d see this happen, but H-D now offers a "Low" version of the E-glide Ultra and Limited. Harley has made no bones about the fact that it's trying to build bikes for people who have not traditionally been H-D customers. This bike follows on the heels of the LiveWire project and the Street series of bikes. Harley-Davidson already proudly points out that it sells more motorcycles to women in the United States than all the other manufacturers combined, and the Motor Company is still looking to expand market share. This bike is the hot ticket for smaller riders and women who may not fit a standard Touring rig comfortably, but still want to cover big miles. This is more than just a "dropped seat" lowering job that you see from most manufacturers. Instead, all the ergonomics are more compact. The controls sit closer to the pilot, and they use smaller grips on these models. I won’t be surprised if they sell a gajillion of these.

2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750
The Street 750 is not a new model for 2015, but they're just now showing up in dealer showrooms. Harley-Davidson photo.

Street 500 and Street 750

Yeah, yeah, these aren’t brand new. Still, they are only just now trickling into dealers. These bikes are like candy-flavored crack to me. Oddly, I think of these as more “Sportster” than a real Sporty. The poor Sporty used to be the hot bike, the racing steed. Now, models like the 48 and 72 have dragged it so far from its sporting roots that I whimper a little when I see one. The Street 500 and 750 are small, surely nimble, and they are going to be crazy-popular in markets outside the United States. As a matter of fact, if I had to bring home a new H-D, a Street would be the one I dragged out my wallet for. I think a Street seb’m fiddy would be a hoot for the mountain twisties on the Gypsy Run. They gotta do something about the brakes and the fairing, though. I want dual stoppers up front, and the fairing desperately needs to be color-keyed to the paint.

2015 Harley-Davidson Road Glide
2015 Road Glide. Harley-Davidson photo.

Road Glide/ RG Special

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Infotainment screen
Infotainment screen on the 2015 Road Glide. Harley-Davidson photo.
Yessssss! I knew the sharknose wasn’t gone for good, but I still missed it while it was away. I cut my teeth on metric bikes, so in my brain, the frame is the only proper place to mount a fairing. Riders are usually either sharknose people or batwing people. I am sharknose people. I love how much more flickable the front end feels on the Road Glide and Tour Glide without the added weight of the batwing fairing. I also appreciate that the wind doesn’t add its own steering inputs, whether I want ‘em or not. The Rushmore updates should make this a super-formidable Touring bike. I want to ride one of these heads-up against a Honda F6B, though. I have a feeling that’s the Road Glide’s stiffest competition.

2015 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler trike
2015 Freewheeler trike. Harley-Davidson photo.


Harley-Davidson Freewheeler headlight nacelle
Lemmy says the logo has to go. Harley-Davidson photo.
Meh. I support the uptick in trike proliferation because I feel like they keep motorcycling accessible for a decent chunk of folks who would not otherwise be able to ride. Aging Baby Boomers, injured vets, those who have suffered a crash and lost a limb — lots of those people still want to ride, and if a trike keeps them from hanging it up, I’m all for them. This trike sort of bores me, though. It’s a stripped-down version of the more-dressed trikes. The cut-down fenders look visually more appealing, I will grant that. However, the huge advertising logo on the nacelle needs to go far, far away. I will also grant that at eight Gs cheaper than the Tri-Glide, this thing may be attracting a new customer who’s unable or unwilling to spend that kind of coin. Maybe say, a potential Can-Am Spyder RS-S customer? I’ll reserve judgment for the time being. By the way, this trike’s letter code, which H-D has done a good job of obscuring, is FLRT. I will be referring to this as the FLART Trike, so that should be fun.

Though Harley is doing a fair job of adding variety to the lineup and the customer base, I still want more. I want the equivalent of the new Indian Scout, but I want mine to come from Milwaukee. I want something fast, new, and fast. I want to bump into a guy on a BMW S1000RR who is considering trading it in for Harley-Davidson’s newest foray. I want liquid cooling and triple-digit ponies, with the delicious H-D fit and finish that makes me warm and fuzzy inside, like I just ate a Muppet.

Until then, a few of these bikes will tide me over. For a little while.

Harley, are you listening to Lemmy?