Whether you like them, love them, hate them or couldn’t care either way, Harley-Davidson is THE name to beat when it comes to street cruisers and touring bikes. Even though every company under the sun has tried at least once to beat them at their own game — with many Japanese companies, and now Indian continuing to this day — the Milwaukee company that the V-Twin built just cannot be stopped.
That doesn’t mean that year after year Harley gets a free pass, though. While they are still without a doubt number one, each year they take a big risk of not evolving just for the sake of laziness or apathy, and one (or more) companies would love to take on the role of vulture to pick at whatever carrion customers they can.
This is where 2014’s Project Rushmore comes in.
Introduced at this years annual summer dealer meeting in Denver, Project Rushmore is an attempt by Harley-Davidson to keep their customer base in tact by offering packages on their baggers and luxury touring bikes that improve handling, performance, offer better styling and more up-to-date “infotainment,” which is a fancy word for describing things like voice-recognition mapping systems, Bluetooth technology and more. Last, but not least, the bikes that receive the Project Rushmore treatment will all receive cast aluminum wheels and ultra low-profile fenders in the front.
While none of the bikes that will get this treatment will instantly turn into Italian sport bikes that hug the curves of any road you throw at them, the performance in a straight line is said to have vastly increased, especially in 5th gear, which is critical on highway rides for passing and getting out of the way of obstacles. Some of this performance is coming due to a high-flow airbox, which Harley spokesmen were quick to point out that this airbox will also make the sitting position a little easier and more comfortable — which begs the question, “then, why not just do this for all your bikes?”
The rest of the performance enhancements come to the two aluminum wheels via a new High Output Twin Cam 103 engine for the Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special and Electra Glide Ultra Classic models, while the Ultra Limited and Tri Glide Ultra models will be getting an all new Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103, which is air and liquid cooled. That’s right. Both air and liquid cooled in the same engine. By routing the liquid coolant through the exhaust system of the cylinder heads, Harley was able to come up with a clever way to mix together two popular technologies into one beefy, American engine.
Some of the other improvements that are coming to the Project Rushmore bikes in 2014 include a more rigid fork, linked brakes with ABS, some new, stylized fairings, and the aforementioned “infotainment” packages that will help with selecting music via voice commands and/or touch controls.
We’re excited to get our hands on one of these Hogs sometime in the near future, and when we do we will be sure to give all of you the lowdown on if the changes are worth the extra $$.
In the meantime, if you’re not willing to put down the cash for an all new Harley because the one you have is working just fine, be sure to check out our Harley-Davidson accessories section now, and get some of the visual and performance enhancements you’ve been craving!