Road Glide question

Jim in FL

Premier Member
#1
I’ve been considering building a post 2009 Road Glide specifically for the IBR and other longer multi-day rallies. My question: Are there any particular years/models that are particularly good or bad for a purpose built LD Rally bike? I’ve had pretty good luck with my ‘09 CrossBones (96” Twin-Cam), though it does run hot. No experience with the M8.

Any input would be appreciated,

Jim
 
#2
I've done two SS1000 on my 2018 Road Glide. Zero issues with the engine or bike overall. I changed to a police shock absorber seat and Ohlin 772 rear shocks and the ride is comfortable and the bike handles well. I plan for 250 miles between gas stops and have always had at least 1/8 of a tank rolling into the station (single exception was a 180 mile leg against 30 mph headwinds, was on empty when got to station). That said, I do carry a one gallon can of gas just in case.
 

MReynolds

Marcus Reynolds Aurora, MO.
Premier Member
#3
Hi Jim,
Comfort wise I have loved my last 2 Road Kings. I have had both a 2019 & 2020, and I am not sure Harley has the oiling system perfected yet in the Milwaukee8.( 4 engines in 65,000 miles) If I was building a rally specific Harley now I would look for a 2014-16 model. I know many have a lot more miles without problems & the power is great, but this is just my views from the cheap seats.
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#5
As politely as possible, do you want to finish these events?

For less money, you can buy a bike that is water cooled, shaft drive, liter plus and made in Japan.

Multi day rallies take you places and put demands on bikes that are unlike anything you will experience during cert rides.

Stuck in traffic in Phoenix, watching your temp gauge climb when the air temp is 118F is not the time to regret building an air cooled rally bike.
 
#6
Good comment above, water cooled is much better than air oiled when it’s really hot. I put “Love Jugs” fans on my bike and it made a big difference but not the same as liquid cooled.
 

CB650F

Premier Member
#7
Build your bike and ignore the nay-sayers. Yes, there are other bikes that would make some aspects easier, but ride the bike you want to ride. If you want to take a custom built Road Glide to some rallies, do it! IIRC Someone has already finished an IBR with a Road Glide. You will enjoy the rally more if you use the bike you want to use rather than one you just bought to be good at rallies. On my last ride, I used a bike poorly suited for the job. It not being the ideal bike for the job made the ride better. Had I taken a big fat Goldwing, I would have finished sooner, and with less soreness, but it wouldn't have been the adventure that it was. Sometimes the least ideal bike is the best choice.

Unfortunately, I can't help you with figuring out which model or year will be best for your project. I'm not a Harley guy. All I can do is wish you good luck!
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#8
Or... You can ignore the replies from riders that are not IBR finishers. I cut my teeth on a 1940 Knucklehead chopper. (many miles, many repairs, long before repro parts were available). I've owned an '05 Road King, custom Big Dog Chopper with a S&S Square bore motor and other HDs. My opinion is not from an uneducated or inexperienced perspective.

Can you finish on an HD? Absolutely! But it's not a smart bet or a good rally bike. If you WANT to make it harder, go for it. I will point and laugh at you for being a dumbass. Simple truth is if you want to play the game, do what it takes to do so w/o drama. You'll be a lot happier if you can focus on the bonus points and your routing instead of your bike issues. If you really feel like you want to ride HD, do it! But don't build a custom motor. Run a stocker crate motor of the type you want to run. You have a better chance of no issues with a stock crate motor.
 

BigLew55

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#9
Having finished two rallies (Gold and Silver) on a Harley Ultra Limited, I'll offer the following insight.

The big Harleys are great rally bikes. Both of mine had the twin cooled motors, and I think they are much better in traffic than the (only) air cooled versions. I hit several urban areas in IBR21 and didn't have any issues with heat. They have a large cockpit and can be set up to be very comfortable for the big miles. They have a ton of storage and electrical capacity too. And the stock LED lights are a great foundation for rally lighting.

Where I found the shortcomings are easily predictable. They are big, heavy bikes. If you are off of pavement (gravel sand or worse) you are going to expend a lot of effort to make progress. The suspension is also strained for unimproved or poorly maintained road surfaces. The tires available are generally good for a given rally distance, but anything more than a plug requires a shop and equipment. No parking lot or roadside tire repair or changes are likely.

Since 2009, the big HDs have made huge progress in their suitability towards our sport. Personally, the Twin-Cooled models are a bigger leap towards that end. Also, so many folks will remind you that it's more about the rider's capabilities than the bike's.

All of that being said, after two IBR finishes (while riding HDs) that I'm quite proud of, I'm shopping for a GSA. There are a lot of factors playing into that decision.
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#10
Really good input @BigLew55 .

The thing to understand about Twin Cooling is that like BMW's "water cooled" motors, only the heads get the beneficial cooling. The cylinders are still air cooled only. It's a half measure job at best.

Both brands make feature rich bikes that are fun to ride. Both have fans in the rally scene. Both have higher numbers of failures than the Japanese brands too.

You get up every day of a rally and your job is to ride all day. Choose a good tool for your work.
 

BigLew55

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#11
Really good input @BigLew55 .

The thing to understand about Twin Cooling is that like BMW's "water cooled" motors, only the heads get the beneficial cooling. The cylinders are still air cooled only. It's a half measure job at best.

Both brands make feature rich bikes that are fun to ride. Both have fans in the rally scene. Both have higher numbers of failures than the Japanese brands too.

You get up every day of a rally and your job is to ride all day. Choose a good tool for your work.
Very good point about how they apply the cooling. In my experience, it works well on the HD.

I have found that I can ride them all day long and more. I experienced challenges and frustration when I tried to push the limits of 'Where".

I also didn't note above that both of my bikes were 100% stock mechanically and by plan. I wasn't racing and didn't need racing parts. They even had the stock replacement air filters and the plastic air box. Both of my rally bikes were M8s, a 2018 and 2020 FLHTKs.
 

rneal55555

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#12
Liquid Cooled Japanese is not a guarantee. I overheated (boiled over) my Wing getting up to Rulison. Granted I was two up and there are some mods I can and mostly likely will do that I think would have prevented it. I managed to get in and out but it was no picnic and took a lot longer than I wanted.
 

lakota

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#13
Really good input @BigLew55
Both brands make feature rich bikes that are fun to ride. Both have fans in the rally scene. Both have higher numbers of failures than the Japanese brands too.
.
While normally reluctant to disagree with you because mostly I don't, I am wondering where you found the data to support that statement? or is it
purely anecdotal? The IBR facts page shows only bike DNFs without distinguishing the reason for DNF. (excerpt to show the brands in question)


BMW Start count 565 Finish Percentage 75.2% Wins 11

Harley-Davidson 85 68.2%

Honda 404 79.2% 3

Kawasaki 67 67.2%

Suzuki 32 75.0% 3

Yamaha 209 86.1% 5

Looking at these numbers one cannot draw any conclusions other than the BMW is the bike of choice and BMW has as many wins as the 4 Japanese bikes combined. 75% completion for BMW and 80 % for the 4 Japanese brands are comparable.

In 2021 there were 6 BMW DNFs - 1 mechanical, 1 time barred, 1 thanks to a hit and run driver, and 3 for personal reasons. 4 Harley DNFs - 2 mechanical, 1 time barred, and 1 not scoring enough points. 3 Japanese DNFs - 2 time barred and 1 unknown (to me).
 
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Shawn K

Professional Cat Confuser
Premier Member
#14
In 2021 there were 6 BMW DNFs - 1 mechanical, 1 time barred, 1 thanks to a hit and run driver, and 3 for personal reasons. 4 Harley DNFs - 2 mechanical, 1 time barred, and 1 not scoring enough points. 3 Japanese DNFs - 2 time barred and 1 unknown (to me).
The thing I noticed was that none of the Japanese DNF's were for mechanical reasons.
 

Marc11

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#18
True from what we know. But does not support the premise of EricV. The sample size is too small.
This. With a small sample size of unequal values the outcome is not representative of all outcomes.

Bottom line is this, any bike can finish or fail the IBR, regardless of brand and model and it is a well documented fact, overall, Japanese bikes are more reliable than any other, that does not mean a bike made in the EU, China or the USA cannot finish an IBR, nor does it mean if your ride a bike made in Japan you're assured or a mechanical issue free rally.

Finally, and this is just my opinion, unless you want to have a bike that sits ina garage and runs only one event every 2 years (assuming you're lucky enough to make the draw) then most bikes are multiple use bikes and therefore you should build, buy, ride what meets the majority of those needs, including the emotional one and let the reliability chips fall where they may....it adds to the adventure and bar room stories.
 
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EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#19
While normally reluctant to disagree with you because mostly I don't, I am wondering where you found the data to support that statement? or is it
purely anecdotal?
You can call it anecdotal if it makes you feel better. ;) You can't just round up the IBR facts and say LOOK, see the numbers! (edit- Although I find it entertaining that the finisher percentage alone should convince every future IBR rider to pick one brand.) The current IBR is not what it was in the past. Many riders that had issues, still finished. The stats don't reflect those issues. DNF for lack of points contains a wide array of challenges riders endured that led to that. Some are not bike related, some are. Had the Vooks not had mechanical issues and the tire fiasco, who knows? Had so many other riders not suffered issues, what changes what have occurred?

My point here is that every rally is a mix of challenges to the rider. I'm suggesting strongly that you don't build in extra challenges to your plan. I just rode a 150cc scooter across the US in 10 days as part of an event. The event was very Vespa oriented. Every night the Vespa riders were repairing things, doing maintenance, later in the event swapping tires, etc. Riding a Honda I added 3 oz of oil over the entire event and checked oil and tire pressures daily. Because I did my research and chose wisely, the same set of tires did the entire event and has plenty left after 5k+. The stark contrast was painfully obvious. Did my scooters get beat up by the event? You bet! Do they currently require repairs and maintenance? Yes! Did I suffer any kind of failure during the event? No.

I've only ridden and finished one IBR. I also have ridden one MERA 10 day event where I rode more miles than my IBR and DNF'd for time barred. Both were on Yamaha bikes. In both cases I never had any issues during the event. Because of my choice to run a Japanese bike, well set up and sorted ahead of time, no added stress due to mechanical issues or the threat of mechanical issues was ever a part of my thought process during the events.

Pick any HD you want. You're not going to get that peace of mind during the IBR or other multi-day rally. The same can be said for any BMW. You're always going to be checking it, wondering if it will hold up, wondering if it will handing the heat, etc. And if you're not, you should be.

The OP is talking about starting from scratch and building a purpose built rally bike. Unless you're running in the Hopeless Class, leave the engine and trans stock, regardless of what you choose to run.

And if you want to look at numbers, look at the stock Hp made from water cooled bikes Vs cost of the bike. I know HD guys that have more money into the motor alone than the entire cost of my FJR when it was new and still don't make as much power as the stock FJR. I do not dislike HDs. They are just not an optimal choice for a rally bike. Too many things can, and sometimes do, fail. If you're starting from scratch to play this game, start with an open mind and don't just buy what you 'like'.

You can't realistically argue that belt drive is more reliable than shaft drive. (or that BMW shaft drives are "reliable" for that matter.)

You can't realistically argue that an air cooled, even with water cooled heads, engine is going to handle high heat better than a fully water cooled bike.

You can't realistically argue that picking a sub-optimal platform for multi-day rallies is going to improve your odds of finishing. Let your rallies be about the rider, not the bike.
 
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Marc11

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#20
Eric, respectfully you are making assumption for all riders of non Japanese bikes, which just isn't fair or realistic.

I rode a BMW in two IBRs and ride one nearly every day, I can say MATTER OF FACT, I never once worried or worry about my bike making it to a finish or home, never once.

Have I had failures, yep. Will I have failures in the future, yep, did I think about failures during the 2021 IBR in the heat, traffic, dead if night or rain NOPE.

Riding a BMW never added any stress or worry over bike failure. If it happened then I'd worry, otherwise I'll jump on my BMW, despite having a Kawasaki parked next to it, and ride it anywhere and never once think about the bike breaking down.

Different people worry about different things, not everyone on a non-Japanese bike worries about mechanical issues.