How is a Harley-Davidson like a Mercedes Benz?

The  evolution of a motorcycle.

On the final leg of our Daytona to Kentucky tour we utilized the Interstate highway system. Without a doubt I prefer two lane adventures but when you absolutely have to be there the Interstate works. Sometimes. From Berea, Kentucky to Daytona Beach is 770 miles on the slab. It was a good time to think about the new CVO Road Glide Ultra in comparison to the other touring HD’s I have owned and ridden for well in excess of 250,000 miles. My first touring chassis HD was a pre-owned 1989 FLHTCU Electra Glide Ultra Classic. Only after two to three thousand miles on that bike did I truly love it. At the time I remember thinking about the evolutionary process the FLH chassis had been through. When my Dad returned from WWII he, like many other returning veterans, purchased a 1936 EL. The purchase price on the EL was $400. At the time I lived in Owensboro, Kentucky and decided I wanted to ride to Daytona Beach for Bike Week. My Father and Uncle had done that after the war on their 10 year old 30’s era HD’s. The connection was very real for me. My dad, Joseph W. Boone had crashed on my flat track motorcycle and was killed at the age of 45. As a 14 year old it was an incredible loss. There had been many times since then that I had felt his presence when I was riding. This was one of them. I wondered what he would think about this 89 Ultra. It’s 1340 Evolution engine was rubber mounted, had electronic cruise control, an AM/FM/Cassette player, air ride front and rear suspension and more.

As Colette and I traveled South and East on I-26 through the Carolina’s on the CVO Road Glide Ultra, I had plenty of time to think about my Dad, the 36 EL, the 89 FLHTCU and compare them to this new FLT. In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, Mercedes Benz simply tweaked, honed and refined their automobiles. They progressed over time into a rock solid car and everything simply worked to the drivers advantage. They did not forget about their roots. It was an evolutionary process that resulted in one of the most dependable automobiles in history with structural integrity that was the standard of the industry. I see the FLH/FLT touring HD’s the same way now. The frame, powerplants and the rider amenities had advanced in their feel and functionality. We own a 2004 FLHTCi Electra Glide Classic with about 40,000 miles in the garage as well. Numerous two up tours on that bike had me thinking the bikes could not get much better. At present we have put about 5,000 miles on the CVO Road Glide Ultra. The 2004 Electra Glide is a fantastic motorcycle but the 2015 is superior in every way. It is the same only completely different.

In the late 90’s Mercedes began a process of reducing the weight of their cars and made many changes with new engines, new frames and restyled bodies. It was inevitable but, in many ways, regrettable with the pressures from Japan and the need to improve fuel economy. Harley-Davidson has invested in the future by continuing to evolve their product but keeping an eye on the past. In my opinion the current package is one of the best touring motorcycles in the world today. There are definitely machines that have more horsepower and there are other touring motorcycles that are more sport bike than tourers and can thrill with their handling on the mountain roads. The 2015 CVO Road Glide Ultra suits my riding style to perfection.

I wish my Dad was still around. He would love this motorcycle.

In the next day or two I am going to write about a good friend of mine. His name is Norman Frederick Nelson. I’m fairly certain you will appreciate his unique motorcycling story.

This Wednesday night at 8pm Eastern, Talking  Motorcycles with Barry Boone is going to be a great show. I will provide a link in tomorrows blog about the new show. We have a very special guest lined up for you that you are going to want to hear from!




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