Motorcycle: Overhead Valve Twins - FLT Tourglide, 1980
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 15:09:41 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
FLT Tourglide, 1980
Like most things Harley-Davidson, the TourGlide didn't suddenly appear out of the Milwaukee ether, it just sort of evolved. One fundamental element, the 80-inch Shovelhead engine — a long-stroke derivative of the old "74" — first appeared on the 1978 FLH Electra-Glide. Another arrived one year later with the FLH Classic, offered as standard with special paint and wheels as well as a complete set of "Tour Pak" touring extras. The Tour Pak was ultimately to become the heavyweight long-haul norm, comprising saddlebags, luggage rack, "batwing" fairing and chromed crash bars.
In 1980, Harley bundled the two together, adding a few other choice ingredients for good measure, and the FLT TourGlide was born. The most obvious change was the replacement of the ElectraGlide's handlebar-mounted fairing with a bigger, more protective frame-mounted fairing, now equipped with twin headlights. There was an improved new frame with "sport bike" geometry and a box-section backbone. Fabricated from both tubes and forgings, the frame was further modified at the rear to increase suspension travel. At the front, it now extended forward head-stock for more secure mounting.
Less obvious — unless you were riding
- were a host of engine improvements also bestowed on the FLT. Rather than existing separately, the engine and transmission were now bolted rigidly together, gaining the benefits of unit construction without the drawbacks. The transmission itself was now five-speed for the first time on any big twin Harley-Davidson roadster, permitting even more long-legged gearing than before. A new Motorola electronic ignition virtually guaranteed dependable running at all engine speeds (or perhaps not: within a year it gave way to the superior V-Fire II system). Final drive was still by roller chain but now fully-enclosed in its own oil-bath, a useful asset on any long-distance machines. Chain was superseded by a toothed belt drive on the FLTC Classic of 1984, which became standard across the FL range the following year.
Despite some initial scepticism, the Aramid fibre belts — made from a similar material to that used in bullet-proof vests — had worked well on the lighter V-twins, lasting four times as long as a chain, at similar cost but without the mess. By 1993, they would be a welcome feature on every Harley-Davidson model.
If that particular virtue was still in the future, an equally compelling one first appeared on the inaugural TourGlide. In contrast to previous rigidly-mounted engines, for the first time the FLT engine was installed using a clever three-point rubber-mounting system designed to isolate the rider from the worst of the big V-twin's vibration. In essence it couldn't be simpler, but the effect transformed the machine, making it smoother and more usable than any previous big twin.
Anyone with $6,013 to spare in 1980 could buy what was undoubtedly the smoothest, most comfortable and lavishly-equipped motorcycle Milwaukee had ever produced, a machine tailor-made for demolishing large distances.
The Tom-Glide might not be everyone's idea of motorcycling but it launched a generation of Milwaukee luxury tourers to which rival manufacturers have yet again paid the ultimate compliment: most of them have since tried to copy it.
Engine: ohv V-twin
Capacity: 81.6 cu in (1,338cc)
Weight: 7651b (347kg)
Wheelbase : 62 1/2 in (1,590mm)
Top speed: 100 mph (161 kph)
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