Short Takes – 2011 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide & Can-Am Spyder RT

Seasoned travelers know there is no one single machine that is ‘best’ for touring.   We’ve selected two vastly different machines either of which we’d gladly grab the keys and head for Newfoundland.  Each has different appeal, but they both have one thing in common – triggering the impulse to pack the bags and ride!

Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide, $24,949.

Class:  Luxury touring.  Technical:  1584 c.c. air-cooled V-twin, belt-drive, wt. 403 kg., fuel 22.7 liters, 6-speed transmission, 350+ km touring range.

The Harley-Davidson Electra Glide has long been one of the most desirable luxury touring motorcycles in the world.  Resplendent in two-tone blue pearl and silver pearl paint, our Ultra Classic test bike is a rolling piece of art.  It’s hard to disagree that this is one of the most beautiful production motorcycles on the road today.

Despite decades of tradition, the Ultra Classic stays contemporary with a keyless ignition, fuel-injection and non-linked ABS brakes.  Standard equipment such as cruise control, a Harmon Kardon stereo, hard luggage and a side-opening topcase gives this Harley impeccable touring credentials.

On the road, the Twin Cam 96 engine pulls like a locomotive and in 6th (overdrive) gear, settles into a distinctive, soothing, low rumble at highway speed.  Engage the electronic cruise control, settle into the plush saddle and soak up the view for the next 350 kilometers, the bike’s typical cruising range on one tank of premium fuel.  Riding the Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide is an experience unlike any other tourer.  It’s a glorious celebration of motorcycle heritage and mechanical purity wrapped in a luxurious package.

Can-Am Spyder RT,  $24,499

Canadian-built Can-Am Spyder offers a motorcycling experience with the stability of three wheels. Rotax V-twin engine works hard to move the massive trike

Class:  Trike.  Technical:  998 cc. Rotax V-twin, belt-drive, 5-speed semi-automatic transmission, wt. 421 kg., fuel 25-litre, 200 km touring range.

The Spyder RT is a touring trike, with an adjustable windscreen, cushy saddle, and built-in panniers and topcase.  It’s also the only ‘motorcycle’ style vehicle available that is factory-engineered to tow a trailer.

One of the Spyder RT’s appeal is its ease of operation.  It has a semi-automatic transmission controlled by left handlebar mounted switches and ABS brakes are controlled with a right side brake pedal.  Steering is power assisted, and on the highway, the 998 c.c. V-twin has sufficient power to move the hefty 3-wheeler smartly down the road.  The RT’s riding position is upright and wind protection from the large windscreen is very good.  There’s a capacious 155 liters of storage space.  The vehicle’s only shortcomings are its moderate touring range – about 200 km before hitting reserve – and steering sensitivity to road imperfections.  Still, the Spyder RT has undeniable appeal for those who want a motorcycle-like experience along with the stability and security of 3 wheels.


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