Battle of the Baggers

The Victory Vision has drawn an emotional response since its 2008 introduction. And with good reason. Nobody had seen such futuristic styling on an American V-Twin-powered touring bike before. Victory also had it dialed in properly right out of the gate with its torquey 1731cc engine, precise handling at speed and its ability to provide a comfortable touring platform over long ranges. People were incredulous when we declared it the victor in our 2008 H-D Ultra Classic vs Victory Vision comparison. At the time, most people hadn’t had an opportunity yet to sample the merits of the big touring bike, but since then celebrity riders like Arlen Ness and Sonny Barger have given the motorcycle their endorsement.

We’ve grown quite familiar with the bike’s characteristics over the last three years, exploring the beautiful state of West Virginia on the touring version while riding the street version in both Daytona and the long road to Sturgis. In 2011, Victory did a major overhaul of its transmission, made ABS a standard feature and increased creature comforts with the addition of heated seats and grips straight from the factory. Victory also tweaked a few components like switching to tubular handlebars, did away with the heel/toe shifter for a toe shifter and re-designed the exhaust tips.

For 2011, Harley-Davidson took its popular Road Glide bagger with the frame-mounted, Shark-Nose fairing, and decked out in full touring trim. This consisted of throwing on a King Tour Pak with its accommodating 2.26 cubic-feet of storage space, adding a passenger backrest with adjustable lumbar support and a couple extra speakers to its 80-watt Harman/Kardon sound system. The new Road Glide Ultra provides a better pocket of protection than the standard RG with the addition of mid-frame air deflectors and adjustable vented fairing lowers with small storage compartments.  The 2011 Road Glide Ultra also comes with Harley- Davidson’s PowerPak combo which includes a beefier powerplant than before in the form of a Twin Cam 103 engine, ABS, and the H-D Smart Security System. We came away with positive First Ride impressions while our Road Test Editor, Adam Waheed, has since logged serious miles on it and reported on his findings in our Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra Review article.

In the three years since our last comparison between American V-Twin-powered touring heavyweights, Harley has done away with the stamped and welded single-piece frame that anchored the touring platform for almost three decades and replaced it with a cast single-spar, rigid-backbone frame. It also went with a wider, longer, stiffer swingarm to go along with a bolt-on tail frame. In the case of the 2011 Road Glide Ultra, power output has also been bumped up thanks to the TC103 and its stopping potential now includes standard ABS, so we wanted to see how the updated Harley tourer compared now.