Traction Control Comes to Harley-Davidson

Frustratingly, the feature is currently only being offered on the manufacturer's trike models

Harley-Davidson is introducing traction control and slipper clutches to its models – a technological leap forward that feels so removed from the Harley of even five years ago that it’s a bit dizzying. To keep you from getting too excited, however, Harley is only introducing the features on models that don’t really need these features: trikes. Sad trombone.

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It seems inevitable, though, that the features will be expanded to all of Harley’s big twins eventually – or, at the very least, the whole of its touring lineup. As such, one is inclined to take a cynical view. Is Harley only introducing this technology on trikes because it wants to avoid having to issue a massive recall a few years down the road, should the tech turn out to have a few quirks?

Anyhoo, from 2019, Harley’s Tri Glide Ultra and Freewheeler models will be equipped with a traction control system “designed to prevent the rear wheels from excessive spinning under acceleration, which could occur on wet or slippery road surfaces or when abrupt acceleration is commanded by the rider.”

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I’ve long been hoping for traction control on Harleys, which helps counteract the main drawback of cruiser/touring tires: they tend not to be particularly good in wet weather.

Also helpful will be a feature Harley refers to as the “drag-torque slip control system,” which in application sounds to me like a slipper clutch.

“DSCS is designed to prevent excessive rear wheel slip under deceleration, which typically occurs when the rider makes an abrupt down-shift gear change or decelerates on wet or slippery road surfaces,” says Harley. “When DSCS detects excessive rear wheel slip under deceleration it will adjust engine torque delivery to better match rear-wheel speed to road speed.”

The features are part of what Harley calls its “Reflex Linked Brake system,” which also incorporates ABS and linked braking. Trikes will also be getting new front and rear suspension.

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But That’s Not All

Beyond the trikes, a number of Harley-Davidson’s two-wheeled touring models will be getting some less impressive updates – specifically the models that cost a lot of money. Ultra Limited, Ultra Limited Low, Road Glide Ultra, Road Glide Special, Street Glide Special, and Road King Special models will all be getting an engine upgrade, the 114-cubic-inch (1868cc) version of the Milwaukee Eight V-twin now coming standard. Previously, these models would have been offered with the 107 as standard.

The aforementioned models, as well as the CVO Limited, CVO Street Glide, and CVO Road Glide, will also be getting a whizzbang new infotainment system in the form of the “Boom! Box GTS.” Harley expends 750 words of its press release talking about this feature but I don’t care enough to regurgitate them.  Here are the highlights, though:
– It’s got a 6.5-inch TFT display
– All the features can be accessed via Bluetooth headsets
– It’s got a better processor
– The GPS navigation is better
– There’s an app