Recently we broke down some basic information on the 2012 Road King by Harley-Davidson, a member for the FL family of bikes put out by the company and descended from a long line of road cruisers. Now we will look closer at another child of the same line: The 2009 FLHT Electra-Glide, yet another large-framed cruiser made for over the road travel, but just as suited for putting around your local vicinity.
A bit of interesting information that should be noted is the significance of the letters in the name of each of the bikes in the lines Harley has produced. Just for the sake of information, the first letter (and at times the second one, as well) represents the engine type the bike has, as well as the front-end and frame type. The ‘H’ represented the hydraulic fork front-suspension, while the ‘T’ simply stood for the obvious… 'Touring’. As for the term ‘Electra’, well, this caught on due to the electric ignition system that took the place of the kick start version. So basically each set of letters has a very significant meaning to the bike they are assigned to.
To keep the history a bit brief, we'll begin by saying that this bike also originated in 1941, like the Road King, and has come an extraordinarily long way since its humble beginnings. With that being said, we can go just a tad deeper into its history, simply to differentiate it from the Road King. Otherwise, keep in mind that the FLHT Electra-Glide is a bike all its own, regardless of its heritage. You will soon discover exactly why it can stand on its own.
The 2009 H-D FLHT Electra-Glide Family Line
The granddaddy of the Electra-Glide was built in 1941 and was referred to simply as the FL model. The bikes had large frames compared to those before it, which resembled nothing more than bicycles with motors. In contrast, these were almost ‘fat' in appearance and were meant for more long-term riding, rather than brief racing, which was how motorcycles really originated.
Over the years, of course, improvements were made in motorcycle mechanics, appearance, and comfort. By 1949 the Hydra-Glide was introduced, which boasted hydraulic front forks, thus the term ‘hydra’ at the beginning of its name. The Duo-Glide came out in 1958. It boasted a seat with springs, which made it much more ideal for longer rides when it came to being comfortable.
Then, in 1965 the Electra-Glide was released. This particular FL model had an electric starter, which eliminated the need for the kick start mechanism, though it did require changes and a larger battery to accommodate the new change. It was considered one of the most prolific Harley models of the day, and one was even valued at $11k in 2011, even though it had 6,800 miles on it. That bit of information speaks for itself.
According to ‘It Still Runs’ , there were many variations of the Electra-Glide to follow in the coming years. From the boosted power of the FLH put out in 1978 to the FLHR Road King, which began selling in 1994, so many changes took place that they are hard to count. Bigger engines took the place of smaller, less powerful ones. Transmissions gained more gears and got a bit quieter, and the bikes themselves began to broaden, becoming more comfortable, powerful, and providing more gasoline capacity. There were even changes in the placement of the gauges, and extras were added that were specifically designed for long-distance riders, providing them with the comfort and convenience they needed to live their riding dreams on the open road.
The Arrival of the 2009 FLHT Electra-Glide Standard
‘Total Motorcycle’ tells us that when Harley released the 2009 FLHT it was designed with all the right equipment to make it a legitimate touring bike. Considered a ‘long-haul’ motorcycle, it came with standard features that included touring wheels, tires, and chassis. It also had hard saddlebags with locks on them, auxiliary lamps, and instruments that were placed on a fork-mounted touring fairing. The license plate mount was now beneath the rear taillight and had LED lighting on it, and Harley even went so far as to redesign the passenger seat to provide second riders with additional comfort as well. Add all of this to a new engine mount, frame, and swing arm, with more to boot, and the company managed to put out a standard Electra-Glide that was proved to be a second-to-none touring bike right off the assembly line.
To date, things have pretty much stayed the same; after all, why mess with a good thing? That’s not to say that newer bikes from this line that have been released since 2009 have not had improvements made or enjoyed better additions, but not much was needed to make it better than it was that year, to put it straight and simple.
What the 2009 FLHT Electra-Glide has Accomplished
2009 was the fifteenth year in a row that this bike was the leader in the touring bike market. With all of the changes made over the years to the FL series, the additions that were generously given to the model, and the way that those who rode the bikes seemed to draw new enthusiasts to both the bike itself and the touring lifestyle, it was easy for this accomplishment to enter the realm of reality. While the series has gone through countless changes in all areas, it has still maintained and stayed true to the Harley name and reputation. Basically, the bike has kept the same look, with only minor changes to its appearance, which is a point that is well received by die-hard fans and riders of the FL series models. Overall, this bike has managed to stay true to itself and those who love it without compromise, and that is no small feat in any area of its makeup.
But Everything Has Faults
Indeed, there are some things about the bike that could stand some improving. For instance, the 2009 models seemed to have an issue with the rear cylinder getting far too hot, which made for much discomfort to the legs of the rider and passenger. Harley fixed the issue with an Engine Idle Temperature Management System, or EITMS, which halts fuel going to the rear cylinder when it gets too hot while idling. The rider can also turn this feature on and off simply by rotating the throttle for a few seconds, which made things much easier and more convenient. They also set the crossover pipe, aiming it in another direction altogether rather than having it right by the legs of the rider, which was a smart, simple fix. Like with all issues, Harley was on top of the issues as they were brought to their attention.
The Bottom Line…
…is simple. Harley continued to make tour bikes of excellent quality and comfort for more than fifty years when this bike was made, and they still do. As for the 2009 FLHT Electra-Glide itself, it stands out from the crowd for several reasons. From the six-gallon tank to its improved seating, all the way down to the top-of-the-line suspension system, there is nothing the company didn't think of, and if something was mentioned that could stand a change, they made the change happen. Let's not forget the models that come with top-of-the-line audio systems, cruise-control, added security, and navigation. Tack on the customization options and other extras available and you have one hell of a bike, to say the least. For these reasons, the 2009 model FLHT Electra-Glide is considered one of the finest in its class.
It was when it was made, and it still is today.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
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