"Anachronism: a thing belonging to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously
old-fashioned and belongs to an earlier time."
We all love the technological improvements
and features on the newer Harley-Davidson touring bikes. The advancements strengthen the overall performance and make the
bikes safer in many ways. But sometimes advancement can leave some features behind. As with all things in life, we sometimes
miss things from our past. Take for example the 1979 version of the iconic Electra Glide. Just put a leg over one of these
bikes and take a ride and you'll immediately notice things you no longer see on the newer motorcycles coming out of Milwaukee.
1979 Classic FLH Electra Glide in Black
Old School Ergonomics
The first ergonomic thing you recognize is the comfortable spring pogo
seat, once called the buddy seat. Going all the way back to the hard-tail era where there was actually no rear suspension,
up to the period when this 1979 was manufactured with it's inferior rear suspension, the riding comfort problem was solved
by putting the driver and passenger seat on a pogo stick with springs and damping. When you combine this period's archaic
rear suspension with the spring seat, you actually had quite a comfortable ride.
The seat was also positioned a little higher and more forward, almost above the rear of the Electra Glide gas tank.
This positioned the rider to see above the windshield and to also position the rider's legs and feet for a more neutral stance.
This set-up allowed for a very comfortable ride with your arms falling to a comfortable handlebar height. With the lower center
of gravity of the older bikes (engine and frame closer to the ground) the rider had good control of the bike. As modern suspension
raised the level of the frame, that along with styling changes dictated a lower seat height. This "chopping" of
the seat position, moved the rider back and closer to the ground at the expense of some ergonomic control. The handlebar reach
is more forward and the rider's leg position is moved more forward. Now you may like the modern seating position but have
your tried the more classic upright position?
Notice how the Police Harley-Davidson bikes have the higher riding seat with seat suspension.
This puts them up higher on the bike offering them more control and better visibility. Pre-80's model year bikes have this
riding position from the factory. Current bikes with the much lowered and moved back seat, force your feet forward. You can
actually control a heavy motorcycle with your leg in a more neutral position. You can hold up a heavy motorcycle seat with
a straighter leg position as opposed to the squat position you get on a low set.
Police officers spend many hours on their bikes and there is a reason they require
this type of seat ergonomics. Have you seen some of our Facebook posts of Police officers riding their Electra Glides through
an obstacle course? They perform them almost flawlessly on this seat position. Take a look below:
Simple things like having the choke right in the middle of the tank instrument pod was a welcome feature. Harley
(before fuel injection) soon moved the choke down and to the left side of the motorcycle. The accessory stereo radio pod on
the 1979 FLH has its antenna integrated near the front fairing. At present day, the antenna is mounted on the rear of the
tour-pak, where it is more susceptible to damage and simply gets in your way as you walk around the bike. With the antenna
at the front fairing, it is within the motorcycle's envelope and is out of the way.
The 1979 has a fat front tire and nicely designed wrap-around chrome supported rubber bumper. Newer Electra Glide
now come with narrower front tires and Harley chose to eliminate the rubber bumper which is a nice feature that helps protect
the front of the bike. Even the older style Electra Glide square mirror seem to give you a bit more rear visibility as compared
to the newer styled rear-view mirrors.
When the factory eliminated the cable
actuated clutch the rider lost the ability to adjust the cable setting which allowed a rider to modify the clutch lever reach.
The 1979 cable clutch allows you to make this adjustment where the hydraulic clutch of today does not.
Harley-Davidson Invented the Tour-pak
Harley-Davidson offered early style OEM accessory tour-paks for the Electra Glide. You could purchase one from your
dealer and outfit your FLH to carry more luggage for the long haul. The original offering had a poorly designed lid brace.
The lid brace worked ergonomically but failed over time. It was quickly replaced by the factory with a cable and then a retracting
tether that now lives today in modern tour-paks. But the operation of the tour-pak lid was now a compromise. Many of these
factory changes were to save money over time; but at the expense of ergonomics and performance. Tour-pak lids were also lighter
because the passenger backrest pad was not part of the lid but was connected to the buddy seat. This made the lid easier to
use the many repeated times you open and close it during a ride.
Of course, there are a multitude of modern
features on the new touring bikes that are absolutely great and we appreciate that. Harley-Davidson continues to maintain
the DNA of the Electra Glide family heritage while at the same time advancing the design. From ABS brakes to modern improved
suspension to the migration from the shovel-head through the Evolution, Twin-cam and now Milwaukee Eight engine, the Electra
Glide has improved immensely. The recent Project Rushmore improvements are very much appreciated. Hand controls, audio, paint,
the improvements over time are too numerous to list. But what we are doing here is discussing the things that are not quite
as good; and they deserve mention.
Note: In the 2021
model year, Harley-Davidson has brought back the cable clutch. We have always thought the cable clutch worked better than
the hydraulic. (Feb. 2021)
One of our major themes here at eGlideGoodies
is that you can take a modern Electra Glide, Street Glide, Road Glide or Road King and with some of our product offerings,
you can upgrade that bike to include many of these anachronistic features that were thought to be lost. What was OLD can now
once again become NEW!
Above you'll find a Project Rushmore Electra Glide Ultra Classic that has been
modified with products to reintroduce some of the features we have discussed in this blog. Also added are other products that
the Harley-Davidson factory no longer supplies as stock OEM items; now only offering as accessory items. eGlideGoodies has
also added completely new products to the bike to enhance the ride.
is a list product ideas you might be interested in, to bring back features we liked from the past as well as add new improvements
we have here in the present.