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New Harley-Davidson vented Batwing fairing battles buffeting

MILWAUKEE (August 18, 2013) - Science and experience come together in the Project RUSHMORE effort to improve rider and passenger comfort of many Harley-Davidson® Touring and Trike motorcycle models. The Project RUSHMORE team analyzed computer models, logged thousands of wind tunnel sessions and racked up countless miles of real-world road testing. More valuable feedback was gathered from thousands of experienced touring riders and passengers. The result is a reshaped Batwing fairing equipped with a splitstream vent that significantly reduces wind buffeting to the rider, and a new shotgun seating area that will have passengers measuring rides in smiles per gallon.

Project RUSHMORE Batwing Fairing
The challenge was daunting: reduce head buffeting for riders of Harley-Davidson Touring and Trike models while maintaining the iconic visage of the Batwing fairing, perhaps the most recognizable face in motorcycling. The result is brilliant. Though subtly reshaped and restyled, the new Batwing fairing maintains the look that launched a million road trips.

Development of the new Batwing fairing required the collaboration of Harley-Davidson engineers and stylists. The effort started with initial development aided by the virtual science of CFD (computational fluid dynamics). The aim was to reduce buffeting while not completely isolating the rider in a pocket of dead air, and also while maintaining the airflow necessary to cool powertrain components. Prototypes were produced, tested, refined, and sometimes discarded. Those that showed the most promise made it to the wind tunnel at Wichita State University, where the Project RUSHMORE team logged more than 3,000 test sessions, gathering both objective data and subjective input from a variety of riders who experienced the fairing designs while seated on a motorcycle in the wind tunnel. Finally, the fairing met the real-world test of the road.

The key design element of the new fairing is its splitstream vent located below the windshield which alters the air pressure behind the fairing and contributes to a significant reduction in buffeting. The vent is not adjustable and is intended to be open in almost any riding condition, but a door controlled by a One-Touch push-button will close the vent to keep rain water out. The standard windshield on Electra Glide® Ultra Classic®, Ultra Limited and Tri-Glide® Ultra models is 3.25 inches lower than that of previous models, a change that is a component of the fairing design.

Other alterations to the shape of the fairing include a new contour below the windshield, slightly more coverage in front of the hand controls, and more overhang of the headlamp. Even the shape and placement of turn signals were considered during aerodynamic testing, and all fairing-equipped 2014 Touring models are fitted with bullet-shaped front signals. The compact shape and position of the airbox for the new High Output Twin Cam 103™ and Twin-Cooled™ High Output Twin Cam 103™ engines improves airflow around the rider and creates additional leg room on the right side of the motorcycle.

Improved Fairing Lowers
The fairing lowers for the Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited and Tri-Glide Ultra models were reshaped as part of over-all aerodynamic testing and to accommodate the heat exchangers for models powered by the Twin-Cooled™ High Output Twin Cam 103™ engine. Airflow to the rider and passenger, and to the powertrain, is improved. The adjustable vent is more effective and has a new handle that makes it easier to open and close the vent.

Passenger Comfort
Shotgun calls the shots, so a successful tour depends on passenger comfort. Project RUSHMORE worked to address almost every aspect of the passenger seating area on models equipped with a Tour-Pak. The surface of the passenger pillion is one inch wider and one inch longer, and rear speaker pods are shifted outboard by one inch on each side. The height, width, angle and shape of the backrest are changed to provide optimal comfort and more lumbar support for a wide variety of riders. The shape and angle of the armrests is adjusted to keep passenger arms from slipping forward. The saddlebag guards are moved down and back to minimize contact with the passenger’s calves and to create more legroom (all Touring models have the new saddlebag guards). Passenger audio controls are to the right and positioned to be easy to reach, while the passenger headset connection is now located on the left speaker pod.

It all looked good on paper and in the shop, but Project RUSHMORE assembled a dedicated passenger test crew and logged multiple passenger evaluation rides on the track and on real roads; in heat, in cold, in sun, and in rain. The comfort scores exceeded Project RUSHMORE expectations.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson's website at www.h-d.com/rushmore.

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