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The New Harley Davidson Touring Chassis

Enhanced Comfort, Increased Capacity and Refined Handling for the Open Road

The new chassis that underpins the 2009 Touring motorcycles from Harley-Davidson improves the handling, comfort and functionality of these legendary machines, while preserving the timeless character that makes a Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycle the king of the road.

The Touring frame, swingarm, engine mounts, exhaust system, wheels and tyres have all been redesigned, and together provide the foundation for what are truly all-new motorcycles. Key styling elements – including the front end, large volume fuel tank, saddlebags and Tour-Pak – are essentially unchanged, so these Touring models are visually similar to the timelessly distinctive motorcycles that have preceded them. Ride quality remains smooth, while handling is all the more confident.

The Frame

Forming the core of the 2009 Touring chassis is a new frame with a single-spar, rigid backbone designed to sustain the demands of long-haul touring riders and today’s more-powerful engines.

The frame is manufactured with the latest coordinated motion robotic welding process, which offers outstanding dimensional accuracy and weld quality, and improved chassis alignment. The frame design results in a 50 percent reduction in parts, and a 50 percent reduction in the total length of welds. Bent frame tubes and T-studs have been eliminated, and the components of the new frame are joined with cast and forged node-tube joints. The new frame is approximately 20 percent stiffer than the frame used in 2008, a key factor behind the improved handling of all 2009 Touring models.

A separate bolt-on tail section isolates the main frame from the tail frame, providing better quality-control during manufacturing and more product-design flexibility. The new tail section improves the fit-and-finish of the rear area of the motorcycle through more-precise alignment of the rear fender over the rear wheel.
A new swingarm is formed with a two-piece, deep-drawn shell with a forged pivot section. The new swingarm is 60 percent stiffer than the rectangular box-section design it replaces and contributes significantly to the enhanced handling of the new chassis.

Overall chassis stiffness is increased by 67 percent.

The engine-isolation system has also been revised, resulting in reduced engine and vehicle shaking at idle speed. The new system replaces a single front isolator with twin front isolators with a single tie link. The front and rear mounts are designed to provide optimal balance between stiffness and isolation, and are intended to last the life of the motorcycle.

Wheels, Tyres and Suspension

A new wheel-and-tyre combination plays a key role in the enhanced handling performance of the 2009 Touring chassis. Front wheel diameter is increased to 17 inches from 16 inches (except for the Road King Classic, which has 16-inch wheels front and rear). New cast aluminium wheels were designed using finite element analysis for maximum stiffness with minimum weight. The Street Glide has restyled slotted disc cast aluminium wheels that have also been engineered to be stronger and lighter.

All 2009 Touring models will be equipped with new Dunlop Multi-Tread tyres designed specifically for the new Harley-Davidson Touring chassis. The construction of the tyres and the distribution of a harder centre tread compound and softer shoulder compound enhance handling and will deliver up to 25 percent more rear-tyre tread life than the previous tyre. The wider rear wheel accommodates a new 180/65-16 rear tyre that is wider and has a lower aspect ratio than the MU85B16 tyre it replaces. The new rear tyre size contributes to the increase in cargo capacity. The new front tyre also has a lower aspect ratio for a more modern look and enhanced handling. Front and rear suspension has been recalibrated to match the dynamics of the new chassis, wheels and tyres. Steering head rake and fork angle are unchanged at 26 degrees and 29.3 degrees respectively.


All 2009 Touring models are powered by the Twin Cam 96 V-Twin engine with Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) mated to the 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission and breathing through a sophisticated active intake and exhaust system. A new one-piece welded exhaust header features a 2-into-1-into-2 design. On models so equipped, the exhaust catalyst is located in the collector. The rear pipe is restyled and now curves forward of the transmission. A new single-piece heat shield replaces the previous two-piece shield for improved fit and styling.

Acceleration performance is improved on all 2009 Touring models due to a lower final drive ratio, as a 68-tooth rear sprocket replaces the previous 66-tooth sprocket. The Isolated Drive System has been redesigned, and the rear wheel compensator is now integrated into the rear wheel hub, eliminating the bolt-on bowl for a cleaner look.

Styling, Comfort and Convenience

An increase in wheelbase allows the saddlebags to be moved rearward to increase passenger legroom in front of the saddlebags. The elimination of the left-rear exhaust pipe, and the new routing of the right-rear exhaust pipe, creates more foot room for the passenger, and reduces the heat exposure to the rider’s thighs and the passenger’s calves. The revised exhaust routing and other new features combine to deliver a noticeable reduction of heat felt by the rider and passenger.

Shorty dual antennas replace the previous longer whip antennas. The rear fender has been re-shaped to accommodate the new 180mm rear tyre, and is also designed to work with 18-inch custom rear wheels from Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Accessories. Finally, the rear “hoop” over the fender has been eliminated from models not equipped with a Tour-Pak. The combination of these elements results in a striking, cleaner new look to the rear end, with perfect proportions that are especially evident on Touring models that are not equipped with the Tour-Pak.

The new Tour-Pak support rack is significantly stronger, with no holes in the tubes for Tour-Pak attachment. The new design uses fewer fasteners and hardware, and makes it easier to adjust the Tour-Pak fore and aft for passenger comfort. Tour-Pak capacity is increased by 2.3kg. Saddlebag capacity is increased by 2.3kg per side.