I tried to make a wikipedia page, but they shot it down due to lack of references. What they don't realize, there is no references as the history has not been well documented. If you do a google search for Road Glide history, this forum is the only thing that comes up.
If you have more to add or corrections, please reply and I will edit so all info is good and up to date. I would love to have listed all color choices for each year, so please help me out there where you can. Most of the initial information came from forum members RoadGlideRider and JacktheBagger - thanks for sharing your knowledge gentlemen. A lot of the missing info is going to take some of you experienced guys to fill in the blanks for me, as information is just not out there on the web.
The Harley-Davidson '''Road Glide''' or '''Tour Glide''' is an American made touring motorcycle that was first put into production in the year 1979. The Tour Glide was different then any H-D models before, in that it had a fixed fairing that was attached to the frame and did not move with the handlebars.
Today the Road Glide is one of the most popular motorcycles in the custom bagger world, and for long distance touring.
The shape of the fairing is often referred to as a "Sharknose" fairing due to the resemblence of a shark.
First years - Tour Glide
The Tour Glide was introduced in 1979 and only 19 FLT's were produced that year. In the following year Harley produced 4480.
The 1980 Tour Glide was the first to have the 5 speed transmission and 3 point rubber mounted engine. The motorcycle also had a rectangular steel back bone , and tubular frame, twin 10" front disc, single 12" rear disc and an enclosed final chain drive. The bike was powered by an 82ci (1338cc) Shovelhead with a bore x stroke of 89 x 108mm and had a wet multiplate clutch, 5 gallon gas tank and the bike weighed 725lbs.
The 1981 model brought a VfireII electronic ignition, lower 7.4:1 C.R., longer valve guides, extra oil drain lines from the rocker boxes, revised valve guide seals, and a Girling rear brake caliper.
In 1982, the FLT got new handlebars and seat, primary chain oiler, higher output alternator, and locks for the luggage.
1983 only brought a lower seat, and stiffer suspension.
From 1979 to early 1984 the tour glide was powered by the Shovelhead engine. In late 1984 until 1996 the motorcycle was powered by the Evolution engine. The early 1984 models had a shovelhead bottom end with an EVO top end.
There was never a Police FLT Model. Only FLHT, FXRP, XLP, and Dyna Police models.
It is known that the 1984 through 1988 models (at least, maybe more) had air resivors in the crash bars for air assist to the front fork springs. The 1985 model was changed from a final drive chain to a belt.
The Tour Glide came without a Radio or gauge mounting positions made into the fairing. To add a radio, you would need to purchase a Radio Caddy from Harley, or several after market companies. Some after market caddys came with the gauges mounted in the radio aaddy. To add Harley gauges, Harley sold ones that required you to drill a hole in the fairing and mount them there. Harley introduced the Radio Caddy for the Tour Glide fairing and was stock beginning with the 1986 model year. It is the same year Harley had the radio in the Inner/outer fairing on the Electra Glide. It was produced by Radio Sound. That radio was only used in the 1986/87 model years.
The only major change made that didn't change the name of the model line was to move the turn signals from in the fairing to outside and attached to the lower mounting supports and this happened in 1988.
1989 the "Ultra" model was introduced along with the base FLT model. The alternator was bumped up to 32 amp for 1989 and it also had a one piece pinion shaft and right flywheel.
The FLTCU model came standard with cruise control, a CB radio, intercom, front and rear sound systems, and fairing lowers, and two tone paint jobs. The standard FLTs were solid colored bikes. A sidecar option was available for the FLTCU, but only 15 were made in 1989. Total production for 1989 is believed to be 603.
The Tour Glide's last year of production was in the 1996 model year, and also the first year for the fuel injection option.
There was not any FLT models produced for the 1997 model year.
Road Glide years
With the introduction of the 1998 model lines, Harley introduced the FLTR Road Glide. This was using the same frame and motor assembly as the Electra Glide, as before, but with a completely redesigned fairing. It included the radio and gauges mounted in the fairing in areas that were made for this purpose. This inner and outer fairing has not changed for the entire production run of the Road Glide. From 1998 to present it has remained the same.
The fairing changed slightly and this was the last year for the Evolution engine. In 1999 Harley Touring models got the Twin Cam engine that bumped the displacement up to 88".
From 1999 to 2003 the motorcycle had very minimal changes.
In 2000 and 2001 Harley offered CVO Road Glides, the FLTRSEI and FLTRSE2.
2004 brought the change from cassette tape to compact disc, and in 2006 the radio manufacture changed from Radio Sound to Harman/Kardon.
2007 the engine displacement increased from 88ci to 96ci and Transmission to 6 Speed, and all Touring Models became EFI standard.
In 2008 the fuel tank increased to 6 Gallons. Throttle changed to Throttle By Wire, brakes changed to Brembo Brakes, and an ABS option for all Touring Models.
2009 brought the new frame, rear tire changed to 180 wide rear tire and 17 " front tire. This was the last year of the Road Glide (FLTR). After many years Harley Davidson brought back a CVO Road Glide in 2009 (FLTRSE3).
Custom and Ultra years
After many rumors that the Road Glide's last year was going to be the 2009 model year, 2010 models came out with a newly designed Road glide called the Road Glide Custom and designated model FLTRX. The bike was basically the same as a Street Glide, just with the shark nose or fixed fairing.
The 2010 models was the first and only year to offer a 2 into 1 headpipe.
2010 was also introduced with 18" front tire, lowered rear end with newly designed tail lights, doing away with the center brake light in the middle of the rear fender.
In 2010 Harley redesigned the fairing mounting supports. They were redesigned to move the fairing up and re-angle the fairing to make the fairing accept the vented lowers that are now being used on the Electra Glide. Before this models change, the Road Glide required a different lower fairing from and of the "Batwing" or Road King models lines.
Cruise Control was made optional (controls removed from handlebars).
2011 Road Glide Custom (FLTRX) same as before with new colors and 103ci motor option and a 2/1/2 headpipe. The Road Glide Ultra (FLTRU) was introduced with a 17" front tire and has the TwinCam 103ci motor. Harley also produced a FLTR CVO Road Glide Ultra (FLTRUSE) with 110ci engine and 18" front and rear tire.
2012 saw both the FLTRX and FLTRU models return, and a FLTRXSE in 3 color offerings.
2011 was definatley a big year for the Road Glide, along with 2012 and the best kept secret in the Harley Davidson line-up, seems to be finally getting some well deserved respect in the touring community.
2013 was another great year for the Road Glide, with the Custom and Ultra returning with new color offerings. Also the FLTRXSE2 returned with addition speakers in the saddlebag lids, 2 paint offerings and the 110 year anniversary edition CVO Road Glide. The FLTRXSE2 came with Harley's new LED lighting for the Road Glides.