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Road Glide Ultra Trimming

Bassani Exhaust, Legends Suspension, and V&H Fuelpak

by Johnny White
1/17/2022


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She went from a 100lb barge to a much lighter and sleeker machine.
She went from a 100lb barge to a much lighter and sleeker machine.

The sound…potato-potato, a rumble from within, these are all one in the same: this is Harley-Davidson. Whether young or old, once you have heard it, I believe, you will never forget it. Even more gripping is the emotion that “the sound” brings to anyone who has thrown a leg over the famous cycle and spent any time on the road with one. To be honest, it’s an addiction that I have yet attempted to curb. The feeling of the engine, the roads’ vibrations and the rhythmic thumping gets into your soul and once you are bit, it never truly goes away.

I am experiencing a real winter for the first time in my cycling life. My wife and I moved from Houston, Texas, where we’ve lived together since our marriage in 1996,
 to just outside Chicago, Illinois. I now understand the “chrome sweats”, and for the first time in my motorcycle enthusiast lifetime, I get to upgrade the bike in the winter and long for the warmer springtime to ride again.

Stocker on first diet
Stocker on first diet

The wonderful thing about modifying is it at least gives you an outlet until the roads thaw out and the bike can be taken out again. You have time to plan, to dream, to save, and to do the work if you can find a warm spot in the garage.

Not every motorcycle is meant for one purpose only
Not every motorcycle is meant for one purpose only

My 2016 Road Glide Ultra FLTRU has been a reliable ride that has endured 70,000 miles without any major issues. I’ve slowly added and/or modified the look and feel of the bike always chasing that elusive perfect combination of comfort and cool.
 
One of the first things a guy wants to change is the sound, as a new Harley sounds great until you hear it next to one with a tuned exhaust system. Mufflers can help, but until you remove that choked up catalytic header, you never truly hear or feel that engine like you should.
 
The change now vs. days of old includes pipes and re-jetting the carb. Now, with electronic fuel injection and emission controls, it can seem a bit daunting if you don’t know where to look. Well, it’s easier today than most realize and it doesn’t require a ton of time, knowledge, or money…well, it does require some money.

Whenever I would hear of adding pipes to a fuel injected motorcycle, I would cringe thinking of pipes, tuners, air filters, dyno time, dyno tuners, and the like. This combination of possible issues can be confusing at times, especially today as the newer bikes are becoming harder and harder to legally tune without the fear of the dreaded “voiding your warranty”. Almost like the Catholic kids getting threatened with the punishment of their evil thoughts, the warranty fear is held over your head and creates the dreaded “I don’t want to void my warranty” scare. Today’s market makes it much more enticing to try though…especially when you do a little research.

For myself, I decided it was time to remove the heavy, hot, stock head pipe (with catalytic converter), mufflers, and replace it with an actual exhaust system. Even though my bike is twin-cooled, it would get ridiculously hot on the right side. I have made two previous exhaust mods to this bike in the 6 years since I’ve had her, such as Rush Big Louie slip-on mufflers, Screamin’ Eagle Street Cannons, and added a high flow filter hoping to get a little rumble without breaking the bank.

 
Bassani has a cool sticker design as well
Bassani has a cool sticker design as well

 
Like most, I fell into the nickel and diming, and never really felt happy with the result and should have heeded the advice of one of the OG’s back in the day…,”Pay once, cry once!” Basically meaning to just pay for what you want the first time, you’ll be happier and you get what you pay for. Don’t get me wrong, as both sets of mufflers sounded nicer than stock, neither had decel popping, and I had the ECM “flashed” at the dealer but they just lacked that je ne sais quoi, or “I don’t know what”.
 
On the lift preparing for a little surgery.
On the lift preparing for a little surgery.

I always loved the look of a clean 2-into-1 performance pipe and Thunderheader was the “go to” in years past. D&D came on the scene and I believe is now the most popular choice among those in the “performance bagger” world. Two Bros. Racing is starting to gain traction as well with their stylish and versatile applications. For me and my money, style had to match looks and I wanted the pipe that I feel has the sexiest bends in the biz, The Bassani!

The Bend...I think this is my favorite part of the Bassani looks wise.
The Bend...I think this is my favorite part of the Bassani looks wise.

I searched and searched and finally decided on the blacked out Bassani Road Rage 2. Being in Illinois, I’ve heard the roads can wreak havoc on chrome and the black has a durable reputation…we will see. Quick search on Amazon, placed it in my cart, and click…it’s on the way.

Heavy Touring Rig...my Winnebago
Heavy Touring Rig...my Winnebago

Of course, this modification also required a tuner. I decided on the Vance and Hines FuelPaK 3 as it is a blue tooth enabled program that plugs directly into my 6-pin connector and provides a basic map for my configuration. Plus, with this tuner, there’s no need for a dyno tune. As I read more about it, I realized this tuner has many more facets and features than I could want or need, so for the money it was the one I chose. Let’s see how I feel in a couple of years. It’s received reviews from every end of the spectrum but has been around long enough I’m hoping the bugs are all worked out.

Legend vs. Stock
Legend vs. Stock

The last modification came as a need vs. a want is my rear suspension. I decided on the American-made Legends Revo 12” for the rear. While they have the same height as the H-D Low shocks, they have more travel and better sag setting. Again, you can get into a whole new set of options when you decide to shop for suspension and can spend anywhere from 350-1500 on a set of rear shocks. I went with the base Legend Revo, which has great reviews and was reasonably priced.

Meanwhile back at the exhaust system: I removed the main fuse first, then the bags, then the mufflers. I had to remove the right floorboard and bracket to clear the way for the headpipe maneuvering and removal. I was extremely careful before I started removing anything and sprayed all the fasteners I would be working with the night before with some penetrating oil. Rust and corrosion had shown signs on a few fasteners and the last thing I wanted was to twist something off.

When you remove the headpipe, be extra careful when removing the O2 sensors and remember which one goes where. I always use a pen and paper to write notes while working on the bike and noted the plug positions, the black connector to the rear pipe and gray connector to the front pipe.

The new pipe comes with instructions which include a parts list as well as tools needed. Bassani does a great job packing the pipe as it was protected with a foam support in the box and wrapped to save the matte finish. Once I opened it, I almost regretted getting black because the stock pipe looks so beautiful…I wondered if I could change the heat shields and muffler to chrome later. Overall this operation is very basic and if you take your time, can be completed in a few hours easily. Just take your time and don’t rush.

I made sure to loosely attach the headpipe, main bracket, main muffler bracket, and muffler support bracket until I could line everything up and then slowly tightened the headpipe first, then the main bracket, and then the muffler last. Of course, I plugged the main fuse back in at this point. Before I put the tuner or the heat-shields on the bike, I decided to heat cycle the pipe a few times to warm it up then recheck the tightness of the fittings. I also checked for exhaust leaks at the head pipe with a little spray of carb/choke cleaner at the exhaust connections (on first start up so as not to have a fire), and I didn’t hear or feel a change in exhaust note or intake noise.

It was hard to be patient as the more I placed each piece on the bike, the more awesome it looked and I wanted to rush to fire her up. Because it was in the low teens outside, the weather would force me to take breaks and go back inside to warm up. While this slowed the operation, it assisted in preventing me from rushing and screwing something up.

On the lift after initial heat cycle and tightening of exhaust nuts, main brackets hardware, muffler hardware, and finally heat shield adjustments.
On the lift after initial heat cycle and tightening of exhaust nuts, main brackets hardware, muffler hardware, and finally heat shield adjustments.

Once the pipe was on and heat-cycled three different times, I just followed the directions for heat-shield placement and carefully attached the shields. The look of the pipe was outstanding in my opinion and from the small sample I heard sounded dramatically different, and definitely in a good way. The deeper rumble replaced the old rattling and I am sure is far lighter than the stock monstrosity. Definitely worth the money for me.

Next step was the Fuelpak, which couldn’t have been easier.

FuelPak fro Vance and Hines
FuelPak fro Vance and Hines

 
First, download a free App on your phone. Go plug the tuner into the 6-pin connector located on the left side of the bike under the access panel and power the bike up, but do not start.

You will receive instructions asking you if you would like to pair the tuner to your bike and gives you the option for maps. You can also select an “Autotune” option, but I just went with a pre-mapped program. You will be prompted that the bike has paired and mapped the download and then you get instructions to turn off the power for 30 seconds. Your phone’s app will automatically start a timer so you don’t screw up and then you get a prompt to turn the bikes power on.

Once this sequence is completed, you will get a prompt to start you engine. That’s it, leave it on the bike plugged in to get real time info sent to your phone or unplug it and it will run the tune you downloaded but you won't have real time info. Upon start up, the bike sounded richer, deeper, and almost a little quieter than before the tune. Unfortunately, its frozen outside, so I couldn’t ride it, but I definitely idled her until she was hot, checked all the fittings a couple more times, and then repeated the process a few times. I promise this was one of the best decisions I ever made.
 
Before placing the bags back on her. I did manage a quick trip around the block and the suspension is a game changer. The exhaust was beautiful as well.
Before placing the bags back on her. I did manage a quick trip around the block and the suspension is a game changer. The exhaust was beautiful as well.

The last mod for this project was the rear suspension. The shocks are as simple as it comes. Just jack the bike up enough so the wheel is stable but the swing arm is neutral, or doesn’t hang down. Remove one shock and replace with the Legend shock.

By the way, The Legends have a small silver label on the bottom that should be placed on the inside of the motorcycle. This gives you access to the sag adjustment (on Revo A’s). I didn’t opt for that upgrade, but I’m positive these shocks will be better than the leaking H-Ds I was replacing. Once both shocks were replaced, I measured the rear axle and it sits about ¼-inch lower, but it felt to have a significant amount of travel as compared to the previous shocks with me bouncing up and down.
 
I will adjust the springs more once I ride it, but for now will leave it as it sits. These shocks adjust super easy by turning the spring clockwise or counterclockwise depending on if you want a stiffer or softer ride. No tools necessary.
 
Waking the neighbors and the world, my sexy new machine is ready for Spring!
Waking the neighbors and the world, my sexy new machine is ready for Spring!

So, I basically spent a couple of bucks on Amazon, a couple of afternoons in the garage, and I was able to change the look and feel of my motorcycle significantly to improve overall enjoyment in my ride. While I can guarantee this isn’t the last mod I'm planning, it has been one of the easiest I’ve tackled. Since I made these changes, I have already ordered some new brake rotors and will replace next week.

I used basic hand tools, a Harbor Freight Motorcycle lift, a scissor jack, and a good radio station to keep me calm during the whole thing. I can tell you, if you start hitting a sticking point, or if you start having trouble with a nut, it is best to take a break. I have cost myself thousands over the years because I was in a rush and would push it past my limits and either I’d hear a pop, a snap, an abrupt release on the wrench…all bad things that required replacing something and more time down.

 
This time I took my time, enjoyed a refreshing drink, and just enjoyed the process. Yes, I am happy with the changes so far and hope you enjoyed the process as well. Thanks and have a great day out there, keep on riding, and always keep the rubber side down.
 
Quick, join the Cantina. Touch her.
Quick, join the Cantina. Touch her.


 

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Reader Comments


I enjoyed the article but am saddened that we've lost a fine Texan.

Sam
TX
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Editor Response I have a feeling, he'll be back.
--Bandit

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