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Over the years, I have owned five HD motorcycles and have loved every one of them. I have never had any real problems with any of them. I am no ‘expert’ but have been riding a while and do enjoy doing as much of my own motorcycle maintenance as possible.

Having said all that, I’ve been wanting an Ultra Classic for the past few years and just bought a new one as a replacement for my ’00 FLHT. We ending up keeping the ’00 FLHT because my wife adopted it as a replacement for her ’99 FXD.

Here are my first impressions of the differences between the ’00 FLHT Standard and new ’06 FLHTCUI Ultra Classic after 300 miles:

New Seat – The ‘comfort stitch’ seat on the ’06 Ultra sucks when compared to the old ‘pillow look’ seat on the ’00 FLHT. The old seat has much better lower-back support and is softer and much more comfortable for long rides. HD really had to go out of their way to screw up a wonderful seat that was stock for years. Guess I’ll have to find an old seat for my new bike because my wife won’t trade. My vote goes to the old FLHT seat.

New Mirrors – look nice but do not have the field-of-view of the old-style on the ’00 FLHT. My vote is for the old style with better field-of-view.

New Clutch – the new reduced effort clutch is great! Liked it so much, I had one of the kits put in the ‘00 FLHT for my wife. She likes the new clutch very much.

New Transmission – has a ‘stop’ to let you know you are in 1st gear. New Ultra does not shift any better nor any worse than old FLHT. This one goes to the Ultra for the 'stop' in 1st gear.

Power – EFI seems to have more stock power than the FLHT had stock with a carburetor. Good news was the Carb bike was easy to fix. Bad news is one is stuck with the stock EFI if you want to keep the warranty in place. This one goes to the FLHT simply because more power was easy to get at low cost, and no fear of ‘fines by the EPA’ nor warranty threats from the stealership.

Tour Pac – handy as a shirt pocket. Love the huge brake lights in the Tour Pac and LEDs on the sides for running lights. This one goes to the Ultra for far better rear visibility at night.

Ultra Oil Pressure – runs about 10 psi higher at any speed than the ’00 FLHT.

Ultra Electrical Output – stays at about 14.5 volts at idle with cigarette lighter pushed in – unlike the FLHT which drops to about 12 volts. The Ultra seems to put out very constant power. This one goes to the Ultra but the FLHT has worked just fine for the past six years.

Ultra Radio – WOW! No need to go above half volume to clearly hear it at highway speeds. Very user friendly. Good Sound! By the way, I have a five-dollar AM/FM/WB camping radio with ear piece in the glove box of the FLHT that has served my needs for years but the Ultra sound system is awesome!

Lack of Passenger Grab rail – cheap trick by HD to make another nickel off each bike. The grab strap on an Ultra looks cheesy. Guess I’ll have to modify a grab rail to fit around the rear speakers. The chrome FLHT grab rail is also great for tying down camping gear. This one goes to the FLHT.

Ultra Headset – easy to install and works as advertised but not nearly the sound quality of the in-dash speaker system. I have stored all the headset parts to go with the bike when I sell it in ten years or so.

Lack of throttle friction screw – constant pain-in-the-ass. Ultra cruse control must be turned on every time you need to remove your hand from throttle. I like the FLHT on this one but it is no big deal either way.

Ultra Cruse Control – works as advertised and is great for long freeway rides. Friction screw on FLHT also works just fine. This one is a ‘toss-up.’

Ultra CB – Had a CB in my truck in the 70’s (it was a gift from a friend who insisted that I install it) and seldom turned it on as the racket was a constant irritation. It may be worthwhile going cross-country - I’ll have to try it. I carry a cell phone so I never missed a CB on the FLHT.

Ultra Adjustable Tour Pac – Yes, it can be moved to a forward position – but if it is placed in the forward position, then it must be removed to remove the seat. Since I frequently remove the seat during maintenance, the Tour Pac will stay in the rear position. So much for adjustability:-(

Plastic versus fiberglass saddle bags – another HD effort to squeeze every nickel from each bike sale. This one goes to the FLHT.

Suspension – As I remember, HD beefed up the axels and swing arm in ’02 when they dropped the front fork air adjustment capability from baggers. I liked the adjustable front fork suspension on my ’91 FXRS-Con and also the ’00 FLHT. Having said that, the ’06 rides quite nicely and there are fewer parts to service. This one goes to the Ultra.

Bottom line: I really like my ’06 Ultra but believe that I would have been happier with a ’05 which did not have the catalyst mufflers and EPA stuff. I’m just glad to get a ’06 Ultra before HD (and the EPA) screws them up any worse. Looks to me like the twin-cam bagger ‘golden years’ were ’02 to ’05. Sorry I missed out. If I had a ’02 to ’05 Ultra, I would install the reduced effort clutch kit and keep that bike until I’m too old to chew my own food:)

John
 
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