What RPM Should I Be Cruising At?

Discussion in 'Touring Models' started by Gas Gauge, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. Gas Gauge

    Gas Gauge Junior Member

    O.K., here goes....(please bear with me, this is my first post, and I actually do have a question, after I drool over this forum and myself for a moment).

    I want to say first how lucky I feel to have stumbled upon this forum and to have the responders with expertise and time available and willing to help out everyone from the obvious expert, to the (obvious) novice. Plus it's great reading, I read first thing in the morning and 2-3 times a day. Thank you!

    Been waiting until kids got out of college (one daughter a Senior in college, one a senoir in High School) to purchase my dream, but the economic climate caused me to buy my brothers 2001 FXD Dyna Super Glide to help him out and the boss gave the O.K. (didn't argue). Shipped it from Las Vegas to Houston with HaulBikes (great company). Within a month I realized, this wasn't my dream, and if I was going to own a bike, it should be the one I want. The Dyna is now for sale.

    I just got my lifetime dream (been saving since I was 18), a gorgeous 2006 FLHTC/I Electra Glide Classic. The boss fronted me the difference and I have to pay her back when the Dyna sells. I know you guys like pictures, so I will post some when I get them. I am having the time of my life learning to ride this baby. I took the MSF beginners course (invaluable) and am gaining experience everyday (hope to get the "Ride Like A Pro V" and "Fix My Hog" DVD's for Fathers Day).

    The bike has 18,000 miles on it, but I got an extremely good price from a reliable seller. I just paid an extra $800 for new tires, change all fluids (motor, transmission & primary Amsoil synthetics), and 20,000 mile service. I will learn to do this myself going forward.

    I want this bike to last for a good long while for me or if I decide to sell (I'm already being seduced by the 2009's), but am currently Harley poor and expect to be for a while (not a bad thing!). Now the question....

    I can't seem to get comfortable with the correct cruising gear (5 speed tranny). Accelerating through the gears is no problem, but being in 4th gear @ 2800-3000 RPM's gives me 60-65 MPH's. This seems (slightly) sluggish at times, but O.K. most times. I don't really know what the optimum RPM's for cruising should be, or what range I should be when in traffic? I haven't really been in 5th gear too much (yet), and when I was (trying to get to 70 MPH) the RPM's dropped to about 1800-2000 and it was obviously the wrong gear. I want to treat this bike good, but can't seem to find a good answer. Is this just something I am going to have to learn and adapt a feel for? I am afraid of abusing the engine and transmission in the process. Or, should i just not worry and enjoy the ride?

    Thank you for allowing me the format to introduce myself and pose a question in the same thread, I hope I didn't wear out my welcome.
  2. Grillfish

    Grillfish Junior Member

    Welcome! I have an 09 RG w/ 6 speed tranny and I'm sure it's geard differently than yours. However, I try to keep mine in the 2500 rpm range when crusing. It's flat here in FL, so I don't worry about downshifting for hills just downshifting when the RPM falls below my target range when I slow down. Lugging the engine is no good on a V-twin.

    I'm sure the expert Mods on here can give you even more detail than my novice answer.

    Ride safe and have fun!
  3. glider

    glider Veteran Member

    Rather than spending your time looking at the tach, learn to listen to the engine and know when the sound of chugging it in a certain gear is too low , then you downshift. Keeping it above 2200 -2500 or so in the upper gears will give you a decent pull in most gears. Learn to gauge the proper gear by the sound of the engine to avoid any lugging that could cause damage and a short lived drive train.
  4. Subby

    Subby Active Member

    I have an /09 Ultra. I like to keep the engine in the 2300 to 2700 range when on the highway. Once I'm up to about 63 to 65 mph, I usually get into 6th gear and let the bike just cruise along. That said, I have let it run in 6th down to 2200 as long as I'm on a straight stretch or going down hill.
  5. TQuentin1

    TQuentin1 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

    Welcome to the Forum. As you seem to have discovered already, there is a bunch of great info here on the site and in the heads of your fellow members.

    If you have questions or problems with your bike, check out the Self-help sections. There is also a Search function here that is pretty good at returning likely help for your subjects.

    On what rpms to run when cruisin'. I have an '03 UC, that originally had the OEM 5-spd. My numbers were different than yours. At ~3,000 in 5th I was doing about 70mph. I did not like that for longer rides, so when the 5-spd started leaking oil, I used that as my excuse to upgrade. Installed an SE 6-spd. Now at 70 mph I am at about 2,550 or 2,600 rpm. At 3,000 I am closer to 80 mph.

    Like Grillfish said above, I like to keep my rpms around 2,500 rpm when running a constant speed. So if I am tooling around town, I will find the gear that gives that to me. On the highway, drop it down into 6th and run the engine around 2,500. Good cruisin speed.

    Double check your numbers. If you confirm the gear/rpm/speed ranges you posted, I would be inclined to think that some mods have been made inside the primary or with the drive belt pulleys, unless the tranny is not the original OEM one.

    One quick note. Being that you are sort of new to HDs, check out this excellent recommendation from Glider on lubricants for the engine, tranny and primary:

    Oil Suggestions For Harleys - Harley Davidson Community

    Cheers, and enjoy the ride.

  6. Gas Gauge

    Gas Gauge Junior Member

    Exactly what I was wondering, thanks Hobbit/Glider! Yea, I've been trying to get in tune with the engine, guess this will only come with time. I've been comparing the sound of the engine to the tach reading (as sort of a second point of reference), but definately have realized the sound of the engine is key. Haven't experienced any "lugging", so maybe I'm fretting too much during my "training" period. Guess I'll just sit back, enjoy the ride, and trust myself. Thanks!
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2009
  7. glider

    glider Veteran Member

    The long and short of it is this, If you feel your teeth chattering from lugging, downshift it. :s

    If you are doubtful, downshift it too.

    It will live longer.
  8. I ride a 2013 Street Glide. And I find that whatever gear I am in, with the exception of 6th gear. I keep the engine at about 2200 RPM' (lowest) an upwards to 2800. If you are in a crowed traffic situation, this will give you some get up and go. So you can get away from trucks or some vehicle that you just have a bad feeling about. I had a Wide Glide and it was a 96 C.I. On that particular bike, I had to be doing around 65mph/70mph to go into 6th gear. The only mods I have done to any of my bikes. A Commander 500, a Screaming Eagle Big Breather, and on the W.G. I had changed the exhaust, put it on a dyno, and I am not sure if it had a catalytic converter. But the Street Glide does. I left it in and changed the exhaust to just a little bit louder than stock...For some reason, I guess the weight of the bike. I can put it in 6th gear at around 63mph and it does not seem to lug the engine. But you should be able to feel or hear when you are lugging the engine..It all comes with knowing your bike and time...I feel like you are doing just fine
  9. gusotto

    gusotto Junior Member

    Different trannys and models will give you different RPM ranges.
    My '07 Ultra (96 CI w/6-speed) at 70 MPH gives me a comfortable cruising RPM of about 2,600.
    Rented a 2013 trike.
    103 w/6-speed and at 70 MPH. I got 3,000 RPM.

    Both engines sounded comfortable. You can hear a lugging engine. Lugging isn't a good idea.

    You'll get used to the bike after a bit..
    Have fun.
  10. dbmg

    dbmg Guest

    In most cases you want to be at the power band or as they say up on the cams for instantaneous power.... And long engine life.....