Harley-Davidson’s New Reflex Defensive Rider Systems May be the Hidden Treasure in H-D’s 2020 Model Lineup


Lost in all the hoopla over the LiveWire electric motorcycle, may be the single, biggest technology improvement ever for H-D touring motorcycles.

Model Year 2020 Asset Capture Production MY20
The new Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited is one of the models on which RDRS is available as an option.

Harley-Davidson announced a technology package called Reflex Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS) which comes standard on LiveWire, CVO and trike models. It includes nine key features, most of which are new to H-D in 2020. In its news release, H-D says the “systems are designed to aid the rider in controlling the vehicle while accelerating and braking in a straight line or while in a turn.” Adding that a rider “may find the systems most helpful when riding in adverse road conditions and in urgent situations.”

Here’s a list of what’s in the “system:”

-Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)

-Cornering Enhanced Anti-Lock Brakes (C-ABS)

-Electronic Linked Braking (ELB)

-Cornering Enhanced Electronic Linked Braking (C-ELB)

-Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System (C-TCS)

-Drag-Torque Slip Control System (DSCS)

-Cornering Enhanced Drag-Torque Slip Control System (C-DSCS)

-Vehicle Hold Control (VHC)

-Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Anti-Lock Brakes have been a feature on Harley tourers since 2008, and now the RDRS adds Cornering Enhanced Anti-Lock Brakes which takes into consideration the lean angle of the vehicle when assisting the rider in a stop. The ability of ABS to help in corners was a huge topic of discussion when motorcycle companies starting introducing ABS into their bikes.

Electronic Linked Braking and Cornering Enhanced Electronic Linked Braking are intended to help many riders achieve greater braking performance. The electronic system takes signals from both the hand and foot brake controls and delivers more balanced brake usage, especially in hard stops or emergency situations.

Cornering Enhanced Traction Control (traction control on a Harley??? YES!) prevents the rear wheel from excessive spinning under acceleration. H-D says it’s most important in wet conditions, when road surface abruptly changes or on dirt roads. The system has two modes, Standard for dry and Rain for wet surfaces. The rider can turn off the traction control system.

Drag-Torque Slip Control System and Cornering Enhanced Drag-Torque Slip Control System is another new feature for H-D. The system reduces rear wheel slip under deceleration. I read it this way, if you downshift quickly the system will read the slip of the rear wheel and adjust engine torque so that your rear wheel maintains grip with the pavement. I consider it traction control for the deceleration part of your ride.

Vehicle Hold Control is going to help me out when I’m stopped at a light on a steep uphill grade and a bee flies inside my face shield. When activated on an uphill or downhill surface, VHC keeps the bike from moving. It automatically cancels when the clutch and throttle are used to accelerate away from that position. I think we all know a few times when this might have come in handy.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System has been available on CVO models for several years. The tire pressure in now displayed on an Info screen on H-D’s GTS Infotainment System (or on the odometer on Road Kings).

In addition to coming standard on LiveWire, Trikes, and CVO models, the RDRS is available as an option on other H-D touring bikes (except Electra Glide Standard) for about $1000.

So whether you are a purist and feel you can control your bike better than any computer, or if you are excited that H-D is upping their technology game, we all have to admit that this is a huge step for H-D. My insiders tell me that the vehicles with this system did amazingly great things during the testing process.

I consider myself a pretty accomplished rider, so I rely on my own skills to get me to my destination each day. But if I have a system in my motorcycle that can help me out, I’ll take that help every time.

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