Har­ley-david­son Street Glide Spe­cial

Har­ley’s tour­ing fam­ily rearms with eight-valve en­gines and new sus­pen­sion to de­fend against In­dian at­tack

BIKE (UK) - - FIRST RIDE - By Roland Brown Pho­tog­ra­phy Oli Ten­nent

THE BAT­TLE OF the big tour­ers is hot­ting up in the US, with In­dian’s re­vival prompt­ing Har­ley­david­son to re­tal­i­ate with an all-new en­gine: the Mil­wau­kee-eight. It’s still a pushrod-op­er­ated, 45-de­gree V-twin, but jus­ti­fies its name with Har­ley’s first road-go­ing four-valves-per-cylin­der lay­out. The Eight comes in three va­ri­eties. The ba­sic Mil­wau­kee-eight 107 – used by the Street Glide, Road Glide and Road King mod­els – has en­larged ca­pac­ity of 1745cc, or 107 cu­bic inches (up from the pre­vi­ous Twin Cam 103 unit’s 1690cc), and fea­tures new oil-cooled cylin­der heads. A ver­sion of the 107 with liq­uid­cooled heads pow­ers the full-dress Ultra Clas­sic; and there’s also a big­ger, 1868cc unit, the Mil­wau­kee-eight 114, for the ex­otic Cus­tom Ve­hi­cle Op­er­a­tions mod­els. It’s the Street Glide Spe­cial that’s likely to be most pop­u­lar. With bar-mounted half-fair­ing, sound sys­tem and pan­niers, it’s cool look­ing, un­mis­tak­ably Har­ley and well-equipped for dis­tance, with­out be­ing as huge as the Ultra Clas­sic. The Glide’s nat­u­ral habi­tat might be the Amer­i­can Mid­west, but its up­dates make just as much sense on the A427 be­tween Corby and Coven­try in the English Mid­lands. Some are ob­vi­ous even be­fore pulling away: a new counter-bal­ancer re­duces vi­bra­tion dra­mat­i­cally, so there’s much less of the tra­di­tional jig­gling about at tick­over. Idle speed is re­duced from 1000 to 850rpm, which con­trib­utes, along with the new oil-cooled heads (and re-routed rear ex­haust which ben­e­fits a pil­lion), to cooler run­ning. Re­duced me­chan­i­cal noise has al­lowed Har­ley to make the ex­haust’s potatopotato thump slightly sharper, while get­ting through Euro 4 regs. There’s also ex­tra elec­tri­cal out­put for heated gear that is thank­fully un­nec­es­sary on this mild au­tum­nal ride. Main ben­e­fit comes when the throt­tle’s cracked open. The in­creased en­gine ca­pac­ity and four-valve lay­out’s bet­ter breath­ing has gen­er­ated more grunt through much of the range, with a peak torque boost of al­most ten per cent. Har­ley says that means a gain of two to three bike lengths from zero to 60mph, and one to two in top-gear from 60 to 80mph. That feels about right from the way the Spe­cial stomps for­ward with a crisp, re­spon­sive feel from as lit­tle as 2000rpm. Although smoother, it still has plenty of char­ac­ter. Its ex­tra shove adds to the en­ter­tain­ment, makes A-road over­tak­ing eas­ier, and will doubt­less be es­pe­cially wel­come when the bike is two-up and its use­fully roomy, eas­ily opened pan­niers are full. Such sit­u­a­tions will also high­light this year’s other Tour­ing fam­ily up­date: new sus­pen­sion. The 49mm Showa forks are up­rated; the same firm’s new shocks in­cor­po­rate a re­mote hy­draulic preload ad­juster, in­stead of us­ing

air-as­sis­tance as be­fore. (Ac­cord­ing to Har­ley, many ex­ist­ing own­ers let the shocks go flat or over-fill them with garage air-lines.) The Glide’s ride is plush and its han­dling also im­presses, the front end steer­ing ac­cu­rately and con­tribut­ing to a well-con­trolled cor­ner­ing feel. In fact all the re­vamped tour­ers han­dle well. Even the gi­gan­tic Ultra Clas­sic cor­ners re­mark­ably sweetly for 400kg-plus of Amer­i­can buf­falo. They say com­pe­ti­tion im­proves the breed, and in the case of these V-twins it’s ab­so­lutely true. The Street Glide Spe­cial and its sib­lings aren’t cheap but Har­ley have taken a step for­ward with a bunch of quicker, smoother, more re­fined and much bet­ter-sus­pended tour­ers.

Like when trac­tors got ra­dios and quiet cabs. And with power take-o

Not so rened it’s a Hard­ley-david­son. Still a Mil­wau­kee trac­tor, but with smoother edges

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