Hog boast Owning new Street Glide
New Harley Street Glide has plenty of lowdown punch, laps up big miles and even stops on a sixpence MILES
oining the MCN long-term test fleet this year is the Harley-davidson Street Glide, a true representation of the American bagger. In truth I’ve always quite fancied a big Harley but I’ve never been quite sure why. Is it the noise? The look? The fact it’s the ride of the Terminator? They’ve always stirred something inside me, so I’m relishing the prospect of cruising around on one this year.
Outside the basic task of surviving my 172-mile commute, the Harley will be taken away on trips to see long lost friends, covering distances that have never felt comfortable until now. So Nick, you may have moved to Germany but you can’t escape that easily! On top of that, we’re going to try and demystify the Harley tuning process and see just how much untapped potential is hiding inside the new engine.
Hold on, I’m comin’
It’s fair to say that when it comes to new engines, Harley-davidson are not ones to be rushed. In over 100 years Harley have only released nine big-twin engines, so the new Milwaukee-eight has a lot to live up to, taking over from the Twin Cam’s 17-year reign. What’s new exactly? Well most importantly power is up 11% over the previous model due to a higher compression ratio and an increase to four valves per cylinder.
The new version also runs a lot cooler than the outgoing model, as the engine has oil-cooling in the heads to complement the usual air-cooling, plus the idle speed has been dropped to 850rpm. Additionally the rear exhaust pipe has been repositioned to move heat away from the rider and passenger.
The Milwaukee-eight is also more economical, transmits less vibration and has a quieter drivetrain, but most importantly of all, the engine weighs the same as the Twin Cam it replaces. This means, in theory at least, that it should be quicker off the line than the old model and thankfully the theory holds out. In fact it more than holds out, the Street Glide has some serious punch.
The motor pulls really hard, even from as low as 2000rpm, before reaching its peak power at around 5000rpm. You can tear away from the lights to your heart’s content, before slamming the gearbox into second at which point you realise the only thing that can keep up is your thunderous exhaust note. Charging the bike through the midrange is incredibly addictive at all speeds and in nearly every setting but the bike is wasted on the urban sprawl – get it out into the sticks and it has a few more surprises waiting for you.
Them’s the brakes
Harleys are famous, perhaps even infamous, for having poor brakes but that’s all changed now. The brakes on the latest generation of tourers come from Brembo and they’re really impressive. The front discs alone will stop this 376kg battle cruiser in fairly short order but if you chuck in the rear (which is absolutely fearsome), you can pull up in a heartbeat. Take that Harley bashers – what’s next on the list? “It can’t go round corners”. We’ll see about that…
‘The brakes are really impressive and you can pull up in a heartbeat. Take that, Harley bashers’
While the torque figure of the Street Glide is impressive, the peak power isn’t. There’s a lot of potential in the engine, with stories circulating of people getting 130bhp out of them, so the bike will go under the spanners to see what’s achievable.
The low back end gives the Street Glide very little suspension travel meaning speedbumps and potholes take their toll. The shocks are adjustable, so that will be the first step and if that doesn’t help then I’ll look for an upgrade.
Swapping out the air filter and the pipes means allows the engine to breathe more freely and is the first step for many Harley owners. It also has the added effect of giving the bike a tastier exhaust note, which is what Hog ownership is all about.
The stock tyres are great for cruising the open road and have no problem getting the power down in the dry but in the wet they’re quick to spin up. Continental have released two new big cruiser tyres this year that will get a closer look once the standard tyres are finished.
Roomy panniers all add to making the Street Glide a luxurious motorcycle
distance with ease the Street Glide soaks up big Sit back and enjoy the ride as A lovely motor makes the Street Glide a joy on the open road That flaming red paintjob is a bit OTT, but Jordan bloody loves it