Life on a big Harley
‘It’s love at last’
While I’ve been enjoying riding the Harley-davidson Street Glide I’ve had on test, I’d not really gelled with it. I’ve clocked up well over 5000 miles but most of that has been commuting, or riding to places to interview people. But over the course of a long sunny weekend in June it all came together.
I spent almost the whole of one Saturday riding the bike to and from places picking things up in the panniers, and then dropping them off somewhere else. It might sound banal but it was only then it dawned on me how easy the bike becomes an essential part of your life thanks to the hard luggage and in-built satnav. The big moment came on the Sunday when, for the first time, I went for a ride just for the sake of it. I scraped footboards while the sun blazed and the stereo blared. It was simply fantastic.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a taut sportsbike. When you really start to push on, the suspension begins to wallow as it tries to control the 450kg of bike and rider above it. It also starts to complain if there are any mid-corner bumps, but considering its considerable mass it’s a good ride. Sure, I probably could have gone faster on a smaller, lighter bike but would I have had more fun? I doubt it. The following Monday I sailed home from the MCN office with the cruise control doing its thing while old-school rhythm and blues sang out of the stereo. Perfect.
Genie in a throttle
One of the things that has impressed me the most is the Street Glide’s throttle control. The big Harleys have run fly-by-wire for a while but paired with the Milwaukee-eight engine it’s especially excellent. You can comfortably roll around town in first gear without any jerkiness or choppiness. It’s smooth when accelerating and while it does slow quite abruptly on a closed throttle, that’s more because of the engine braking power of the staggering V-twin than any problem with the fuelling.
That’s not to say things can’t be improved, so I’ve got a set of Screamin’ Eagle pipes on the way along with a Heavy Breather air cleaner. These, combined with the Street Tuner fuel module, should not only help liven things up a little but should also help get rid of the lean fuelling bog-stock Harleys are famous for (I hasten to add this is the unfortunate price paid for getting an air-cooled engine through current emissions regulations). Once all that’s fitted, I’ll get it on the dyno and see what it does.
While the panniers aren’t the right shape to take a helmet, you can fill them full of plenty of other stuff. But be warned – if you stuff it with the weekly shop those exhausts do heat the insides up quite quickly. For an in-built system, the satnav is great. It’s quick, easy to use and you can do little tasks while riding, such as search for a nearby petrol station. The screen is easy to read and provides loads of info while riding. For the thrill-seekers, there’s a ‘twisty road’ option in the routing menu.
A few performance tweaks and the H-D will be rocking
JORDAN GIBBONS A lover of custom bikes and BMWS, but has experience with a wide range of bikes
Height 5ft 6in Weight 72kg Price £22,385 Fuel 22.7 litres @ 49mpg = 245 miles Weight 376kg Seat 680mm Power 88bhp Torque 110ftlb
STORAGE S AT N AV
‘I could have gone faster on a smaller, lighter bike but would I have had more fun? I doubt it’