Life on a big Har­ley

‘It’s love at last’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - News - jor­dan gib­bons@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

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’

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