Strug­gling to de­cide be­tween a bag­ger and a naked cruiser? Step this way…

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Phil West Pho­tog­ra­phy Alessio Bar­banti

New ‘cruiser-tourer’ hy­brid joins ranks of Har­ley’s re­vamped Sof­tail range.

IF YOU THINK you’ve seen it all, what with the ‘cruiser trailie’ (Yamaha’s Xv950-based SCR950 retro) or the ‘ad­ven­ture scooter’ (Honda’s X-ADV) Har­ley might now have all other odd­ball mo­tor­cy­cling mar­riages beat, (at least in terms of prac­ti­cal­ity) with this: the ‘cruiser tourer’ – or FLSB Sport Glide to use its of­fi­cial name. It’s the lat­est ad­di­tion to Har­ley’s fully-re­vamped-for-2018 Sof­tail fam­ily, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of new­bies to nine. And al­though last, this new Sport Glide is cer­tainly not least – in fact it’s pos­si­bly the most sig­nif­i­cant… While its re­framed (with a new, lighter, stronger, monoshock dou­ble cra­dle), re-en­gined (with the up­dated and now par­tially oil-cooled Mil­wau­kee Eight) and restyled Sof­tail si­b­lings (in­clud­ing the Fat Boy and Low Rider), are all evo­lu­tions of ex­ist­ing mod­els, the Sport Glide stands alone as an all-new model – hence this sep­a­rate in­tro­duc­tion. It’s been con­ceived in re­sponse to feed­back from mar­ket re­search, the big­gest, Har­ley claims, in com­pany his­tory, and is de­signed to have the broad­est ap­peal of any of its cruis­ers. ‘We wanted some­thing that would in­crease its ca­pa­bil­i­ties,’ Matt Van Dyke, Har­ley’s mo­tor­cy­cle prod­uct plan­ning lead told Bike. ‘To give it the flex­i­bil­ity to be both a cruiser and a tour­ing bike.’ To do that, Har­ley have ef­fec­tively come up with the ‘con­ver­tacruiser’, a trans­formable cus­tom that, thanks to a quickly de­tach­able mini-fair­ing and pair of pan­niers, can change from faired bag­ger to naked cruiser – or any­thing in be­tween for that mat­ter – in a mat­ter of sec­onds. In truth it’s not a new con­cept. Dyed-in-the-wool Har­ley-is­tas will re­mem­ber the short-lived FXDS Dyna Con­vert­ible of the mid-1990s, which, via a clip-off Plex­i­glass screen and un­boltable, soft, stud­ded (yes, re­ally) side­bags, at­tempted a sim­i­lar trick. But, hav­ing rid­den one the length of Nor­way and never once wanted to glimpse my re­flec­tion in a shop win­dow let’s just say that was at best a par­tial suc­cess. This time, though, it’s dif­fer­ent. First, thanks to the much im­proved frame, fat USD forks from the Fat Bob and up­rated en­gine, the Sport Glide han­dles and goes al­most as dy­nam­i­cally as any of its Big Twins. Er­gonomics are nat­u­ral if a touch laid-back

‘This ’Glide is a hoot to ride, com­fort­able, eas­ily trans­formable and has a slick style all its own with shades of the ul­tra suc­cess­ful Street Glide’

thanks to slightly for­ward ‘High­way Pegs’; steer­ing is pleas­ingly pre­cise with a con­trolled, smooth ride and the 107ci ver­sion of the Mil­wau­kee Eight – al­though not the full fat 114ci of­fer­ing avail­able to some Sof­tails, with 85bhp and over 100 lb.ft has enough grunty pep to en­ter­tain. Se­cond, though a de­cent base bike, the tour­ing good­ies this time around are gen­uinely stylish and el­e­vate the whole Sport Glide propo­si­tion to an­other level. The mini ‘Batwing’ fair­ing is hand­some, de­taches in sec­onds via two fork leg clamps and, al­though weather pro­tec­tion is min­i­mal, it’s bet­ter than nowt and mean­while, can be boosted though via leather-look an op­tional are tall rigid, screen. well-made, The pan­niers, stylish, their lids lock shut via neat, chrome levers and the whole shoot­ing match can be re­moved again with­out tools via clips on the inside. But third, and best of all, is how the new Sport Glide makes you feel when you’re get­ting down the road. The old Con­vert­ible cer­tainly worked, yet wasn’t eas­ily trans­formed and made you feel as cool as a car­a­van owner. Not a great place to be then. This ’Glide, how­ever, is a hoot to ride, com­fort­able, eas­ily trans­formable and has a slick style all its own with shades of the ul­tra suc­cess­ful Street Glide. And if that and start­ing at just un­der £15,000 – the Street Glide be­gins at over £21,000 – isn’t a tempt­ing, do-it-all Har­ley-david­son, even if it hasn’t got the big­ger en­gine op­tion, we’re not sure what is.

One minute a naked cruiser, the next a bag­ger with a screen

Rear preload ad­juster uses a slid­ing scale

Note dig­i­tal mod­ernism creep­ing in

Har­ley: never known to un­der­play the brand

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