The new Harley Davidson Street Glide Special
Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special, it’s all about authority. The appearance, the performance, and your persona on the motorcycle are undeniable. It’s not a mount for the shrinking violet uninterested in attention. The Street Glide Special is built for adulation, and its demands are met wherever you ride it.
Backing up that nearly arrogant attitude is the Milwaukee-Eight 114 powerplant with the Ventilator air cleaner showing its pleats. With 118 ft-lbs of torque available to your right hand—you only need to spin it up to 3250 rpm—the Street Glide Special supports its promises with performance. Around town, the 114 is gratuitous. No one can argue that you need that much power—only that you want it and intend to use it, judiciously or not.
Profiling is enhanced on the Street Glide Special by the extended bags and low-profile engine guard—two distinguishing visual factors compared to the standard Street Glide. Suspension travel is just over two inches in the rear, keeping the seat height at an easy 27.2 inches.
You’re riding low enough to attract the right type of attention, while retaining a respectable amount of cornering clearance. The rider triangle pleases both the rider and the viewer. The grips are tastefully high, and the floorboards provide ample legroom.
It’s startling how manageable the Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special is as an urban guerilla. At 827 pounds with the six-gallon fuel tank filled, you hardly expect this motorcycle to be light on its feet, the Special cuts through traffic aggressively with surprisingly little effort by the rider. If you know where you want to go, the Special taps your instincts to make it happen. It’s a fantastic feeling.
The Street Glide Special begs you to twist the throttle and let the Milwaukee-Eight 114 spin up a bit. As torquey as it is, the 114 is happy to hit the soft rev limiter at 5500 rpm, and it sings a beautiful aria along the way. It’s an invigorating reminder of the magic of motorcycling.
Because the Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special is a standard-bearer of urban cruising cool, it’s easy to forget that you can let it gobble up rural miles. The bags hold just over 70 liters (or 2.5 cubic feet, if you prefer), and that’s all you need for a comfortable weekend trip—even two-up, as long as you pack smartly. The sidebags don’t lock, but they have a convenient one-touch lever that makes them a pleasure to use. The tall narrow shape allows you to bring along a laptop, if you must stay connected when traveling.
The hill hold function is excellent. It seems superfluous, until you get used to using it. Once it becomes second nature, it’s a handy feature that works—it helps that I have a fairly steep driveway. The tire pressure monitoring does its job, and it’s wise to keep track of the Dunlops’ psi as needed—peace of mind is a good thing.
The big four cornering-aware functions are pretty much transparent, and that’s the highest praise they can get. I felt traction control kick in one time when I hit a brutally abrupt road irregularity that caused the rear wheel to bounce up. I ham-fistedly downshifted coming into an onramp entrance, and it triggered the Drag-Torque Slip Control System—the slide lasted a millisecond before traction was restored.
You can brake hard and never feel the ABS, in corners or a straight line. If it were raining, I’m sure the story would be different. I like the linked braking, and it does its job quietly—perfect.
At nearly a grand, RDRS is an investment. I suggest you spend the money to avoid second-guessing yourself should something go wrong without it.
We genuinely love touring around on the Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special. It has fantastic stability, and the steering-mounted batwing fairing does not lose its composure when an 18-wheeler comes barreling at you in the opposite direction with a 150-mph closing speed. The SGS tracks steady and doesn’t wear you out.