Yes it’s true, after years of bad jokes about Harleys I finally got the opportunity to try one myself. Potentially resulting in a public apology for all my previous unfounded opinions on the subject.
Of course, given the opportunity to try just one bike I went for one of the quintessential Harley cruisers: the Street Glide!
Has my opinion on Harley’s changed after the 20min test-ride?
Humm, yeah, sort of!
Just standing still the Street Glide looks majestic, the deep black paint reflecting the moody skies above, combined with the mirror like finish of the immaculate chrome. Have no idea how well the finish would cope with the Dutch winter but on a new bike it looks great.
Seating on the bike and starting it bike seems more complex than necessary. The remote fob replaces the need for a proper key (like in my Multistrada) but the staring procedure involves rotating a knob on the triple clamp to unlock the steering, then switching the engine cut-off switch to ON and finally pressing a separate starter button!
The bike comes to life with a fantastic sound, shaking and rumbling all over. Standing her up of the side stand the weight becomes obvious and unlike most heavy bikes, doesn’t disappear when you get a move on.
It’s like it was designed to not hide it’s weight. Everything feels substantial: the grips are thicker than usual, the switchgear is oversized, the gear, clutch and brake levers are massive and thick.
The clutch action is heavy and the gearbox is clunky. It accelerates briskly but nothing close to fast – think more of sporty car acceleration and less motorbike – cornering is a affair best planned ahead and so is braking. The combined braking system using the foot actuator (70%front brake + 30% back brake) doing a decent job of slowing down the massive thing, the front brake lever though seems to not do much unless you have forearms like a Swedish lumberjack.
But then you ignore all the things that make it different from most bikes and start to enjoy it for what it is: a cruiser.
And for cruiser I must say it felt brilliant.
The top dashboard is beautiful with it’s classic truck like styling and the lower section has a great touchscreen with Navigation, Radio & MediaPlayer. On the right hand side a small compartment is designed to fit your smartphone, with a USB Port for connectivity.
The dash is easily controllable with both Touchscreen and buttons on the sides. There is also a joystick next to your left thumb that you can use to skip song/radio and adjust volume, simple but effective!
The only other bike I’ve ridden that was equipped with a radio was the BMW K1600GT and although I loved the bike, I hated the Radio. For some reason trying to focus on riding the bike fast while having the speakers blaring outside the helmet was confusing my senses and I ended up shutting it off and just listening to the six cylinder soundtrack.
In the HD however it’s a completely different affair, you’re hardly ever going to be making an effort to go fast so the music surrounding you has you cruise along feels perfectly natural and adequate.
At the end of the day, am I ready to get a Harley? Definitely not!
Did I enjoy riding the Street Glide? Most certainly yes! It feels brilliant at what it does, cruising & relaxing. Forget any kind of sporty pretensions, rush to get somewhere or desire to hit the twisties. A sports bike is like sex, the HD is like having a warm apple pie when you’re really huyngry. One does not replace the other but they are both pretty damn good feelings!
Finally a big thanks to Harley Davidson Amsterdam for giving me the opportunity to test-ride the bike. The staff there is a bunch of really nice guys and the shop is a really nice place to spend some time, be it staring at all the shiny bikes or just having a great cup of coffee.