2018 H-D Sport Glide
My first decent ride on a Dyna Switchback was on the 10th of October 2011. It was a 2012 Press Bike and I punted it up and over the twisty roads of Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious to the west of Brisbane.
By the time I got back to base I was well impressed with the bike. It had great road manners, was good looking and I really liked its versatility. The way it could transform from tourer to a ‘Mini-Fat Boy’ in a matter of a minutes really appealed.
Fast-forward 6 years, 1 month and 26 days and it’s just as the great Yogi Berra once said, “Like Déjà vu all over again.”
But this time Harley’s latest versatile and convertible all-rounder didn’t just impress me, it blew me away with how good it is.
After a similar jaunt up the mountains the 2018 Sport Gide now sits at the top of the list of ‘best performing and favourite new Harleys I’ve ridden’. This one is one simply outstanding motorcycle.
The Softail Fat Bob is close … and has slightly better cornering clearance with its fat rubber all-round, but the Sport Glide is/would be my choice because of the aforementioned versatility.
I picked up Morgan & Wacker’s demo bike mid morning and after John Newstead showed me how easy it is to ‘convert’ from Tourer to Cruiser and back, I headed west.
The first thing that appealed to me was how comfortable the bike is. The forward controls mean good leg room, even for a tall rider. The handlebars are wide and swept back and allow hands to fall to a very relaxed position and the saddle is like all the new Softails: very comfortable for a long time.
I was also very comfortable with the 107cube Milwaukee 8 engine, clutch and gearbox. The shop Demo bike had a few more K’s on its belt than the Press Bikes I’ve ridden lately, and that may have been the reason for how notably sweet the gearbox was on this unit. It really changed and engaged faultlessly. But then when I was comparing notes with Brum regarding the Sport Glide he rode from Canberra to Melbourne he said exactly the same thing. Great gearbox.
The solid mounted, counterbalanced engine is remarkably smooth for a large V-twin and Harley claims 145nm of torque at 3,500rpm. What that big torque hammer means when it’s sitting in such a sweet handling chassis is quite simply HUGE fun. At freeway speeds there is just the slightest pulse evident through the handlebars and even sitting at the lights the motor chugs away quite smoothly.
But then, when you launch it, just like the 114 Cube Fat Boy I rode immediately before the Sport Glide, the traffic disappears in the rear view mirrors at a very satisfying rate.
And there’s the way it handles.
Dry weight is 304kg and it’s suspended by new USD forks and High Performance rear shock in the latest, stiffer Softail Chassis. The package combines to give a bike that is balanced, neutral, and a delight to throw around. Side to sides, tight apexes and long sweepers are dispatched with equal ease.
Hitting a big bump mid corner didn’t throw the bike off line at all and even grabbing a handful of brake mid bend didn’t make the bike want to stand up alarmingly.
Combined with the outstanding rider comfort it makes for a bike that’s a delight in both sports-tourer or cruising modes.
The four-piston fixed front calliper does a great job of hauling the bike up. I think I was a bit happier with the brakes on the unit I tested than Brum was, but I found them excellent. Even engaging the ABS on purpose was surprisingly efficient with no chattering or excessive shudder.
The small fairing and hard bags on the Sport Glide are even easier and quicker to remove or replace than on that original Switchback.
The only disappointment I found with that original Switchback is that it didn’t sell very well. It was a bike that really deserved to do better.
I suspect that the latest incarnation will do much better sales-wise. It most certainly deserves to. It’s really THAT good.