FLHT Electra Glide Standard Test
The concept behind the latest FLHT Electra Glide Standard isn’t a new one. The ‘Standard’ designation was carried during an Electra Glide production run that ended in 2008 and there were more ‘base-model’ incarnations earlier than that.
Harley introduced the name ‘Electra Glide’ with the inclusion of an electric starter on the Duo Glide back in 1965. The Batwing Fairing was added in 1969 and was removable, until the instruments moved from the handlebars to be mounted in the bodywork a few years later.
An un-faired Electra Glide was re-introduced as the FLHS Electra Glide Sport in 1987 and production ran until it was replaced by the FLHR Road King in 1994. With all that behind it, the 2019 version isn’t H-D’s first dance at this party by any means.
After a solid two-and-a-half weeks of test-riding the new black beauty I would happily take it to any shindig on offer. It might be a “Plain Jane” or a “Poverty Pack” to its harsher critics on our Facebook page, but to me its essence made it a real Belle of the Ball.
It performs, goes, stops, handles and it has all it needs to be a capable all-round tourer/cruiser motorcycle - in spades - with not too much emphasis on the frills, bells and whistles.
What’s done well
What it does have is the sweetest 107 cube Milwaukee 8 engine so far. It feels smoother, stronger and is more responsive than last year’s models. On the Freeway and the open road, it’s almost as smooth, comfortable and vibration free as a multi-cylinder engine. Then when you do get amongst the tighter going, it’s strong and spools up just like a big V-twin should. It has pleasing torque and taps out remarkably well even with stock exhaust system and tune.
For a bike that tips the scales at 354kg it’s also remarkably nimble, planted and solid on the road once you get it moving. When I think back to some of the earlier incarnations of Electra Glides and vague handling and tendency to wallow through a sweeping bend, it’s hard to reconcile that the new model shares the same name. This one is tight and very tidy on all manner of road surfaces.
Part of that is down to the improved chassis, quality Showa Bendy valve forks and emulsion shocks at the rear. The front feels plush and forgiving with around 120mm of travel and the rear is firmer, partly as a by-product of the great looking slammed rear end and has approximately 57mm of travel available. The rear also has hand adjustable pre-load (behind the LH side cover) and dialling it in correctly proved to be as important for the performance of the front suspension as the rear.
It runs the same 17” Impeller Front wheel as the Road King, as opposed to the 19” of the Street Glide Special which makes the steering a little sharper. The extras having been pruned also mean the Standard weighs in 9kg lighter than the Road King in running order.
It has good brakes. The twin 4 piston callipers up front and single rear are ABS equipped and pull it the bike up with good feel and feedback. They aren’t brutal stoppers but they will do the job very comfortably.
While the Standard might be without some of the luxury components of the other touring models, comfort is still an overriding feature of this bike.
I put in several 300km and 400km-plus days around SEQ and Northern NSW and suffered very little fatigue in typical touring conditions. I always arrived home fresh and ready for more.
The big footboards allow for a variety of seating positions and the single saddle proved comfortable for hours non-stop. The taller screen on the Batwing gives plenty of wind and element protection and the ergos overall encourage taking the long way home.
One of the concessions to luxury on the Standard is the inclusion of Harley’s faultless cruise control and that adds to the relaxed manner of rolling away big distances on the Freeway. The lockable hard bags are spacious enough to round-out the bikes tour-ability nicely.
I also found the Standard to an attractive motorcycle to look at. The slammed rear end tapering off behind the Batwing gives it a great line and the overall fit and finish is what you would expect from a Harley Tourer. The paint is plain, with no metalflake or pearl, but it’s still deep and very lustrous and there is just enough chrome to make it work as a serviceable cruiser as well as a capable tourer.
The headlight casts a wide flat and brilliant beam and the switchgear is also what you would expect from top line H-D and the multi-function trip computer is displayed by a LCD readout housed within the analogue instrument cluster.
What it doesn’t.
There are a number of things that have been removed, deleted and left off the Standard when compared to other models in the Touring range.
Most notable from the rider’s perch is the ‘glovebox’ where the Boom Box infotainment and navigation system normally sits. It’s basically a hole where you can put stuff while the bike is stationary – but will fall into your lap as soon as you start moving. Harley should have included a lid or cover both for aesthetics and function. Fortunately, a quick search online shows there are aftermarket solutions available. Some ordinary looking pads cover the empty speaker recesses. Also gone are the Fairing-mounted mirrors. They now sit on generic stalks on the handlebars and there’s no heel and toe gear shifter (just the one arm).
The engine has a number of bright steel finishes where other models feature chrome and many of the chrome trim features, badges, fender trims and finishing touches are gone. The H-D badge is a clear-coated decal rather than a raised badge, emblem or painted finish.
Where it fits.
The Electra Glide Standard starts at $34,495 in the Australian Market, which is the same price as a Road King.
For that is gives you the same chassis and running gear as the Road King but it includes an efficient handlebar mounted Batwing Fairing with four analogue instruments mounted in the fairing rather than a removable windscreen and a tank mounted instrument cluster.
It doesn’t have the Road King’s extra running lights, passenger seat, rear pegs, chrome engine finishes, rear crash bars, fender trim, badges and general bling.
The Street Glide Special which includes Boom Box Infotainment, passenger accommodation, bigger front wheel and the 114 Cube motor option is priced from $38,750.
The Standard does afford the option of fitting an aftermarket or custom infotainment system. There are several aftermarket kit options with Apple Car Play and Android Auto available and the fix for the Glovebox ‘hole’ is also out there.
The Standard is a great bike for riders who want a no-frills, essence-de-capable-motorcycle - the ‘I don’t need no steenkin’ stereo or Sat-nav’ types.
It will also make sense someone with a wild custom bagger-build in mind. Those planning something with a mega-watt Stereo, stretched bags and 26” front wheel for starters. No need paying for inclusions that will be replaced anyway.
Value judgements aside, I really enjoyed the FLHT Electra Glide Standard. If you’re in the market for a bike that’s all about the ride and an undiluted core, it’s well worth a dance.
Engine2 Milwaukee-Eight® 107
Bore 100 mm
Stroke 111 mm
Displacement 1,745 cc
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Fuel System Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Exhaust Chrome, 2-1-2 dual exhaust with tapered mufflers
Length 2,400 mm
Seat Height, Unladen 680 mm
Ground Clearance 120 mm
Rake (steering head) (deg) 26
Trail 170 mm
Wheelbase 1,625 mm
Tyres, Front Specification BW 130/80B17 65H
Tyres, Rear Specification BW 180/65B16 81H
Fuel Capacity 22.7 l
Oil Capacity (w/filter) 4.9 l
Weight, As Shipped 354 kg
Weight, In Running Order 372 kg
Luggage Capacity -Volume 0.064 m3
Engine Torque Testing Method EC 134/2014
Engine Torque3 150 Nm
Engine Torque (rpm) 3,250
Lean Angle, Right (deg.) 31
Lean Angle, Left (deg.) 29
Primary Drive Chain, 34/46 ratio
Gear Ratios (overall) 1st 9.593
Gear Ratios (overall) 2nd 6.65
Gear Ratios (overall) 3rd 4.938
Gear Ratios (overall) 4th 4
Gear Ratios (overall) 5th 3.407
Gear Ratios (overall) 6th 2.875
Wheels, Front Type7 Impeller Cast Aluminum
Wheels, Rear Type Impeller Cast Aluminum
Brakes, Caliper Type 32 mm, 4-piston fixed front and rear
Lights (as per country regulation), Indicator Lamps6 High beam, running lights, directional lights, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics, neutral, cruise control, accessory, battery, gear indication, security system, 6-speed, low fuel warning, ABS, miles to empty display, fog/aux lamp indicator
Gauges Gauges styled to complement each vehicle. Display features odometer, trip A, trip B, range to empty and gear indicator; and larger tell-tale indicators.