2016-10-14 16:27:45+0000 - Etobicoke, On, Canada
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By Paul Fenn

Contributing Editor

I wanted to hate it. I expected to hate it. I counted the ways I might hate it. Then I sat on it, started it and could not hate it.

First, something needs getting out of the way

The 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special 107ci Milwaukee 8-equipped motorcycle that H-D Canada generously provided is the excess-laden opposite of what I ride, know, believe is right and righteous in the moto-pantheon. I am a KTM offroader. Everything in my veins, brains and clothes drawer is orange and infused with mud. The 950 Super Enduro is what I measure all I encounter in life against – animal, mineral and motorcycle. I realize this signifies a closed mind. But as an otherwise open-minded human, I feel entitled to love what I ride to the exclusion of all else – even though I find it hard to hate any motorcycle, once ridden.

At 1740cc, engine start-up was a full body experience

Within a block or two of travel on the wheeled gorilla (at 830lbs, almost 7ft in overall length and nearly 4ft at its widest, it’s a gorilla), I knew I could not view it through my orange-toned glasses without being gravely unjust and robbing myself of pleasures unknown. So I bought right in and said, “OK, big-ass Harley: Show me what you’ve got.”

That’s part of the Harley mystique – buying in. These bikes aren’t for adrenaline junkies, performance snobs or ascetics. They are built to serve a heritage, a lineage, a longstanding way of doing things.

A ride uniquely H-D

Get used to the alternate body English required and it’s damn good fun to play on this bike, because you can’t quite believe something so enormous can be juked around so readily. Frost-heaves, potholes, washboard on curves? No sweat. Sitting position? Hard to improve upon. The stereo and other tech? Over the top. You can sync your phone and play your own tunes or blast your favourite radio station to suit the neighbourhood you’re disturbing. For example, I cranked CBC Radio One’s “The Next Chapter” with Shelagh Rogers interviewing a black feminist author while I rode through the redneck part of town – just to throw ‘em off a bit.

Getting away with it

After a few days on my supersparkly Street Glide Special, I’d begun to relax when dumping it into a curve, enjoying the feeling of getting away with it again and again. And the power? Surprising, smooth and ample. Twist it at 1500rpm in second gear you’re soon at highway speed, and it snuck right up on you, a new version of torque that won’t upset your digestion. Even the stock exhaust, perhaps the only Harley with one in Canada, was excellent. Just loud enough so you could hear what was going on below, without street-loads of car alarms going off behind you.

Well done, Harley

It’s quite a testament that Harley-Davidson is still selling bikes like this after all these years. So many old-school motorcycle manufacturers have come, gone, been resurrected, left for dead. But Harley has a world-wide fan base that never wanes. Having ridden one of its star performers, I now see why.

Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special 107ci Milwaukee 8: The Lowdown


__Full specs harley-davidson.com/content/h-d/en_CA/home/motorcycles/tools/compare-bikes.html#2017-FLHXS : __

Loves

The ride - Nothing in my riding life has come close.

Torque - At 111.4ft-lbs, it’s surprisingly non-hectic, yet unrelenting, right to the redline. And that’s the charm.

Luggage - The twin panniers were simple to open & close, hold a fair bit, but non-locking.

Comfort - Incomparable. Seat is painless for long periods, riding position ergonomically sublime.

Likes

Radio - I want one.

Handling - Remarkably lithe for its mass and size. No (nasty) surprises.

Paint – Though I’m no sparkleholic, I appreciated the high quality and finish of the paint and flame-work on my ride. Two onlookers remarked on it to me.

Chrome - I admired the incredible workmanship that’s gone into making the engine and other bits so blindingly shiny.

Doubts

Windscreen – Buffeting about the head was a thing from 60kph up. That could easily be fixed by making the windscreen higher or adjustable. If you’re touring on this bike, you’ll need to address that, or be short. I am six feet and long-trunked, so there’s that to factor in. This is really the only negative thing I have to say about the bike.

Note to Prospective Canadian Buyers: There’s talk of special H-D pricing for you, which I was unable to confirm with H-D Canada at time of publishing. The Canadian website shows this model starting at C$28,499. Haggle with a dealer or two and maybe you’ll do better. If Harley gets back to me, I’ll update this info.

Many thanks to Harley-Davidson Canada for loaning the Street Glide Special. I had a blast.

The manufacturer did not vet, sign off on, or even see this review prior to its being published on ESR. ESR: Beholden to truth, velocity and the ride.

Get previous champers reviews, road stories and kvetches here: https://eatsleepride.com/rider/champers

12 Comments
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@louiszzr1200 Thanks, and glad you enjoyed it!

 

Great review! I've tested a Road Glide 2017 myself and I've loved it!

 

@FLHXSrider I completely missed out on the saddlebags key. My intro to the bike was a rushed affair and it was left to me to figure everything out, and I'm generally slow on the uptake. The engine heat was unnoticeable and the vibes were all sweet, too. I agree: If you've always shunned hogs, this is the one to try and watch your biases melt away like a scoop of ice cream on a black gas tank in a Laredo parking lot.

 

The Street Glide is H-D's most popular model for a reason. @Champers the review seems to indicate the saddlebags aren't lockable, however they are using the key on the saddlebags side lock. The 2017 models have reduced engine heat and vibration which is something else that I think will bring in new riders. The 2017 Touring lineup is definitely worth a try even if someone thinks they don't like Harleys. This is a new beast.

 

@Zer01 Thanks for the kind words. I now think people who love motorcycles owe it to themselves to ride a Harley at least once in their life. The experience is uniquely, surprisingly pleasurable.

 
  • Zer01
  • 2016-10-23T10:10:55-04:00

@champers What a cool story. I can't imagine being a Harley guy, but I guess I wouldn't know if I never try it.

 

@lazyb8s Thanks. I guess I now bleed two shades of orange...

 
  • lazyb8s
  • 2016-10-20T19:19:26-04:00

Thanks for the non bias non American review. Your closed mindedness is acceptable. I feel the same for my HD.

 

@marina, anyone could ride this bike. It's very low -- you'd be flat-footing it if you were a chipmunk. They also had one in the HD parking lot stripped to basics. I had a seat and it was far more manageable. Hope to review it soon.

 
  • marina
  • 2016-10-16T14:49:52-04:00

@champers Fantastic review.  Not sure there's an H-D that I could wield but I'm curious now.

 

@alex Thanks. The pleasure was all mine.

 
  • alex
  • 2016-10-14T16:32:59-04:00

Awesome write up @Champers. It's very close to my experience with a Road Glide a few years ago. It surprised me in just about every way possible.