HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD GLIDE LIMITED (2020 - on) Review
- Comfortable upright riding position
- Great V-twin soundtrack
- Effective fairing
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited is the most engaging and satisfying of Harley’s touring range. High bars make for a more comfortable upright seating position than the Ultra Limited, while its handling is lighter thanks to having a frame-mounted (rather than handlebar-mounted) fairing.
- Latest news: 2021 Harley-Davidson models unveiled
The Road Glide’s 'shark-nose' bodywork feels more expansive and protective than the Ultra’s smaller 'batwing' fairing too. On scenic twisting routes it’s more agile than its extraordinary weight, width and length suggest.
On a motorway, the vast seat is plush, the ergonomics well-balanced and the windscreen protective. Pillions get armrests and their own stereo speakers, while the 132 litres of hard luggage storage is easily accessed.
There’s tons of character too, but, if we’re being cold-hearted and clinical about things, there are other big tourers that go further on a tank, handle and suspend better, pull harder, and don’t look like Bender from Futurama.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
So long as your natural riding pace lines up with the Road Glide Limited’s, you’ll get along great with it. This is not a bike with multiple characters, speeds, temperaments and abilities – it likes to do what it likes to do, which is tick off big miles at a consistent pace.
If you want to go slower, either through traffic or slaloming along tight twisty backroads, it’ll feel big and clumsy. If you want to go faster, the power-to-weight ratio isn’t great and you’ll quickly use up those 31.8 degrees of lean before the footboards spark.
But on the right roads, in the right mood, heading for the right destination with the right playlist blaring from the stereo, there isn’t another bike on the planet that makes you feel as damn cool as a Road Glide Limited.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The 'Twin-Cooled' (English translation: water-cooled heads) version of Harley-Davidson’s Milwaukee-Eight 114, which means it’s an 1868cc V-twin packing a whopping 121ft lb of torque and 89bhp. Refinement and smoothness are generations ahead of big Harleys from just a decade ago.
Fuelling from the ride-by-wire throttle is stutter-free, and at motorway speeds the lolloping, long-stroke motor rumbles along gently at what feels like barely off tickover.
Crack the throttle open and it sounds sensational – but roll-on shunt is muted by tall gearing and the whopping 423kg kerb weight.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
It's a mix of some high-end components (paintwork, infotainment and stereo, luggage) with some bits that don’t feel so posh (some bolts and clips, suspension).
In general, modern Harleys are pretty reliable, though corrosion can still be an issue with those ridden year-round. A few early adopters of the Milwaukee-Eight motor experienced an issue where transmission oil was finding its way into the primary drive case, but this should be resolved by now.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
There’s no getting round the fact that £24,695 is a monumental pile of cash. And that’s just the starting price for the Harley-Davidson's Road Glide Limited: fancier two-tone paintschemes add more than £1000, while the new optional black-finish engine is a further £1250.
Consider depreciation too: Harley tourers hold their value extremely well. If you’re considering PCP, the Road Glide Limited’s guaranteed future value is higher than a Wing or Roadmaster, meaning its monthly payments are lower. Clearly this isn’t a cheap bike by any sane measure, but considered as the flagship fusion of distance and decadence that it is, the price isn’t as ludicrous as it might first seem.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special vs Indian Challenger Dark Horse
Harley-Davidson and Indian have been banging heads since the days of lethal boardtrack racing over 100 years ago. Both as American as drive-thru burger joints, the brands battled on road and track throughout the first half of the 20th century. And today the tussle is as fierce as ever.
After first bloodying Harley’s nose in dirt track, Indian are going for the jugular by putting their new Challenger wheel-to-wheel with the Road Glide – America’s dominating large tourer.
And we mean literally wheel-to-wheel. Indian are so confident about their new bike that when it first reached their US dealers you could test ride it back-to-back with the Harley.
While a bimble from a dealer is all well and good, you need the UK’s toughest road test to really see which high-tech V-twin bagger is best. You need the MCN250…
Flinging these behemoths through traffic islands and smooth, open link roads is hilarious. Both have lighter steering than you’d expect, can be banked over far further than stereotypes suggest and feel stable on their sides. It’s the Indian that again feels the more agile, though (if 377kg can ever be described as such).
This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the better handling. Diverting to avoid congestion and indulging in a spot of silliness on deserted B-roads, the Road Glide shows it can bludgeon along at a giddy pace.
Ridden in a way probably never intended, it’s more composed and confidence inspiring than the Challenger. And the Indian might have superbike-style Brembo calipers, but the Harley-branded linked Brembo system on the Road Glide stops you quicker.
Thudding along the A47 and A43, and with the finish line in sight, there’s little to separate them. Both have serious presence and image, they’re as comfortable (or uncomfortable) as each other, and there’s nowt to split ’em on performance, extras or tech.
We get down to arguing over small details, and even then the bikes level out on balance – the Harley might edge it (just) on engine feel and better self-cancelling winkers, but the Indian has a tiny advantage on low-speed manageability and dials that are easy to see at a glance. It’s genuinely oh-so-very close.
These two are not for the faint-hearted. The look, power delivery, ride, handling, stance and even shifting around a garage forecourt all feel strange next to a ‘normal’ bike. This isn’t to say they’re better or worse, just different.
There couldn’t be a better name than Challenger for the Indian, a bike clearly designed to steal Road Glide buyers. Looks, equipment, engine, dynamic and riding position all ape the H-D. But it has a more contemporary feel, a little more fizz in its engine and handling, a splash more tech.
It’s amazingly close, but I think the Indian’s riding position is a tad more comfortable for my 6ft 2in frame as well. We would go for the Harley, though. Sure, it’s not as fast or as agile at low speed. But its engine is lazier and more luxurious (and sounds better). It’s more sure-footed at speed, has a better fairing and does more to the gallon. And crucially it’s a Harley, with the kudos, stature and amazing residuals this brings.
Tons of gadgets included as standard, from touring treats like cruise control and heated grips, to a new-for-2020 package of lean-sensitive rider aids including cornering ABS, traction control and electronic engine braking.
New hill-hold control is handy for wrestling this big ol’ hippo on a slope, but let down by the fact it doesn’t function in neutral. Touchscreen ‘infotainment’ (sat-nav, stereo, radio, phone connectivity and more) is top-class.
New H-D Connect system lets you check the bike's stats and status with a phone app and also doubles as a tracker if the bike gets stolen. But while that’s free for the first 12 months, it costs around £150 a year after that.
Misses out on a fifth star for lacking hi-tech comforts found on other ultra-tourers such as semi-active suspension, push-button preload adjustment and a two-way quickshifter. Curiously, the classic Harley heel-shifter has vanished from their touring range too.
|Engine type||Water-cooled, 8v, 45° V-twin|
|Frame type||Tubular steel double cradle|
|Fuel capacity||22.7 litres|
|Front suspension||49mm forks, non-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Single shock, preload adjustable|
|Front brake||2 x 300mm discs with four-piston calipers|
|Rear brake||300mm disc with four-piston caliper|
|Front tyre size||130/70 B18|
|Rear tyre size||180/55 B18|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||-|
|Used price||£21,500 - £22,700|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||89 bhp|
|Max torque||121 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||185 miles|
Model history & versions
- 1998 Road Glide introduced, replacing the Tour Glide, with a frame-mounted fairing. Originally powered by a 1340cc motor, soon swapped for a 1450cc twin.
- 2010 Road Glide Ultra and Road Glide Custom variants added to the range.
- 2015 Road Glide Special gets a redesigned, slimmer, shark-nose fairing.
- 2016 Road Glide Ultra returns with Twin-Cooled Twin Cam 103 (1690cc) motor.
- 2017 Road Glide Ultra gets Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 107 (1745cc) motor.
- 2019 Road Glide Ultra gets Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 114 (1868cc) motor. Ultra replaced by nearly identical Limited for 2020.
Road Glide Special: A slightly stripped sibling to the Limited. No topbox, different panniers, handlebars, wheels and screen. Uses an entirely air-cooled version of the Milwaukee-Eight 114 motor.
Ultra Limited: the Road Glide Limited’s rival fully loaded ultra-tourer, complete with three-piece luggage. Lower handlebars than the Road Glide, with a smaller handlebar-mounted ‘batwing’ fairing adding mass to the steering.
Owners' reviews for the HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD GLIDE (2020 - on)
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