Harley-Davidson Street Glide: 2000 miles in

The Harley-Davidson Street Glide – 376kg of touring extravagance meets 1745cc of American muscle but can it go the distance?

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Joining the MCN Fleet this year is the Harley-Davidson Street Glide, a true representation of the American bagger. In truth I’ve always quite fancied a big Harley but I’ve never been quite sure why. Is it the noise? The look? The fact it’s the ride of the Terminator? They’ve always stirred something, so I’m relishing the prospect of cruising around on one this year.

Outside the basic task of surviving my 172-mile commute, the Harley will be taken away on long planned trips to see long lost friends, covering distances that have never felt comfortable until now. So Nick, you may have moved to Germany but you can’t escape that easily. On top of that, we’re going to try and demystify the Harley tuning process and see just how much untapped potential is hiding inside the new engine.


Hold on, I’m comin’

It’s fair to say that when it comes to new engines, Harley-Davidson are not ones to be rushed. In over 100 years Harley have only released nine big-twin engines, so the new Milwaukee-Eight has a lot to live up to taking over from the Twin Cam’s 17 year reign. What’s new exactly? Well most importantly power is up 11% over the previous model due to a higher compression ratio and an increase to four valves per cylinder.

The new engine also runs a lot cooler than the outgoing model, as the engine has oil-cooling in the heads to complement the usual air-cooling, plus the idle speed has been dropped to 850rpm. Additionally the rear exhaust pipe has been repositioned to move heat away from the rider and passenger. The Milwaukee-Eight is also more economical, transmits less vibration and has a quieter drivetrain, but most importantly of all the engine weighs the same as the Twin Cam it replaces. This means, in theory at least, that it should be quicker off the line than the old model and thankfully the theory holds out. In fact it more than holds out, the Street Glide has some serious punch.

The motor pulls really hard, even from as low as 2000 rpm, before reaching its peak power around 5000 rpm. You can tear away from lights to your hearts content, before slamming the gearbox into second at which point you realise the only thing that can keep up is your thunderous exhaust note. Charging the bike through the midrange is incredibly addictive at all speeds and in nearly every setting but the bike is wasted on the urban sprawl – get it out into the sticks and enjoy it.

May I have some more?

More power

While the torque figure of the Street Glide is impressive, the peak power isn’t. There’s a lot of potential in the 107” engine, with stories circulating of people getting 130bhp out of them, so the bike will go through the “Stages” to see what’s achievable.

More comfort

The low back end gives the Street Glide very little suspension travel meaning speedbumps and potholes take their toll. The shocks are adjustable, so that will be the first step and if that doesn’t help then I’ll look for an upgrade.

More noise

Swapping out the air filter and the pipes allows the engine to breathe more freely and is the first step for many Harley owners. It also has the added effect of giving the bike a tastier exhaust note, which is what Hog ownership is all about.

More grip

The stock tires are great for cruising the open road and have no problem getting the power down in the dry but in the wet they’re quick to spin up. Continental have released two new big cruiser tyres this year that will get a closer look once the standard tyres are finished.

Harley-Davidson Street Glide
Price £22,385
Fuel 22.7l @49mpg = 245 miles
Weight 376kg
Power 88bhp
Torque 110ft lb