New in 2018, the “convertible” Sport Glide is one of the more intriguing Harley-Davidsons. Based on the reengineered Softail (formerly Dyna), the Sport Glide is intended to straddle the gap between cruiser and touring bike, a bit like the sadly ignored Switchback. Difference is, the improvements to the new chassis take the low, nimble Glide from the compromised utility of the Switchback to a terrific multi-purpose bike when only one fits the garage (or budget).
The Sport Glide looks great with fat back tire, hard bags, mildly stretched front end, and micro batwing fairing. The bags and fairing remove quickly for a straight-up naked cruiser, snap back on for the daily commute in a jiffy. While your full-face helmet won’t fit the locking bags, a brief case and laptop will, or a light weekend worth of gear. The seat is comfortable, and the reach to the wide bars and forward controls is just about perfect. The bike sits low to the ground and feels light off the stand. Standard cruise control is a nice touring touch, and H-D’s remarkable LED headlights are always appreciated when night falls.
Firing up the Milwaukee Eight 107 is still a moment unto itself. The sound with stock pipes is rich and throaty, and the fuel-injection is spot on. Ease out the light action clutch, and the bike pulls hard, clicking into 6 gears with precision. The ABS brakes, single disc front and rear, stop much better than expected and are perfectly capable on this bike. Plus, the single disc properly shows off the absolutely wicked “Mantis” front wheel!
The new Softail chassis tracks smoothly over most bumps, with easily adjustable preload available for different loading. Cornering clearance is decent, with no hard parts sparking at any time- though my size-13 heels did touch down more than I’d like. Riding the sporty Glide feels natural and connected, almost a hardwired connection. While it’s no sportbike, it is a bike one gets comfortable pushing a bit almost instantly. As the speeds come up, the fairing makes some difference from naked – but it’s more like the bikini fairings of old than actual touring protection. Rumor has it, Harley offers a taller windscreen, but I don’t think that will make much difference.
I really like the Sport Glide. Not perfect, but one of a few H-D’s through the years I’d consider buying new. If you’re looking for a decent commuter/ light tourer with attitude for cruise nights, the Sport Glide is a great choice. I love the look, but I’d like a more substantial batwing. The quick-change fairing is nice, but weather protection beats appearance in my case. Next, the pillion seat slopes backward which will not do for Pretty Wife – so that’s a MUST change. Finally, I’d like a chopped or slim tour pack to give her a backrest, and me a bit more storage. Then I’d have my perfect, light(er) weight, stripped-down, Ultra alternative to cover a bunch of miles. Hmmm, might be time to hit the internet, then call my local dealer!
Special thanks to Western Reserve H-D (Mentor, OH) and Harley-Davidson USA for use of your motorbikes!
Keep Riding Local, Dreaming Global, and rolling safe. See you on the road!