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The new Steet Glide rewrites the rules

Updated: Mar 11

Gliding into the new season

The new Street Glide

The new Street Glide models from our American cousins at Harley-Davidson have landed at Harley dealerships. While a lot of us have mixed feelings on the range it’s probably safe to say that there are two types of riders; those who think that Harleys aren’t worth riding, and those who have actually ridden one.

So, when it comes to filling my dream garage with the ultimate collection of bikes, along with the R1M, Ducati 996, KTM 790, a R 1300 GS and a few others, my collection won’t be complete without a Harley Breakout or Fat Boy.

Meanwhile, the last few years have been very interesting for the US company. European legislation forced them to add variations of liquid-cooling to the range. While some of the old guard HOG members regarded this as an affront to over a century of signature air-cooled V- twins, it invited a whole new generation of motorcyclists to explore the brand and its models. It also allowed them to roll in some significant changes to the range, increase the power that was being offered via new engines from the Milwaukee-Eight engine series. While all of this drew heavily on the company’s heritage; the engines were still big, air-cooled V-twins and the styling only changed subtly. They broke the mould with the water-cooled Revolution Max engine first seen in the Pan America 1250 adventure bike. The gloves were off. 

TFT touchscreen – the big one

All Harleys are iconic. However, the most iconic has to be the Grand American Touring range. Huge touring tools styled the same since before most of us were even thought about. That was then. Now even Harley have had to get with the modern world. Sort of. On a recent trip to the sunny south east I was treated to a day on the 2024 Street Glide. It’s new. Really new. I’ve ridden many versions of this model over the years and, while the new Milwaukee motor made a big difference in terms of performance and ride quality, I wasn’t expecting much more of note. Well, I was wrong. The very first thing to notice were the old-style analogue clocks had gone. Entirely. They’ve been replaced with a full TFT touchscreen.

Full as in huge. Huge as in 312mm. It’s a superb layout that allows the rider a choice of display options and a contains a brand new infotainment system utilising Skyline OS. Phone connection, ear-piece hook-up phone, play tracks from your Spotify playlists for both the rider and the pillion and much more. Let’s not forget sat nav is built in and individual route maps can be uploaded. I have to say, though, it’s easily operated via touch screen and bar-mounted toggle. But it’s the push release drawer under the screen to house your phone, charging cable and toll cards is a really nice feature. The fact that it ‘hides in plain sight’ when closed just makes it that little bit cooler.

Some very clever features

While the Milwaukee-Eight Big V-twin engines have continued to evolve they’ve also become more powerful, smoother and tractable. To help manage this the company started to add the industry standard power modes of Sport, Road and Rain plus an owner customisable mode. The modes are worthwhile safety aids and balance throttle input and performance with various electronic systems that control or mind cornering ABS, traction control and engine braking, plus others to reflect the rider’s requirements as well as the conditions that the bike is being used in.

Lighter and more powerful LED lighting

While the new machine does, of course, at first resemble previous models a comprehensive range of subtle styling changes have taken place. All lighting is integrated into the bodywork. It’s also all LED. This combines to deliver three things; a lighter weight, reduced drag and a cleaner silhouette right down to the panniers and those very cool taillights. Not even the pillion seat escaped the way of the designer’s 3D styling pen.

Speaking of reduced drag, the handlebar-mounted fairing has been reworked. The classic, iconic ‘Batwing’ unit is still fork mounted and it’s also still ‘owned’ by the bike. What’s changed is that the new bike’s body work is tweaked to be ‘modern-looking’ and more wind-cheating with the very latest computational fluid dynamics. What that means to you and me is the bike is significantly more aerodynamically efficient and makes for greater rider comfort. And that’s exactly how it feels to ride.

Less of a drag

The bike, along with some of the other machines in the range, can look intimidating. It does have a big silhouette, but the styling invites exploration. The colour of the engine block, the contrast cut wheels with their H-D branded tyres all promise a quality ride. The ergonomics are ’refreshing’. My ‘lived in bones’ are grateful for the more conventional upright seating and riding position. Indeed, the ergonomics of revised seat shape and padding are very comfortable.

Putting my foot up on the floorboard and toeing the bike into gear I find, to my delight and surprise, that it’s gone! Well, the usual and unique H-D thump as the engine finds first gear, isn’t there anymore! It’s the same all the way through the ‘box’ – effortless and a joy to use.

After being out on the bike for a while I notice that something else is missing. The heat generated by the V-twin lump. It transpires that along with all the other changes, Harley have worked in new liquid-cooled cylinder heads. Some would say this is sacrilege overload for the traditionalists. But really, why not. It all adds up to a greater level of riding comfort. And for me this is what American Dream touring is all about!

Liquid and air-cooled new generation Milwaukee-Eight

The bike is also way more dynamic. Waterford is a city endowed with more than its fair share of roundabouts and, thanks to the way the bike delivers stability and performance, it’s a more than confidence inspiring machine when riding through them. It turns out that the new Street Glide is a staggering 8.2 kilos lighter than the old one! All in all, Street Glide not only looks better, has a new and usable suite of electronics, weighs less and is easier to ride, but it’s still very much a Street Glide. All be it a far superior one. I might just have to revise my dream garage and make room for one!

Easy to navigate switchgear

When asked for his opinion on a bike that’s so very different from its predecessors, Waterford Harley-Davidson Dealer Principal, Lenny Burns, said, “I was so impressed at the dealer launch of this, and the other 2024 machines, that I bought one for myself”. You can’t give a bike a better endorsement than that. The team from Waterford Harley-Davidson are on051844200. If you ask really nicely, Lenny might even give you a spin on his pride enjoy. Take it from me, you’re going to be impressed. Prices start at €34,595. 

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