Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special: Going the distance in sheer comfort

By A. NACHI | 22 May 2019


The Harley-Davidson folks assure that the new Road Glide Special is the best Road Glide so far since its introduction in 1998. Harley Davidson has been mindful that in order to keep the present Harley Davidson community engaged with their new offerings, present trend has been taken into consideration.

The must-mention update on this new Road Glide is it's powered by all the-new Milwaukee Eight where the engine is much smoother, crispier and more torquey. The new Road Glide is a 1,868cc beast with a torque of 166Nm at 3,000rpm.

The machine is upright with a perfect triangle geometry between rider and machine.The saddle is wide and firm. I did about 500km in one day on this machine and felt no aches on my rear end or on my lower torso. The handlebars and the leg rests or better known as the floor boards are spot on. The boards are a bit forward, which gives any riders a much more relaxed sitting position.

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However, I had trouble with the toe and heel gear shifter. There was little space between both to place my foot but I was told by a Harley technician that this could be adjusted according to the need of a rider.

From the aesthetic angle, the blacked-out motorcycle exudes raw power and a strong presence. The Road Glide Special has a "shark nose" fairing design unlike the popular "bat wing" fairing. For your information, the shark nose fairing is mounted onto the frame and not the front end like the bat wing fairing. Initially, I did not like the design but it slowly grew on me and I am now convinced it is unique.

At about 180kph, there was no wind buffeting my chest or head, showing the fairing was able to deflect the wind well.

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The Road Glide Special is at home on the highway. Every time I squeezed the throttle at any engine speed, the 388kg bike is highly responsive. The first two gears are short. The hand clutch is manageable despite being hard. When caught in a traffic jam, however, the hand clutch was a nightmare. My arm was crying for help. Don’t forget this bike is designed for the open road. However, the gear shifts are smooth — in fact too perfect.

Cruising the highway, the agile V twin engine with a sturdy chassis was able to guide the bike on the tarmac with ease. I could overtake tankers and lorries without feeling the bike being "pushed" by wind turbulence.
The first question that pops up every time I ride a Harley is: “How bad is the vibration?”

This bike does vibrate the minute I thumb the starter or when I am keeping the engine at low rpm. The vibration is noticeable without being discomfiting unlike its predecessor where the vibration is very pronounced.

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But the minute the bike is on the move, the vibration fades away. Personally, I feel the vibration is necessary because this is Harley-Davidson's trademark and cannot be eliminated by virtue of the strong low-end torque.

After the first hour of navigating the corners, I managed to settle in. I was then able to manoeuvre the bike through all the corners with ease, while holding the line without difficulty. Every entry and exit of twisties were manageable despite the size and weight of the bike.

The Showa suspension met my expectation where the 5-inch travel on the front fork was able to soak up the imperfections of the road. With rear twin shocks having 2 inches of travel, the suspension there definitely needs improvement for a much comfortable ride.

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The front brakes on this big fella is a dual four-piston calipers gripping a dual floating 300mm rotor. At the rear end is a four-piston caliper biting onto a single 300mm rotor. The brakes are easy to handle — light on the fingers and foot. I need not slam on the brakes; progressive braking is advised for smoother braking experience.
I could feel the heat of the engine at the traffic lights. It was bearable but it quickly dissipates as bike and rider get moving. Heat management was decent but could be improved especially when traffic is just crawling along.

To me, a touring machine is not complete without an audio system. This bike is equipped with Harley-Davidson’s Boom! Box GTS infotainment system. It comes with two speakers that have 25 watts per channel, pumping out audio from AM, FM, Bluetooth streaming or connected digital storage sources. The setup also includes a user-friendly navigation system.

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Where luggage space is concerned, this touring machine has plenty of it. The hard saddle bags have 75 litres of space, allowing a rider to plan for a long journey. The locking system of the bag is simple; the lid opens with just one press.

The Road Glide Special 2019 is designed to traverse the open road as far and as comfortable as possible. I must say this bike has achieved this compared to its predecessor, offering superior comfort, road handling and power.


SPECIFICATIONS

Harley Davidson Road Glide Special

Engine: Milwaukee Eight V Twin, 1,868cc, air cool
Torque: 166Nm @ 3000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed
Front Suspension: Showa 49mm Dual Bending Valve fork; 4.6 in travel, ABS
Rear Suspension: Spring-preload adjustable Showa shocks; 2.2 in travel, ABS
Front braking system: 300mm floating rotors , 4-piston calipers
Rear Braking System: 300mm fixed rotor, 4-piston caliper
Fuel Capacity: 22.7 litre
Wet Weight: 388kg
Features: Hard saddle bags,Cruise control, touch screen, Boom! Box GTS infotainment system, integrated communications system and navigation system, traction control, linked braking and LED


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Keywords

Overview

Styling
80%
Comfort
80%
Performance
85%
Safety
80%
Value
70%

CarSifu's Rating: 7.9