Harley Davidson Softail Sport Glide

If you can’t decide between a cruiser or a tourer, the Harley-Davidson Softail Sport Glide may be the answer.

If you can’t decide between a cruiser or a tourer, the Harley-Davidson Softail Sport Glide may be the answer.

It features a small but effective “batwing” fairing and hard panniers for practical, touring comfort. Yet they detach in seconds to reveal a classic hardtail-style cruiser.

It also comes with electronic cruise control, Daymaker LED headlight and all-LED lighting, USB charging port, keyless ignition with Harley’s Smart Security System.

Last year, Harley amalgamated the Dyna and Softails into the one Softail family which now has 17 model variants, the latest being the Sport Glide. They are powered by the Milwaukee Eight 107 and 114 engines which are now 100% balanced for a smoother and more sophisticated feel.

Now, the Sport Glide comes with the 107 (1745cc) engine, but I suspect a 114 (1868cc) version coming later this year. The balanced engine doesn’t quite spin up as fast as the 75 balanced engine in the Touring family, but there is a massive 145Nm of torque on hand for meaningful acceleration.

The new Softails feature a completely new and 34 percent stiffer frame that is up to 17kg lighter, making them more nimble and easier to flick around tight corners and the urban landscape. However, the Sport Glide is even better with new 43mm upside-down Showa forks like on the new Fat Bob. It gives the bike a light and precise steering feel.

While the Fat Bob has dual front brake discs, the Sport Glide only has a single disc, so you can more clearly see the stunning “directional wheel” normally reserved for their elite Custom Vehicle Operations models.

With its swirling spoke design, it looks like it’s moving even when it’s standing still.

Even with one disc, the Sport Glide still has plenty of stopping power with plenty of initial bite, progressive feel and a smooth ABS actuation.

But the showstopper on the Sport Glide is its quick-change act that allows it to cruise, commute or tour.

Like the big Touring Street Glide, the Sport Glide’s much smaller batwing fairing is aerodynamically shaped to deflect wind from the rider’s chest and provide a clean stream of air. It comes with a 1.5-inch-high windshield, but you can also get a taller 5.5-inch Light Smoke Windshield.

However, I found the short windscreen did the trick without introducing any head buffeting.
The fairing is secured to the fork tubes with two quick-release clamps that undo in a few seconds.

Similarly, the new rigid and lockable clamshell panniers can be detached in seconds, thanks to a switch on the inside. When removed, they leave a clean look with barely visible mounting points.

Unfortunately, the bags look a bit plasticky but they are light, weatherproof and will hold 25.5 litres of luggage. They can also be opened with one hand by a seated rider and the side door has a damping strut for smooth opening.

Fast facts

  • Engine: Milwaukee Eight 107 (1745cc) V-twin
  • Torque: 145Nm
  • Transmission: 6-speed, belt drive
  • Tyres: 130/70B18 63H; 1980/70B16 77H
  • Length: 2325mm
  • Seat: 680mm
  • Fuel: 18.9 litres
  • Dry weight: 304kg
  • Brakes: 4-piston fixed single disc (front); 2-piston floating (rear) with ABS
  • Economy: 5.3 litres/100km.

Story by Mark Hinchliffe.