Harley-Davidson has produced a genuinely premium Tourer with the 2021 Street Glide Special. On a gruelling 1500 mile tour of Great Britain, I got to know the bike intimately, and it proved the perfect steed for the trip.
If you are a child of the eighties, one TV show you would have always watched on a Saturday would be CHIPs. A series about the California Highway Patrol officers and, in particular, two motorcycle riders. As I loved motorcycles, I would imagine myself riding along Californian roads adorned with a glowing gold helmet.
I never did manage to get on a Harley-Davidson like they rode but jump forward some forty years, and I am on a Street Glide Special like Ponch, and Jon Baker would have ridden on the show.
Sadly, I wasn’t in the Californian sunshine when I reviewed the 2021 Street Glide Special but taking part in the Great Malle Rally.
The rally is a true road test of both machine and rider endurance being a 1500 mile road adventure from the southern tip of England to the northern end of Scotland.
It is an incredible experience, but, those taking part need to prepare themselves for long hours of riding in all weathers and on all types of roads.
I believe that the key component to enjoying the rally experience to its fullest is to have the right bike and fortunately for me, the 2021 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special was, and proved itself to be more than up to the task.
I will be covering the Great Malle Rally in a future article, so I won’t say much now, besides the fact that if a motorcycle can handle what I faced on the Road Trip, then it gets huge credit from me.
The Street Glide Special has a Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine which is 1800 cc in size, so plenty of power to push me along. The six-gallon tank offers a good range for a Tourer with fuel economy in the region of 43 mpg. I did achieve 240 miles per tank when ridden at motorway speeds which is impressive.
Generally, you only ever ride for about two and a half hours before you feel the need to stop, but on the Rally, I did have to stay in the saddle sometimes for three hours at a time. Adventures such as the Great Malle Rally need a motorcycle that performs in all departments.
Comfort is paramount when undertaking long trips, and I found the Harley superbly comfortable. The seat on the Street Glide Special is like a Sedan chair, and it envelops your posterior. You sit properly in the saddle, and immediately it feels right; even after ten hours of riding, this is maintained.
The handlebars and controls are ideal for allowing an upright riding stance preventing any strain on wrists, back or neck. The small windshield connected to the fairing does an outstanding job of diverting the elements away from the rider, so you are not buffeted even at speed.
The Street Glide Special can be identified as a Bagger, coming from the reference to carrying saddlebags like the horsemen of the Wild West would have. In the 21st Century, the bags have become shaped colour matching Panniers which sit perfectly by the Pillon seat. I found them adequate for spare gloves, flask and bits and pieces but not large enough for a long road trip.
Harley-Davidson can supply you with various Top Boxes to match the Street Glide Special style. If I owned the bike, I would undoubtedly purchase a large Top Box to store kit in, including putting my helmet when not riding.
If there has been one motorcycle that I have ridden that has truly surprised and impressed me, it would have to be the Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special. Its looks make you think it is a heavy Tourer, sluggish and hard to ride at slow speed; quite the reverse was my experience. The more time in the saddle I had, the more familiar I got with the bike and found its capabilities.
The low centre of gravity and low saddle height combined with an upright riding position means the bike’s weight goes as soon as you pull away. You can achieve excellent performance from it if you want to push the speed and lean angles, and the Street Glide Special feels safe to do this. Equally, if you’re going to plod along and cruise all day, the bike will happily cope.
After sitting on the superbly comfy saddle for up to ten hours a day and not feeling a numb bum or aching back, I can’t think of a better Tourer. I hope my next grand tour will be in a warmer, drier Country.
Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special – Where and How?
Harley-Davidson offers eleven colour options for the Street Glide Special motorcycle. They also manufacture many optional parts allowing owners to customise their bikes fully. Prices start from £24,495.
For more information on Street Guide Special, options and other models in the Harley-Davidson range, visit www.harley-davidson.com.
Read more motorcycle news and reviews here.