Support My Work
© Mark Watson / inciteimages.com

2024 HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD GLIDE & STREET GLIDE – AMERICAN EXPRESS

Ride one...be amazed...

IMAGES BY MARK WATSON

I think it’s important you realise what is going on here. Harley-Davidson has just released the best bikes it has ever created, and this is kind of a big deal. As it should be.

Celebrating a run through a rum-plant plantation…

No, this is not an exaggeration. It’s a simple statement of objective fact. Its two 2024 touring options, the Road Glide and the Street Glide, are the best bikes Harley has ever made. And they are better in every way.

 

Sure, some gronky old people are complaining about the slight edge-angle thing that has appeared on the petrol tank, and lament how that has somehow ruined the pure flowing lines that existed on H-D tanks since 1765, or some such shit.

A most grand collection…

I’m sure once some of them can actually bring themselves to ride one of the new Glides, they will come to understand what a huge improvement Harley has made to its iconic touring range. Or they will continue to bemoan the passing of the Panhead.

 

I am so not with them on this. I think the improvements are great and long overdue. I hold a great deal of love in my heart for Harley – all of which has to do with my gloriously misspent youth and the seminal part its bikes played in that passion play. I get them on a level most don’t, can’t and won’t. And that’s fine.

A tree, some water, rum plants, a big Harley, and sunset. That’s romance, bitches.

With these latest developments, it’s like Milwaukee heard me screaming, took it personally, and addressed the stuff I was yelling about. But more likely, Milwaukee knew perfectly well where its touring bikes were lacking, understood the competition in this segment of the market was starting to eat into its market-share, and decided to fight back.

 

This fight-back took on a dimension I have never seen from Harley. It made me understand it was well serious about the two new Glides.

 

Firstly, it started handing out its top-shelf CVO range (the same two models, Road Glide and Street Glide, but tricked up to CVO-level) to the mouth-breathing gronks and nepo-babies who make up much of the Australian motorcycle press corps in these trying times.

Get away from my bike…hang on, it’s not my bike. Old habits die hard, I guess.

That just does not happen. The CVOs are 60-grand-plus flagships the press doesn’t normally get to ride. People who buy CVOs don’t give a shit what a press corps mainly made up of professional failures, slim-thighed hipsters, or sportsbike fiends think of them. I’m also pretty sure they don’t much care what I think of the CVOs either, but Harley gave me one anyway about two years ago. I wanted to set fire to it, such was my disappointment.

 

It was my usual gripe. If you’re going to make big-arse touring bikes, then they have to handle, the suspension has to be better than what it is, the ground clearance needs to be increased, buffeting needs to be addressed, and the whole package needs to come into line with what’s expected in 2024.

There is no doubt in my mind the stripper I was taking home once upon a time would have appreciated the pillion back-rest. Those girls work very hard, you know.

And so, miracle of miracles, it has come to pass. I spent several weeks being hugely impressed with the two CVOs. And I remember saying to one of the Harley guys it would be cool when and if some of the improvements on the CVOs made their way down the chain to the non-CVO models. Because the 2024 CVOs were a huge step forward for Harley – such was the level of overall improvements. The Harley guy just grinned at me, like he knew something I didn’t…

See those lateral LED strips? They are also blinkers when you want them to be. Very cool.

So fast forward a few months and I get an invite to the Australian press launch of the new Road Glide and Street Glide up on the Gold Coast. I geared myself up to be a touch let-down after the CVOs. These didn’t have the 121-cube engine. Surely, they would also be missing most of the other improvements the CVOs came with.

 

More fool me. They were, quite frankly, brilliant. Yes, they run the 117-cube engine, but that engine has new cylinder heads, a vastly improved intake manifold, and fatter throttle bodies. It does not give all that much away to the 121-cuber, and offers a four per cent increase in torque (175Nm at 3500rpm) and about the same in power (107 bhp at 5020) over the 117 you know. The mid-range is fatter and more delightful than well-baked harvest hog.

No, that’s not a steam-ship. It’s probably a luscious rum-cooking facility.

This entire package has been modernised, and now offers riders a bike one can certainly get a proper wiggle on if the demons start yelling, while offering levels of “Oh, wow” from the TV-sized dash with in-built navigation (which can be imposed over your phone’s weather app so you can see what kind of weather you’re riding into), accompanied by a suite of electronic rider aids – linked brakes, lean-angle traction control, hill hold, tyre pressure monitoring, heated grips, cruise control – the lot.

The look of the Road Glide is not for everyone. But it really works for me. Note the ground clearance.

But the biggest thing you’ll notice is the 50 per cent more suspension travel and vastly improved ground clearance. Yes, you can still drag the footboards if you want, but you’d be running hard and fast from the police when that starts. Most riders will never hear that expensive grinding noise. You can actually see the improvement in ground clearance in the pictures.

 

And let me put your mind at ease about the brakes. I know many Harley riders think the brakes on their not-2024 tourers were fine, and I only complain about them because I am a cussed creature made from damnation itself. Well, I may well be that creature, but listen to me, you tubby, grey-bearded, cos-players – unlike yourselves, I know what good brakes are and I know what great brakes are. These are very good brakes – with much feel and quite ample stopping power.

This is the stock seat. But you can choose from many other variations. I found this one to be just fine – as it should be.

The gearbox is smoother, the handling at both walking pace and “I may well go to jail” is simply great. There. I said it. And I mean it. Now, don’t be an idiot and start blubbing about how it’s not gonna handle like Panigale or a GS. You understand it’s not meant to, right?

The panniers and rear-lights are the same on both models.

The point here is very simple and very salient. One no longer has to compare Harleys to other Harleys (and Indians) in terms of handling. The new Glides change all that. You can now compare Harleys to the German baggers, and no-one will think your brain has softened.

This is what greets you upon start-up. It’s pretty glorious. Note the vent and its attendant lever in between the screen and the dash.

The roads we ran on the press launch were great for showcasing the new Glides, and if a man knew things, then that man could find places where he could…well, have a crack, as it were. The trick is to fall back some from the lead riders, who will always and forever only ride at the posted speed limits. As of course they must. But arbitrary speed limits and I have never seen eye to eye. So, I hang back, admire the scenery, and then I apply myself.

So this is one dash configuration…
…and this is another one. And yes, there are others. Make the dealer show you. They love doing that.

This is when one discovers just how satisfyingly easy it is to do such a thing, and how I personally have waited decades for Harley to produce a bike I can do this on without spending a billion dollars modifying it. These new Glides are easy to ride – fast, slow, or somewhere in-between – well-balanced, calmly manoeuvrable, and just…well, so right, I guess. You can swing them through corners with manly abandon.

This was my fave on the launch. Note my internal happiness.

So, what’s the difference between the two Glides? It’s the fairing. The Road Glide has the big, frame-mounted hammerhead jobbie, and the Street Glide has the more traditional handlebar-mounted air-buster. Both have vents that open and close, and buffeting has been largely dealt with – just understand that people are different heights and wear different helmets, so there are some variables here.

Must…not…attack. Bike…is…not…mine…

I have always preferred the frame-mounted fairing. That much real estate is happier mounted to your frame when you’re pushing on, obviously. But on general principles, they’re both much of a muchness. I also happen to prefer the massive headlight and entire “face” of the Road Glide, but both sport very cool-looking running lights. Having ridden them both at night, the headlight on the Road Glide is one of the best road-illuminators you’ll get on a stock bike. It’s very wide, flat, and bright, and high-beam just adds a bit of height to the beam, rather than making things brighter.

This colour really grows on a man…

So, what else? Lots. There’s the 200W stereo. You can hear it at 120, but you’ll struggle to differentiate between Celine Dion and AC/DC. Keep it under about 80 and it’s pretty good. You also have Apple Car Play, USB ports (inside a sexy sliding drawer on the Street Glide, or deep latching fairing pockets on the Road Glide), adjustable rear shocks, and two years of road-side assistance to go with the two-year warranty.

This angle would normally induce cascades of sparks.

And of course, there is an absolute cornucopia of variants you can fit to make your Glide yours. Different seats, different handlebars, different screens, and an entire world of bling – because, as always, Harleys exist to be personalised and customised. Read The Rules.

Not a bad part of the world.

I’m actually smiling as I write this. The new Glides have made me happy. Milwaukee has made me happy. It has created two variants of the grand touring bike entirely worthy of the tag. Modern, capable, and very rewarding to ride – truly the new American Express.

 

MY RECENT TOURING STABLE

 

Harley has been hugely generous with its bikes of late. I have extensively ridden both CVOs, and a few variants within the non-CVO stable.

 

This is also a new approach from Harley. Once, all the press was ever given was a stock bike. But the touring press-fleet now boasts both Road Glides and Street Glides with a plethora of goodies on them. I spent most of the launch haring about on an ape-hangered, blacked-out Road Glide with a Stage Two engine kit in it and Screamin’ Eagle pipes. I refused to swap it with anyone. I loved it.

I very much liked this tricked-up black-hearted bastard…

I recently had possession of a glorious blacker-than-black Street Glide with a huge range of goodies on it. It was simply stunning. It had low-profile seats, a fancy air-cleaner, a Pro-Street tuner, and the grips, footboards, pedals, and derby cover (that round thing on the primary) were all etched with a deep orange sex-scars. It did jack the price of the bike up to a shade over $55K, but I would so spend that money without blinking.

I’m not sure about the lingerie covering the performance air-filter. But I left it there because I was scared of losing it.

 

The low-profile seat is a work of art.
Very trick grips.
A big improvement over stock. Yes, $345. Shut-up.
These do make quite a pleasing rumble.
It’s just as well these don’t hit the bitumen that often. They’re $955 a pair. The brake pedal is $145.

I’m currently belting around on a chromed-as-hell Road Glide with apehangers that makes me feel a bit like I think I would feel tooling around Tijuana with a smooth-legged chiquita licking my neck. I’m thinking this is not a bad way to feel.

 

THE NEXT LEVEL

There is, of course, a higher level of touring sexy – beyond even that of the CVO. And one which I have yet to ride. But I have been promised a ride on it, and Nigel Keogh, Harley’s Australian CEO, is gonna get mighty tired of stepping over me each time he goes into and out of his office. Because I know where he works, and that’s where I will make my stand until I get a ride on the CVO Road Glide ST. This monster comes with a tweaked 121-cube engine, fully adjustable front forks, remote reservoir rear shocks, pipes, bling, and an 11kg weight-loss treatment.

This is the CVO ST. Nigel is very nearby…

Nigel was riding it on the launch. I shadowed him each time we stopped, hoping he’d leave the key-fob in the bike, but he was wise to me. He kept the key in his pocket all day. And he grinned at me each time I made “gimme, gimme” noises at him. I do believe he was a touch nonplussed when I told him I was not too proud to beg, and then did just that. So, he promised me he’d make that ride available – and that will be a wondrous thing because these beasts were sold out 48 hours after being made available – and they made only 200 of them. And so very few made it to Australia.

 

HOW MUCH? The party for either the Street Glide or the Road Glide starts at $46,495

Subscribe and get to see the real spicy stuff and much more

Choose subscription plan
Payment details
 
 
 
 
 
Total  

 

Check HERE to see what you get

Alternatively, Tip me without subscribing if you enjoy my work.

Donation amount
$
Donation frequency

Or Via Paypal

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Boris Mihailovic

Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop