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Reviewed: Harley-Davidson Road Glide

Harley Davidson MY24 Road Glide Rider

So called ‘baggers’ are big business for American motorcycle manufacturers. These large tourers, nicknamed because of their built in panniers, are best sellers in the US home market and have even spawned a hugely popular racing series, which takes place alongside the MotoAmerica superbike championship. So, when Harley-Davidson announced a new Road Glide for 2024, it really was a big deal.

Not that the 2024 Road Glide is all new. We got a sneak peek at what lay ahead with the introduction of the CVO Road Glide 12 months ago. That high spec machine debuted new bodywork and a more agile approach to their traditional American touring philosophy although, at £38,795, it was a motorcycle for real Harley aficionados. And wealthy ones at that.

With a £27,295 price tag, the ‘production’ Road Glide is not only over 10 grand cheaper than the CVO version, it costs £500 less than the previous generation model it replaces too. That’s something of a rarity in itself, but when you consider the new model packs a much bigger specification, you can see Harley-Davidson are really coming out swinging with this one.

We’ve already reviewed the similar Street Glide on Insidebikes. The Road Glide is the more touring orientated of the two related models. It’s got a bigger fairing and different ergonomics. The mini-apehanger handlebars are taller and wider, the dashboard a little further away and (as a result) the handling a little less sporting.

Like the Street Glide, the Road Glide is more or less all-new in its design. The wind tunnel developed bodywork is a complete reimagination of the classic H-D look, still incorporating the ‘batwing’ style fairing but with bold new LED lighting and a generally slimmer appearance. To non-Harley guys it’s still distinctively a Harley, but real aficionados can tell the difference. The fuel tank is new, lighter and leaner than before, the panniers smoother and the wheels have been changed too. The result is a motorcycle which is over 7kg lighter than its predecessor although, at 380kg, it’s certainly still very much in the heavyweight category.

 

Harley Davidson MY24 Road Glide Bike

 

Both chassis and engine have not escaped without a major makeover. Harley’s big rival in the category, Indian, have been making big strides in this most important sector and the competition is leading to a new generation of bikes which are dynamically better than before, as well as offering more value for money.

The classic Harley-Davidson V-twin engine may look familiar, but it’s bigger and more powerful than the outgoing model. The new incarnation of what Harley calls its Milwaukee Eight design pumps out 14bhp more than the version found in the old Glides. The 1925cc motor is good for a claimed 107bhp, which is more than enough for the Road Glide’s intended role. Cylinder heads, camshafts, valves and throttle bodies have all been tweaked on the 2024 Road Glide, and there’s a bigger airbox and improved cooling to boot. It may be 52cc (and 8bhp) shy of the lump found in last year’s CVO Glides (which also benefitted from a variable valve timing system) but you can certainly notice that this big tourer has a bit more punch than its predecessor.

That’s also down in part to the chassis. The frame may only be subtly different to that found on the previous generation machine but it has been on a diet. The Showa suspension is new. There’s not much by way of adjustment (the only tweaks a rider can make is to add or reduce rear preload) but it contributes to a riding experience which is more composed. Unseen weight savings also come from a new wiring loom and significantly lighter triple clamps.

The view from the saddle is impressive, with the huge 12.3” TFT dashboard dominating the rider’s view. It’s an excellent piece of kit and almost twice as wide as the one found on previous models. The uprated infotainment system is able to run Apple CarPlay, as well as incorporating an AM/FM/DAB radio, better speakers, satnav and Bluetooth connectivity. The switchgear is also new, and very good with it, and there’s a little drawer designed to hold your phone and other knick knacks.

 

Road Glide Shark Skin Blue

 

This first class cockpit complements a classic Harley-Davidson riding experience. Despite the addition of water cooling, and compatibility with the latest emissions laws, a twist of the throttle initiates that classic ‘potato-potato’ soundtrack for which The Motor Company has become famed. In another sop to modernity, the Road Glide comes with two ride modes. Rumble along in Road or enjoy a sharper and more responsive ride in Sport. Sure it doesn’t completely transform the riding experience, but it’s a nice touch. Other electronic aids include traction control and Bosch cornering ABS.

As you might expect, the Road Glide is no scratcher. It’s been developed to cruise America’s long straight stretches of highway, although the riding experience has come on lightyears from the much-derided designs of decades past. It’s certainly a lot easier to chuck around than the old bike, but if you do fancy carving through some canyons, the 12kg lighter (and £500 cheaper) Street Glide is probably a better option. That’s no hustler either, but for sure the combination of less weight and a different riding position gives a more direct and engaging ride. You can see a comparison between the two models in our video review.

 

 

 

Baggers may not be quite as significant for Harley-Davidson in Europe as they are in their home market, but they are still their second best selling line in the UK behind the Sportsters. The 2024 Road Glide represents a substantial upgrade and the fact that it costs less should not go unnoticed either. It may not be a bike for the mainstream, but it represents Harley-Davidson’s continuing march towards modernity, subtly introducing new technology and higher specifications, while remaining true to the values H.O.G. owners hold so dear.

 

2024 Harley-Davidson Road Glide specification

 

Price:                                            £27,295

Engine:                                         1923cc V-Twin, pushrod, two valves per cylinder, liquid/air cooled

Power:                                          105bhp (78kW) @ 4600rpm

Torque:                                         176Nm (130lb-ft) @ 3250rpm

Transmission:                            Six-speed, belt final drive

Frame:                                          Tubular steel double cradle frame

Suspension:                                 (F) Showa non-adjustable 47mm USD fork, (R) preload-adjustable twin shocks.

Wheels:                                        Cast aluminium, 18”/17”

Tyres:                                        (F) Dunlop Harley-Davidson series 130/60 x 19, (R) Dunlop Harley-Davidson series 180/55 x 18

Brakes:                                         (F) 2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, four-piston calipers, (R) 300mm disc, 4-piston floating caliper. Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment

Weight:                                         380kg (kerb)

Wheelbase:                                  1,625mm

Seat height:                               720mm

Fuel tank:                                     22.7 litres

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