Harley-Davidson Sport Glide returns to lineup

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 02:35:46 PM. After a near 30-year hiatus, the Harley-Davidson Sport Glide is back as a Softail, part of the manufacturer's plan to release 100 new motorcycles over 10 years.

The Harley-Davidson Sport Glide model is back after a nearly 30-year hiatus.

For riders looking for something more substantial than a Sportster, but eschewing a big touring bike, the Sport Glide has a split personality. Like a big bike, it comes complete with a fairing and saddle bags, but both are small and detachable.

It is a quick-change artist, an aggressive factory-custom cruiser suited for touring, cruising or commuting, said Dave Latz, senior product planning manager at Harley-Davidson. Sans the extra components, the Sport Glide is more like a bobber, ready for darting around town. It can fulfill a rider’s whims for both cruising and touring without the garage space or cost of two machines.

  Andy Mahr / Harley-Davidson The 2018 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide is back as a Softail, with a seat height of just 25.7 inches and forward-mounted foot controls. It has a rider triangle designed to fit a broad range of riders. The 2018 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide is back as a Softail, with a seat height of just 25.7 inches and forward-mounted foot controls. It has a rider triangle designed to fit a broad range of riders. (Andy Mahr / Harley-Davidson)

The ninth model based on the Softail platform and the latest in a line of 100 motorcycles the company plans to introduce by 2027, the Sport Glide is a combination of technology and style. Designed to be lightweight and stiff, the new Softail chassis delivers agility while the blacked-out Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-Twin powertrain delivers 108 pound-feet of torque for good acceleration and passing power.

Shaped much like the company’s iconic batwing, the fairing has been trimmed down for a more compact, sporty shape.

Riders seeking more wind protection can exchange the standard 1.5-inch-high windshield for a 5.5-inch Light Smoke windshield.

The lockable, rigid saddle bags can be removed in seconds with an internal quick-release mechanism, leaving behind mounting points that are barely visible. Combined saddlebag capacity is 1.9 cubic feet.

The Sport Glide’s seat height, at just 25.7 inches, and forward-mounted foot controls contribute to a rider triangle designed to fit a broad range of riders.

The 2-into-1 exhaust with a sweeping rear header and a black muffler contribute to the bike’s sporty style and enhance cornering clearance.

The motorcycle features a mono-shock rear suspension with remote hydraulic pre-load adjustment, controlled with an exposed knob below the right side cover, to make it easy to accommodate the weight of luggage or a passenger while maintaining optimal suspension performance.

The new, unidirectional Mantis cast-aluminum wheels (18-inch front and 16-inch rear) feature Michelin Scorcher 31 performance tires.

The Sport Glide is offered in three solid colors: Vivid Black ($18,599 MSRP) with Twisted Cherry and Silver Fortune colors ($18,999 MSRP) due soon.

Bob “Motormouth” Weber is an automotive columnist.

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