ROAD TEST: 2008 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide Review

By Art Hall

Last month I got to bring home a 2008 FXDWG (Dyna Wide Glide) Anniversary Edition compliments of the Harley demo fleet warehouse. At first glance one is impressed with the good looks of the balance between chrome and paint. Harley has come a long way with the fit and finish criteria, and it shows on this bike. Because this is a 105th year anniversary edition it comes in one color combination only, two-tone copper and black, which I think looks pretty good. Everybody that saw it thought there was little missing in the looks department.

After climbing aboard and settling in, the feel of a chopper is there due to the factory fat ape hangars, rake and trial, forward controls and the 21” laced front wheel. Looking down at the chrome dash I was surprised to see only a speedometer, thinking that a tachometer would be there also. I found that while riding I wasn’t really able to use the twin cylinders to the best of their ability without the tach as the new quietness and smoothness of the power train really has taken a lot of the feel from the bike (like it’s too smooth and too quiet).

With six gears to keep track of I was constantly wondering if I was in the middle of the power curve. Actually the rideability of the bike is such that the torque and horsepower allow you to be in most any gear at any reasonable speed and still get a favorable response from the throttle.

Without a tack I was forced to use the speedometer to find the redline (rev limiter) which occurred at about 45 in first gear, 65 in second 85 in third and I got there very quickly. The 92 lbs of toque really pull strong and the lightness at 678 wet pounds allows for a good power-to-weight ratio, with impressive acceleration.

Handling is great and gets better once you get comfortable with the foreword controls and the chopper like feel. I think this would be the bike to use in a slow race as the low speed handling is great. And the high speed (over 100) stability is also very tight (the rake helps with that too) giving the rider good control at both ends of the speed spectrum.

The 2007 models have some sort of ‘freewheeling’ that occurs around 1800 rpm’s when decelerating in any gear. It is a bit annoying at times and seems to have been eliminated on the 08, good move. The six-speed transmission is very smooth shifting and feels so much better than my 07 that I may visit the dealer to see if there is a problem, as I also have difficulty getting neutral most of the time (even after the 5,000 mile clutch adjustment).

The ignition switch is similar to the touring models on the dashboard and even though there are no accessories you shouldn’t leave it in that position. This will result in draining the battery and a failure to start. But the good news is the battery cover is held in place by only one Phillips screw and the terminals are well located to attach a battery charger.

I only mention this to address those who say Harleys are hard to work on, an example of thoughtful engineering.

Back to the appearance department. I stopped at our friends shop in Signal Hill, Bennett’s Performance, to have Bob and Eric give me their assessment of the bike. They both were impressed with the looks and Eric took a quick spin to confirm the fine handling and spirited performance. There is a new one-piece slim break line that cleans up the front end a bit. The air cleaner has a swooping teardrop design similar to the venerable S&S cover.

The only disappointment I had with this ride was that I thought I was going to be able to test the new run-by-wire throttle, Brembo brakes and ABS breaking system all new for 2008, BUT only found on the touring models. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to borrow one of those next. So all in all I give favorable marks to this model of the Harley lineup.

Pics by Art Hall, Bruce Baysinger & Richard Branson

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