By Koz Mraz
Photos by Mike Cupp
The Sport Glide Softail allows you to cruise the backroads or hit the highway in style. The small batwing fairing comes with a 1.5-inch-high windshield that’s aerodynamically designed to deflect wind from the rider’s chest. A taller 5.5-inch light smoke windshield is also available for greater protection. The trick here is that the fairing is secured to the fork tubes with two quick-release clamps that undo in a few seconds. Similarly, the new rigid and lockable clamshell saddlebags can be detached in seconds thanks to a switch on the inside. When removed, they leave a clean look with barely visible mounting points. No tools required.
The Sport Glide was the ninth model introduced in the overhauled 2018 Softail lineup, and it combines lightweight long-haul elements that include a removable fairing and saddlebags. Plus performance upgrades like the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, a re-engineered Softail frame, and an inverted single-cartridge fork.
The Sport Glide’s ride quality is vastly improved thanks to a 43mm inverted Showa fork with single-cartridge damping control and the new Softail-spec single-shock rear end, preload for which is adjusted by hand using an easily reached dial. Another bonus: Cruise control and ABS are standard equipment.
The saddlebags are solid plastic, light and weatherproof and will hold 25.5 liters of luggage. They can be opened with one hand by a seated rider and the side door has a damping strut for smooth opening. It’s a clamshell style design and they open outwards which may limit the size of luggage you may be able to put into the bags. Additional luggage capacity can be added with an accessory sissy bar, luggage rack or even Tour-Pak rack.
The five-gallon gas tank and stated 47 mpg allows for some serious mileage between fuel stops. I found the Sport Glide to be very comfortable and with a low seat height of 26.5 inches, broad seat and forward-mounted foot controls it suits a wide range of riders. All-new Softails have a mono-shock rear suspension that offers a remote hydraulic spring preload adjustment. It can be adjusted for load by an exposed knob below the right-side cover.
Powered by the Milwaukee Eight 107 which is both balanced and rubber-mounted, it affords a 75 percent reduction in primary vibration at idle, so the motor will be dancing considerably less at stops. The 107 also offers precision oil cooling around the hottest areas of the cylinder heads to keep the heat off the rider and passenger.
The Sport Glide has Mantis cast-aluminum wheels, 18-inch 130 front and 16-inch 180 rear with Michelin Scorcher 31 performance tires. The single disc brake exposes the eye catching directional motion wheel normally reserved for their elite Custom Vehicle Operations models. Even with one disc, the Sport Glide still has plenty of stopping power with strong initial bite, progressive feel and of course ABS is standard.
It has a traditional round speedometer with a digital screen below showing fuel gauge and gear position. The tank-mounted instruments sit up high so they are easy to see without having to glance away from the road ahead.
Esthetically, this motorcycle is gorgeous, the mantis cast wheels look totally custom. The sweeping 2-1 black and chrome exhaust muffler, sport style, improved cornering clearance and the raked out front end just look cool. Functionally, its keyless ignition, USB port, hard bags and fairing are spot on. Harley-Davidson even offers an optional Tour-Pak designed for the Sport Glide for the long haul. I have always thought a two-in-one bike was missing in the H-D line-up and now, it’s here.
PRICE: Vivid Black $18,649, Color $19,049, Custom Color $19,599, Two-Tone Color $19,79
Engine: Milwaukee-Eight 107 Engine
Valves: Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; four valves per cylinder
Displacement: 107 cu. in. (1746 cc)
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Length: 91.7 in. (2330 mm)
Overall Width: 37.6 in. (955 mm)
Overall Height: 44.1 in. (1120 mm)
• Laden: 25.7 in. (653 mm)
• Unladen: 26.5 in. (673 mm)
Tires: (Michelin Scorcher, “31” front and rear)
• Front – Scorcher “31” 130/70B18 63H BW
• Rear – Scorcher “31” 180/70B16 77H BW
Fuel Capacity: 5 gal.
(18.9 L) (warning light at approximately 1.0 gal.)
Oil Capacity: (w/filter) 5 qt. (4.7 L)
• As Shipped: 670 lb. (304 kg)
• In Running Order: 698 lb. (317 kg)
Primary Drive: Chain, 34/46 ratio
Final Drive: Belt, 32/66 ratio
Clutch: Mechanical, 10 plate wet, assist & conventional
Transmission: 6-Speed Cruise Drive
Frame: Mild steel, tubular frame; rectangular section backbone; stamped, cast, and forged junctions; MIG welded; aluminum forged fender supports
Front Fork: Single cartridge 43 mm inverted with aluminum fork triple clamps; triple rate spring
Rear Shocks: Hidden, free piston, coil-over monoshock; 43mm stroke; toolless hydraulic pre-load adjustment
Wheels: Black, machine highlighted, Mantis cast aluminum
• Front: 18 in. x 3.5 in. (457 mm x 89 mm)
• Rear: 16 in. x 5 in. (432 mm x 127 mm)
• Caliper Type: 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear
• Rotor Type: Front black, split 7-spoke floating rotor, rear solid, uniform expansion rotor (diameter x width):
• Front: 11.8 in. x .2 in. (300 mm x 5.1 mm)
• Rear: 11.5 in. x .23 in. (292 mm x 5.8 mm)
• Anti-lock Braking System Standard
• Front Wheel: 5.1 in. (130 mm)
• Rear Wheel: 3.4 in. (86 mm)
Engine Torque (per J1349):
• North America: 108 ft. lb.
@ 2750 RPM (146 Nm @ 2750 RPM)
Lean Angle (per J1168):
• Right: 27.9°
• Left: 28.7°
Fuel Economy: (Combined City/Hwy) 47 mpg