Harley-Davidson Road Glide & Street Glide Launch

Paul Angus gets a tip to the Gold Coast to ride the new Harley-Davidson Grand American Touring models.

I RECENTLY flew from Sydney to the Gold Coast to attend the launch of Harley-Davidson’s 2024 Road Glide and Street Glide models. I rarely fly anywhere within Australia so I was surprised to find the cabin appeared to be fitted with seats designed to hold a small primary school child. To make things worse, I discovered you have to pay for beer. Thankfully, when I arrived on the Gold Coast, Harley-Davidson Australia’s hospitality was much better — they laid on a top feed at a restaurant on the beach and a good night was had by all.

Harley-Davidson put on breakfast the next day before a briefing about the new bikes. There was a lot of stuff in the briefing and you’re probably better off trusting Harley-Davidson‘s website rather than my memory. 

The Street Glide and Road Glide form part of its Grand American Touring range. Both have been substantially updated for 2024. Some of those changes include:

  • Big changes to the look and style. All new bodywork with new all LED lighting. There seems to have been a serious effort to create lines that run from the fairing though the tank and seat into the panniers and tail section.
  • New wheels.
  • Increased suspension travel.
  • A new 312 mm touch screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay.
  • Four rider modes: Sport, Road, Rain and Custom.
  • The new Milwaukee Eight 117 engine putting out 107 hp @ 5020 rpm and 175 Nm @ 3500 rpm.
  • Fully updated rider safety enhancements including cornering ABS, traction control and hill hold.
  • 13 colours to choose from.

After the briefing we set off for a 350 km ride through the spectacular Gold Coast Hinterland. The bikes available were all different, a mixture of Road Glides and Street Glides. Many had various optional extras fitted. I started the day on a Road Glide in Sharkskin Blue, a new 2024 colour. The Sharkskin Blue really suits both the Road and Street Glides. It is available only with the blacked-out trim. 

Riding out of the Gold Coast revealed how easy the Road Glide is to manoeuvre through town traffic. The stop/start nature of city riding hinted at the joys to come. Stopping at traffic lights is always a bore but the Road Glides new linked brakes do it without fuss. Setting off again makes you smile every time. Paddling around at the lights does remind you that the bike weighs in at 380 kg but as soon as you are moving the steering is incredibly light and intuitive. The turning lock is also worthy of mention — you can turn around in an amazingly small area for such a long motorcycle.

Once we got onto the freeway we got the chance to unleash the extra horses Harley-Davidson has corralled into the Milwaukee Eight 117. I’ve always liked the Milwaukee Eight since its debut in 2016 and it just gets better and better with each iteration. 175 Nm is some serious umph. I spent a lot of time ripping open the throttle just to experience that wave of torque; even after a day in the saddle you don’t get bored of feeling the rush. I suppose my only criticism is that all that torque makes it hard to ride in a group.

We rode out through the cane-fields so that the photographers could get some shots of the bikes framed by the cane with the Scenic Rim in the background. Here there was enough road to get up to speed and try the new fairing on the Street Glide. Harley-Davidson refers to it as the Sharknose fairing. It reminds me more of the Starship Enterprise than of a shark but each to their own. 

The difference between the Street Glide and the Road Glide is their fairings. The Road Glide is frame-mounted and the Street Glide fork-mounted. Harley-Davidson made the point at the morning briefing that a lot of effort had gone into trying to reduce buffeting from the fairing airflow on both bikes. They have achieved this with various adjustable vents and wind deflectors. The small screen/deflector on the top of the fairing can easily be changed to accommodate various heights of rider. I had no issues with buffeting on the Road Glide or the Street Glide I rode later in the day, but I’m only five-foot-ten in a pair of stout boots. If you’re taller or shorter things may be different. 

The frame-mounted fairing of the Road Glide does give the front-end a different feel to that of the Street Glide. After all the Road Glide is the race bike of the pair. Baggers have become very popular in the USA and so has Bagger Racing. If you’ve not seen any it is definitely worth looking up on the interweb. In this year’s King of the Bagger race at Daytona one was clocked at 182 mph. Yes. That is miles per hour. 

During the photoshoot amongst the cane-fields we all swapped bikes and I got to have a go on a couple of Street Glides and a stock Road Glide. Then it was back onto a Road Glide for a run into the hills on some seriously twisty roads.

Harley-Davidson claims an extra 50 percent more rear suspension travel. The new suspension does a very impressive job of dealing with our crappy road surfaces.

I had paired my phone to the bike’s infotainment system and enjoyed some tunes through the speakers. You can connect to a bluetooth headset but I’m not a fan of helmet speakers. The loudspeakers punch out the sound perfectly for back-road meandering. 

If, however, you don’t want to meander the Road Glide is more than happy to make seriously rapid progress. The monster torque rockets you out of corners. I know it weighs 380 kg and has a wheelbase of over 1.6 metres but for such a serious motorcycle it is incredible fun.

We stopped for lunch at O’Reillys Vineyard in Canungra Valley. If you’re ever in the area their beef is sensational. They also have Alpacas that you can take for a walk! 

After lunch there were a lot of people wanting to ride the piped, Sharkskin Blue Road Glide. I ended up with a piped Street Glide in black. I really liked the Street Glide. It too was tremendous fun to hustle along the scenic and bendy roads back to the Gold Coast. It rained a little on the way back but that didn’t bother the Street Glide. I didn’t bother putting it on Rain mode; Road mode proved unflappable in the slippery conditions. 

The Street Glide felt is very similar to the Road Glide. It does have a different fairing mounted to the forks, lower bars and a lovely little slide-out draw in the fairing for your phone and wallet. Seriously though, it really is going to boil down to whether you like the look of the Batwing fairing or the Sharknose fairing. I realise that might be a little controversial but they are both seriously good touring motorcycles. Harley-Davidson knows a thing or two about making a motorcycle capable of devouring huge distances with ease and both these bikes have been continuously refined over many years.

I’d be very happy with either the Road Glide or the Street Glide. I was amazed by how much fun both of them are to ride. Especially how much fun they are at doing the mundane stuff like crawling through city traffic or eating kilometres of freeway. They are fun to ride slowly. They are fun to ride quickly. They have huge panniers fitted as standard. The linked brakes are fantastic. They have a stereo. What more do you want from a motorcycle? Actually, if you do want more, Harley-Davidson has the CVO and ST versions. 

As always, you don’t need to take my word for it, go and try one at your local Harley-Davidson dealer. I bet you cannot ride one without smiling. The hardest part will be deciding whether you want the Road Glide or the Street Glide. Harley-Davidson will sell you either model for $46,495 ride away. You would probably want to spend a little more making it your own; Harley-Davidson are very happy to help you with a bewildering array of extras.

Review submitted by Paul Angus; photos supplied by Harley-Davidson Australia.

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button