2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special: Tested

Taking The Long Way Home

Milwaukee-Eight
2017 H-D Street GlideTim Sutton

I can still remember it like it was yesterday: ripping down PCH on a purple 1996 Dyna Low Rider with a fresh California motorcycle learner's permit. I would wear borrowed fingerless leather Harley gloves that were about three sizes too big and an old, chipped skull cap that my parents didn't know I had. As a junior in high school, my best friend's stepdad told me I could ride his Dyna whenever I wanted, which started out as once a week but quickly became every day. That 80ci motor might as well have been a Chevy 454—to me it was huge. On it, I felt like I owned the roads. Now, on a 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide, the feeling is the same. This thing takes me back to my roots and why I fell in love with riding in the first place.

Without trying to sound cliché, the new Street Glide rides like a dream. Every once in awhile I find a motorcycle that does exactly what I want it to do when I want it to do it. The BMW RT1200p was like this for me after riding it daily for so many years as a motor officer. The Street Glide was like this for me right out of the box. I looked forward to getting onto this bike every single day I had it. In fact, each time I would park it, I found myself disappointed that I didn't get to ride longer.

Milwaukee-Eight
2017 H-D Street GlideTim Sutton

I'll start with the new Milwaukee-Eight's 107-inch engine. Harley-Davidson has improved performance, durability, and styling with its new powerplant. This thing sounds fantastic, idles cooler than previous models, and delivers a fantastic amount of torque—10 percent improvement over previous-year models. The power was there whenever I needed it, but it wasn't too jumpy when I didn't. It remained smooth and consistent as the tach climbed and made for a lot of fun whenever I opened it up. The eight-valve engine is counterbalanced to cancel 75 percent of engine vibration at idle, which has dropped from 1,000 rpm to 850 rpm. There are some new heat-management strategies with the Milwaukee-Eight as well, which I don't have space to get into here, but I will say they seemed to be working. Cutting down on vibration and heat didn't sacrifice the feel of a big Harley Twin. I predict the Milwaukee-Eight will fit its way into the legendary category years from now.

Milwaukee-Eight
2017 H-D Street GlideTim Sutton

Styling is pretty much what we have been used to for a Street Glide. I love the timeless look of this iconic bagger, and if you’ve made it this far into my article, odds are that you do too. Sleek lines, a big front fairing, and very functional bags have all been tied together well to make for a win. But don’t let the classic look fool you; it’s still packing the technological punch Harley-Davidson debuted with its Project Rushmore models in 2014: navigation, a fully functional touchscreen, and voice activation for music, phone, and GPS. All the controls are positioned where you would instinctually want them. If you don’t want to toggle a thumb control to make a selection on the screen, you can just touch the damn thing, which doesn’t get much more straightforward than that. The stereo wails and provides as much sound as you can hope for freeway speeds.

Milwaukee-Eight
2017 H-D Street GlideTim Sutton

While on the topic of speeds, the large front fairing does a great job of cutting the wind but not so much that it feels like you’re riding in a bubble. There’s an open/close button for a front vent just below the windshield to help with ventilation. Long distances were no problem, and the ergonomics didn’t leave me sore after being in the saddle for extended periods of time. I’m sure this was partially due to the all-new dual bending valve front suspension and adjustable-rear suspension, which was just a twist of a knob to set at my weight. No air pumps or leak-out, which was a nice feature of this new suspension. I was happy to see this substantial upgrade after years of, what many would consider, outdated suspension components on Harley baggers.

Milwaukee-Eight
2017 H-D Street GlideTim Sutton

I had the opportunity to ride Ortega Highway, which is my backyard for go-to twisties. The Street Glide effortlessly fell into each turn and the platform felt stable, which gave me plenty of confidence to push it. Fourth gear felt wide, and I found myself staying here for responsive power even into the high 60s. To scrape the boards, I really had to try—as in get to the point where I left my comfort zone to see how low it would go. Oftentimes on different cruisers, riding twisties has felt limited in speed by the lean angle. If I stayed within my comfort zone, I almost never scraped, even on fast, heavy leans. Passing on the highway was fast, and the Milwaukee-Eight’s torque output, which never failed to deliver, continually impressed me.

The clutch was tight and engaged exactly how I wanted: smooth at low speeds but it’ll slingshot you from a stop if you dump it with some revs. Stopping or hard braking was another no-brainer—Harley outfitted the Street Glide with Reflex ABS dual linked Brembo brakes (what doesn’t this bike have?). The brakes were firm, consistent, and halted this large bike in its tracks without a hitch. After riding the bike for a couple of weeks, I really had to ask myself, “What isn’t there to like about this bike?”

Milwaukee-Eight
2017 H-D Street GlideTim Sutton

So often while reviewing motorcycles, I struggle to find a good balance between the positives and negatives. I’ve thought about this a lot, and to be perfectly honest, I can’t think of anything bad to say. If there are negatives, I didn’t find them. Harley-Davidson has dialed in this Street Glide to the point where I would personally consider buying one. If you’re in the market for a new bike, you owe it to yourself to check this thing out. With a starting MSRP of $20,999, the 2017 Street Glide is leaps and bounds above many other motorcycles at the same price point.

Milwaukee-Eight
2017 H-D Street GlideTim Sutton

The 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide did something for me that I haven’t experienced in a long time. It brought me to a place when regular, daily riding was an adventure. I looked forward to the ride, not arriving. It was that same feeling that made me run home from high school to jump on the purple Dyna that had me taking the long way home and sneaking off for joyrides 16 years later. This is how I fell in love with riding, and this is why I do it every day. Ride it once and you’ll understand.

Milwaukee-Eight
2017 H-D Street GlideTim Sutton
SPECIFICATIONS
Model 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide
MSRP Starting at $20,999
Engine Milwaukee-Eight 107
Bore 3.937 in.
Stroke 4.375 in.
Displacement 107ci
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Fuel System Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Primary Drive Chain, 34/46 ratio
Exhaust Chrome, 2-1-2 dual exhaust with tapered mufflers
Wheels, Front Type Enforcer Cast Aluminum
Wheels, Rear Type Enforcer Cast Aluminum
Brakes Caliper Type 32mm, 4-piston fixed front and rear
Engine Torque Testing Method J1349
Engine Torque 111.4 ft.-lb.
Engine Torque 3250 rpm
Fuel Economy, combined city/hwy 45 mpg
Length 95.4 in.
Seat Height, Laden 26.1 in.
Seat Height, Unladen 27.0 in.
Ground Clearance 4.8 in.
Rake (steering head) 26°
Trail 6.8 in.
Wheelbase 64.0 in.
Tires, Front 130/60B-19 61H
Tires, Rear BW 180/65B-16 81H
Fuel Capacity 6.0 gal.
Oil Capacity, (w/ filter) 5.2 qt.
Weight, As Shipped 793 lb.
Weight, In Running Order 830 lb.
Luggage Capacity Volume 3974ci