Making The 2019 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide More Tour-Friendly

Outfitting our long-termer with a taller shield was first on the list.

2019 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide with stock shield with a taller unit.
Improving the Sport Glide’s touring capabilities included changing up the stock shield with a taller unit.Andrew Cherney

Now that I've spent some time with the Sport Glide, I've gotten to know its charms as well as its shortcomings. It's been cruising around Oregon for a couple of weeks now, and I'm making slow but steady progress with getting it set up to my liking. Actually, it was the initial extended trip on the thing—a 1,000-plus-mile maiden voyage up to Portland from Southern Cal—that gave me a painfully clear understanding of the first thing it'd need to get more long-haul happy. The main issue that hit us on freeway sections of the ride—literally—was the wind, and how little protection against it the minuscule screen offered. As I mentioned in the last go-round, the fairing may look cool, but it does little to deflect any kinds of gusts, wind or otherwise. It does its best work as a good-looking bug collector, so I knew a replacement was in the cards; I had an order placed for H-D's Sport Glide 5.5-inch shield from the P&A catalog before I even rolled across the Oregon border.

2019 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide with stock “wind deflector.”
That stock “wind deflector” (Harley’s phrase) is only 1.5 inches tall. On a long ride at speed, the only thing it’s deflecting is the smile on your face.Mirifoto

At $154.95, the 5.5-inch replacement shield for the Sport Glide ain’t cheap, considering it’s only, uh, 5.5 inches tall. That’s usually considered a “mini” shield by most companies, and it certainly doesn’t qualify for full touring shield status, even by Harley’s own standards (most touring units start at around 12 inches and go up from there, though naturally whatever you end up choosing depends on your own height and riding position in the saddle). But it’s literally more than three times taller than the 1.5-inch stocker (which Harley calls a “wind deflector”), so I figured something’s better than nothing, especially since there’s not much else out there for this model. Harley’s own product copy states that it “moves more air up and over the rider to reduce helmet buffeting and wind fatigue,” and hopeless optimist that I am, it was enough to get me to bite.

2019 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide removed outer portion of fairing.
Swapping in the new shield requires taking the fairing off the bike and removing the outer portion from this inner unfinished side (pictured). You can see how low the stock shield sits on top. The clamps below it fasten the fairing to the fork legs.Andrew Cherney

On the positive side, installing the 5.5-inch shield is a straightforward process. You simply pop the detachable fairing off the bike, flip it over (onto a carpet or towel or something soft to minimize scratching up the paint job), and unscrew the black, unpainted inner fairing from the finished outer fairing. Then you simply loosen the two screws holding the deflector to the fairing and just slide it up and out. Slide the new shield into the same slot, tighten those same two mounting screws, reattach the outer fairing to the inner one, and clamp the whole shebang back onto the fork. The whole thing takes less than 20 minutes.

2019 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide stock shield.
Remove those two mounting screws from the inner fairing and slide the stock shield up and out.Andrew Cherney

The Sport Glide’s nifty fairing design is likely to blame for the small pool of options; because it has relatively short height and width dimensions, there are only so many shield sizes it can support. We’re happy to see that the new taller shield doesn’t muck up the sleek lines of the Sport Glide too much, but then it also doesn’t completely solve the wind blast problem either. It’s a slight improvement, but at speeds more than 55 mph, the wind still came pouring over the shield; it’s just that this time, it hit me higher in the chest (keep in mind I’m only 5-foot-7). I got better results by scooching forward on the saddle and tucking in slightly to get a much cleaner pocket of air, but it’s not that comfortable to maintain that position for long. Harley’s website also tells me the replacement shield is a “light smoke” on the website, but from where I’m sitting it looks perfectly clear. Not a deal breaker mind you, just saying.

2019 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide 5.5-inch shield.
I wouldn’t call the 5.5-inch shield “tall,” but it’s an improvement over the stocker. On the plus side, it flows with the fairing’s lines pretty well, but it still lets through lots of turbulence.Andrew Cherney

If you really want to embrace the Sport Glide's stated mission, which is light touring, the 5.5-inch shield might do the trick for you. But if you're looking for true wind protection on longer trips (or you're taller than 5-foot-9, it ain't gonna cut it. I'm thinking about trying out a Klock Werks unit next, since it makes a Flare unit for the Sport Glide. It's about 8 inches tall and shaped differently, so I'm hoping it'll do the trick. Gustafsson Plastics also makes a replacement unit for the Sport Glide, but its version is a true touring unit and looks a great deal taller.

I’m also looking to make a seat swap on the Glide, and hopefully some new rubber; the stock Michelin Scorchers are starting to look a bit tired. Stay tuned.

2019 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide on road.
The Sport Glide has been the perfect weapon for longer weekend rides and the occasional overnighter. It just needs a couple more tweaks to better handle the truly long hauls.Andrew Cherney