After an absence of 25 years, Harley-Davidson reintroduced the Sport Glide in 2018. Built as part of the Softail family (a frame with a concealed rear shock), it’s a fun, pacy-when-you-need-it, minimalist motorcycle.

My first impression, though, was not a good one. Had I turned up at the dealer and asked for a test ride, then gone for a blast down the motorway and whipped it around a few twisty corners, I would have returned the bike and said, “No thanks.” At $31,750, it’s a lot of money to spend for what initially looks like not a lot. Two weeks of test-driving later, though, I’d done a complete 180 from those initial thoughts. 

Getting a leg over this bike is like bending down to sit on the ground – it’s so low slung. The specs say it has a seat height of 690mm, but the impression is half of that. With the pegs out front, you do feel like you’re reclining on the ground.

Because of that seat height and a ground clearance of 120mm, the Sport Glide feels much smaller and lighter than it is; it actually weighs a hefty 317kg fully loaded. The 1745cc Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, I’m guessing, makes up most of that weight. The engine in its current form has been around since 2016. The “Eight” refers to the number of valves – four on each cylinder – and the 107 refers to the cubic-inch measurement. Having extra valves produces more torque and, at the same time, greater fuel economy. 

Despite the size of the engine, the power is not frightening, or indeed spectacular. It’s a very low-revving engine – at 100km/h it revs around 2300rpm. I expected much more torque in sixth gear. Overtaking definitely requires a change to fifth to get the power and speed for a quick manoeuvre.

The Sport Glide has a 1745cc Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine.


Aesthetically, the Sport Glide is a great-looking bike. Harley-Davidson suggests that it’s four bikes in one, which is stretching it. Choosing to remove the short fairing (a quick operation, with no tools required) and the luggage provides a variety of different looks. I left the bike as it came. The luggage is spacious, and the fairing, to my surprise, added some protection from the elements. 

In typical Harley fashion, the speedometer is bang in the middle of the tank. There’s a small display under the speedo that can show, via a toggle on the left handlebar, the revs, trip meters, refuel estimate, and odometer. There’s also a gear indicator that, annoyingly, would disappear if the clutch was engaged. This was most problematic when stopping and then trying to find neutral.

From a seated position, looking forward, the Sport Glide has a very minimalist look. There are only two visible cables – the clutch cable on the left and the front brake line on the right. All other electrical cables appear to be hidden inside the bars. It’s nice. Very clever. Very clean. It added to that impression of sitting on a big thumping motor with one control – the throttle.
Controls on the handlebars are sensibly located, apart from the high-beam switch, which was a bit of a stretch for my thumb. The Sport Glide comes with cruise control as standard, operated by one toggle switch that was so simple to use I can’t understand why other manufacturers make it so complicated. 

The lean angle on the Sport Glide is only 23 degrees.


Comfort was acceptable, for the rider at least. As a pillion, you’d be complaining in very short order. The rider’s seat offered a tiny back-rest and, depending on where you positioned your body, provided adequate comfort, even on a 300km ride. The front suspension left a lot to be desired and every bump in the road was definitely felt – certainly no gliding was being done. The rear suspension is adjustable, but do it when the engine is cold. The knob sits very close to the exhaust and there’s a danger of burnt knuckles. 

So, why did I change my mind about the Harley-Davidson Sport Glide? Sixteen hundred kilometres into the test-drive, despite my initial reservations I really liked the motorcycle. The first week of riding for me is about getting rid of my body memory from the bike that I currently ride – in my case, a sports tourer with a full fairing and four cylinders. 

The price is a concern, but despite that, the Harley-Davidson Sport Glide took me back to the thrill of when I first rode a motorcycle. I was often holding on for dear life because the wind speed was threatening to pull me off the back of the bike. 

Out in the elements, very little protection, so low slung that your lean angle – a mere 23 degrees – can challenge your ability to get safely around a corner… I loved it. It was fun. It had the looks. It got the compliments. Just don’t base your assessment on a short blast down the motorway. Take it for a longer spin. You won’t regret it.