There are no frills, bells or whistles on a Harley Super Glide.
This is a blank canvas for owners who want to customise their bike into something personal. Or its bare-bones ride for minimalists who eschew all those creature comforts that turn some bikes virtually into two-wheeled cars.
Whatever your take on the Super Glide, it seems to be working as it’s one of Harley’s top sellers at the moment. Some of that sales success could be due to the impressive deals being done on this bike. It costs $22,495 (more for two-tone paint) plus on-road costs, but many dealers are letting them go with discounts or free on-roads. You can also get the 110th anniversary model with the celebratory bronze badging for an extra $500.
Along with the Street Bob, the Harley Super Glide is the last of the Dyna family with the Twin Cam 96 (1585cc) engine. The others now have the 103 (1690cc) and this will probably join them next year. Not that you may feel the need for the extra capacity. This is a lightweight (for Harley), compact and nimble bike that will lithely cut through the traffic and swing through the hills.
The only thing holding it back is a lack of cornering clearance, particularly on the right where one of the bolts holding the twin mufflers via a clamp tends to touch down before the footpegs. Be careful to check this bolt regularly and replace it before it disappears and the clamp falls off.
Growing up in the ‘70s, the Dyna was the new Harley family and always seems to me the quintessential model with its twin-shock rear, twin one-sided mufflers, low seat and compact dimensions. The Super Glide may feel a little cramped for some people, especially with its mid-mounted foot controls rather than the forward controls of some of the other Dynas.
However, the Harley Super Glide seats the rider in a more aggressive position where you can pull forward on those mini-ape bars and cut into corners, or straighten your arms and lean back for a cruise down the highway. The seat is low slung and scooped out so that it cups your rear end. Pillions get a minimal seat with just a sash to hold on to so they tend to sit close to the rider and hang on.
On long hauls over B grade roads the rider’s seat can be a little hard and the ride a bit harsh thanks to the short 78mm rear suspension travel which hits the bump stops on big bumps. The jarring is easily remedied on long trips with the addition of an Airhawk air cushion. However, for around town the standard seat looks and feels just fine. Controls are all standard and it now gets the LCD screen with gear indicator, clock and tacho.
Fire it up and the rubber-mounted engine pulses with a delightfully softened shudder, letting you know it’s there. It blurs the mirrors a little until you raise the revs, but then they smooth out and rearward vision is fine. The six-speed Cruise Drive box engages gears with a positive clunk and neutral is easier to find than on some other Harleys.
Let out the clutch and the Harley Super Glide pulls hard and firm, running easily through the tall gears. Fifth will see you out on the highway with sixth a rarely used overdriven cog. Steering feels light and precise thanks to the comparatively compact wheelbase and fork rake, so it turns in sweetly. With the hand grips at near chest height, the rider feels in total control and there is plenty of steering stability over bumps out on the byways.
Pulling the momentum to a stop is a single 300mm disc on the front and a big 292mm disc on the rear. It’s not a formidable combination, but when used together, it is quite effective. As yet it doesn’t come with ABS, but that could be in next year’s model line as well.
Apart from the neat customised look of the twin single-sided mufflers, a practical advantage is that you can pull up close to the footpath without the mufflers hitting the kerb.
If you are ready for a minimalist cruise and the blank canvas to accommodate your styling whims, try this bare-bones tribute to the ‘70s.
Harley-Davidson FXDC Dyna Super Glide Custom
Price: $22,495 ($22,995 110th Anniversary model)
Engine: air-cooled Twin Cam 96, 1585cc
Torque: 127Nm @ 3000rpm
Economy: 5.5L/100km (6L/100km on test)
Transmission: 6-speed CruiseDrive, belt drive
Dimensions: 2345mm (length), 955mm (width), 668mm (seat), 120mm (clearance), 1625mm (wheelbase)
Lean angle: 29.5/30.9 degrees (left and right)
Fuel tank: 18.9 litres
Wet weight: 492kg
Suspension: 49mm forks, coil-over rear shock
Wheels: 483 x 64mm; 432 x 114mm
Brakes; 300/292mm discs
Warranty: 2 years, unlimited km