GLIDE baby glide. There is nothing like the experience of eating up mile after mile in absolute comfort with tunes blasting, and that’s exactly what the 2020 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special delivers.
With a load of grunt at your fingertips and absolute unapologetic style, it’s instantly recognisable thanks to its shark nose fairing, different from the bat wing style offered by Harley-Davidson’s other two touring models, the Street Glide and Ultra Limited.
And perhaps as a nod to the success of the Road Glide, or in a bid to steal its thunder, Indian has launched its Challenger touring bike. At the same time, Harley-Davidson is indeed competing with itself, with the Street Glide.
Both bikes are even priced the same, with the Road Glide and Street Glide available at $39,250 ride away. What sets them apart is the fairing, and in the case of the Road Glide Special, that’s mounted to the frame and not the forks.
That means better weight distribution, which is truly noticeable when cornering. The bike just tracks beautifully, and effortlessly through the bends. Now, here’s the thing. This reviewer has a confession to make.
Before we rode this bike, it was the least favourite touring model in Harley-Davidson’s range, as far as yours truly was concerned. A penchant for the Street Glide and Ultra Limited having tainted his view. They’re terrific bikes after all.
But here’s the best part of being a bike reviewer; you get to ride bikes you would never ordinarily choose to get on. Praise the Lord for the opportunity though, because I’ve been reformed. Seen the light. Found Jesus. Okay, maybe not, but you get the point.
They’re all great bikes, but the turning point to falling in love with the 2020 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special took all of 15km. Ergonomically, it fit my size and stature like a glove. I found myself comfortably stretched out like I was driving a classic Cadillac.
The Killers song The Man blasting from the Boom Box GTS sound system, on a twisty mountain road somewhere north of Sydney. In fact, the only thing missing was a set of highway pegs so I could throw my legs up into the breeze.
The infotainment system, which now features quicker loading times, navigation, tyre pressure readings, Bluetooth connectivity and a 4-speaker stereo, as well as a touchscreen that’s simple to use, is on point.
The handlebars are within easy reach and offer a relaxed riding position. The fairing is a lot further in front of you than on the bat wing style models, and offers a feeling that’s more open; a less enclosed experience, if you will.
This is something we’d never experienced on a Harley-Davidson touring bike before, and after getting used to the feeling of the bike being a little longer, we enjoyed how the Road Glide eased through the corners, as you pushed through the twisty stuff.
With lean angles of 32 degrees each way, the Road Glide Special offers the rider plenty of confidence to push through the corners. It just felt easy. It looks sharp doing it too, adorned in Scorched Orange/Silver Flux, long saddlebags and a tinted screen.
Blacked out components give it a hint of the sinister too, with new gloss black prodigy rims, with a 19-inch up front and an 18-inch on the rear, finishing the package sweetly. It’s attention grabbing, if nothing else.
At the heart of the 2020 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special lives the 114 cubic inch Milwaukee Eight motor, a real gem for highway cruising and even in the twisty stuff, which produces 163Nm of torque.
It could probably use a full exhaust system and air breather upgrade, but otherwise its performance is solid, and there isn’t anything else we’d really change. It comes with Harley-Davidson’s reflex defensive rider system too, for added safety.
RDRS adds advanced chassis control, electronic brake control and power train technology to assist with acceleration and braking. In simple terms, these are cool aids that help enhance the riding experience.
Apart from standard colours, the limited edition colour schemes include our test bike colours, as well as the Eagle Eye Special edition paint set, Billiard Red/Stone Washed White and Billiard Blue/Stone Washed White paint set.
With 2021 Harley-Davidson models delayed until early next year due to the impacts of COVID, it’s a great time to jump on board the current model, and soak up the road in unprecedented style and comfort.
Our test bike was provided by Harley-Davidson Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special, contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer. Pictures courtesy of Jessica Jenkin Photography.