Tag Archives: touring motorcycle

Step up to Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

The 2019 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special is a massive step up in technology, but not price.

It now includes the Reflex Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS) introduced in the electric LiveWire which will be available in Australia late next year.

RDRS affects chassis control, electronic brake control and powertrain technology, basically providing a safer, more enjoyable riding experience for just $500 more than last year.

And that’s despite the fact that the Australian dollar has fallen more than 16% since January 2018 against the US dollar.

Street Glide SpecialStep up to 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

I’ve ridden Harley’s Street Glides for many years now and can understand why it is their top-selling Touring model.

What makes it “Special” is the big 114-cube Milwaukee Eight engine with a whopping 163Nm of torque.

Despite all that thump, there is no clunk on start-up. In fact, it is a refined mill married to a finessed transmission where neutral is no longer difficult to find.Step up to 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

What also makes it Special is the step up in rider-aid technology.

Their RDRS features cornering-enhanced traction control, cornering ABS, linked brakes, tyre pressure monitors,  a slipper clutch (Drag-torque Slip Control System) to prevent rear-wheel lock-ups on aggressive downshifts and even assistance to prevent you rolling backward on hill starts!

The suite of rider controls combine to provide more confidence, especially in wet or slippery road conditions.

But they don’t get in the way of your enjoyment.

In fact, you don’t really know they are there until you need them.

On a couple of my exploratory rides through the Sunshine Coast hinterland, I ended up on dirt roads and was glad to feel the engine falter as the back wheel lost traction.

It’s a soft intervention that allows a little bit of wheel spin, but not out of control.

If the conditions get extra slippery or the roads are wet, simply toggle the left switch block traction control (TC) button to bring up the blue cloud and rain symbol on the dashboard. This totally eliminates any wheel spin.Step up to 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

Step up to cornering aids

I also accidentally discovered the joys of Harley’s step up to cornering-enhanced linked braking and traction controls on the tight and twisty Bellthorpe Range Rd.

I came around a blind corner a little too eagerly only to find a peacock strutting its stuff across the gravelly road.

My right foot was not perched ready over the rear brake to tuck the bike into a tighter line, so I grabbed the front brake, instead.

Normally this would stand the bike up and point me directly at the peacock. But because the brakes are linked and “enhanced” for cornering, it allowed me to steer around the strutting bird.

The sprinkling of gravel also activated the Cornering Enhanced Antilock Braking System (C-ABS).

While no amount of electronic rider aids is a replacement for a step up in skill levels, it does save your bacon when a bit of inattention and bad luck could otherwise have dire results.

Step up to 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

As for the Vehicle Hold Control (VHC), it’s actually quite handy at the traffic lights.

All you do is add a bit of extra brake lever pressure when you come to a stop and it will hold the bike and allow you to relax at the lights without having to hang on to the brakes.

It lets go as soon as you let out the clutch or activate the throttle for a smooth and faultless hillstart. That’s reassuring when you are on a steep incline with a full load and a pillion!

Infotainment

I’m not a big fan of built-in infotainment systems where the music is inaudible at anything over 80km/h.

However, the integrated BOOM! Box GTS infotainment system on this bike works well.

I love the fact that the bike asks you if you would like to guided to the nearest service station if you are low on fuel or tyre pressure.

It has a TFT display with edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass that is touch sensitive, even with gloves and in the wet.

You can also control all functions from the two handlebar toggle switches.

For an extra $300 (approx) you can fit a wireless interface module that adds Apple CarPlay for access to some of your iPhone apps.

Or you can press the speech button to activate Siri and tell the system what to do.

Step up to 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
HD OneConnect app

Next year, Aussie buyers will also have access to Harley’s subscription-based OneConnect app that alerts the owner to tampering or theft and provides real-time tracking.

Handling

Suspension was updated the previous year.

It comes with Showa Dual-Bending Valve forks with bigger pistons for improved damping that takes away that “jackhammer” affect through the grips while retaining a sharp and light steering feel.

At the back, Harley moved from air shocks to emulsion shocks with 15-30% more preload adjustment using a single hand-adjustable knob behind the left pannier.

Ride quality is firm, but not harsh.

However, the rear shock is a bit short for bumpy roads and heavy loads, although I never got it to bottom out.

AeroStep up to 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

The first hint of summer arrived just in time for my test.

It’s always going to be hot sitting on top of massive V-twin behind a “barn door” fairing.

However, Harley has advanced the ignition, dropped the rear header down from the exhaust port and moved the catalytic converter rearwards to make it cooler for the rider.

It still gets hot in slow traffic and your pillion’s right leg cops a lot of the hot air that has been moved backwards.

Unfortunately, even the short sporty windscreen blocks a lot of cooling air.

Yet it also creates a bit of turbulence around the top of my helmet.

I’m 183cm, so shorter riders might find it ok. You can also buy taller screens.

I added a windscreen extension which reduced the turbulence but also diverted cooling air.Step up to 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

Conclusion

This torque monster delivers plenty of raw grunt, but with finesse.

It will also provide a step up in comfort and safety on long trips, thanks to its suite of hi-tech rider aids.

PRICING 5

  • VIVID BLACK $A39,250 ($NZ42,250)

ENGINE

  • ENGINE2Milwaukee-Eight™ 114
  • BORE102 mm
  • STROKE114 mm
  • DISPLACEMENT1,868 cc
  • COMPRESSION RATIO10.5:1
  • FUEL SYSTEMElectronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
  • EXHAUSTBlack, 2-1-2 dual exhaust with tapered mufflers

DIMENSIONS

  • LENGTH2,425 mm
  • SEAT HEIGHT, UNLADEN690 mm
  • GROUND CLEARANCE125 mm
  • RAKE (STEERING HEAD) (DEG)26
  • TRAIL173 mm
  • WHEELBASE1,625 mm
  • TYRES, FRONT SPECIFICATION130/60B19 61H
  • TYRES, REAR SPECIFICATION180/55B18 80H
  • FUEL CAPACITY22.7 l
  • OIL CAPACITY (W/FILTER)4.9 l
  • WEIGHT, AS SHIPPED359 kg
  • WEIGHT, IN RUNNING ORDER375 kg
  • LUGGAGE CAPACITY -VOLUME0.071 m3

PERFORMANCE

  • ENGINE TORQUE TESTING METHODEC 134/2014
  • ENGINE TORQUE3163 Nm
  • ENGINE TORQUE (RPM)3,000
  • LEAN ANGLE, RIGHT (DEG.)32
  • LEAN ANGLE, LEFT (DEG.)31

DRIVETRAIN

  • PRIMARY DRIVEChain, 34/46 ratio
  • GEAR RATIOS (OVERALL) 1ST9.593
  • GEAR RATIOS (OVERALL) 2ND6.65
  • GEAR RATIOS (OVERALL) 3RD4.938
  • GEAR RATIOS (OVERALL) 4TH4
  • GEAR RATIOS (OVERALL) 5TH3.407
  • GEAR RATIOS (OVERALL) 6TH2.875

CHASSIS

  • WHEELS, FRONT TYPE6Gloss Black Prodigy
  • WHEELS, REAR TYPEGloss Black Prodigy
  • BRAKES, CALIPER TYPE32 mm, 4-piston fixed front and rear

ELECTRIC

  • LIGHTS (AS PER COUNTRY REGULATION), INDICATOR LAMPSHigh beam, turn signals, neutral, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics, auxiliary lighting, cruise, ABS, immobiliser, low battery voltage, low fuel warning.
  • GAUGESGauges styled to complement each vehicle. Display features odometer, trip A, trip B, range to empty and gear indicator; and larger tell-tale indicators.

INFOTAINMENT

  • INFOTAINMENT SYSTEMBoom!™ Box GTS
  • TYPEFull Colour TFT
  • WATTS PER CHANNEL25
  • SPEAKERS2
  • SPEAKER SIZE6.5 inch BOOM standard
  • HEADSET SPECIFICATIONS (IF EQUIPPED)16-64 ohms
  • FMStandard
  • SD CARD, FLASH DRIVE AND MP3 – VIA USB CONNECTIONSupported
  • LANGUAGESEnglish (US/UK), German, Spanish(Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, Portuguese(Portugal/Brazil), Russian, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Turkish, Japanese
  • HANDS-FREE MOBILE PHONE – VIA BLUETOOTHStandard
  • VOICE RECOGNITION LANGUAGES: PHONE FUNCTIONS ONLYEnglish (US/UK), German, Spanish(Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, Portuguese(Portugal/Brazil), Russian, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Turkish, Japanese
  • VOICE RECOGNITION LANGUAGES: TUNER/MEDIA/NAVIGATIONEnglish (US/UK), German, Spanish(Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, Portuguese(Portugal/Brazil), Russian, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Turkish, Japanese
  • VEHICLE INFORMATION SCREEN (AIR TEMPERATURE, OIL PRESSURE AND EITMS)Standard
  • TEXT-TO-SPEECH (TTS) LANGUAGESEnglish (US/UK), German, Spanish(Mexico/Spain), French (Canada/France), Italian, Portuguese(Portugal/Brazil), Russian, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Turkish, Japanese
  • USBUSB/MTP/iPod/iPhone
  • BLUETOOTHPhone/Media Supported

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Which motorcycles have the most comfortable ride?

A combination of stiffly sprung modern motorcycles and old war wounds have many mature-aged riders searching for motorcycles with the most comfortable ride.

I’ve ridden a lot of different bikes over the years and what stands out is how soft old bikes were and how stiff modern bikes are.

This trend is to improve handling and cope with larger and heavier riders. However, it presents problems for riders who suffer from old motorcycle injuries or arthritis.

You could buy an old bike with sagging springs for a softer ride, but they handle poorly. The soft springs also mean you hit the bump stops which pounds your body every time you clout a reasonably sized bump or pothole. And isn’t that a too-frequent occurrence!

If you want a bike that handles yet still has a plush ride, there are some modern motorcycles that offer both.

But first let’s rule out bikes that are uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable bikes

 comfortable
Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali with a Panigale V4 R

That means just about every over-sprung, under-damped Ducati and most sports bikes, except those special editions with uprated suspension from experts such as Ohlins, Sachs, Kayaba, etc.

It also means ruling out “slammed” cruisers such as many of Harley’s line-up, especially anything with the word “Lo” in the model name.

In fact, many cruisers that are considered comfortable have short rear springs that won’t save your spine if you hit a big bump.

Making a bike more comfortable

If you can’t find a comfy bike, get one with decent-length springs and fit better suspension with decent damping.

You can also buy aftermarket comfort seats or get the seat reupholstered.

Ducati GT1000 carbon wheels farkle project tall used comfortable
Ergo Seats added more padding to my hard Ducati GT1000 seat

Some people swear by seat cushions such as Airhawks and sheepskins. However, I find they slip and move around which tends to divorce you from what the bike is doing.

That’s fine if comfort is your only consideration, but I like to be able to feel the bike so I can control it.

It’s not just the rear suspension that causes problems. Harsh forks can have a jackhammer effect on your hands.

You can overcome this with thicker aftermarket grips or “Grip Puppies” which are thick coverings for the existing grips.

Soft Grip for chronic pain comfortable
Soft Grip 

Comfortable bikes

So which bikes are comfortable straight off the showroom floor?

You can’t tell from just pushing down on the forks or jumping on the bike in the shop. You need to go for a long test ride over bumpy stretches of road.

Look for bikes that have suspension adjustment and then get it professionally set up for your weight.

There are also many models that come with electronic suspension that you can adjust on the fly from “sport” mode to “touring” or “comfort”.

Electronic suspension comfortable
Electronic suspension

Obviously, touring bikes often come with plusher suspension, more adjustment and well-padded seats.

Adventure motorbikes also have a good ride on bad roads with their extended suspension, although that makes them very tall in the saddle.

Top 10 comfy bikes

Here is our top 10 most comfortable bikes.

1 BMW R 1250 GS: The telelever front suspension sets this apart from other adventure models. It also has ride-ranging electronic suspension adjustment.

BMW R 1250 GS Ballina Motorcycles comfortable
BMW R 1250 GS

2 Honda Gold Wing: This has long been known as a lounge chair for the open road. Not only does it soak up the bumps, but cossets the rider in a bubble of luxury.

2018 GL1800 Goldwing Tour - Grand America comfortable
Honda GL1800 Goldwing

3 BMW K 1600 GTL: Like the Gold Wing, this bike has all the luxuries.

BMW K 1600 GTL Motorrad comfortable
BMW K 1600 GTL

4 Indian Chief: The entire range of Chief models ride on plush suspension and high-profile tyres.

Indian Chiefs comfortable
Indian Chief Classic, Vintage and Chieftain

5 KTM 1290 Super Adventure: Four damping settings make this suitable for the roughest terrain.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure comfortable
KTM 1290 Super Adventure

6 Triumph Tiger 800XCx: Seat and suspenders are plush enough to cope with the toughest off-road terrain.

Triumph Tiger 800 XCx comfortable
Triumph Tiger 800 XCx

7 Suzuki V-Strom 650 and 1000: Always a great adventure favourite it now rides even better with more padding in the seat.

Suzuki V-Strom 1000 comfortable
Suzuki V-Strom 1000

8 Yamaha FJR1300A: Rider and pillion will enjoy the ride and thermal comforts, although it’s best for tall riders. Cops love ’em!

Riding the Yamaha FJR1300Aat launch comfortable
Yamaha FJR1300A

9 Kawasaki GTR1400: There are good reasons why many Iron Butt riders choose this highway mile-muncher. Ergos and ride are great for long distances at high speeds.

Malcolm Milne has more than 300,000km on the odo on his 2007 Kawasaki 1400GTR
Malcolm Milne has more than 300,000km on the odo on his 2007 Kawasaki GTR1400

10 Moto Guzzi California: The Italians are not known for comfy riding positions, but this is a rare exception.

Moto Guzzi California comfortable
Moto Guzzi California

What’s the most comfortable motorcycle in your view? Leave your comments below.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com