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2021 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special: Road Test Review

02 December 2021, 03:52 PM Pratheek Kunder

Introduction

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Front View

Pros: Excellent Road Presence, extremely comfortable on the highways, lots of torque

Cons: Heavy weight, stiff ride

This is the new Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special – one of the biggest and most desirable motorcycles ever sold in India as well as the world market. The reason I started this roadtest with the ‘biggest’ and the ‘most desirable’ is because these two aspects in the world of Indian motorcycling are extremely important. India as a market loves all things jazzy and are proud of their bragging rights. The Road Glide Special gives all of this and more. Luckily for me, I could show off this big bagger without needing to buy one. So a week with this Harley-Davidson was truly like a bucket list moment and also enlightening.   

Quality

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Right Rear Three Quarter

Harley-Davidson is an American motorcycle brand and most of the American brands have one thing in common – they offer products with great and appreciable quality. The story is the same with the motorcycles. The Road Glide Special shouts great quality all over. Whether it is the chrome finish on the crank case or the plastics used on the switchgear – everything has been made with finesse. Even things like the material used on the seats and the grips are of top notch quality. The paint quality too screams of class. And when you touch the mesh cover of the speakers, you will know why the Road Glide Special is so special. 

Comfort

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Left Side View

Firstly, I’m going to take the most obvious thing out of the way – the weight of the Road Glide Special. Yes, it is one extremely heavy motorcycle. Yes, it weighs 387kgs and yes, it takes an entire residential complex to move the bike in the parking. Now that is out of the way, lets talk about the overall comfort of the motorcycle.  

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 35,07,571

The Road Glide Special is possibly one of the easiest bikes on this planet to get on. It gets a seat height of just 695mm and that means the shortest riders will have no problem swinging a leg on the motorcycle. Once settled on that comfy seat, the seating triangle feels home. The handlebar is placed towards the rider. There are large floorboards that can hold big feet easily. And the seat can accommodate a rider of any size.  

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Front View

Riding the Road Glide Special within the city boundaries is a big task. Everything needs planning. Whether it is overtaking an auto or trying to find a parking spot – this Harley makes you work more than you should. And if you have to take a U-turn in city limits, well, you are up for a task. It is just taxing to ride the Road Glide Special in the city. And then, there’s this suspension setup. The suspension travel is barely there and then with the fast damping, the back demands some break every few hours. Having said that, I have to tell you this, the bike wasn’t made for city riding. It was made for the long roads.   

Performance

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Engine From Right

I talked about how this motorcycle carries some ridiculous weight which is a big problem while riding in the city but as the 118 Milwaukee 1868cc V-Twin engine comes alive and gets the bike in motion on the highways, the weight disappears, so does the sense of reluctance of riding the motorcycle. The overall weight distribution has been engineered for the long hauls. The touring chassis makes the bike extremely easy to munch miles in no time. The Road Glide Special feels at home when it sees a tarmac that is continuous, with little traffic and also has some twisties.  

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Front View

This motor that is loaded with oodles of torque that is more than enough. Twist that throttle and the motorcycle chugs along freely even with its weight. The low-end is extremely addictive as the overtaking abilities are one of the finest. With 163Nm of torque available, the Road Glide Special is the king of the highways. This Harley does some illegal speeds in no time. But the main highlight is the way it does it. The engine doesn’t feel stressed even for a second. The motorcycle is planted. The high speed stability is rock solid – thanks to that chassis and the long wheelbase.  Then there are things like the comfortable riding ergonomics, the large windscreen and the forward-set footpegs that make things supremely comfortable while touring. The clutch is a bit hard to pull, but that should be the least of the worries on the highways.  

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Right Rear Three Quarter

Surprisingly, the Road Glide is one fantastic motorcycle on the twisties. Even with less cornering clearance, there’s so much of confidence to tip the motorcycle in the corners. Having said that, the back to back turns do bring in little fatigue, but honestly, I’m nitpicking this aspect.  I liked the braking setup on this motorcycle. The system offers good bite and progression and for a bike this size, the power is more than enough.   

Technology

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special TFT Touchscreen Instrument Cluster

The Road Glide Special is equipped with a few unique features. Firstly, there’s this music system that offers outstanding music. Even on the highways when you are cruising in triple digit speeds, the sound quality and the way it hits the ears is really good. Then there’s the full colour TFT screen. It gets the touchscreen feature, but it is a little difficult to use due to the distance from the rider. Nevertheless, the touch is efficient and the system gets some practical features like GPS, radio, Bluetooth and voice recognition. The screen also shows the oil pressure, air temperature and also comes with tyre pressure monitoring system as standard. The bike is also equipped with USB port for music and also charging. 

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Projector Headlight

This Harley also gets something called Reflex Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS). This is basically a combination of ABS, TCS and cornering ABS. The six-axis IMU works every second to keep the rider safe in bad road or panic condition.   

Fuel Efficiency

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Right Rear Three Quarter

The Road Glide Special has a riding range of approximately 350kms. With a fuel tank capacity of around 22 litres and a fuel efficiency of around 15kmpl, you will need only one fuel stop if you are heading down to Goa from Mumbai. 

Verdict

Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Front View

The Harley-Davidson Road Glide is one the biggest motorcycles I have ridden. It has class. It has a massive road presence and it also exhibits dominance. All these three aspects are something we barely see on motorcycles these days. And honestly, this is what a set of Indian buyers want from their motorcycle, particularly with people who have arrived in life. At Rs 44 lakh on-road Mumbai, it is the most expensive Harley-Davidson on sale in India and yes, there’s a small market for such motorcycles because other than extreme comfort, tech and safety, it offers the most important thing – bragging rights. And this Road Glide Special checks all the ‘bragging and exclusivity’ boxes. Having said that, this Harley is one excellent mile muncher. It covers distance with ease and all with you being in top comfort. But, when the road condition starts to deteriorate, the Road Glide Special begins to show some uncomfortable colours – blame the stiff ride quality. And the city riding experience makes you take out the motorcycle only for long tours. However, the Road Glide Special will be an excellent choice if you love long distance, have a big garage and an extremely healthy bank balance. 

Photography by Kapil Angane 

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