Sport Glide a touring bike that’s not intimidating
Harley-Davidson has added a new motorcycle to its Softail lineup. The Sport Glide, which recently arrived at dealerships, is intended to appeal to motorcyclists who want a city cruiser with touring characteristics.
Not as stripped down as a Sportster, but not as chunky as an Electra Glide, the Sport Glide tries to split the difference between the “naked” cruiser and the “fully dressed” touring machine.
“We wanted to give people a touring bike that’s not intimidating,” said Dave Latz, senior product manager for Harley. “We wanted to offer something for the non-traditional touring rider that would allow them to enter the touring space, but also meet the needs of touring riders who no longer wanted to ride a full-size touring bike.”
The new motorcycle is powered by Harley’s Milwaukee Eight engine, a 107 cubic-inch V-twin engine that produces 108 pound-feet of torque and is shared by most new Softail bikes announced by Harley in August.
Like its cruiser brethren, it has a 6-speed gearbox, electronic fuel injection and standard ABS. It has a seat height of 25.7 inches and weighs 698 pounds when gassed up and ready to ride.
But it deviates from its fellow Harleys in key areas. The Sport Glide comes standard with a small removable fairing and a pair of small removable saddlebags.
It also features inverted front forks and a slimmer side casing, which increases the clean look. Its “Mantis” wheels, the company said, are the first “directional” wheels Harley has ever fitted to a production bike.
The Milwaukee-based company, like most motorcycle manufacturers, is struggling with declining sales and hopes to preserve its market share by adding new riders to its dwindling customer base.
In October, the company said global sales fell 6.9% below comparable period sales levels in 2016, while US sales fell 8.1%.
“The continued weakness of the American motorcycle industry only increases our resolve and the intensity we bring to the quest for the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders,” said Matt Levatich, president at the time. and CEO of Harley.
Paul James, Harley’s product portfolio manager, called the Sport Glide “a motorcycle of conquest” and said: “It’s for people who yearn for Harley but haven’t seen anything in the catalog that suits them.”
It will also, James said, be an exchange bike for riders who have been on other Harleys. Customers who might have started with Harley on entry-level Sportsters might be interested in upgrading to something bigger—but maybe not something as massive as a 900-pound Ultra Glide.
The 700-pound Sport Glide offers a mid-range motorcycle.
“We think it has the ability to attract new buyers and used bike owners,” James said.
Harley says the new Sport Glide will start at $18,599 and, for now, will only be available in Vivid Black, Twisted Cherry and Silver Fortune.
Like other Harleys, the new motorcycle comes with an extensive collection of aftermarket parts and accessories. Included are performance enhancers that could push the engine’s horsepower and torque up to the level of the company’s 114-cubic-inch engine.