Changes are often made solely for cosmetic reasons but it's obvious from riding the new Glide that the R&D division at H-D was striving for a much better handling bike. Some previous models may have had a tendency to wobble, weave, or dance when encountering road irregularities or high-speed sweepers. This phenomena seems to be bike and pilot specific, meaning it wasn't an across the board malady. For some the condition became something to tolerate or try and fix with one of the many stabilizers on the market. Others never had a problem at all. Some think the situation might be from the rubber-mounted motor that can move within the frame. Others have put the blame on the suspension, the tires, the swingarm bushings, all or none of the above, or just a crazy rider. Of course, H-D owners love to change parts on their bikes that also affect handling, such as tires, wheels, suspension, lowered shock and forks, etc. Aside from the other chassis redesigns the motor also received an extra motor mount on the bottom front of the engine. This helped stave off excess motor vibes at idle.
We are extremely happy with the improved handling on the new Street Glide. No matter how hard the bike was pushed there was never any sort of handling irregularity. This bike handles way better than a 800-plus pound motorcycle should. It flat out carves a corner-just aim, point, and shoot it through the apex. One feature that some will either love or hate is how stiff the bike feels. It's analogous to a finely tuned sports car that reacts with precision to inputs yet isn't the most plush over bumpy roads. While new rear air-adjust shocks have a greater range of adjustment (from 0-50psi) they are on the stiff side; especially if you're on the lighter side of 175 pounds. It's not a rough ride it's just not as plush as the previous years. Keep in mind too that the Street Glide is an inch lower compared to the other Glides. Those shorter rear shocks have a full inch less travel than the standard FLH shocks. The non-adjustable front suspension ate up the bumps pretty well, with only the largest expansion joints causing any jolts to the spine. Another benefit of the chassis is a little extra lean angle (one degree) on each side-it's not that easy to drag the floorboards.
Large Touring bikes like this can be awfully intimidating, especially if you're not a tall, hefty type. However, this Glide feels as nimble as a bike half its weight. I'm average size and just a hair over 150 pounds, yet find maneuvering this bike at any speed is effortless. The front end doesn't flop, and the center of gravity is low enough to feel stable even when backing the bike up.
Also belying its heft is the bike's ability to get up and move. This is likely attributed to the shorter overall gearing made possible by adding two teeth to the rear pulley (from 66 to 68). This gear change also allows sixth gear to work better in the 65-75 mph range-no more lugging the motor or having to downshift to make a pass. Shifting is smooth through all six gears with barely any noise coming from the straight-cut fifth gear. There have been some complaints on previous models with fifth gear whine, but it's just not an issue here. The only glitch that only occurred a few times was an off idle hesitation when the bike was hot and sitting at a light. This may have just been lazy throttling because it seemed to happen more frequently during the first few days of testing. The EFI, in addition to being smooth, was good for squeezing 250 miles out of the six-gallon tank.