2017 Road Glide Special Review

After many weeks of waiting, I’m sure you’re all wanting to know just how did I like the motorcycle, right? Well let’s get started…

For those of you know don’t know, I rented a 2017 Harley Davidson Road Glide Special in olive gold for a 771 mile total during a 24 hour period. I wanted to discover the new upgrades from HD and see if this was a different motorcycle than previously introduced.

The Engine

The 107 Milwaukee 8 engine with the 6 speed transmission is an amazing setup. My previous Harley experience doesn’t include much:

  • Evolution 1200 engine in the Sportster 1200
  • Twin Cam 96 in a Dyna Low Rider
  • Twin Cam 88B in Heritage Softail, and of course
  • Milwaukee 8 in Road Glide Special

Ultimately, I’ve sat one several other versions but had no interest in a motorcycle that shaked so much during idle. Though I know many people have no issue with that due to the fact that you spend most of your riding, but living in the city I had no interest in that. I thought that this new motorcycle setup would be great to try.

I find that the new engine is an amazing power plant. You’re very gear hunting, and there is always plenty of power on tap. Now of course, this isn’t a VMax or a Triumph Rocket 3, but it does have great power. Idle vibration are subtle, and very relaxing. I swear my ’99 Virago 1100 has more shake than this HD. Very rarely did I feel like the motorcycle got hot so I know the oil cooler was doing its job.

Fuel

Primarily I rode solo, 570 out of 771 miles and I never seemed to have an issue with fuel. I had many planned stops not because I thought fueling would be an issue but because of all the Tour of Honor stops I had to do.  The SGS has a 6 gallon tank and I was averaging fuel stops around 120-175 miles at a time. I never had an issue with the fuel light coming on but I also (honestly) never checked my mpgs as I went. Even with my wife riding with me, I also feel as though I took no major fuel hits. Throughout this entire trip I never felt like I was at risk of running out of fuel.

Comfort and Usability

To have completed 771 miles in 25 hours, I have to say I left feeling great. Never did I have back pain, leg cramps or anything like the sort. I typically have a small bit of lower neck strain but typically caused by my terrible posture. The stock seat is relatively comfortable, but I would probably consider a seat upgrade, primary because of the passenger seat. My wife stated that she was not very impressed with the passenger seat which is a bit slim. I believe that I would buy the touring seat so that the wife would have a more comfortable seat. Highway pegs would be an add on, but not required during purchasing for me since boards are more comfortable than pegs. Lastly, a driver backrest would seal the deal for me on this motorcycle as I feel that would only increase comfort.

In terms of usability, this motorcycle is great. With the Boom Audio 6.5 screen and touchscreen usability, it works amazing! With direct sunlight behind you, the screen can get a bit difficult to read, but otherwise can be seen in daytime, nighttime, and during rain. Joystick controls on the handlebars work great, and only take a small period of time to learn. Saddlebags hold a great deal of gear but can fill quickly. I realized that having rain gear, stuffing my jacket for stops and my tank bag does fill the bags. My wife was quite happy I had my rain gear packed because she needed it for our departure from Pa. There was enough space for everything (except my helmet) when I made big stops so I didn’t have to worry about my gear.

Also in terms of comfort, the frame mounted fairing made a big deal to all day comfort. Spending many miles on the interstate did not faze me because I could set cruise control and not worry about wind gusts. I would however consider upgrading the the windshield as it is just not tall enough. I would consider a Klock Werks windshield as one of the first to try. I honestly feel as though a frame mounted fairing is now on my required list.

Decision: Buy, Rent, or Leave It

As a whole, the Road Glide Special is an amazing motorcycle. The exhaust note is perfect for me, just the right height (could be an inch shorter for perfect height) and has all the right controls to keep me excited day in and day out. The audio system is good, but with extra money I would look into a speaker upgrade. The only other consideration is that the money spent to add passenger backrest and luggage rack, and touring seat would push me into a Road Glide Ultra, but that would require lowering for driving comfort.

Currently for me if I had to choose today, I would say the 2017 Road Glide Special gets a “RENT IT” from me. It gets a Rent It for the following factors:

  • Price: I simply cannot afford to pay the the cost for this motorcycle, ranging up to $24k, used goldwings (though with far less electronics) start around $10k with reasonable miles
  • New model: I am a little leery buying a first year motorcycle, but waiting also allows for the used market to expand
  • Motorcycle accommodations:  it takes a lot of upgrades to get passenger and long distance ready which could make it difficult to ride without lowering and there are other motorcycles that can include more

I loved the ride and the experience and I can’t think of another way I would have wanted to enjoy this. I think that once the used market expands, I will be a bit more interested in trying to pick this motorcycle up should I not fall in love with another motorcycle. I don’t think that there is another Harley Davidson other than the Road Glide Special/ Ultra that I would be interested so I believe for me the biggest issue will come down to affordability.

Check out this video short of samples of my riding. The video is just pieces of my riding, and I’m sorry for the music in advance.

I hope you all enjoyed this blog entry and that if you have any advice, drop a line. Feel free to let me know what interest you have in my experience or any motorcycles you might be interested in.

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