Dyna Wide Glide

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Bondo’s just dyna take a glide on the wide side. Eh?

wg_title2.jpgWords: Steve Bond. Pics, Steve Bond, Harley-Davidson and unknown.

When it comes to Harley Davidson nomenclatures, I wouldn’t know an FXRDWG from a FLTRGH. I know that Dynas have twin rear shocks mounted in the traditional placement on the swingarm, while Softails have two shocks hidden away in the bowels of the chassis. But that’s about as far as I go.

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The Wide Glide is part of the Dyna family and distinguishes itself by the expanse of real estate between the 49 mm fork tubes. Looking at the bike from directly on, you’d be hard pressed to find a motorcycle with forks set farther apart.

MASHED POTATOES
Hit the button and the starter momentarily struggles until the Twin Cam fires up with a report like a 12-gauge before immediately settling into the traditional Harley lumpy idle.

Unlike the counterbalanced 96 cubic inch V-twin of the Softail family, the Dyna’s motor is rubber mounted within the frame. The result is well illustrated when idling at a stoplight, and you get the vibra-session as the huge engine goes every which way on the rubber mounts.

Add to this a handlebar that is fiercely shaking and a front wheel that seems to be a double exposure of itself — moving back and forth in tune with the power pulses — and it all gets very entertaining.

Thankfully, once off idle everything smooths out nicely, although you’re always aware that there’s a substantial mechanical orchestration going on underneath you.

The chopper-esque theme comes with a substantial 34-degree fork rake, a football-field-long wheelbase and an anorexic 80/90 series tire mounted on a 21-inch spoked front wheel.

As a result the front exhibits a slight tendency to flop over at very slow speeds. Around town, the narrow front tire makes for very light steering and, while I wouldn’t exactly call it nimble, it’s not truck-like either.

The Wide Glide steers easily around on-ramps and through sweepers and, even though you’ll be dragging your bootheels, once into the turn, it stays planted with minimal corrections.

But the $17,219 Wide Glide’s forte is definitely not apex strafing. The surprisingly light and progressive clutch action and crisp throttle response makes it easy to cruise around town or on two-lane back roads.

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There’s limited clearance, but handling is steady.

The motor has torque by the boxcar load and, with almost 80 lb-ft is available at only 3,000 rpm, there’s no need to wind her up. Short shift the Wide Glide through the gears and it flat-out hauls ass.

The clutch is surprisingly light and progressive and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I think Harley’s switchgear is the best in the industry.

The rocker-type buttons are attractive, thoughtfully laid out and buttery smooth in operation. Even the turn signals are intuitive– push the right or left, depending on which direction you’re indicating, and if you’re only making a lane change, push the same one to cancel. If you’re negotiating an actual corner, the signal self-cancels two seconds after completing a turn. Simple.

A BIG BLACK PACKAGE

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All, blacked out and no where to go …

All Harley Big Twins get the Cruise Drive six-speed tranny with a new, helical cut fifth gear to cut down on gear whine – something I can’t say I ever noticed.

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The gearbox shifts positively, albeit slightly agriculturally, and overall the ratios are fairly tall. Sixth gear is definitely an overdrive and the motor is just thumping along cruising at legal freeway speeds.

The front fork does a reasonable job of absorbing the daily jolts and divots while the rear (normally a source of great annoyance on cruisers), actually had some travel and damping. It certainly didn’t jolt my molars like the Iron 883 I had just prior – Viagra the size of a hockey puck couldn’t have made its rear suspension any stiffer.

The entire motorcycle is an attractive contrast in black and chrome – an homage to The Motor Company’s Dark Custom models. The wheels have black rims with chromed spokes, black fenders, black sissy bar, black handlebar risers and clamps, chromed tripleclamps and bars and a glossy black headlight shell with a chromed bezel.

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Side mounted plate and dual-purpose turn signals are not to be found in Canada.

The engine is black powdercoated with chrome accents on the cylinder fins, chromed rocker boxes and black, crinkle-finish main cases. Nice.

Wide Glides sold in the Excited States get a trick hind end where the license plate is mounted off to the side, and the red turn signals double as stoplights, as first seen on the Nightster.

This configuration is also shown on Harley Canada’s website, but my press unit had the plate mounted centrally on the fender with a standard taillight. I guess the anal retentive dingbats at Transport Canada have some sort of issue with a side mounted plate – or maybe they were dumbfounded by the turn-signal stoplights.

Thank goodness we’re paying these guys big bucks to make these incredibly important decisions “for our safety and convenience.” God forbid that we have the same standards as our neighbours to the south.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE

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How low can you go?

I found the riding position surprisingly good for short jaunts. The scalloped seat is fairly hard but reasonably comfy, the huge 1-1/4-inch flat bars are on four inch risers and the width isn’t too excessive, while the pegs are located fairly far forward but positioned so that my legs still had a bit of a bend to them.

Sadly, it seems that everyone is jumping on the low seat height bandwagon and the Wide Glide, at 648 mm (25.5 inches), is right in the mix.

Considering my knees are 24 inches from the floor (without boots), this bike is literally knee high to me and I think I’d be more comfortable if they made a Dyna High Glide.

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Clean view from the saddle.

A ‘High Glide’ would certainly give a better ride as engineers would have more suspension travel to play with. Plus, it’s so low that fishing around, trying to find the sidestand is an exercise in frustration.

The single front disc, even though squeezed by a twin pot caliper has little chance of overwhelming the skinny front tire. The lever is not adjustable and the feel is decidedly wooden. Even when grabbing a mittful of front lever and a bootful of rear pedal, braking power is hardly stellar.

And why does it have to be so freaking heavy? Geez, there’s no way a motorcycle as stripped-down looking as this one should tip the scales at 650 lbs dry, 682 gassed up ready to go.

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Beware of imitations! Why not go for an original – especially with flames?

At constant freeway speeds, the forward mounted pegs wear thin with me after about 20 minutes – raise the seat (normal humanoids can easily straddle a 30-inch seat) and move the footpegs mid-chassis underneath the rider and I’d like this motorcycle a lot more.

But all in all, I kinda liked tooling around on the Wide Glide. The stock mufflers certainly sound nice, the bike accelerates hard enough to keep me entertained and once I accepted there was little chance the motorcycle would be appearing on any World Superbike grids, I actually had fun riding it.

I’m not usually a big fan of the semi-chopper look but the bike started to grow on me.

I don’t think I’ve ridden a motorcycle where so many pedestrians have actually stopped and stared as I rode by. Really, if someone is in the market for a somewhat custom looking cruiser, why not go for the real deal?

If it were me, I’d be checking out the Wide Glide that’s black with the red flames.


SPECIFICATIONS


Bike
Harley-Davidson Wide Glide

MSRP

$17,219

Displacement
1,584 cc

Engine
type
Four-stroke 45 ° V-twin, air cooled

Power (crank – claimed)
N.A.

Torque (claimed)
92 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Tank
Capacity
18 litres

Carburetion
Sequential port EFI

Final drive
Six speed, bvelt drive

Tires,
front
80/90-21

Tires,
rear
180/60-17

Brakes,
front
Single 300 mm disc with four-piston
caliper

Brakes,
rear
292 mm disc with dual-piston
caliper

Seat
height
680 mm (26.8″)

Wheelbase
1,715 mm (67.5″)

Wet weight (claimed)
310 kg (683 lb)

Colours
Black, avec flames, sunglo red

Warranty
Two years, unlimited mileage

 

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. fun to read article Bondo!
    I think my Low Rider is better looking, but then I may be biased! the low seat height of the these bikes is a big help to us more vertically-challenged types!
    I’ve just gotten forward controls put on and it feels better to me – just finally got the set-up I need!
    Thanks for a a fun read!
    pg

  2. My only point is that I never read negative comments regarding Harley switch gear, whereas when riding a BMW, it seems the first thing anyone comments on is the switch gear …
    I won’t argue over this other than to suggest one potential advantage of the big Harley/BMW switches. When riding wearing heavy winter gloves, the little one switch wonders can be a bit hard to feel through layers of insulation. :grin

  3. The standard Superglide is a much better every day motorcycle. But even it is compromised by low-riding seat/suspension. In H-D’s defense they’ve built “Sport” models with more suspension travel and mid-mounted footpegs. Their customers almost always replace the shocks, lower the forks and bolt on foward controls. Absurd – but that’s what the paying customers want.

  4. LP, IMO and regardless of Bondo’s opinion your Buell/Harley switches are as stupid as the BMW ones, which are finally being replaced. Who needs two or three switches to do the work that one seems to manage on every other bike?

  5. Why does BMW generate such wrath for it’s switch gear layout and not Harley?
    I have a 1995 Buell with Harley Sportster switch gear and a BMW with their much maligned system and the BMW system is superior for a simple reason. The BMW has a separate cancel button.
    On my Buell, when approaching a turn with your signal on, if your timing is early the Harley system will self cancel before you get to your turn. When you hit it again to be sure, it will cancel if still on. As well, if you go to cancel the signal after your turn and it has just self canceled, you will turn it back on.

  6. Bondo likes it. The end of the world is nigh.

    Every positive statement seemed to come with a qualifier. I just want to know where you hid the tattoo…skulls or naked chick with a dagger?

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