Justified & Simple
Words by Kali Kotoski
Stuck behind two lumbering semis on the outskirts of the dense Ocala National Forest, I hammered on the throttle, sitting in fifth gear, and clenched my teeth as I went from 60 to 110 in a matter of seconds to catch up with the rest of the Harley press fleet. It was a crisp effortless pass as I downshifted and leaned into a long flat sweeper, allowing the ultra-smooth Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine between my legs to power through.
At that moment, with the sun shuddering through the tall conifers and the wind coursing through my veins, I realized that I had been won over. Harley’s new FLHT Electra Glide Standard is the epitome of simplicity and signifies a back to the basics, cut the fat approach geared to attract riders at a reasonably justified $18,999. Compared to the Electra Glide Ultra’s $24,589 or the Street Glide’s $21,289, the Standard is the lowest-priced offering in H-D’s touring line.
It is a raw bike stripped of all the arguably distracting bells and whistles that those Bluetooth-connected, GPS-dependent riders have been coddled with.
“The bones are all here to provide the essential touring experience,” Paul James of Harley said hours before as we prepared to roll out of the Daytona International Speedway.
He was right. Power and torque, the guttural chugging of the engine, a stout reliable iron horse and clear skies. Simple.
Described as “Dressed down Dresser,” the Electra Glide Standard does away with the Boom! Box Infotainment System, something I welcome as I personally can’t imagine owning a bike where a radio competes with medicinal road noise. Importantly, the iconic batwing fairing with a clear, mid-height windshield and a single halogen headlight are retained, though the foam-covered speaker holes are empty as is the gaping slot for the LCD screen, which now serves as an ideal phone or glove holder during pit stops. Needless to say, yes, you can wire in an audio and guidance system if that is your fancy.
The dished solo seat sits at 26.1 inches, which made it extremely comfortable for my 6-foot, 3-inch build. It also lacks passenger pegs, which I was assured can easily be added on later as well as a passenger seat. With a minimalist amount of chrome, the bike maintains a sleek and intimidating look that will still turn heads with the purity of its black paint job (and it only comes in black).
The Electra Glide Standard also comes standard with large one-touch saddlebags and spacious floorboards. There is no heel-toe-shifter, instead just a straight one-arm unit. Bikes sold in Europe will come with ABS, while here it will be sold with an ABS option. Its naked front fender covers a 17-inch black machined Impeller wheel that is accented by chrome fork skirts.
Handling was impressive at all speeds during the daylong press ride through Florida’s swampland near Daytona Beach. The fatter front tire meant I had to put a little more into it, but the still nimble 820-pound bike felt firmly connected to the asphalt. With 26 degrees of rake and 6.7 inches of trail, it provides stable, comfortable cruising for days, especially with the Showa Dual Bending Valve in the front forks and dual emulsion shocks in the back. By removing the left saddlebag (a simple click), you can crank on a dial to make quick, tool-less pre-load adjustments.
One amusing part of the bike that begs a mention is the engine serial number, which I was vehemently told was a random coincidence. The serial number begins with FVCK. Cute, right? Whoever said that those brainy engineers don’t have a sense of humor? That anomaly will be changed for next year’s model, I was assured.
Inside the fairing are four analog gauges giving you all the info needed to blissfully cruise down the road with cruise control engaged, something I fiddled with only towards the end of the day because I was having too much fun keeping the torque alive.
This no-frills bike is not for beginners, nor is it billed as a beginner bike. It is an attractive and justifiably priced piece of American iron that will appeal to a wide swath of financially conscious riders. It gives a rider the basics that matter to get them out on the open road or into a dealership. And it is prepped to be incrementally customized as riding seasons pass—a deliberate Harley marketing plan.
The streamlined beauty and M-8 power will hopefully make the Electra Glide Standard a lasting hit in Harley’s touring line.