First Ride: Electra Glide Standard

Article By: J. Ken Conte

Photos By: Bryan J. Nelson

Originally Published In The May 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

It’s always encouraging when a brand brings a model back; it shows they are listening to their customers. With Harley-Davidson’s launch of the new Softail platform a few years back and then the LiveWire it seemed like a stripped down dresser that harkens back to pre-Street Glide days was not probable. Fortunately , Harley-Davidson has been paying close attention to what their customers desire, which is why it was so heartening to see a budget conscious bagger with everything a rider would like to go long distance, but not all the bells and whistles that have become “standard fare” for touring motorcycles.

Back when the Street Glide was introduced it was meant to have the custom but stripped-down look of a bagger, because prior to that all batwing fairing equipped motorcycles were heavily laden with touring accessories and trim, except for the Electra Glide Standard, which was a go-to for a lot of riders who wanted a dependable ride. At the time it was thought that the Street Glide could take the place of the Standard with an MSRP of $17,995 a twin cam motor and 5-speed transmission, but as technology developed so did the Street Glide, and it became the best selling model that Harley-Davidson offers. So where does that leave the rider who doesn’t need an infotainment system or numerous trim options? Enter the Electra Glide Standard.

When looking at the bike from front to back, the 17 front Impeller contrast machined wheel wrapped in a higher profile tire, allows for a smoother ride because of the additional rubber on the sidewall which in turn gives it a slightly better performance feel. The Standard maintains the essential dual disc brakes up front which come with an optional upgrade to ABS for $795 and has the upgraded Showa dual bending valve front suspension. The shroud under the front of the fairing is chrome instead of color matched like on the Street Glide. The fairing, although it is the same shape, has numerous differences starting with the glove box instead of the infotainment system or speakers, mirrors attached to the bars instead of the fairing and the fairing vent does not close. We were told a radio and speakers could be added through the existing wiring harness, fairly easily, but there is not a USB connection or charger outlet anywhere on the bike. The Electra Glide Standard does come standard with cruise control and non-audio hand controls for easy standard menu selection.

There is just a solo seat with no passenger pegs, but a passenger pillion and passenger pegs can easily be added. There is no heal shifter only a toe shifter. There are a few polished pieces on the Electra Glide Standard that you usually see chromed including the upper and lower rocker covers, cam cover, outer primary and clutch cover, giving it a more utilitarian look. It comes in black only with a red Harley-Davidson waterslide graphic instead of a typical metal badge. The beauty of this half-year model entry is that it keeps all the essentials that attract riders to Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles. The 107-inch Milwaukee Eight engine coupled with their six-speed transmission has the even throttle response that is as at home cutting through traffic as it is blowing past cars on the freeway. The chassis has also remained untouched, so the upgraded low profile hand-adjustable rear Showa suspension helps keep the seat height at a reasonable 26.1 inches, which is suitable for almost any rider.

We spent the better part of a day on the Electra Glide Standard, putting over 150 miles in a variety of conditions. Ours were equipped with ABS, which after having to aggressively brake a few times, I see as an essential upgrade. The front 17-inch wheel and tire combination was noticeable and gave the bike a more dampened, fluid feel to the front end. On some of the bikes with the 19, it can be a little jarring because of the reduced amount of sidewall on the tire. I found the overall riding position to be comparable to a Street Glide and actually preferred the bar mounted mirrors for the adjustability and range of view they provide. I did not miss the stereo or infotainment system, but I also know that anything I can get on the infotainment system I can most likely get on almost any smartphone these days. The lack of display actually made it so that I could enjoy the moments of riding through the Florida countryside, making it a more visceral riding experience. It was what I would imagine it would be if I just used my cell phones to make calls. I assume I would be able to appreciate the moment more often and be less distracted, but still, have the comfort of knowing I can make a call. The Electra Glide Standard has all the performance features needed for a great touring motorcycle at a price that is well within range for most. It hits the core Harley-Davidson demographic who are looking for something basic but don’t want to sacrifice performance as well as the customizer who wants a new platform to take their build to the next level. At $18,999 plus $795 for ABS, this is sure to be popular with a lot of riders.

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