2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide

Editor Score: 84.75%
Engine 18.5/20
Suspension/Handling 12.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.25/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.0/10
Desirability 8.75/10
Value 6.0/10
Overall Score84.75/100

Since Harley-Davidson has updated the engines of its entire touring model line, we thought we should check in with an example of each of the three variations of the Milwaukee-Eight. For years, the Street Glide has been Harley’s best-selling model – and a favorite here at MO – making it a natural choice for sampling the base-model Eight’s 107ci engine. Still, the engine isn’t the only news involving pistons on the 2017 touring models. In a normal year, the upgraded suspension components on the Street Glide would be big news, but with motorcyclists being power freaks, the new engines are stealing the suspension’s thunder.

2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight Engines Tech Brief

The beauty of the Milwaukee-Eight engine is that the Harley-cognizanti will be able to immediately tell that the Street Glide has the new 107 engine, while, to people with a more limited knowledge of the bike, will immediately know it is a Harley. The M-E takes the classic lines of the Twin Cam engine and makes them simultaneously more muscular and slimmer. While the Motor Company’s engineers say that the primary focus of the engine shapes was weight reduction (to allow for the increased weight of the new components in the engine), they also focused on maintaining and updating the Big-Twin’s iconic style. A quick look at the heads and the cam cover shows compound curves which hint at the shape of the components inside. The left side of the engine wears a narrower derby cover that remains unmistakably a Harley engine. The cylinders look similar but brawnier than the Twin Cam’s.

An accessorized Street Glide with a Screamin’ Eagle air cleaner and slip-on plus some dress-up goodies.

An accessorized Street Glide with a Screamin’ Eagle air cleaner and slip-on plus some dress-up goodies.

From the moment the engine starts, the M-E is clearly a different motor. First, it starts seemingly without effort, rather than with the first slow crank of old. Second, the engine revs easier and more quickly. However, the action that will put a smile on your face is rolling on the throttle. Throughout the rpm range, the Eight pulls much stronger than the Twin Cam ever did. In fact, when we reviewed the first Project Rushmore generation of the Street Glide, we wished from more power from the High-Output Twin Cam 103. The torque curve begins low and covers a broad swath of the rev range, delivering a claimed 111.4 lb-ft of twisting force at the crankshaft. Our dyno test of the 2014 Street Glide logged 92.1 lb-ft at the rear wheel. Since about 10% of the torque gets lost on its way to the rear wheel, we can surmise that the M-E produces about 100 lb-ft – or 8% more than the Twin Cam. The horsepower feels similarly enhanced, though Harley makes no claim about horsepower numbers.

2014 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special Vs. Indian Chieftain

The assist clutch is easier to pull and offers plenty of feel for working the friction zone. While it can’t be called easy, the improvement is appreciated. Although the only change that was listed in the transmission of the Eight was removing the lash to eliminate noise in neutral, the transmission feels slightly more refined, shifting up and down smoothly. Throughout every ride, though, the engine character that shines out with equal impressiveness to the newfound power is the silkiness of the fuel metering. Any concerns over potential throttle abruptness at low rpm because of the larger 55mm Mikuni throttle body are negated within minutes of starting the first ride. No matter the riding conditions, the EFI delivers smooth throttle transitions and a linear feeling of attachment to the rich grip. The note from the 2-into–1-into–2 exhaust system is throaty and satisfying.

While featured on more sporting machinery for quite a while, a hydraulic preload adjuster is big news on the Street Glide.

While featured on more sporting machinery for quite a while, a hydraulic preload adjuster is big news on the Street Glide.

The other major change in the Street Glide comes in the form of new suspension components. The previous rear suspension used air-adjustable preload, but Harley’s research revealed that many owners never bothered to purchase the hand pump required to check and set the air preload, meaning that the preload was set during the bike’s initial dealer prep and never adjusted again. Air-adjustable preload functions much in the way that a tire does over time: air leaks out. So, riders were having their rear suspension’s preload disappear over time, resulting in the bike riding too low in the shocks’ stroke. Similarly, some riders saw the valve stem and hooked it up to an air chuck. Since the suspension was designed to hold a maximum of 50 psi, inadvertently adding too much pressure blew out the shocks’ seals and reduced the preload to zero.

2014 Harley-Davidson Touring Motorcycles Review

The left shock on the Harley’s touring models now features hydraulically adjustable preload. Now, the rider simply cranks on more or less preload, and it stays set, forever. Because the Street Glide features shorter shocks for a slammed look, the range of preload adjustability is now 15% larger than before. (Touring models with full-length shocks get a 30% preload range increase.) The owners manual lists numbers to dial in for different loads to make it easier for a rider to find appropriate preload for solo, two-up, or two-up with gear in the luggage. In addition to the new preload adjuster, the shocks use a larger, emulsion-style piston to damp the road forces than last year’s suspension.

The fork also received some upgrade love in the form of Showa’s new valve-bending technology. The large piston valve offers performance, says Harley, of a cartridge-style fork with less weight. The fork’s initial travel is firm enough to keep the tire in better contact with the road over smaller ripples, but the fork can flow the large amounts of oil required to absorb the big hits of potholes and other broken pavement. Although Harley was mum on the actual specifications of the front suspension, it looks like the same 49mm stanchions with better internals.

The result of the suspension upgrades is that the chassis feels more planted on smoother or slightly rippled pavement. The front feels more solid on turn-in, responding more firmly to the shift in weight. Big hits upset the front end much less, and the back, while still bottoming on occasion, feels much more adept at handling loads. When the shocks do bottom, the jolt is not as strong (read painful) as with the old suspension. One bonus change resulting from the new suspension is the refined ABS firmware to allow more aggressive response because the front tire is more firmly seated on the road.

The new suspension delivers.

The new suspension delivers.

Paul James, Director of Motorcycle Product Planning, asserts, “This will be as big of a deal to many of our customers as our new powertrain is, and together, when you combine this new powertrain with this all new suspension, the entire riding experience is dramatically enhanced.”

Aside from the new profile of the Milwaukee-Eight engine, the Street Glide is visually unchanged. The original hot-rod bagger still has its ubiquitous bat-wing fairing and lines that slope rearward. The saddlebags receive a small update. The old bag mounting system has been updated with levers that give positive feedback via detents on the turns of the screws.

The riding position is comfortably open with a slight reach to the grips extending the elbows to a little beyond 90° of bend. The seat is firm but not hard, and the feet reside on floorboards in a forward but not stretched out position with the heel-toe shifter within easy reach. The brake pedal, like in previous years, requires a fairly tight bend of the ankle if the heel of the boot is kept on the floorboard.

 The lever on the right gives positive feedback through detents that are felt during the final turns of tightening the saddlebag in place.

The lever on the right gives positive feedback through detents that are felt during the final turns of tightening the saddlebag in place.

In two days of riding, the weather protection provided to the rider’s upper body by the fairing proved itself to be more than ample in the rain. The wind protection is free of buffeting at highway speeds, too. As you might expect, the rider’s legs are out in the open and would quickly get soaked if not wearing rain gear. The Rushmore-developed infotainment system offers decent sound at speed.

For 2017, Harley has given the Street Glide a major overhaul in the engine and suspension – two areas that would provide the most functional benefit to riders. The rest of the good news for 2017 is that the remainder of the Street Glide remains essentially the same, save for annual color updates. The 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide begins at a $20,999 MSRP and is available for test rides at dealerships, now. Even if you’re not really in the market for a new bike, it’s worth taking a test ride to sample the Milwaukee-Eight engine to see what a big change it makes to the motorcycle.

2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide
+ Highs

  • Milwaukee-Eight engine’s broad torque curve
  • Impressive EFI tuning
  • Much improved suspension
– Sighs

  • Brakes could use a little more power
  • No cruise control An editor who doesn’t verify his memory by checking the manufacturer’s spec sheet
  • Rained too much on the introductory ride


2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Specifications
MSRP $20.999-$21,499
Engine Type Air-cooled, 45° V-Twin
Displacement 107ci (1746cc)
Bore and Stroke 99.999mm x 111.125mm
Fuel System Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Ignition Electronic
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Peak hp NA
Peak Torque 111.4 lb-ft (claimed)
Transmission 6-speed
Final Drive Belt
Front Suspension 49mm conventional fork
Rear Suspension Dual emulsion-style shocks, hydraulically adjustable preload on left shock.
Front Brake Dual 320mm, four-piston calipers
Rear Brake 320mm, four-piston caliper
Front Tire 130/60-19
Rear Tire 180/65-16
Rake/Trail 26° / 6.8 in.
Wheelbase 64.0 in.
Seat Height 27
Measured Weight 830 lb. (claimed)
Fuel Capacity 6 gallons
Available Colors Vivid Black, Black Denim, Superior Blue, Velocity Red Sunglo
Warranty 24 months

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  • ADB

    Sighs: “Rained too much on the introductory ride”. Priceless….

    • Jeff Keene

      If Harley Davidson could control the weather then I might consider buying one.

      • Gabriel Owens

        If they could control the weather then they’d be our wizard overlords.

  • faztang

    Guys double check on the cruise control. ABS is an option but I believe cruise control is standard on the base model. It was standard on the base 2016, I would be surprised if they pulled it out. Also looking at the specs of the 2017 on the HD site. Cruise control is mentioned as standard in the electric section of the specs page. It used to be listed up on top of the specs page but now you have to scroll all the way down. This goes for the Road Glide base version as well.

    • Evans Brasfield

      You were right. Both you and a Harley rep pointed out my mistake. Take a look at the updated Sighs, above.

  • Gabriel Owens

    Where can I see all of the editor’s scores, I’m curious of top 5.

    • Randy Pancetalk

      I searched for them, see my other comment in this article

  • Buzz

    The new line will make for nice rentals in a few years. My ‘touring” has gotten shorter and shorter. Enough that just renting the occasional touring bike is a better economic option. I’m going to keep the K1600 one more year and then let her fly while there is still time left on the extended warranty.

  • Tim Sawatzky

    I’m always curious about the editors scores. When you say 12/15 for suspension, do you mean compared to other bikes in the class? Or how you personally think it should feel? Or is it based on the perfect bike you imagined? Is there a bike out there that scored a 15/15 and you are comparing the suspension to that bike? Just wondering how it works. And why out of 15 when transmission is based out of 10?

    • Evans Brasfield

      We use the different maximum number of points to weight the categories we think are more important. At 20 points, the engine is more important than the 5 points for the instruments.

      • Tim Sawatzky

        Makes sense, but do you compare it to other bikes in the class? Or how you feel it should be? In other words, when you ride this Harley, are you comparing it to the feel of an Indian/Victory, or scoring it against all cruisers/motorcycles, or against how you think they cut corners for cost savings or style? Or maybe just how much you like it? I think it would be hard to judge if your not comparing it to something. Sorry for my curiosity, I’m not being critical, I am just curios how you come to the numbers you do.

  • ADB

    Re-read the scorecard, and now I really have some bones to pick – you give the new Street Glide a 84.5 while my Moto Guzzi Norge only scored a 74? I have ridden enough new, late model Davidson touring bikes to know for a fact that the engine in the Norge is more powerful and smoother. The brakes on the Norge are in another league, and the transmission and clutch are no where near as clunky as the H-D. Looks like you guys bumped up the H-D scores? I can see where the Street Glide out scores others on instruments and desirability, and maybe an extra point for appearance, but the other scores seem just a bit too high?

    • Randy Pancetalk

      their score card values are all over the place. I’ve seen them review the same bike twice and have it come out with different scores. they need to normalize that.

      • Evans Brasfield

        The scorecards for single-bike tests and shootouts are different, leading to different scores. In shootouts, comparisons of price, weight, and power output, are factored into the score as a means of differentiating the bikes. In single-bike tests, those objective scores are not included.

  • Starmag

    It would be interesting to know the actual suspension travel front and rear, which I didn’t see anywhere in the article or specs. Harley seems averse to rear suspension travel and their customers seem tolerant of it. $21 large for a bike that regularly bottoms it’s suspension seems ridiculous. Without a passenger no less. From a bike that it’s makers are touting as having “improved suspension”.

  • Gabriel Owens

    830 pounds, wow, and I thought the Super Adventure was a porker.

    • Paragon Lost

      Honestly you really don’t notice the weight on these bikes, at least I don’t. I currently own at 2015 Road Glide Special and weight isn’t an issue. Of course I ride for different reasons than I did in the previous decades when I rode GSXR’s and such.

      I don’t need nor want the fastest bike out there, nor do I wanted to be tempted to ride as fast as I used to. (Shrugs) I do wish I’d waited though before buying the 2015. The improvements on the engine, suspension and heat are quite impressive and would have been nice.

      I won’t do a trade in though because I’ve been burned in the past by getting the newest technology. I’ll wait a couple years to make sure they’ve worked out the worst issues that crop up and trade in on a new touring bike in 2018 or 2019.

  • Steve T

    A waste of air and gasoline.

  • Randy Pancetalk

    “Street Glide… a favorite here at MO – making it a natural choice for sampling the base-model Eight’s 107ci engine. ”

    Doesn’t this one have the “slammed” lowered suspension, making it the worst handling harley touring bike?

    • Buzz

      That’s why I would never buy one of these. I would always get the regular height version which doesn’t have a cool name but maybe we could come up with a badass name for “regular height.”

  • Randy Pancetalk

    for everyone talking about the editor’s score oddness, here are the top 5:

    2014 Yamaha roadliner 94.75
    2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 94.5
    2014 kawa z1000. 93
    2014 mv agus rivale 800. 93
    2015 ktm 1290 adv. 92.75

    here are some past harley scores of theirs:

    2014 hd fat bob 92
    2015 HD CVO Softail Deluxe 78.5
    2016 HD CVO Pro Street Breakout 89.5
    2015 HD CVO Street Glide 83.25
    2015 HD Road Glide 79.5
    2015 HD Night Rod Special 81.75

    • Gabriel Owens

      That funny cause the fat Bob is my favorite Harley. And the new roadster is close second.

      Thanks for the top 5. That Roadliner must be a hoot. Beat out my 1290 SA. Lol.

  • John Woods

    You didn’t have any buffeting at highway speeds? I’ve test ridden the SG (a few different times to give it a chance), and get terrible buffeting already at 45-50mph, with a full face helmet. I tried with my face shield open and closed, and with the vent on top of the fairing open and closed.