First Look: 2018 Harley-Davidson FLSB Sport Glide

John Burns
by John Burns

Mini-batwing plus bags equals H-D's new sports-tourer

Eight new Softails weren’t enough, so here’s one more in Harley’s march toward 100 new motorcycles by 2027 – the FLSB Sport Glide makes it nine. Harley-Davidson pictures this one as “a quick-change artist, an aggressive factory-custom cruiser outfitted with a detachable fairing and saddlebags ideally suited for touring, cruising or commuting.”

The mini-batwing fairing might be the most novel thing going on here; the bike’s designers wanted to hit a sweet spot between protection and style, and it looks like they erred on the side of style. It’s supposed to keep the wind off your chest while it leaves your head in the breeze. You have the option to exchange the standard 1.5-inch-high windshield for a 5.5-inch light smoke.

Harley-Davidson Bringing Back the Sport Glide

Other Harleys have bikini fairings, but this is the first use of the shrunken batwing. H-D thinks it might cause the Sport Glide be a gateway to riders who kind of gravitate FL but aren’t quite ready for the full touring rig quite yet – the Big Twin equivalent of a training bra. The Sport Glide represents Harley’s idea of a sport-tourer, really, and as such Harley’s Product Planner Paul James thinks it will have great appeal in Europe. I think he’s right, especially now that it’s packing Harley’s Milwaukee 8 107 V-Twin. Also because electronic cruise control is standard on this one.

Easily removable yet unobtrusive lockable hard bags as standard equipment also say “take me somewhere nice this weekend big daddy.” A baby shock absorber keeps them from slamming open and closed. Combined capacity is supposedly 1.9 cubic feet.

That smooth and powerful dual-counterbalanced engine sits in the common frame it shares with the other eight new Softails, differing from most of them in that it gets a 43mm inverted fork – and a remote-preload adjustable shock out back controlling its narrow swingarm and 16-inch rear wheel. Though it’s called Sport Glide, the H-D people say its lean angle is really no sportier than the other new Softails, all of which are vastly better at leaning over than the previous generation. Suspension travel is 5.1 and 3.4 inches, F and R.

Sport also refers to those new “Mantis” wheels, H-D’s first directional wheels that don’t require you to buy a CVO. The front’s an 18 x 3.5-inch and the rear’s a 16 x 5. We’ll see if a single 300mm front disc/ four-piston caliper is enough to get the job done when Herr Duke files his first ride report very shortly. The rear’s a 292mm/ two-piston setup.

A narrower left-side primary cover adds to the sportiness also, making for an easier reach to the pavement for your left leg. On the other side, there’s a sporty two-into-one exhaust system.

Leave the quick-release bags and fairing behind when you wanna and this is what you’re left with. The Daymaker headlight is surrounded by LEDs.
Graceful and minimal, the most functional nod to modern times is the electronic cruise control button on the left handlebar. That’s a 5-gallon tank.

At Harley, not low is a no-go, and the Sport Glide seat is said to be a mere 26.5 inches before you sit on it and reach down to adjust your ride height with the remote preload adjuster, which will be nice after you add the optional sissy bar, Tour Pak, and hot mama.

While you’re adding genuine parts and accessories and the economy is booming, you could add a Stage I Street Cannon muffler or just go full crazy with a Stage IV 114-inch upgrade. Why not?

Everything else is in place already, including standard ABS and like I already mentioned twice, cruise control. You’ll have to come up with $18,599 for a black Sport Glide, and a bit more for a Twisted Cherry or Silver Fortune one. They should be in dealers very shortly, says H-D. In fact there’s already at least one in SoCal, which Duke Danger is probably riding while you’re reading this. Keep an eye peeled for his First Ride ASAP.

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John Burns
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