Baggers Brawl

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

The Harley-Davidson Street Glide, Indian Chieftain, Moto Guzzi MGX21, and Victory Magnum face off in an Old West shootout

The great American West never suffers fools. When you look at the harsh conditions faced by the hardy souls who set out to claim their fortune in California’s Mojave Desert, the stakes get even higher. Do a little research, and you’ll discover an impressive number of hamlets were born, sometimes prospered, sometimes didn’t, then died – often in dog years. Most have disappeared without a trace. A few still have bits of their remains visible in the arid landscape. Still others hang on in a semi-zombie state between self-sustaining life and their final desiccation plotted by the patient desert.

Naturally, when the subject of human folly in the unforgiving wilds of the American Southwest comes up, your favorite MOrons, the staff, know that we’ll fit right in. (Don’t believe me? Remember this adventure?) So, we gathered a set of four baggers with fork-mounted fairings, packed up fresh undies and socks, then set out to visit a selection of California ghost/zombie towns east of our Los Angeles base.

2014 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special Vs. Indian Chieftain – Video

Other than my curiosity about foolhardiness, our primary reason for taking this ride was to see if the changes in Bagger Land had shuffled the pecking order. For 2017, Moto Guzzi has introduced the newest member of the club, the MGX–21 Flying Fortress. Harley-Davidson has created the Milwaukee Eight engine for its touring line, which includes the Street Glide included here. Indian’s squeaker of a win by the Chieftain in the last shootout between the two could change since the bike remains mechanically unmodified, gaining only non-functional styling elements for the Dark Horse designation. Finally, does the unchanged Victory entry in the class, the Magnum, still have the chops to hang with this crowd?

There’s only one way to find out. We are heading out of town!

Los Angeles, CA to California City, CA

Nat Mendelsohn, a real estate developer and sociology professor, had big dreams for California City. In 1958, he purchased 80,000 acres of land in the Mojave Desert to create a city that could eventually be a peer to Los Angeles which is 100 miles to the south. Incorporated in 1965 and structured around a Central Park which featured a 26-acre artificial lake, Mendelsohn’s master-planned city never grew the way he had hoped. Although California City grew from 3,200 residents in 1985 to more than 14,000 by 2009, thanks to the closeness of Edwards Air Force Base, large sections of California City remain empty save for the decaying paved roads – or dirt ones, like the one shown above – laid out in the familiar urban grid in the desert emptiness. Still, despite the lack of its hoped-for growth, California City remains the third largest city by geography in California.

2017 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress First Ride Review

When we needed to define this category of motorcycles for this shootout, we selected two required features: Hard bags and fork-mounted fairings. In the case of the fairings, the first few hours of our trip were spent on divided highways with the cruise controls set for maximum pavement consumption, giving our quartet of MO saddle-jockeys a pretty good idea of what the next two days would be like. While rider height – or more specifically, rider torso length – plays a role in how the wind flowing over fairings interacts with the human in the saddle, the experience is even more pronounced with batwing-style fairings. During our initial stints on the bikes, the shorter riders noted more buffeting at elevated cruising speeds.

The Chieftain Dark Horse has the only adjustable windscreen in this group.

Since both Burns and Troy share roughly the same height, their notes were quite similar with Troy’s going something like this: “I got wind buffeting at high speeds on all four bikes. The adjustable screen of the Indian didn’t make a difference.” While Tom Roderick and myself both experienced buffeting with these bikes, the intensity was lower for both of us. The good news is that optional windscreens are available from each factory for all of them.

The Moto Guzzi offers the least weather protection of the bunch. While taking the pressure off of the rider’s upper body, the fairing was clearly designed to flow a lot of air to the rider. When the temperature is high, this feature is much appreciated. However, cold weather makes the Guzzi’s airflow much less popular.

The MGX-21’s shapely fairing flows plenty of cooling air in both warm and cold weather.

All of the riders noted that, while the Guzzi flowed the most air, it also delivered the least buffeting to our noggins. Burns notes, “For me, the MG’s double-bubble windscreen provided the smoothest airflow, and when it comes to cruising along at 80 mph, its 90-degree Vee smooth-cruise rhythm is right up there.” Seasonally-Impaired Editor Siahaan concurs, ”The airflow off the front fairing and shaped screen is nice, but not if you’re under-layered on a cold ride.”

2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide First Ride Review

2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse First Ride Review

Harley’s OG bagger, the Street Glide, was perfectly fine for me up to speeds that common sense dictates I not mention. However, there were differing opinions. “I really like just about everything about the Street Glide except the height of the windscreen,” espoused Burns. “I tried to ride around on it in an open-face helmet and cool shades in the classic manner, but at any speed above 40, it jiggled my cool shades around so vigorously the road looked like WW2 aerial combat footage. It’s not so bad with a full-face with the shield closed, but that kind of defeats the concept.”

“The shorty windscreens on all these bikes impose some wind buffeting,” notes Tom, “but the Indian is the only bike here with an electronically adjustable windscreen and the ability to lessen or increase helmet buffeting to personal preferences.” Troy also noted the Indian’s adjustable windscreen as a nice feature, “But I imagine it’s even more so if you’re taller than I am and can exploit it further.”

For my body size, I experienced some mild turbulence with the windshield in its highest position that came with the increased pocket of still air I desired in colder temperatures. In the lowest position, my helmet benefitted from a greater cooling airflow and less chop.

On all the bikes, taller riders fared better in regard to helmet buffeting.

On the Victory, I noted some mild buffeting at highway speeds that really only became bothersome at speeds above 85 mph. The rest of the time, it felt like a good combination of airflow and weather protection. Again, optional windshields are available to suit riders of various sizes.

2015 Victory Magnum Review

When it comes to carrying capacity, these baggers have a variance of 26 gallons between the largest and the smallest. The Magnum checks in with a whopping 41.6 gallons of combined capacity between its two bags, and for this reason alone, I snapped up the Magnum. With the help of several layers of foam, I turned the left saddlebag into my camera bag.

The Chieftain placed second with a 34.4 gal. total for its pair of bags, which also score bonus points for having push-button unlocking capability when the wireless key fob is within range. However, our Indian test unit then lost points for having the secondary unlock button on the fuel tank stop working. For most riders, this wouldn’t be a problem. They’d have the key in their pocket. However, with our constant bike rotation, we keep wireless fobs in the saddlebag while riding. Otherwise, we risk stranding the poor sod who was not given the fob from the previous rider. If the section of road this exchange takes place on is particularly nice, it may be quite a while before we notice that we are one bike short in the mirrors. So, for our trip home, we could ride the Chieftain, but we (well, Troy in this case) couldn’t access any of the gear in the saddlebags. Back at home a locksmith was able to open the problem bag – only that didn’t make Trizzle’s ride home the night before any warmer.

Having extra layers with him for the chilly ride home did Troy absolutely no good when the electric lock button broke with the key fob locked inside the bag.

The Street Glide checks in with 32 gallons of combined capacity and absolutely no drama when accessing their contents. The MGX–21 came in a distant fourth with less than half the capacity of all the other bikes. The culprit in the Guzzi’s 15.4 total gallons of capacity is the bag shape, which tapers quite stylishly towards the rear of the motorcycle. Critiques of the size aside, the MGX’s bags close with multiple attachment points for the side opening, making sure the bags are watertight.

After this section of our ride, the MO Scorecard lists the Street Glide on top with an 89.4% in the luggage category, with the Magnum finishing second with an 81.1%. Despite the Victory’s large volume, the Harley’s easy-to-operate latches helped it to win here. We’ll get to the wind/weather protection scores later.

California City, CA to Keeler, CA

The birth and ongoing death of Keeler is inexorably tied to that of Owens Lake. Although much of Keeler’s history is the result of the boom and bust of the mining industry, an earthquake in 1872 helped to drive the town’s early growth by lifting the lakebed in a nearby town requiring that a new dock be built in Hawley. The town would later be renamed Keeler after Julius M. Keeler, who owned the mill that processed the ore for the Owens Lake Mining and Milling Company and designed the town which would support the mill. A small-gauge rail line reached Keeler in 1883 and allowed the town to ride the boom-and-bust waves of silver, lead, zinc, and limestone which finally ceased in the 1950s. However, it was Owens Lake that terminally wounded Keeler. Los Angeles’ thirst siphoned away the water of Owens Lake in the 1920s, leaving behind an alkali dust storm breeding ground, the offspring of which frequently traced a path through Keeler, making many residents choose to leave. Although the town still has a U.S. Post Office, the population has remained at just 66 in the last two censuses.

As the four-lane divided highway narrowed down to two lanes which required that we hustle by cars we wanted to pass, we began to focus on the engines. All four of our V-Twins were quite comfortable in high-velocity cruise mode, delivering pleasant sensations to all our contact points with the machines as we churned through the miles. From a powerplant perspective, we wouldn’t hesitate to straddle any one of these mounts for a transcontinental tour.

With the new Milwaukee Eight engine, Harley has refined the Street Glide’s engine manners at the same time it improved the power. “The new engine has way more power than the old one,” Burns wrote, “Hitting Resume on the cruise control gets you easily and smoothly back up to 80 after you have to slow down.” Burns also goes on to note that the Street Glide has ”a really reassuring pleasant 3500-rpm drone at 80 mph.” Troy continues the love but with a dose of reality: “The new Milwaukee Eight engine is pretty nice. Smooth, robust power down low with a decent midrange punch if you want it. Didn’t fare very well in our top gear roll-ons, but if you want a drag racer, look somewhere else.”

One engine feature that Tom was happy about had nothing to do with the Milwaukee Eight upgrades. “When it comes to baggers, I like having a heel/toe shifter,” he said, “The Harley is the only bike here that comes equipped with one.” Troy, on the other hand, respectfully disagreed, saying that it cramped his foot on the floorboard.

The MGX-21 may have had the smallest engine, but it walloped the other bikes in top-gear roll-on contests.

The other new kid, the MGX–21, doesn’t have a new engine, but Tom summed it up as being “easily the fastest bike here with an engine that spins up and revs more like a sportbike than a cruiser.” The love was universal. “Despite giving up 300-odd cc to the others, the Guzzi killed the others in top gear roll-ons,” Troy noted. Burns best sums up how, from the moment the throttle was cranked open in top gear roll-ons, the 90° V-Twin pulls away from the others: ”My favorite engine by far; it produces a major torque wallop at about 4k rpm that closes the gap with whatever bike it’s behind with one quick thwarp of the throttle.” Several of the testers also praised the MGX for its “sportbike-like transmission,” too.

While the Harley and Indian have almost identical horsepower curves, the Victory just keeps on building power. Exploiting its higher revving engine, the Moto Guzzi builds horsepower in the top end.

The Indian has the next newest engine and received glowing reviews with one Burnsian outlier. “The Indian is plenty torquey, but it’s really low-revving blatty nature makes it my least favorite of these four. It also puts out the most heat, which wasn’t a problem at all in the perfect weather we had for these two days, but it can be a problem in Wisconsin in July.”

Again, the Harley and Indian perform like brothers from another mother with ample torque from the bottom of the rpm range. As with horsepower, the Victory builds to a peak later in the rev range. Since torque is a function of displacement, the Moto Guzzi shows its disadvantage here. Still, its curve is remarkably flat.

However, Troy shows that one man’s blatt is…well…let Troy tell us: “The Indian has a really sweet exhaust growl. More pleasing to my ear than the Harley’s, even.” (Remember, Harley made a big deal about how the new, quieter Eight allowed for more volume from the exhaust.) My opinion of the Indian’s engine is pretty closely aligned with Tom, who gushed that “the engine performance, sound, and clutch engagement are, dare I say, cruiser perfect.”

Half our testers judged the Indian’s motor as almost perfect for a cruiser.

First introduced in the 2008 Victory Vision and moved to the entire Victory line in 2011, the Freedom 106 engine is beginning to show its age. That’s not to say it isn’t fun. Where it lacks the instant power delivery of the newer engines, it grunts it out in the end. Just listen to Burnsie: “The old 106 maybe doesn’t have the instant torque of the others, which shows in our little roll-on tests, but once it’s rolling, its easy free-revving nature and great gearbox is perfectly satisfactory.” Troy goes into a little more detail saying, ”In the top-gear roll-on I did with Tom on the HD, we were neck and neck at first, the Victory eventually edging away the closer we got to redline.”

If we had to point to one feature of the Freedom 106 engine that illustrates its age, we’d go straight to the cable-operated throttle. While this itself isn’t a terrible thing, riders will experience the throttle grip rotating in their hand as the cruise control modulates the Magnum’s speed. Also, the technology that allows ride-by-wire also enables things like traction control to be implemented. (To those who say cruisers don’t need TC, I suggest they go ride a Big Twin in the rain on a Las Vegas freeway during peak traffic and try to modulate the power transfer from the rear tire to the oil-soaked, wet pavement.)

The Moto Guzzi easily wins the powerplant scores with a 94.4% for the engine and a 90.0% score for the transmission/clutch category. The Harley and Indian tied with engine scores of 88.8% while the Chieftain held a solo 85.0% second place for transmission/clutch.

Keeler, CA to Darwin, CA

Around 1874, the settlement of what would soon be Darwin was established and named for early explorer and prospector, Dr. Darwin French. Fueled by the booms that accompanied the mining rushes of the era, Darwin soon had a post office, drug stores, hotel, restaurants, and saloons to free the prospectors of their money. Because of its remote location, Darwin gained a reputation for the types of activities that have kept Western movie fans interested for generations with many shootouts and stagecoach robberies taking place. At its population peak in 1877, the town supported approximately 3,500 residents. However, a smallpox epidemic coupled with an economic slowdown decimated the town a year later, dropping the population to less than 10% of its previous level. The early 1900s saw a resurgence of Darwin in a new mining boom, but two fires destroyed portions of the town. After a couple more small mining booms, several of Darwin’s mines were purchased in 1945 by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, turning the town into one of the largest lead producers in California. Today, the mines are said to be closed, and the 2010 census listed the population at just 36 hardy souls.

Our short jaunt from Keeler to Darwin gave us a small sampling of blind sweepers cresting hills and long straight roads that forced us to choose between epic views in late afternoon light and a chance to discover the top speeds of these baggers. (Preservation of our licenses dictates that we not say what speeds those were, but if we did, you might be surprised.)

The Victory Magnum is sensitive to the amount of air pressure in the rear shock. It also can lose air if parked unused for a period of many days. The good news is that it’s easy to pump up.

During these first few sweepers, we got our first inkling that something was amiss in the Magnum’s handling. On the freeway portion of the ride, I’d puzzled over how the Magnum steered slower than I remembered but failed to check the preload pressure at our next gas stop. Additionally, the Victory, by virtue of its massive saddlebags was carrying all of my heavy camera gear, further exacerbating the problem.

So, when we finally got to a series of rollicking corners, Tom was at the helm of the good ship Magnum as it was tossed about. I’ll just let Tom relate his near tale of woe: “Air shock lesson number one: If you have an air shock, check it regularly. It wasn’t until dangerously dragging an exhaust pipe around a corner that we checked to see what the problem was, and the empty air chamber in the rear shock was the answer. After filling it to the appropriate level, the behavior of the Victory changed for the better with more ground clearance, quicker steering, and a slightly higher seating position which provided a better line of sight over the dash.”

Once the preload was set at the correct level (we can hear you groaning in frustration, Victory-rep Robert Pandya), the Magnum was remarkably better. “Suspension-wise, it might be the best of the lot when you remember to keep a few pounds of air in the shock,” stated Burns.” For having that big front wheel, which is really more style than substance, it seems to handle and stick to the road just fine.” Even Troy used the word transformed in his notes.

The Magnum’s bags are cavernous. The mirror to this one holds two camera bodies, three zoom lenses, two flashes, one battery charger, and three layers of foam padding to hold everything in place.

While we could debate which bike has the best suspension, the classically styled Street Glide was selected as the best handling of the group. Tom labeled the Street Glide the “lightest, most maneuverable bike of the four, especially in parking-lot situations when the H-D’s tight turning radius comes into play.” (Note to readers: When you read parking-lot speeds, think endless U-turns during photo shoots.)

Burns concurs: ”Too bad about the really limited rear suspension travel, but I’ve never ridden anything that makes more of 2.1 inches. At least the seat’s low, another thing that makes the H-D feel like the lightest and most manageable of these four bikes.” Still, Troy felt that, despite the improved rear suspenders, “road imperfections seemed to blast through the suspension’s travel quickly before reaching the rider.” We have to acknowledge that the low seat height Burns pointed out is mostly the result of the diminutive shock stroke.

I was astride the Harley during one of the most challenging sections of road we encountered on our after-dark scythe through the canyons and was able to use the decent ground clearance and responsive steering to my advantage when the road tossed unexpected changes of direction into the headlight beam.

When it comes to the Indian, multiple testers praised the suspension and handling. Troy felt the “handling seemed neutral for such a big bike” while I thought it hid its weight well once it got rolling. “For the long and boring,” said Burns of the Chieftain on the freeway, ”it’s virtually identical ergonomically to the Harley albeit with much better rear suspension when the road goes bumpy.”

The MGX-21 handles well at speed but suffers from awkward steering at parking-lot speeds. The Guzzi’s shapely derriere is responsible for the small internal size of the saddlebags.

The MGX–21 is a puzzler. Yes, it handles well, but it also behaves oddly. It, like the Magnum, are the only bikes here with a 21-inch front wheel. To accommodate that large front hoop without the front end flopping during low-speed maneuvers, Guzzi added a device that looks a bit like a steering damper and connects the lower triple clamp to the frame below the frame’s neck. As the fork is turned from center position to the stop, the device gets compressed and offers progressively more resistance, making for an unusual feeling at full lock. For an in-depth look at this characteristic, read my review of the MGX–21.

Despite the anti-flop gizmo, the MGX’s handling initially feels odd. It feels extremely top-heavy, and this is especially notable when picking it up off its sidestand. More disconcerting is the Guzzi’s odd low-speed steering characteristics, particularly noticeable during full-lock turns.

“Guzzi engineers knew they had a front-end flop issue on their hands, otherwise they wouldn’t have outfitted the MGX with an anti-flop mechanism,” Tom noted. “It was probably the best fix without designing a new frame for it. Once underway, though, it flies straight and maneuvers in the twisties with surprising alacrity. Coupled with that amazing playful engine, the Guzzi is surprisingly sporty.”

While we all groaned over the effort required to lift the MGX off its stand, its top-heaviness goes away once rolling and we were able to adjust to its handling idiosyncrasies as the miles piled up.

Beatty, NV to Rhyolite, CA

Ironically, the second youngest town on our tour is also the one that is completely abandoned and mostly in ruins. Built from mining camps that naturally formed at new mineral deposit discoveries in 1905. The largest mine, the Montgomery Shoshone Mine, was purchased by Charles M. Schwab a year later and invested in Rhyolite’s infrastructure, which sprang up quickly, including electric lights arriving in 1907, along with running water, telephones, a hospital, and even an opera house. The town reached its population peak between 1907–08 with estimates between 3,500 and 5,000. Then it all fell apart. The fall in ore production and national financial concerns caused investments in the town to stop. The mine closed in 1911, and by 1920 Rhyolite’s population declined to almost zero. The town’s story doesn’t end there, though. The ruins became a tourist attraction, a role it still plays today. It has also been used as a movie location. Though some of the buildings, particularly the Bottle House, have been restored and fenced off, Rhyolite remains uninhabited to this day.

The 47° morning air as we rode from the very much alive Beatty, NV to Rhyolite had us thinking about creature comforts. You can bet that we discussed the lack of heated grips on all of these bikes as we clutched cups of coffee over breakfast. The consensus was that, not surprisingly, the MGX–21 was the coldest that morning, giving the windchill a direct path to the rider’s torso. Since none of these baggers have lowers, our legs were out in the breeze, and the engine heat from the motors was appreciated.

The riding positions of the baggers cleaved our quartet down the middle. The Chieftain Dark Horse and the Street Glide had the most upright and relaxed riding positions. Both have wide, comfortable seats with floorboards in relatively neutral locations. “One of the best seating positions here,” said Troy of the Chieftain. ”It didn’t feel like I was riding a huge motorcycle thanks to the proximity of the controls and the position (and shape) of the seat.”

Given their different builds, you would expect a bike that fit Troy to be the wrong size for Tom, but he gushes, “When it comes to long hours spent riding horizon-to-horizon straight interstates, Harley knows how to coddle a derriere. The combination of one of the most comfortable seats in the history of motorcycling and the Street Glide’s very neutral seating position makes it the best bike here to attempt an Iron Butt rally.”

The baggers’ brakes were all triple-disc systems with a pair of four-piston calipers in the front and either 320mm discs (Harley and Moto Guzzi) or 300mm (Indian and Victory). All bikes were equipped with ABS. The MGX wore the bright red radial-mounted Brembo calipers shown in the photo.

Both the Magnum and the MGX–21 put the rider in a more feet-forward position that can put stress on spines. In addition, the Guzzi limits the rider’s ability to move around by having a farther reach to the bar and pegs. While the Guzzi isn’t uncomfortable, the riding position is a little more towards the cruiser sporty end of the spectrum with a bit of a reach to its bars. Also, the narrower MGX seat gives less support to the tuchus. The Magnum’s wider seat and more laid-back riding position gives the pilot more options for wiggle room on long stints.

When riding long distances, it’s nice to have something to listen to. On this ride, Burns discovered the pleasures of plugging his smartphone into a bagger’s USB port and having all of his music a couple button-pushes away. While all of the baggers had stereos, the Guzzi, as we’ve noted in the past, has much less power with which to overcome road noise. Also, Tom noted, “The Guzzi needs an antenna. In far away places where the other bikes were able to pull in some kind of radio signal, the Guzzi was playing nothing but static.”

Badwater, CA to Los Angeles, CA

Fuel Capacity, MPG, and Range

Harley-Davidson Street Glide

Indian Chieftain Dark Horse

Moto Guzzi MGX-21

Victory Magnum

Fuel Capacity

6 gal.

5.5 gal.

5.4 gal.

5.8 gal.

Tested MPG

37.6 mpg

36.3 mpg

37.2 mpg

37.6 mpg

Calculated Range

225 mi.

200 mi.

201 mi.

218 mi.

With our daylight on our second ride day consumed by the photo and video shoot, we rode the 250 miles from Death Valley’s Badwater Basin to our respective homes scattered across L.A. and Orange Counties. Stopping in Baker, CA (home of the world’s tallest thermometer!), we fill our tanks one more time: Greek food for our bellies and Premium Unleaded for the baggers.

Riding 250 miles home is a great way to noodle over our two days of riding. So, when we got home and opened up the famed MO Scorecard, we knew which bike was the winner, right? Uh, no.

The world’s tallest thermometer beckons with food and fuel for the ride home.

The participants in our most recent bagger shootout, the Harley-Davidson Street Glide and the Indian Chieftain, were separated by a mere 0.75 percentage points. Did the Street Glide’s Milwaukee Eight or Moto Guzzi’s MGX–21 Flying Fortress shuffle the baggers pecking order? Well, for the first time that we can remember, a shootout has resulted in a tie! With a score of 87.3% the Street Glide and Chieftain Dark Horse topped the MGX–21’s 86.3% and the Magnum’s 85.1%.

So, with that small a spread in scores, the prospective owner has price and attraction to guide a purchasing decision. With an $1,109 range in price, the difference is largely negligible. The prices, as tested, break down as follows: Moto Guzzi MGX-21, $21,990; Indian Chieftain Dark Horse, $21,999; Harley-Davidson Street Glide, $22,594; and Victory Magnum, $23,099.

What these scores and prices say to us – and hopefully to you – is best summed up with a quote from our own John Prognosticator Burns: “In general, for all four of these, “baggers” is no longer a pejorative – and if you’re attracted to this style of bike, it’s hard to see why anybody needs anything bigger for weekend tripping around the country.”

2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide

+ Highs

  • Milwaukee Eight Power
  • Super comfortable seat
  • Improved suspension

– Sighs

  • Still want more power
  • Still want more rear suspension travel
  • Not everyone will recognize you’re riding a new Street Glide

2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse

+ Highs

  • Exceptional Thunderstroke 111 engine
  • Excellent fit and finish
  • Keyless ignition

– Sighs

  • Helmet buffeting for some riders
  • Funky pouch in fairing for storing/charging phone
  • Unlock saddlebag button failure

2017 Moto Guzzi MGX–21

+ Highs

  • Best performing engine
  • Styling tour de force
  • Sporty handling

– Sighs

  • Funky low-speed handling
  • Tiny bags
  • Least weather protection of the group

2017 Victory Magnum

+ Highs

  • Huge saddlebags
  • Engine still pulls hard after all these years
  • 21-inch wheel works surprisingly well

– Sighs

  • Sensitive to rear preload air pressure
  • Cruise control rotates cable-operated throttle in your hand
  • Love it or hate it styling

Bagger Brawl ScoreCard

Harley-Davidson Street Glide

Indian Chieftain Dark Horse

Moto Guzzi MGX-21

Victory Magnum





















Total Objective Scores






















































Cool Factor





Grin Factor





John’s Subjective Scores





Evans’ Subjective Scores





Tom’s Subjective Scores





Troy’s Subjective Scores





Overall Score





2017 Bagger’s Brawl


Street Glide

Indian Chieftain

Dark Horse

Moto Guzzi



Engine Type107 cu in (1753cc), Air-cooled, 45° V-Twin111 cu in (1811 cc), Air-cooled ,49° V-Twin1400cc, 90° V-Twin, Air and oil-cooled with an independent cooling pump; oil radiator with thermostat controlled fan1731cc, Air-/oil-cooled 50° V-twin
Bore and Stroke100mm x 111.1mm101mm x 113mm104 x 81.2mm101mm x 108mm
Fuel SystemElectronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm borePhased electronic Multipoint sequential injection, Magneti Marelli IAW7SM, “ride by wire”, 52 mm throttle body, IWP 243 Magneti Marelli injectors, double oxygen sensor, integrated management of 3 engine mappings, traction control, cruise controlClosed loop fuel injection, 54 mm throttle body
Compression Ratio10.0:19.5:110.5 : 19.4 : 1
Valve TrainSingle cam, four valves per cylinderTwo valves per cylinder, pushrod operated, hydraulic lifters4 valves per cylinder, DOHCSOHC; 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters
Peak HP78.1 hp @ 4800 rpm 76.1 hp @ 4500 rpm 85.4 hp 4700 rpm
Peak Torque101.8 lb-ft @ 2900 rpm 105.0 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm 99.3 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm
lb/hp10.6 10.9 9.4
lb/lb-ft8.2 7.9 8.1
MPG37.6 mpg36.3 mpg 37.2 mpg 37.6 mpg
Final DriveBeltBeltShaftBelt
Front Suspension49mm conventional fork46mm conventional fork, 4.7 in. travel46 mm conventional fork43mm inverted cartridge fork; 4.4 in. travel
Rear SuspensionDual emulsion-style shocks, hydraulically adjustable preload on left shock.Single shock, 3.7 in. travelDual shock absorbers with adjustable rebound and remote spring preloadSingle air-adjustable shock; constant rate linkage; 3.5 in. wheel travel
Front BrakeDual 320mm, four-piston calipers, ABSDual 300mm floating discs, 4-piston calipers, ABSDual 320 mm stainless steel floating discs, Brembo radial callipers with 4 horizontally opposed pistons: ABS as standard equipmentDual 300mm floating discs, 4-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brake320mm, four-piston caliper, ABS300mm floating disc, 4-piston caliper, ABS282 mm stainless steel fixed disc, Brembo floating calliper with 2 parallel pistons: ABS as standard300mm floating disc, 2-piston caliper, ABS
Front Tire130/60-19130/90B16 73H120/70-R21 62V120/70R21
Rear Tire180/65-16180/65B16 81H180/60-R16 80H180/60R16
Rake/Trail26° / 6.8 in.29° / 6.1 in. travel27.8° /4.9 in.29.0° / 5.6 in.
Wheelbase64.0 in.68.1 in.66.7 in.65.7 in.
Seat Height27.0 in.26.0 in.29.1 in. (28.3 in. option)25.7 in.
Curb Weight830 lb.831 lb.795 lb.805 lbs.
Fuel Capacity6 gal.5.5 gal.5.4 gal.5.8 gal.
Total Bag Volume16 gal17.2 gal15.4 gal.21.3 gal.
Available ColorsVivid Black, Black Denim, Superior Blue, Velocity Red SungloThunder Black SmokeBlackHabanero Inferno Orange w/ graphics, Gloss Black w/ graphics, Indy Red Pearl w/ graphics
Warranty24 months 2 year, unlimited mileage24 months, unlimited mileage 2 year, unlimited mileage
Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

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  • Vinagaroon Vinagaroon on Jan 23, 2017

    The Guzzi looks like it would burn your legs. Looks like the knees and shins almost touch the cylinders.

  • Willie Willie on May 12, 2017

    does the Moto Guzzi have heated handle grips?