Harley-Davidson on Monday pulled the cover off a new “affordable” touring machine: a Street Glide without a stereo. Harley is calling it the Electra Glide Standard (or the FLHT if you’re down with old-school Harley naming code).
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“Powered by the muscular Milwaukee-Eight™ 107 engine, the new Electra Glide Standard is a ‘Dressed down Dresser’ that provides a raw, fundamental riding experience inspired by Harley-Davidson’s Grand American Touring roots,” states a media release.
Note Harley’s use of capitalization, turning “Grand American Touring” into a proper noun phrase. Expect the phrase to show up again, perhaps representing a new Project Rushmore-like push to hype the Milwaukee company’s best-selling models?
Note, too, that Harley emphasizes engine size; the release doesn’t outright say this, but I’m willing to bet that, like the Street Bob and Sport Glide, a 114 version will not be available. And like those two bikes I’m willing to bet the new Electra Glide Standard will ultimately earn a glowing review from yours truly. I tend to be a fan of the Harley models that aren’t overworked.
For a while now I’ve personally wished that either Harley or Indian would offer bare-bones versions of their iconic baggers: the character and comfort of a Street/Road Glide or Chieftain, but without the massive price tag. It appears I wasn’t the only one making that wish. A US price of $18,999 isn’t exactly cheap, but it places the Electra Glide Standard as the most affordable of Harley’s touring line-up by $290 (ahead of the $19,289 Road King), and even beats a number of Softail models (Fat Boy, Heritage Classic, Breakout and FXDR). In the UK, unfortunately, it’s priced at £19,995, making it more expensive than all the Softails, as well as the Road King and Road King Classic.
“No screens, simply a motorcycle that provides and heightens the experience of the journey,” says Harley of a bike that is clearly pictured as having a screen. “Designed for the traditional touring customer, the Electra Glide Standard is for the rider seeking to disconnect from all the noise of the day-to-day through riding. “
As much as I really like the idea of the Electra Glide Standard, it’s hardly the sort of innovative thinking that critics insist is necessary* to return Harley to its former glory. Indeed, the Electra Glide Standard is really just the return of a model that was phased out in 2009 – the Electra Glide concept having existed in one form or another since 1965. Search old Harley rider forums and you’ll see loads of posts from folks trying to get a grip on how the Electra Glide Standard and Street Glide were different. The consensus was that one had a stereo and one did not.
These days, the difference appears to be that one has a fancy “Boom! Box” infotainment system and the other has a gaping space in its fairing where the infotainment system should be. Or, if you’re my uncle, the way to look at it is that one comes with an infotainment system and the other comes with a handy place to put your Marlboro Lights.
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“To express the stripped-back essence of the Electra Glide Standard we focused on finishes that were simple, timeless, and fundamental to Harley-Davidson’s touring line,” Harley-Davidson Vice President of Styling and Design Brad Richards is quoted as saying. “Chrome was added to key components and complimented by polished and blacked-out parts. The rocker, cam, and derby covers are finished with chrome to emphasize the V-Twin shape of the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine. In addition, they add a dose of nostalgia that draws a through-line all the way back to the first Electra Glide.”
As with all Harley touring models, the Electra Glide Standard comes… ah…. standard with cruise control, Showa front suspension and rear monoshock with adjustible pre-load, linked ABS, and a gigante V-twin powerplant that is so stupidly fun you’ll look at a motorcycle that costs more than a car and think: Yeah, sure, that’s worth the asking price.
“The Electra Glide Standard is a showcase of an aspect of Harley-Davidson’s More Roads promise to continue to lead the heavyweight Touring segment with compelling products that inspire more riders to fully engage in the sport of motorcycling,” says Harley, thereby inspiring countless Harley haters to break their fingers in writing raging internet comments.
The Electra Glide Standard is available in any color you like, as long as it’s Vivid Black.
*I’m not sure I buy into the idea that Harley is actually in trouble. The company is selling fewer bikes but I see this as perfectly acceptable market adjustment. It is unhealthy for motorcycling to have a single brand dominate endlessly.