Harley Davidson is testing a new program through their website. It is a way to request test rides at your local dealership without leaving the comfort of your home. I found this method of applying for a test ride easy and comfortable. I’d recommend it to everyone.
My original ride choice was the Fat Boy Lo, but my dealer [Smith Brothers Harley Davidson of Johnson City] didn’t have one available to test ride. I then opted to ride the Wide Glide. When I looked at this bike on the showroom floor, I was transported back to the days of the FX and the FXE Super Glide.
The Wide Glide I was looking at in 2011 was reminiscent of the old AMF days, except for the super elegant appearance that our old AMF machines never possessed. Oh, well that and the fact the engine today is 103 cubic inches (compared to 74” of AMF years), twin cam designed, uh- the huge 4.7 gallon fuel tank vs the 3.0 gallon tank. OK I give up. I know the differences are too numerous to count here, but if you look at it from all angles, you soon realize HD has tried to keep the lines reminiscent and true to the Glide of old. I don’t know how that sits with the younger guys and dolls, but with me it’s what sets off sighs of happiness.
The 2011 Wide Glide comes in 4 color themes: VIVID BLACK (my choice for a ride), Two Tone Big Blue Pearl with flames, two tone vivid black with flames, and two toned “ember red sunglow” with flames. I’ve never seen a photo of the red, but I would like to. I’ll bet it will be a popular color among the ladies.
Now for the test ride: this bike’s seat sits at 25.5 inches: a perfect height for the folk who have a deficiency with their inseam like me [I stand at 5”4”]. The seat is quite comfortable for the notorious stock Harley Seat, but it’s designed with the leggy guy or gal in mind. Its deep seat places the rider in a very comfortable butt hugging seat pan which places your weight perfectly in the center of gravity for this bike. Unfortunately for us who are short on stature, this placement is a tad too far away for the safe operation of the rear brake. The forward controls that come standard force me to scoot my posterior (ass) further up the neck of the seat, leaving little to no support for the butt cheeks and that sliding ass sensation while braking is kinda un-nerving at times. If I were ever placed in a position when the rear brake needs to be used hard, I’d be in trouble.
This shouldn’t cause you to NOT consider owning the FXDWG. There are very simple fixes either by changing the seat out for one that places you better or by making adjustments to the length of the brake pedal. You just have to be ready to think out think the problem. (I like adjusting the length of the brake, thus allowing my weight to stay centered.)
I took the bike along a river/lake route which affords the rider to get into the leans of the road, tossing the bike hard left or right and always enjoying the ride. The 6 speed transmission however, never rose above 4th gear during this portion of the ride. I needed to put her on the highway in order to feel that thrill of SIX GEARS! The big 21 inch laced front wheel stayed well grounded through every maneuver I asked of the bike. I even took the bike to a parking lot (empty) so I could do some hard breaking techniques with it. The skinny front wheel with the Wide Glide front end handled admirably. I loved it. I’m a rider who hasn’t owned anything newer than a 1993, so bear with me when I gush about the “innovations” of the new and improved Harley Davidson.
How nice to ride a bike whose front suspension don’t nose dive. (OK, so I’m talking from the perspective of a Sportster rider whose front end is very tired.) I rode this motorcycle through the sharp “S” curves around the lake, 1 very good hair pin, and some roads that left a lot to be desired in the pot hole avoidance department. This bike is nimble. Its performance was nothing short of exciting with its instant response at the throttle and her pleasurable lean angle: she seemed to almost bend around the 90 degree hairpin (well not like a sport bike, but for a big bike it’s impressive!)
On the highway, the 2012 Wide Glide didn’t suck ass either. Her 103 inches and the fuel injected twin cam response to my pull of the throttle put her into 6th gear quickly as I came off the ramp and onto the busy commercial truck laden lanes of I-26. I easily pulled ahead of the traffic and hummed along the highway, avoiding the huge voids [potholes] in the cement left over from the previous ravages of winter. The suspension didn’t disappoint, and the tracking and trail of the bike felt good too.
This Wide Glide didn’t disappoint me. I reluctantly returned to Smith Brothers Harley Davidson in Johnson City, Tennessee after a test ride that put me and the bike through our paces, afforded me a smile and a feeling of wonderment at the innovations Harley has provided over the years, and the feeling of great satisfaction of having ridden a factory production machine that allowed me to feel pretty damn good about its appearance and its performance. I’d buy it.