There's no telling what tomorrow's assignments will bring. We might be exploring a great new road up in the mountains, riding off to a rally or charity event, or leaving at sunrise on another tour that's likely to eat up a thousand miles or better. Our needs change from day to day and it's nice to have the key to Harley-Davidson's Dyna Super Glide® Custom to meet them. Sure, the tag says "cruiser" but that label, applied to a versatile machine like this one, is far too constraining.
Never knowing where our next adventure will take us is a fact of life. For that reason, we appreciate having bikes in the garage that are capable of performing any number of tasks while simultaneously delivering a fun ride with a minimum of headaches. That said, having the use of Harley-Davidson's Dyna Super Glide® Custom turned out to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the past year. When I picked up the bike at the Motor Company's York, Pennsylvania factory, I knew I'd be getting what really made Milwaukee famous, a topnotch cruiser. Admittedly, the total lack of wind protection and the cramped appearance of the mid-mounted foot controls initially caused a bit of concern; but less than 100 miles into the trip home, I wasn't too concerned by any of that. Having the wind in my face and bugs in my teeth are two of my life's joys, and having less of a feet-forward riding position invites a bit more bravado in the corners and shifts some weight off the old tailbone at the same time. Truly enjoying being aboard this very comfortable ride, I was already making plans to exercise it on some more appropriately curvy roads.
Hold On To Your Hats
In 2006, the entire Dyna line received a host of major changes. Perhaps the most noteworthy for the Super Glide® is the addition of an all-new six-speed transmission. Dubbed the Cruise Drive, this gearbox is not actually a true overdrive, but by dropping a couple hundred rpm needed in top gear, it definitely eliminates that annoying impression of the engine laboring at brisker highway paces. In fact, the Super Glide® is perfectly capable of cruising comfortably all day long at speeds that set off the radar. Shifting action is quite smooth and accurate through all the gears and the model's redesigned clutch requires 35 percent less squeeze to engage. Gone are the days of the gorilla-pull Harley clutches. Even numerous bouts of crawling through rush-hour traffic produced no ill effects on the clutch or my left forearm.
As for the engine, it delivers everything one expects from a Harley. Sure, the performance isn't earth shattering, but remember, there are still pushrods actuating those four overhead valves. Revs are low, torque is abundant (85 ft. lbs.) and that's the way the faithful like it. Why argue with success? After all, it's hard to deny that the vibration-isolated, twin cam, 88 cubic inch (1450cc) V-twin is one of the friendliest mills around. Equipped with the spot-on ESPFI (Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection) system, this big banger is more than capable of tackling nearly any chore short of running down the sportbike guys. With a cool, staccato thump coming from the staggered, dual shorty exhaust pipes, character is delivered in spades. Even though I'm not "a cruiser guy," I kept wheeling this one out of the garage again and again.
To Go To and Fro
And what has changed in the chassis department? Well, in a word, everything. The completely reengineered frame is married with a wider, stiffer swingarm and beefier, one-inch diameter axles on both wheels. Out front, the forks have been upped to 49mm, a full 10mm over previous models. These stout legs carry the same measurements as those employed by the sporty V-Rod series. Also new is the triple clamp offset, along with 29 degrees of fork rake and steering head angle. According to Harley-Davidson, these changes are meant to improve handling and from a rider's perspective I won't argue the point. Out on the highway, the fork and twin, rear shocks tame the expansion joint blues by providing 5 and 4.1 inches of travel respectively. If traveling solo, the suspenders do a commendable job considering that the only available adjustments are five clicks of preload on the rears. Pillions be warned, however - bigger bumps can deliver some pretty abrupt wake-up calls. In our inevitable tours of the twisties, the retooled and more rigid chassis earned high marks. During assertive cornering, a bit of wiggle is felt in the handlebars, but I soon discounted that as nothing more than a harmless bit of character. Although this bike is a cruiser and meant to be ridden as such, it forcefully flogs the bends, and aggressive riders will be making regular trips to local dealerships to replace the foot-peg rubbers.
In the stopping department - well, things could be better. With four-piston calipers pinching a 300mm front disc and a 292mm disc out back, you wouldn't think there's much to worry about. Honestly, even though it's not like you have to phone ahead to stop, we all know there are a lot of other machines that offer better bite on the binders. The brakes aren't flat-out awful, but they certainly demand a more forceful approach than most.
The Style Council
They say that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," and I've always been attracted by the Super Glide®. The simplicity of the overall composition tugs tenderly at the chains of my minimalist sensibilities. But to many, the truly beautiful aspect of this bike's understated charm is its "blank slate" appeal. This machine offers a great platform for anyone who likes to leap into the pool of personalization and Harley's accessories catalog is deep enough to have its own high-dive. Granted, the Dyna's clean lines and classic design already sport some really cool custom touches from the factory - like an all new wrap-around rear fender, a top-mounted, chrome-shrouded speedo, a color-matched fuel tank console, and a chrome headlight cover - and our model also came with optional chrome-aluminum, profile-laced wheels that really appeal to this purist. Yeah, cleaning spokes is a pain - but, man, they look good.
Though it's easy to get carried away with the eye candy packed on this ride, don't forget that we call them "rides" for a reason. And you can confidently use that term with a capital R. Long distances and extended tours are no hassle at all on the Dyna Super Glide®. The mid-mount pegs and the easy bend of the bars work perfectly for all-day stints in the saddle no matter the chosen road. Whenever you're scraping pegs or stretching the six-speed on the slab, the miles roll away with ease. However, comfort doesn't extend much beyond the operator's seat. My expert copilot, Kathy, gave the stock pillion a big thumbs-down after a very short jaunt. Though an accessory touring-seat from Harley-Davidson helped restore the feeling in her flagging fanny, it also opened up a whole new can of worms. The passenger pegs are mounted to the swingarm and after an hour or two, the road jolts began to do a number on her knees and ankles. Unfortunately, for us, two-up duty on the Harley was soon relegated to fairly short hops and afternoon runs to the barbecue joint.
The Long Way Home
Whether you're riding across town with buddies, enjoying a solo romp through the mountains, or heading out on a cross-country excursion, the Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide® Custom is a fine choice. Over the course of the year we didn't experience one iota of difficulty from this bike - just hours of fun, comfortable, and stylish riding. And let's face it, isn't that what motorcycling is all about? All good things must come to an end, and Harley-Davidson wants their Dyna back. I could probably arrange for them to send someone down to pick the bike up. (Lord knows, that would dispense with a load of logistical headaches on my end.) But I think I'd rather take it back to York in person. I want my last couple of days with the Dyna to last as long as possible; and there's a nice, little riding area named the Shenandoah Valley that can be, with a little creative routing, right on the way.
Is That the Road Calling? Genuine Harley-Davidson Touring Accessories
Right off the showroom floor, the Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide® Custom is more than capable of going the distance. But a few select goodies from the Motor Company's vast accessory catalog can make covering that distance much more enjoyable. In order to get the Glide ready for the long ride, we began by installing a set of leather saddlebags (part #90460-06, 9). These sharp-looking, quality bags provide a respectable amount of storage and easily detach for boulevard cruising duties. Because the addition of the bags seats them on top of the stock turn signals, a turn signal relocation kit (#68732-02A, .95) is required, and its installation can get a bit complicated. It may be best to have these items installed by your authorized Harley-Davidson dealer.
To keep the wind at bay, we ordered the Quick-Release Detachable Touring Windshield (#57015-06, 9.95). Involving only an Allen wrench and a few minutes of prep time, installation was hassle-free and easily done at home.
And though I noticed no appreciable difference in comfort on my end, my passenger gave a huge thumbs-up to the addition of the Sundowner™ Deep Bucket Seat (#51540-06, 9.95). The 12-inch pillion width is a vast improvement over stock, and swapping thrones is as simple as removing a Phillips-head screw.
Harley-Davidson FXDCI Dyna Super Glide® Custom
+ style, comfort, handling
- brakes, ground clearance, pillion
Distributor Harley-Davidson Motor Company
Engine Twin Cam 88®V-twin, OHV, 4 valve
Displacement 88ci (1450cc)
Bore x Stroke 3.75x4in (95x101mm)
Carburetion Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Power n/a / 85 ft. lbs. torque
Compression Ratio 8.9:1
Frame mild steel, tubular frame
Front Suspension 49mm conventional fork, dual rate springs, 5in travel
Rear Suspension twin, coil-over shocks, 4.1in travel
Rake/Trail 29¼/4.7in (119mm)
Brakes Front/Rear two 300mm discs, 4 piston calipers / one 292mm disc 4 piston caliper.
Tires Front/Rear 100/90 19 57H 160/70B17 73V
Dry Weight 641lbs (291kg)
Wheelbase 64.2in (1630mm)
Seat Height 27.8in (705mm)
Fuel Capacity 4.8gal (18.2l)
Fuel Consumption 47mpg
Colors vivid black, brilliant silver pearl, black cherry pearl, black pearl, fire red pearl, deep cobalt pearl, glacier white pearl, rich sunglo blue, yellow pearl