Anytime someone mentions a cruiser, Harley-Davidson immediately comes to mind. It’s a reputation that Harley-Davidson has diligently worked to establish over the last century, earning its place as one of the oldest and most respected motorcycle brands in the country. However, while Harley-Davidson is often likened to an affinity for rebellion and its loyal following of leather-clad riders, there’s far more to the brand than what its signature chrome details reveal.
Harley-Davidson has always differentiated itself in the industry by its ongoing pursuit of more—more freedom in the saddle, more customization, and more power. Today, we see this pursuit firsthand when shopping for a best-selling Harley-Davidson Street Glide for sale. The Street Glide is a cornerstone in the Grand American Touring lineup, a segment Harley-Davidson built from the ground up. But the same can be said for its sibling, the Road Glide.
The Street Glide and Road Glide embody how Harley-Davidson sets new benchmarks in the industry by focusing on the smallest details that have the most significant impact. The bikes are incredibly similar, but their differences are enough to slate riders against one another in a divisive line you dare not cross. What makes the Street Glide vs. Road Glide rivalry so fierce? The devil is in the details.
The Similarities: Doing a Double Take
As Grand American Touring bikes, the 2023 Street Glide and 2023 Road Glide are built for the long haul. Their similarities outnumber their differences, with both offering the standards expected of baggers meant to go the distance. They have upright riding positions, floorboards, passenger seats, and integrated saddlebags that boast 2.3 cubic feet of storage space for all the necessities and other gear. Even their color options are the same, and include the signature Harley-Davidson chrome detailing paired with Vivid Black, Redline Red, or Atlas Silver Metallic.
Unsurprisingly, their dimensions are comparable, with not enough difference to inspire such passionate arguments that one is better than the other. Where the Street Glide is 96.5 inches long, the Road Glide is less than an inch shorter at 95.7 inches. They both have 64-inch wheelbases and sit on the same Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series tires, with a 130/60 B19 in the front and a 180/55 B18 at the rear. Likewise, they rely on the same suspension, with Harley-Davidson outfitting the bikes with a 49-mm Dual Bending Valve front fork and a premium low hand-adjustable suspension at the rear for heightened ride quality and handling.
Perhaps most surprising is that the bikes offer the same output, with the 2023 Street Glide and 2023 Road Glide powered by a Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-Twin engine that produces 111 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 RPM. The excellent torque rating means these baggers are quick to accelerate and incredibly capable at any speed. So what’s the reason for such heated debates? You have to dig even deeper.
The Rivalry-Inducing Differences: From Fairings to Infotainment and Weight
While they may deliver the same soul-satisfying rumble of a Milwaukee V-Twin, and boast similar dimensions and components, the Street Glide and Road Glide are two distinctly different bikes. You simply have to know where to look. The Road Glide differentiates itself from the Street Glide by its shark-nose or frame-mounted fairing. It’s a unique feature amid the batwing fairing that’s a signature design cue on most Harley-Davidson models, the Street Glide included. The question is, what’s the big deal about sharks and bats?
The shark-nose fairing gives the Road Glide a distinct riding style. Many argue it makes the Road Glide more aerodynamic, because the fairing attached to the frame is more stable and doesn’t move with the handlebars. Instead, the fairing and anything attached to it, most often the headlight, remains in the same position regardless of where the handlebars are pointed. If you’re looking at the fairing, this seems a little odd because you expect this part of the bike to follow the handlebars. Then again, riders aren’t supposed to be looking at the bike, but in the direction where they want the bike to go.
In contrast, the Street Glide features the signature batwing fairing that defines so many bikes in the Harley-Davidson lineup. The fairing is mounted to the forks, and gives the Street Glide an iconic profile. Moreover, because it’s attached to the forks, it moves with the handlebars and creates a protective pocket wherever you steer the bike. As a result, the Street Glide offers a unique ride because the fairing smoothes the flow of air and reduces head buffeting to improve your comfort in the saddle. It is, however, more susceptible to wind gusts unexpectedly changing your direction.
The Infotainment System
The Street Glide and Road Glide have another minor difference that has the potential to make a significant impact on your experience in the saddle. Both models are equipped with the Harley-Davidson Boom! Box infotainment system. However, the 2023 Road Glide has only one option: a 4.3-inch display. As a Grand American Touring bike, the display is adequate and offers Bluetooth capability, text-to-talk, voice recognition, and SiriusXM presets.
While the same setup is standard on the 2023 Street Glide, Harley-Davidson also offers a 6.5-inch display on this model. This upgrade is a significant advantage among riders who value staying connected in the saddle and would benefit from a larger display that puts vital information at a glance. Moreover, the batwing fairing is mounted to the handlebars, which means the display, speakers, headlight, and everything else integrated into the fairing moves with the handlebars as one unit.
The Power to Weight Ratio
Harley-Davidson is renowned for its V-Twin engines, and the 2023 Street Glide and 2023 Road Glide are no exception. The bikes are powered by the same Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-Twin. The output makes them incredibly responsive, with the Milwaukee Eight giving both motorcycles that signature Harley-Davidson rumble.
However, when looking at the details, the 2023 Street Glide has yet another advantage over its Grand American Touring sibling. The Street Glide has a running weight of 829 pounds, making it 26 pounds lighter than the 2023 Road Glide at 855 pounds. Because of this, the slightly lighter Street Glide has a better power-to-weight ratio, which makes it slightly more responsive.
The 2023 Street Glide and 2023 Road Glide offer many similarities on paper as Grand American Touring bikes. However, the most important differences are in the details and what you experience in the saddle. Sure, they’re legendary baggers you can customize, but they each offer something unique.
Where the Road Glide’s sharknose fairing makes it ideal for longer rides at highway speeds, the Street Glide boasts an iconic batwing fairing that likens it to many others in the Harley-Davidson lineup, and gives it a distinct appeal by increasing rider comfort and reducing head buffeting. Moreover, the Road Glide is slightly larger than the Street Glide, making the Street Glide more agile and accommodating when navigating rush-hour traffic in the city or cruising at highway speeds.
Albeit minor, it’s these details that make the most significant impact on your comfort and the quality of the ride. Harley-Davidson knows as much, showcasing its keen attention to detail and how even the smallest changes can make a world of difference. After all, those details have ignited an ongoing debate between die-hard Street Glide fans and loyal Road Glide riders. Truth be told, they’re both incredible bikes because they bear the Harley-Davidson name. So like the passion behind the debates, the choice is entirely personal.