2006-2009 Harley-Davidson FLHX Street Glide

Smart Money

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Riles & Nelson

Milwaukee called it an undressed dresser. The Harley Faithful who know FL is short for something besides Florida call it a bagger, stripped and slammed. Translation please? To distance this 'Glide from the chrome-encrusted variety favored by Shriners and retired motor cops, most of the shiny stuff was peeled off as the whole package sank closer to the pavement. Voila: another production bike that looks like anything but. Factor in a stack of practical benefits and you've got a perennial best-seller.

Vertically challenged riders appreciate sitting about 2 inches lower than on most other FL models. The stock 4.5-inch wind deflector is okay if you're under 5-foot-10, but taller riders will want something closer to an actual windscreen, along with more legroom. Still, the coolest 'Glide is a bona fide transcontinental ride, with a pair of lockable hard bags capable of taking on a reasonable amount of road-trip essentials and decent range. The 5-gallon tank is good for an easy 170-190 miles between gas stops, depending on how much weight you're carrying and how fast.

Steering is refreshingly light for a 776-pound motorcycle, which means low-speed maneuvers are mercifully low-sweat. Riding closer to the ground means hard parts touch down earlier than on other 'Glides. Like all FL models prior to 2009, this one wanders a bit above 80 mph, especially if you're packing a heavy load. The '06 Twin Cam 88 motor embodies all the reliability of your basic anvil, given regular care and feeding. It also produces all the power most people need, but less than you might want.

Enter the '07 Twin Cam 96, which delivered more than just another 8 cubic inches and standard electronic fuel injection. There are about 10 more lb.-ft. of torque arriving at the rear wheel between 2500 and 3500 rpm. More important to the long-haul set, the bigger Big Twin is stronger, smoother, quieter and more dependable. It came with a new crankcase, lighter pistons, shorter connecting rods, enhanced fuel injection and lubrication as well as an automatic primary-chain tensioner. A six-speed Cruise Drive transmission and 1-inch final-drive belt sweeten the deal.

The '08 model came with stronger Brembo brakes, a 6-gallon fuel tank and fly-by-wire throttle, plus optional ABS. And the '09 frame and swingarm improve handling dramatically. So? Buy the newest one you can afford. Since internal problems don't always have external symptoms, complete service records now avert expensive repair bills later-especially on an '06 without that magic primary-chain adjuster. Otherwise? Let's just say the Street Glide lives at or near the top of Harley's sales charts for a reason.

Cheers
Light, linear steering, a comfortable cockpit and that charismatic Big Twin arrhythmia.

Jeers
Anachronistic high-speed handling (prior to '09), insensitive suspension, soporific acceleration.

Watch For
Leaky air shocks, corrosion on vulnerable metal surfaces, rocker-box oil leaks, excessive clatter or vibration.

Verdict
One phat bagger with (almost) everything.

VALUE
2006 $14,675
2009 $18,780

ALSO SMART

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