Long-Term Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special Final Modification: Wind Splitter Shield

Time to bid farewell to Big Blue with a recap of the past year.

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Long-term Road Glide Special Final Update©Motorcyclist

WRIST: Andy Cherney
MSRP (2015): $23,699
MILES: 15,977
MPG: 40
MODS: Wind Splitter Shield

Hell, it’s official: Harley has requested that the Road Glide Special be returned to the warm embrace of the mother ship. Also officially—and truthfully—I’ll be sad to see Big Blue go.

Right from the first 1,000-mile shakedown cruise, the Glide has been nothing but solid and smooth. After close to a year of steady riding (some of it pretty harsh), the bike has been nearly flawless, with a strong, terrifically torquey motor, predictable steering, and handling that belies its 850-pound mass. Turns out it suited my riding style pretty well too.

The Twin Cam 103 mill has proven itself as one of my favorite cruiser engines, thanks to its good manners, reliability, and broad powerband. The thing has never been happy in stop-and-go traffic, and engine heat can be an issue on warm days, but those aren’t deal breakers for me. Fueling has been flawless, and the Reflex ABS system has got me out of many a rain-slicked road jam. I was also skeptical of the Boom! Box 6.5GT on the Special, but the infotainment system has proven to be an unbelievably intuitive, rider-friendly electronic package that’s given me incredible control over my music, navigation, and communication without being too intrusive. Color me converted.

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The Glide and I enjoyed thousands of miles together between SoCal and Portland, OR. Many of them on back roads like this gem.©Motorcyclist

Despite the service notices (first a clutch master cylinder and then a saddlebag connector), the Glide has seen nothing but regular maintenance at 5,000-mile intervals. Do yourself a favor and perform the oil changes yourself; the drain plug and oil filter are easily accessible, and the steps are straightforward. You’ll save yourself some serious coin over having the dealership do it, though you miss the opportunity to have the techs look for other maladies and, depending on your local dealer, a fine cup of Joe.

Although the stock Glide has decent cornering clearance, its short-travel suspension was just so-so out of the box, and the aftermarket Premium Ride Touring shocks we installed made a huge difference. The Nightstick Mufflers I added also added some better exhaust thump but not much performance; there are easier and cheaper ways to wring more horsepower out of this bad boy. If it were my money, I’m not sure I’d pay the $2,300 premium for the Special trim, but other than that, I’ve had no complaints with the stock setup, other than some nitpicks.

Nitpick one: The screen glare from the Boom! Box audio system dash screen can be a bitch at high noon, and I’ve yet to see an aftermarket answer for the distraction.

Nitpick two: I also found the mini shield less than protective from wind blasts at speed, so I scored a 12-inch Wind Splitter unit from Harley’s P&A catalog ($195; harley-davidson.com) for the trip back to LA. Verdict? Super-easy install, with good quality plastic that complements the fairing shape well (though the stocker is more aesthetically pleasing, keeping the Glide’s lines low, where they belong). The Wind Splitter slightly improved wind protection by directing errant gusts further up and over my head (not at chest level anymore), but mostly it improved the sound of the onboard audio system by lessening wind noise.

All that said, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more well-appointed (but unfussy), road-worthy, and, yes, stylish, custom American V-twin on the road today. With its frame-mount fairing, tons of torque, and easy ergos, there’s a reason the Road Glide is consistently the bike Harley owners ride farthest each year.