Less is More

My journey from Road Glide Limited to Low Rider ST

by Axel Thill, May 2022

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Less is More

I slowly realised that I started to use my Road Glide less and less. One reason was of course the pandemic and its numerous lockdowns and the restrictions on international travel. In the last 12 years I travelled on my Harleys over 150,000 H.O.G. certified miles, but since I got the Road Glide Limited at the end of 2019, I only clocked 7,500 miles. Very uncharacteristic, shame on me...

Worse, even for short runs I started to use the car more and more. Why? The weather was OK, cold or rain never really bothered me, I always say there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.

But after celebrating my 65th birthday in 2022, it dawned on me that it was the effort needed to get my heavy Harley-Davidson out of the garage and onto the road. Or as a friend recently told me his bad vibes of getting the Harley in and out of the Eurotunnel train, or off the side stand on a slight slope. My health was not a problem, but some physical strength must have got lost in the last 15 years for us.

 

Note to self: go for less weight

I was always a long distance Touring rider, a defector from the Honda camp, with years on a Pan European ST 1100 and Gold Wing GL1800. I started my H-D "career" late, with a Road King in 2010, and I still regret having sold my 2013 Anniversary Road King. But after 65,000 miles on that bike in 3 years, it was time to say good-by.  From the West of Europe (Portugal) to the East (Croatia), from North (Nordkapp) to South (Morocco), I missed no Rally  or Chapter ride traveling the UK and Europe. Over time, I rode and compared many models, but for long-distance riding, none of the Touring models could beat the Road Glide.

The one and only reason is its frame-mounted fairing. While the batwing fairing on the Ultra Limited may look better, more iconic, it is mounted on the handlebar, and that's bad. All that weight (fairing, instruments, Boom Box, speakers) controlled by your arms, pushed around by speed, gusts of wind and potholes, this is not as relaxed on a Ultra as on the Road Glide. Here the long and heavy frame absorbs most of these forces, riding in adverse weather or and roads feels like cutting with a hot knife through butter.

Note to self: go for frame mounted fairing

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What makes a Road Glide Limited about 100 kg heavier than a FXLRST, or in other languages, 220 lbs, or 15 stones and 10 pounds ?

Key contributors are the bigger frame, the fairing with its extensive content (instruments, Boom Box, Speakers), the rear top box (even if its empty), and to some degree the side pods with radiators for the water cooling (sorry, twin-cooling in H-D speak). Just look at the fenders, saddle bags, guards and floorboards, and you find many places where the Milwaukee-metal pounds add up.

It is worthwhile to mention that the 2022 Road Glide ST weights in at 382 kg, 40 kg less than a Road Glide Limited. This somewhat shows the weight of the missing back Tour Pack, the lower pods with water cooling, the massive front fenders and the 2up seat. And still it is 50kg heavier than the Low Rider ST.

But what is worse is that most of this additional weight is moving the center of gravity of the bike upwards, making it harder to control when not riding. Once you are moving with your feet off the ground it's fine, but it is the weight at an increased center of gravity that you are feeling when pushing the Harley in and out of the garage.

Note to self: the new Low Rider ST (FXLRST) ticks most boxes...

I understand that I will not save 100kg, as some additional parts will be necessary to bring the Low Ride ST closer to the Touring standard me and my pillion are used to, like Sundowner seat with sissy bar and rack, Audio and GPS.

But these additions, together with some smaller bits and pieces, will not add 100kg, and most importantly, they are located at a lower level, good for a low center of gravity.

More of my "parts wish list", the Why's, Do's and Dont's in one of the next Chapters.

 

Read also related posts of my journey to the Low Rider ST:

Power & Torque

Rockford Fosgate

Garmin Zumo