My journey from Road Glide Limited to Low Rider ST
by Axel Thill, May 2022
Let's talk Long Distance Riding
On my exploratory journey from a Road Glide Limited to the Low Rider ST, my main riding pattern plays a important role. Long distance touring, with consecutive days, sometimes weeks, of 500 miles and more, was my forte.
With that in mind moving form a "Touring" model to a "Softail" does not sound like the best idea. I previously owned only Touring Harley-Davidson, from Road King to Ultra Limited to Road Glide Limited, in little steps improving the long distance Touring experience, for me and sometimes my Pillion.
Above is a picture of my 2013 Road King Anniversary, my favourite bike I should never have sold. Used for long distance riding, 65,000miles in 3 years, covering Europe from Nordkapp to Morocco.
My few tours on a rental Heritage Softail were OK, though I could see what improvements and additions would be needed for a Softail to make it more pleasant for eating miles.
The shorter wheelbase is not a big problem for me, myself a 5'9" 3XL. The Low Rider ST is surprisingly just 1cm shorter (1,615mmm vs 1,625mm), and with a smaller fuel tank it should not feel cramped.
But since my first days on a Road King Classic, I consider 2 accessories not as a luxury addition, but an absolute must: "Highway Pegs" and "Heated Hand Grips".
Forward controls or mid controls, pegs or footboards, it is the monotony of your foot position that is tiring. Watch a 2 hour movie at home, and you enjoy stretching out your legs in the recliner. Same for riding long distances, it's being able to change position, stretch out your legs from time to time, that allows you to ride a full fuel tank till empty.
So, highway pegs are a must. The problem however is, while on a Touring bike like the Road King (Classic or Special), Ultra or Road Glide, "engine guards" are standard, on Softail they are not.
But before you can attach a decent highway peg matching the personal design theme of your bike, you need to invest in a engine guard. There are 2 options: the "standard" one and one that is called "Mustache", with integrated rubber pads, with in my view a uselessly high position for riding. And of course there are other solutions from third party providers.
(below image is not from a Low Rider setup, just a illustration)
That said, I will go for the Mustache (49000141) this time, as viewed from front it does not obstruct the view on the enormous air filter knob sticking out. I will leave the standard one for the heavier Touring bikes.
To fix your designer peg, you will also need to get a Highway Peg Mounting Kit (50500168). I like the adjustable ones and to save costs, will use one from a previous Harley.
Heated Hand Grips
There are 3 schools of thoughts: the though guy's "no need for any heating" view, the "love full heating" rider with heated gloves, heated vest and heated seat, or in-between somebody like me, who need it occasionally a bit warmer around the fingers. The key word here is occasional, not never or always, as I do not like to wire up in gloves and vest, and later turn multiple knobs to tune the temperature for my hands, chest and arse to my liking. Get in a car with dual zone air-conditioning.
Another problem of heated gloves on long distance tours is the rain. Not because you get electrocuted, but I always carry a couple of gloves as I like to change to dry ones. A couple of heated gloves are overkill and eat into everybody's budget. And do not tell me yours don't get wet inside, ride longer distances in bad weather...