Baggers, dressers, touring motorcycles—whatever you call these hard-saddlebag-wearing, rear-tour-pack-packing powerful machines, they are often the last motorcycle a rider will end up owning. Why? Because as solo riders, most of us dont choose a bike that has all that storage space and protection before we know we need it. As new riders without any road experience, we tend to choose motorcycles that fit us as much as possible in stock condition, make us feel good and look cool, and can handle comfortably. We dont know what we actually need until weve had some decent seat time. The exception to this is the riders who will be traveling two-up most of the time. In these situations, a dresser is usually considered right away no matter how long someones been riding. Its ideal for two people because of all the storage and seating capacity.
To me, a dresser represents a “coming of age” for a motorcycle rider. As a woman, if you ride a full-dressed motorcycle, you must be an experienced rider with lots of confidence because most women have a difficult time handling the large size. With that said, of all the women Ive met who ride a dresser, every one of them has had to lower the seat height to handle the weight of the bike safely. Only really tall women can handle the stock height and weight of these motorcycles in all types of riding conditions.
I recently joined the bagger brigade by buying my first bagger—or dresser, as theyre called—a 2008 Street Glide, my fifth motorcycle. Some of you, like me, may have a hard time calling the Street Glide a full dresser because it doesnt have a rear tour pack (although its set up to accept one). Its still a touring bike loaded with creature comforts youdnever find on a Softail or Dyna, like a full fairing, cruise control, ABS and a radio/CD player. Im coming off of a 1994 Dyna Low Rider Ive been riding all these years. I never thought at my ripe young age I would be ready to trade up to what used to be viewed (and maybe still is) as an older persons bike, but after spending almost 20 years riding, Im ready for the big kahuna of motorcycles.
The reason I went with the touring bike at this stage in my riding life (I still have a good 25 to 30 riding years left, Im sure) is because most of my saddle time these days is spent touring. When I get on my bike, I plan to be on it all day, pushing back 450 miles or so for several days where my bike is my suitcase. I was craving more storage, more wind protection and more stability on the road from a larger chassis. Knowing this would probably be my last motorcycle, or at least one Ill own until the end of time, I splurged on a few things.
My amazing custom paint job was done courtesy of the talented JoAnn Bortles of Crazy Horse Painting. I love that my motorcycle is now one of a kind in that way. Knowing I was going to put on aftermarket exhaust pipes, I had a Stage 1 kit from Harley-Davidson installed so the bike would breathe better. I also got the Screamin Eagle Race Tuner so the power output could be dialed in on the Dyno.
I chose Cobra True Dual Headpipes because I really liked the sound. You can check out Cobras Web site (listed at the end of this article) and listen to the sound the different exhaust pipes make. I love the smooth cadence of the True Duals. Cobra recommends you purchase its Fi2000 fuel management console. I was told I didnt need it because I already had Harleys version of that, the Race Tuner, installed.
I had heard rumblings about how Harley-Davidsons new 96-inch Twin Cam motor put out a lot of heat, so I wasted no time ordering heat deflectors that help dissipate the heat from the engine so my legs dont get too hot.
I also got a backrest and luggage rack so I have extra storage space. I can attach a backrest bag to the sissy bar and an additional bag to the luggage rack. These are detachable, so I can take them off when I dont need them.
While I stand 5-foot-6.5 and have a 30-inch inseam, I still needed to lower the 700-pound motorcycle to give me extra leg length and strength. Before installing lower shocks, I looked into aftermarket seat options to lower the stock 26.3-inch seat height at least a half-inch more. While 26.3 inches is relatively low—I could easily handle that height on the narrow Sportster or Dyna models—on the Street Glide, 26.3 inches seems higher because I lose inches in the spread of the wide bucket-style saddle. Plus, having to muscle that much more bike weight means I need as much leg length and strength as possible.
Kudos to Harley-Davidson for developing the Reach Seat a couple of years ago. The Reach Seat pushes me forward about 1 inch closer to the bars, and the nose of the seat is narrower than the stock version, bringing my legs closer together and enabling me to get another 1/2 to 1 inch of leg length. The difference is noticeable. The Reach Seat is available for nearly every late-model Harley-Davidson. There are lower, flatter seats like the Brawler or Rally Runner, but they dont push you forward like the Reach does.
I also wanted more protection than the stock shorty windshield provided me. Id heard of the FLARE Windshield that Brian Klock of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles developed out of a need to keep his wife, Laura, safer while racing at high speeds on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Laura set the record while racing a bagger at Bonneville in 2006 and then broke her record this past year. The “hips” at the outer edge of the FLARE shield reroute the wind to add downforce to the front of the bike, which aids stability. The “flip” at the top of the FLARE is designed to kick the air up and then allow it to flow back as “clean” air for the rider. I was skeptical at first, as the FLARE is no higher than a stock shield, but amazingly, the flare design provides what Id call smoother air. I wasnt feeling that choppy, turbulent airflow that comes from a stock shield, and more importantly, I wasnt feeling beat up at the end of a long riding day like I did with the shorty shield.
One last thing I did was reroute the antenna that normally sticks up in the back because it would be hitting the luggage rack. I purchased an internal fairing antenna from Dakota Digital that is hidden inside the fairing.
With both saddlebags packed and three bags bungeed to the back of the bike, there are about 40 to 50 extra pounds of weight, making the bike that much heavier. Riding it feels no different, but pushing it around a parking lot, I definitely feel the difference in weight. My project going into this summer is to get the bike lower so I have extra leg length and strength to muscle it around. Lower shocks should get me an additional 1/2 to 1 inch closer to the ground. Even without the additional weight, I found that moving the motorcycle around in gravel is difficult because the bike is so heavy. I need more leg strength, which should come from the extra leg length available to me.
I’m going to put on Progressive Suspension shocks, which I’m told work great on lowering a Street Glide without compromising handling. I’m also installing 14-inch apehangers, as I prefer to ride with my arms higher. I feel more in control of a motorcycle this way. I’ll keep you posted.
Thank you to my local dealer, Yellowstone Harley-Davidson, for guiding me through what parts I needed and for doing all the installation work. If you’re ever in Montana, be sure to visit them, as the staff there is extremely friendly and wonderful to deal with. They have rentals, too.
I’d love to hear from Street Glide owners on how they modified their Street Glides. Please send photos and information and I’ll post it here. And be sure to read an article I wrote five years ago (listed below under Related Articles) when I was contemplating what motorcycle I would trade up to from my Dyna by comparing a Honda Gold Wing with a Harley Ultra Classic Electra Glide.
Here are the part numbers for everything I ordered:
Harley-Davidson Parts (Harley-Davidson.com)
2008 Touring Reach Seat: #52619-08
Midframe Air Deflectors (head deflectors): #58022-07A
Detachable Sissy Bar: #528933-97B
Top Stitched Backrest Pad: #52924-98A
Docking Hardware: #53803-06
Detachable Luggage Rack: #53001-98
Screamin’ Eagle Stage 1 Kit: #29260-08
Race Tuner: #32101-01H
Custom Paint Job: Crazy Horse Painting, JoAnn Bortles(CrazyHorsePainting.com)
Dakota Digital Internal Antenna: #ATN-2000 (DakotaDigital.com)
Cobra Pipes: True Dual Headpipes: #6251 (CobraUSA.com)
KlockWerks FLARE Windshield: 8 inch tint (KustomBaggers.com)
How Genevieve Lowered Her Street Glide Even Further: Suspension Mods
Changing Your Motorcycle’s Shocks to Get Lower
Trading Up to Dresser: Should or Shouldn’t You?
62 thoughts on Customizing a Harley-Davidson Street Glide
This is one of the best articles that I’ve read in a very long time! I took notes and am surely going to implement and test bunch of stuff you talked about. You’re a beast!
Hi! I’m a 32-year-old women and I just got my 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Standard a few weeks ago. I still have time to add things but I installed 1 inch lowering links from Covington’s Customs and I also bought the Harley reach seat the day I bought the bike. (I’m only 5 feet 2 inches.) I also took a slow maneuver class that I still need practice with. It helped me tremendously with my turns and I can make a u-turn now (not that tight), and I’m not as scared to lean. And I can dip pretty well. I love my bagger. I’ve been riding for five years. I started on a 2015 Sportster Superlow 883 then a 2018 Softail Street Bob. But my style of riding and the comfort and function of the bagger is everything I dreamed of. I don’t dread my rides anymore. I’m not scared to get lost because I have navigation at hand and having tunes is nice. The bags are such a dream! I have back problems from having my children and I am over the moon. Every penny spent is worth it. I wish I knew more ladies like me that ride. Southern California isn’t very fun to ride sometimes when it’s so congested. I’ve only had the Street Glide for one month but I am looking forward to the beautiful weather and rides to come. Thank you for your site, I felt a little weird after my purchase because, like you said, “…it’s not the first bike women choose when they walk in the dealer…” I honestly was feeling a little insecure and was researching how women make their Street Glides more girly. I don’t feel that way after reading your articles. It’s about my style and my comfort, not anyone else’s.
One of the main things people forget about in traveling and touring is that every item you bring adds up.Consider backpacking. You need to carry about 40 separate pieces of gear/items. If you saved 4 ounces per item that would be 10 pounds. Backpackers over the years have revolutionized getting outdoors with ultralight gear. On one item alone, the tent, weights have dropped many pounds. Now instead of a 45 to 50 base pack weight (minus food and water), ultralight enthusiasts have dropped base pack weights down to 9 to 12 pounds. Some have even gone out safely in 3 seasons with 5 pounds of gear. And that includes the backpack! Yes, there are costs involved. But there are much cheaper options and the weight reduction process can occur slowly by replacing gear over time.Clearly, for safety, wearable gear on a motorcycle is going to weigh more than a 6 ounce down puffy jacket suitable for an ultralight backpacker. I believe, however, by using ultralight techniques, riders, especially those who like to camp, can remove considerable weight (and volume) from the touring storage and probably save a little fuel, ride a little safer, and have a little more energy at the end of the day.Since I took the Harley riding course with my wife a few years ago and rented motorcycles for a few years, we’ve bought our first bikes—2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic for her and 2018 Roadglide Ultra for me. So, I plan to mix my ultralight weight backpacking gear (when appropriate) into my camping/touring gear.Not having seen this discussed much, I thought I’d share.
Do not recommend the Progressive Ultra Low. Go for Ultra Touring. (944)
Wow, great looking ride! As soon as I saw the pic I knew it was Montana. Fantastic country. I’m retiring soon and can’t wait to tour that area on my Harley-Davidson. Thanks for posting.
I have been riding my own for 24 years. My husband bought me a 2009 Street Glide in the fall of 2015. I still have my Softail Slim too. I added 10-inch bars and had it lowered. I am way more comfortable on the bike now. I rode the Tail of the Dragon and 2,500 miles from Conn., to Tennessee, and North Carolina, however, I will say, I am still having a difficult time being comfortable maneuvering at slow speeds like parking lots, tight slow speed turns, etc. (Gotta get out of my own head). Any advice for fixing this issue? I ride a lot and many long distances, approximately 10-12,000 miles per season (I live in Connecticut.) Last August my husband hit a deer in front of me at night. I almost went down with him. Thankfully he is OK, but ever since then I don’t feel as confident as I used to be. I’m hoping this is a mental thing and it goes away because riding is most definitely my passion!
Lynn,Riding a Street Glide or any large touring motorcycle comfortably at slow speeds is all about skill and confidence. Check out our article on getting more control over your motorcycle at slow speeds. It has some good advice.
Great article! This isn’t only for women! I’m 5 feet 6 inches with a 29-inch inseam male. I’ve had a Dyna Wide Glide for three years and have been constantly tinkering with the fit of that bike. I have yet to ride the Street Glide, but in comparison, is so much more comfortable, and seems like such a better fit. No reach issues whatsoever. It just needs a slightly lower, narrower front seat.
Hi Doug,I’m glad you figured out “this isn’t only for women.” As our tagline at the top of our site says. Motorcycling Lifestyle, for women and men who ride with women. We want men to know our articles include them.
I have read several posts here and enjoy this site. I did want to comment on purchasing a bigger bike vs. smaller bike as a first time bike purchase. I am 5 feet 6.25 inches and 55 years old. I started biking in 2001. I purchased a Honda Shadow 750. After a very short time I wished I had purchased a bigger bike. I had taken the MSF course prior to the bike purchase. I did purchase a 2007 Gold Wing in 2011 and immediately signed up for a motorcycle riding course taught by Ride Like A Pro in Maryland. This training helped with confidence and maneuvering the Wing. I have sold that bike and purchased a 2002 Ultra Glide (always wanted a touring HD). The Harley is about 55 pounds lighter than the Wing. I do wonder how long I will be able to “handle” a touring model as I age. My point is I believe women can handle big bikes, what we may lack in strength can be compensated by riding skills and technique. Both of these trump strength. Take riding courses to develop skills and techniques; read books about riding technique and watch DVDs about riding technique/skill and practice slow speed maneuvering in a local parking lot with cones. I plan on taking an additional skill course in North Carolina from MotoMark1. I can’t say enough good about riding courses and practice. They make you a more proficient rider, a safer rider and increase the enjoyment of being on a bike.
Thank you for your article! I’ve been riding an Ultra since I bought my 05 in 06. Then I got an 08 and loved it with all the mods to make it fit. So I just pulled the trigger on a new 2014 Ultra Limited (should have waited for the new Low Ultra). But anyhow, I went through all the mods and am comfortable (I’m 5 feet 3 inches and 120 pounds) with the height and bar reach. My problem and my question is about the clutch. It’s too far away! I can’t find anywhere a reduced reach clutch for a 2014. Even the new 2015 Ultra Lows have some sort of modified clutch but I can’t find that part for mine. Does anyone have a solution for me? Thank you!
Yes, we do have a solution. A company called Hog Leverage is the only one making high quality durable adjustable levers for Harley-Davidsons, and they’ve been reaching out to women through Women Riders Now for the last several years. Click here to go to a story we did on them.Additionally, for Black Friday and through the month of December 2014, they are offering a holiday discount on their levers. Details are here at this link. Good luck and keep us posted.
My first “big girl bike” was also a 2008 Street Glide. I rode a C50T Suzuki Boulevard before that, which I truly loved but wanted more motor and creature comforts to do long distance riding. I found the 2008 Street Glide in Florida, two-upped it to down there and rode it back home in a hurricane. Timing is everything. The first owner put a 21-inch chrome wheel on the front, which gave it a beautiful look but did make the bike a little twitchy on poor surfaces. Also made it sit a little higher. I’m 5 feet 6 inches, 120 pounds but my height is from my waist up, staying flatfooted on the bike was an issue. I had Progressive shocks added to the front – it helped a little. I learned to adjust. I knew under what conditions the bike would not handle as well and what I would need to do to compensate. Last year my hubby found a 2011 CVO Street Glide that he was convinced I needed. The bike has a 110 motor which is fantastic when I want to get out and move, but the fit for me was not good. It sits high and is top heavy. Adding a pack for travel adds more challenges. I dropped the bike three times on my trip to Louisiana this summer. When I returned home, my confidence was gone. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to ride anymore. I was terrified every time I went out. It was like being a beginner all over again. I needed some changes.I had Progressive shocks added to the back to lower it 1 inch. I lowered the front forks 2 inches with the Progressive front fork kit. I also changed the seat out with C&C motorcycle seats out of California. The seat dropped me 1 inch, is narrow in the front and pushed me forward. It also has a backrest.This has made all the difference in the world. The bike handles much better, doesn’t tip to the left at every stop and I can push it backwards. My feet are flat on the ground and legs bent so I have more leg power to hold the bike up and move it around in parking spaces. I haven’t ridden any serious twisties since I had this work done so I don’t know if scraping will be an issue. he only issue left is the hydraulic clutch on this year model. It’s very stiff and the lever is out quit far. My hand can barely reach it which makes playing the clutch in traffic painful. If you have heard any ideas on how to fix this issue, I would love to hear them. I still have a few fear demons to banish but I am on the road to getting my confidence back.
Thanks for sharing all of this. Lowering the Street Glide is key for women of your height. I’m a smidge taller, 5-feet-7, and even I needed it lowered. In 2009, Harley changed the Street Glide frame which made 2009 model years and later bikes a bit higher with a wider profile. Even I am a little nervous moving a stock Street Glide around because I have little leg length to play with.For the levers, I highly recommend a company called Hog Leverage. We reviewed their adjustable clutch and brake levers here on WRN. I think you will find they will help immensely with the reach, if nothing else. When calling them, tell them we sent you; and if you buy them ask for the WRN discount.
I purchased a 2014 Street Glide Special in December of 2013, spent the winter making the changes I needed to be able to touch the ground. Coming from a 2012 Softail Deluxe to the Street Glide was a jump but well worth it. Here are the modifications I made as I am only 5 feet 4 inches: I lowered the front forks, purchased the Road King solo seat and change the stock shocks to the 11.5-inch Progressive shock. Yes it is a bit of a stiffer ride but it was well worth it. Making these modifications gave me more confidence when moving the bike around in the parking lot. One thing I have changed in the way I ride or park is I look at the parking lot, notice the slopes in the parking lot because if I park in the wrong spot someone is going to have to push me out. I will make a second pass to make sure I can park and either roll or back in!I tried to attach a photo as she really looks totally different with all the changes. The bike sits lower but the ride is still the same.
Thanks for sharing the modifications you did to your Street Glide. We’d love to see some photos. The place on WRN to share your review is the “Your Reviews” section accessed here..Here’s a link to access the guidelines for submitting. Please do share it with us. You can copy this text and expand on it if you’d like. Thanks!
I know this article is older, but I’m taking a chance that I might get a response. I just purchased a 2014 Harley-Davidson Street Glide. I have wanted one for a few years and just traded in my Softail Slim this year. I sent my seat to Mean City Cycles and got the extreme reach seat which helped. I rode the bike for the first time today and I find I have to sit straight up to see over the faring. So I have two questions – is this just an adjustment to the bike that I need to make because I now have a faring and you have a blind spot or is there another way to decrease the height of just the front end of the bike so that I don’t have to stretch to see over the faring?I’m only 5 feet tall and I can touch almost flat foot with my new seat, but I’d like to see over the faring. Any suggestions would be great. I want to love this bike and right now I’m a little nervous that my neck and shoulders are going to kill me after riding.
Congratulations on your purchase! When you say you have to sit up straight to see over the faring, I assume you mean the faring and windshield. It’s common that the windshield will cut through your line of sight if that’s what you mean. The only way I can think of that would make you taller so you can see over the windshield is more padding in the seat, but you already adjusted that to where you sit lower, and clearly that has made it worse.You might consider lowering the motorcycle as I have with a set of lower shocks in the rear, and tighter springs in the front end (I did not do that the front end though). This way you might be able to add some padding back into your seat to raise you without sacrificing seat height.I suggest visiting your local dealer and talking to those in sales and parts. There may be other ways they know of to fix this problem.Whatever you do I highly recommend replacing your stock windshield withe the Klock Werks FLARE Windshield. It has made a huge difference in my ride in terms of how much wind hits me and has added more stability to the ride at higher speeds.
Great ideas from all the comments. My last bike was a Fat Boy, but my husband encouraged me to move up to a Street Glide. I really wouldn’t have considered it for myself, but after I test rode a couple, I loved it. So I now have a “black and chrome” ’06 model, my fourth and last bike. I’ve only had it a little over a month. It has a big bore kit and “cammed” up and sounds great! I’m about 5 feet 4 inches. When I test rode it, it felt fine for a short distance, but once I rode several miles I knew I was going to have to change seats at least because I could feel tension in the middle of my back, like I was too stretched out. I knew about the Reach Seats because I had one on my Fat Boy. I’m currently testing a LePera Bare Bones Up-Front Solo Seat. It feels better, but the nose isn’t as narrow as the regular Reach Seats and I still may have to do something about handlebars. As far as height, with boots on, my feet are fine, but with tennis shoes I’m on my toes. I had hoped I wouldn’t have to modify this one, but I think you always have to modify/customize, etc., to suit you – especially women.
I kept my custom ’05 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe but also purchased a 2011 Street Glide with a 103 engine. I have 9000 miles on it now but I am still making adjustments. I got taller boots, lowered my front forks 1 inch, and lowered my rear shocks 1 inch too. I also had Flanders 10 3/4-inch Ultra Ape black handlebars installed which increased the pullback and gave me a much better reach and back position. (Part #650-08706). They are low enough to remain just below the fairing so my hands are not in the wind. My next project will be narrowing and lowering the seat a bit. I think the Street Glide is a great touring bike for women. It just needs a woman’s touch! I am a 63-year-old retired Algebra teacher and only 5 feet 5 inches tall and I am loving my Glide!
I love your info on Street Glides! Last year I traded my ’04 Road King Custom in on a 2010 Street Glide. I love it. The only thing I did was swap shocks with my husband who has a Road King, because I have a 34-inch inseam and I needed it to be a tad higher. It works great. What a wonderful long distance and around the town motorcycle! think we should start a Street Glide Club for women?
Jill,I like your idea of a Street Glide club. Maybe I’ll try to gather all female Street Glide owners for a get together at the AMA Women & Motorcycling Conference coming up next summer. Funny you had to get higher shocks for the Street Glide. You are unlike most women, or men for that matter, who have to make the Street Glide higher. It is the lowest of Harley’s touring bikes, with a stock suspension that’s as low as it can go, so you probably just made the bike now the same height as the Road King, which is the standard height for the touring bikes. Good for you!
I bought my 2008 Street Glide in the spring of 2009. I love the bike. My husband insisted that I buy a dresser, he knew I would be happier with a dresser as opposed to a Dyna. I was very nervous about the size of the bike as I was new to driving. I have no regrets buying a big bike. I am 5 feet 6 1/2 inches with an inseam of 33 inches, so the height of the bike is fine for me.Love the bike and highly recommend to all the women.
I love to read articles and get information on how to lower a Street Glide. I want to trade up to a touring bike to go out west and ride more long distance. The articles are helping I hope. I need 2 inches to be able to ride a 2012 Street Glide. All information is appreciated.
I just put a deposit on a 2008 Street Glide yesterday. It will be my third bike – 2003 Sportster to a 1997 Dyna Low Rider to a 2008 SG! After my first long ride from Columbus, Ohio, to Ormond Beach, Florida, last summer, I needed and desired space to carry my belongings. Traveling with my husband on is ’08 Road King Classic, with everything on his bike wasn’t fair or convenient. So, here I go to a bagger! The first thing I will do is order the touring reach seat. I have a 30-inch inseam and want to be confident when needing to push/pull my bike around in parking lots and tight spaces. I can’t wait to do my first long ride on my new (and third) bike.When I first started riding, I attended a ladies garage party at AD Farrows in Columbus. You were our featured guest speaker. You inspired me. Not just to ride a bike, but you to know I could do the long trips and feel confident. There is nothing like it!
Thanks for sharing that with me Laura. So great to hear you’ve joined the “bagger brigade!”
I love reading about Street Glides – I just purchased my third. A Black Diamond and Crimson Red Tag CVO. Starting to customize while I wait for winter to pass. Have put my SideKick seat on for short trips. Have used a Corbin Classic solo with back rest for long trips in the past and was very happy and able to do 400 to 500 miles/day. Am looking at Vance & Hines mufflers and a race turner. And of course, the pretty stuff – black stealth rack, red spark plug wires, passing and aux. front light kit, and highway pegs.I traded a custom-paint 2009 Street Glide and the new 2011 seems to be light-years ahead in handling, firm controls, and stability. The 2009 was light years ahead of the 2008! Just getting better and better. My husband and I try to do a long trip each year. We pass the winter months with the preparation of the bikes and the planning of where and when. God willing, we’ll be in Arizona and Colorado this spring/early summer. Any travelers’ suggestions are welcomed. Thanks again for the article. I read lots of the Harley magazines and always look for your articles Genevieve.
My husband is so into motorcycles. He has rode every possible bike out there. His last bike was a Harley-Davidson Heritage, but we recently bought a 2008 Honda Gold Wing. We ride all the time and take long road trips for our anniversary. Well, I’m ready to ride and not be a rider.We’ve looked at several bikes, but I really like the Street Glide. I found a 2006 that I really like. Is it crazy to start and possibly finish with this bike. I’m only 5-foot-3, but have the stocky build and able to handle the motorcycle. I just don’t see a reason to start with a smaller bike, only to have to trade-up in a year or two. Am I crazy or not?!
I think you should start on a smaller bike. This online magazine is filled with stories of women learning the hard way, that is, starting with a bigger bike only to wish they’d started smaller. Click here for a good article on WRN that offers some smart advice.
Thanks Genevieve for the outstanding article on your Street Glide. I purchased mine in 2009. I love this motorcycle! I am 5 feet 5 inches and I also purchased the Reach Seat. It does put me up closer, but I wish it had more padding beneath my pelvic bones. It feels rather hard after about 150 miles. This past summer, two other women and I rode from Ohio all the way to Louisiana. We are planning a trip every summer. We are all professionals and love to ride on our days off. I would love to work for your mag and document our all female rides, so if you are ever interested, drop me an email and I will take you up on your offer.
I have a 2009 Street Glide which I love, but I have a really short inseam of 27 inches. I have had the seat shaved to make it fit but that wasn’t enough. I am now at the stage of doing a major mod from Fat Baggers. They have a kit which lowers the seat 3 inches. I can’t imagine the confidence that will give me. The kit with all necessary parts is $2050, that includes painted side panels. I will let you know when it’s done this winter as to how it worked out.
Was so good to hear from a women Street Glide owner. I just bought a new 2010 last week and have lots of questions. I’m 5 feet 9 and 1/2inches with a 33-inch inseam, so it was hard for me to find a bike that fit me. I look forward to doing some touring soon.
Hey Genevieve,I read in a recent American Iron column of yours that you put Chubby 14-inch apes on your Street Glide. I just traded my 06 SG for a ’10 Road Glide, and once again trying to get the bike to fit me. I put Khrome Werks Sweeper bars on my SG and it helped the pain between the shoulders I was getting, but I am 5-feet-6 and got the Reach Seat for my new RG. It has helped tremendously, but am still reaching a bit for the bars. I’m interested in trying apes on the new RG but haven’t been able to find any info on Short riders using apes, and wondering what an ideal height would be for me.I see you went with 14 inches which looks great. Any advice for me when looking for new bars?
The Chubby bars start at 8 1/2 inches so you could go as low as that. I can tell you that I couldn’t go higher than 14 inches because I wouldn’t be able to reach the bars when turning. You are about the same height as me, and I would suspect because being a man, your arms can’t be much shorter than mine, so 14 inches should be fine.Best thing to do is go to your local dealer and see if they have a pair of similar apes in stock. A good dealer will make the effort to get you to sit on a RG in the showroom, have someone stabilize the bike upright for you while someone else holds the apes where they would go on the bike and you sit on the bike and see how they feel in terms of height. That’s what I did and found the 14s were a perfect fit.
Hallelujah! I am in the process of working with a local dealer to purchase a new 2010 Street Glide. I have been looking for articles specifically from women, since we usually have the same “fitting” issues. I have been riding only a couple of years on my 2008 Sportster XL1200L. I love this little bike, but it’s time for me to move up. My husband and I take our vacations on them every year and I’m really needing something more for the long hauls, yet something that I can ride to and from work.I have read at least a dozen articles by women, but this one has everything I need to know going in. Thanks so much Genevieve. I’ll let you know how my new Street Glide turns out.
After years of being the proud owner of “rice burner's,” swearing I would never own a Harley simply because of money, I finally broke down and purchased a used 2007 Street Glide spring of '09. My riding friends and I began doing more trips, so it was a natural progression to a bagger. I actually didn't notice a big difference in weight, but the distribution of weight was very noticeable. Amazingly, this bike really seems to corner better than any other bike I've owned (I've owned four prior to this one). It didn't take long to get comfortable with the twisties. Hoping to get her on “The Dragon” this summer.
As for add-ons, the previous owner already added the Stage 1 upgrade, D&D 2:1 Fat Cat pipes and the Reach Seat. Saved me some big bucks there! First time I really got on the throttle almost put me on my a#*! Lot's of power here. A friend of mine said I could probably get the front wheel off the ground, but I'm quite happy where it is thank you. My only complaint about the pipes is the rear head pipe sticks out quite far and I am not sure if heat shields will fit. A friend got the HD shields for his Road King and I am pretty sure they won't fit, so I may go with the Kuryakyn shields. However, I won't be able to install the left shield since I added the adjustable rider backrest. The control sits in the frame right where the shield would cover it making it inaccessible. I haven't felt the need for heat shields yet, but may regret that after my first trip on her.
I do love the rider backrest though. I have had lower back issues for years which made long rides almost unbearable. With the adjustable rider backrest, I am hoping that is a thing of the past and I will ride in comfort for many miles.
I have had some issues with wind coming from below the fairing, so I added the front fork air baffle. This helped some, but I am going to go ahead and add the adjustable air deflectors to the fairing to see if that helps any. I am also going to add the floorboard extenders which push the rider boards away from the frame about 3/8 inch to get my legs a little further away from the motor. I am 5 feet 6 inches, but have womanly thighs, so even with the Reach Seat, my legs sit in a little close for comfort. I also removed the rear shifter…just gets in the way as far as I am concerned.
I like the idea of the antenna in the fairing. I changed mine to a shorty antenna, only 6 inches tall, so it's really out of the way. I will keep the other in mind for the day I can afford the Tour Pack.
I also went with the iPod Shuffle and it works great. I bought a 12-inch cable which is a perfect fit for me to clip the Shuffle into the center pouch of my 3-Pocket Fairing Pouch. Just turn it on and let it play.
I have a lot of things on my wish list for my baby, but all will come with time…and money!
Thanks for this site. Lot's of helpful info for all thr girls out there who just don't want to follow but want to lead!
I bought a Road King Classic in 05. I bought a pair of pullback handlebars for control. I bought a lower seat by 1 inch and lower shocks by 1 inch, and the lower I went the more control I had. I bought a pair of rims and tires to lower the bike too. The last thing was shorter fork tubes so that is a lot to lower a bike.
I just bought a 2010 Street Glide and you have a lot of things I like. The 2010 has something new. When you sit at an idle it runs on one cylinder so it's cooler. I also like the ABS brakes. You can hit the front or back brake and it stops straight. The one thing I don't like is there is no reverse gear and that gives you a lot of control when backing up.
I currently own a 2009 Sportster 883 Low; it's my first bike. My husband switched to a Road Glide and a friend of mine has a Street Glide. I like the Street Glide for all the reasons you listed (locking bags, wind protection, radio, etc.). I rode the Street Glide down the street and back and I managed OK. I'm short and this just confirms the fact that I need the Reach Seat and the lowering kits. I'm not very experienced but I'm ready to trade in the Sporty and this bike is really what I like. Hope I'm not crazy!
I purchased a 2008 Ultra Glide Classic in June of 08 and just turned over 10,000 miles tonight. Love this bike. I have made several adjustments and added several shiny bits over the last year. I had the bike lowered at the dealership, purchased the Reach Seat and boots with 2 1/2 inch heels. I am 5 feet 1 inch. All of these have helped to make the bike easier to handle, but I wanted to share something else I found. While sitting on my bike and adjusting new mirrors one night, I noticed that the back of my legs were hitting the passenger floorboards. I decided to try removing them since I really don't need them. What a difference! It gave me more room to move my legs and made it so much easier to back my bike out of the garage.
This blogging is great. I just bought my Street Glide a couple of months ago. I love it but I am battling with the height challenge. I am torn between a custom seat, lowering it or doing both. I may try one thing at a time to see if I can get my center of gravity a little more comfortable. The bike is awesome. Thanks for sharing your story.
I, too, have an '08 Street Glide and love my bagger Sapphire! I swapped the exhaust for Screamin' Eagles – not too loud, not too soft.
Upon my order, I had the Bore Kit installed so it's a 103 inch. I've got a Corbin Reach seat with backrest for my 5-foot 4-inch frame, and added 1-inch heeled logger boots to get my knees bent so that I can easily back the bike without issue. I have a taller tinted windshield also, from FastAire. When it needs replacement, I'll consider the Klock Werks.
I do have the Klock Werks Ergo back bars in black. Love them! With my short arms, I was losing throttle on U-turns and figure 8s – but no more!
I do have the leather heat shields from RJS Originals, Inc. I also heat wrapped my pipes. Haven't swapped out to true duals just yet!
I've swapped out the primary cover to the “fin” cover for air to pass over and keep it cooler (was burning my calf!) I'm looking into the new oil coolers also. Riding in the Florida heat is even hotter. I rode to Maine this summer for the Motor Maids convention, and toured Nova Scotia – and she didn't even reach 230 degrees! Unlike in Florida she can reach 275!
I hope to have a custom paint in my future!
Love the antenna idea… I'm going to look into that one!
One mag I fondle thoroughly is American Bagger – it's got lots of tips for modifying your bagger!
I love reading the stories listed by all the ladies who ride bikes. I am going through a divorce and will soon be the owner of a 2009 H-D Street Glide and have always been the passenger. I will now need to learn to ride and make the necessary adjustments to my bike. Thanks for all the info.
Like you I went from a Dyna (WG) to a Street Glide. Love it!
For those of you thinking of buying a Street Glide, I have a great suggestion. Go to your dealer or to Eagle Rider and rent one for 3 to 4 days, load it up and go on a roadtrip. I rented from Eagle Rider in Los Angeles and rode to Vegas. Five hours on the 15, start/stop on the Strip, curvy two lane roads in the Valley of Fire and then five hours back on the 15.
I came back knowing it was the bike for me. (Worst case you don't like it. Then you are not locked into a loan for a bike that is too much for you. And I had the option to bring it back early to the Vegas Eagle Rider if I couldn't handle it.)
The heaviness is a little unnerving at first (I hate u-turns!) but you get used to it. Apply more back brake when coming to a stop to compensate for the heavy front end. Once you are comfortable, you can stop using the back brake, as you are only supposed to use it about 20 percent of the time anyway.
As far as customizing goes, I ran outta money for pipes. I did change the seat though to an H-D Badlander on it, it's pretty comfortable and skinnier than the stock seat. However, if you are about looks and streamed lines, get the Badlander for the Road King. The front of the seat (for the Street Glides) goes up and over the dash. I personally just don't like the look. Wish I knew that then.
Also, one last tip, for you iPod users, I have the Shuffle for riding, it is great! I bought the cable… plug one end into the external jack of the radio and the other end into the iPod. Turn up the volume on the iPod and use the hand control volume for actual adjusting. The great thing about the shuffle is that it's under $100, if it gets lost or wet or stolen you haven't lost your really expensive iPod or iPhone. It has a clip on it so I clip it back onto the cable (not to me). Depending on the one you get you can have 200-400 songs on it… plenty for any trip.
NOTE: I do suggest looking for the first version of the Shuffle – the little square ones with the controls on the body of the Shuffle. Apple redesigned the newest version of the Shuffle and put the controls on the headphones and that would not work very well on the bike.
Well, I think I have said enough!
PS: Jackie…. I ride by myself all the time. Just be safe about it. I always put gas on a credit card. It's a good starting point if someone is looking for me. Always, stop in well lit places and give a rough itinerary to someone before you go. And when I meet people while on my trip…I never tell them my destination or route. I always tell them somewhere different that is easily reached from the point I am talking to them. I have never had any issues and have met some really fantastic people along the way. I even started blogging about my rides! (Although I am two trips behind). Feel free to check it out. http://www.bloggingkp.wordpress.com
Great advice all around. Thanks for your feedback.
I just picked up my second bike today, a Heritage Softail Classic. I test rode a Street Glide a few weeks ago, but felt uncomfortable with its weight. I didn't feel like I was really in control. However, I might have done so if it had been lowered as your bike has been. I've put 17,800 miles on my first bike, an '06 883L, and it was time to upgrade. My family and I took an 800+ mile trip around central Texas, and the wind beat me up, my hands got numb from the vibrations, and it was simply uncomfortable. So, my next ride will be on my '08 Heritage! One day I might upgrade to a bagger, but not just yet.
The Heritage Softail Classic is my favorite of the Softails and I almost went with that before deciding on the Street Glide. The weight of the bigger bike does take some getting used to for sure. In the end, I went with the Street Glide over the Heritage because I wanted the radio, the lockable bags and the increased wind protection from the fairing. I can go 600+ miles and not feel beat up.
Really enjoyed reading about your changes with the Street Glide. My husband and I both currently ride Softail Standards and are planning to purchase Street Glides within the next year. I have one reservation about the Street Glide — the difference of the front end weight as compared to my Softail. My son owns a Street Glide and allowed me and my husband to test ride it in December while we visisting him for Christmas. Wow — couldn't believe how heavy the front end was. Thankfully my husband went for a ride first and warned me about the weight difference. I had to be extremely careful while stopping and during tight turns because I was not used to the weight. Did you notice this handling difference?
I like the idea of the reach seat. I am the same height as you. Do you think this helps compensate for the front end weight?
The front end weight is something you learn to get used to and after you ride the bike for awhile you don't notice the weight — and forget about the perceived “lightness” of the fairing-less bikes.
I do have to be more deliberate and careful when moving the bike around. I was used to whipping around my Dyna Low Rider without fear of dropping it because it was so low and light. Can't do that with the Street Glide. All parking lot movements have to be slow and methodical. Even a slip of the foot in gravel doesn't leave you much leeway in salvaging potentially dropping the bike. There are trade offs with every motorcycle. As with life, there is no perfect motorcycle that has it all.
I've only been riding a year and have gone from a 2005 Sportster 1200 Custom to a 2007 Dyna Low Rider. I'm around 5 feet 4 inches and 120 pound. and have forward controls. I bought the Harley Reach Seat which sits me a little deeper/lower and puts me closer to the controls. I love the postion but the darn thing is so hard that after a few hours of riding my butt is sore. I'm thinking about looking for a solo seat with better padding. Does anyone know of a close solo seat that is really comfortable and affordable?
I see that Corbin has one listed on their Web site but I hate to spend more than $400 on a seat that I can't return without knowing that it will be the right seat for me.
I talked to the folks at Bar Enterprises (www.harleyseats.com) who make custom seats and they use some sort of memory foam. Sounds like they might be able to do what I want. It would be cheaper than the Corbin and they'll work with me to make sure it fits.
Before I decide, I'd like to hear what other women might suggest for my situation. Thanks.
I have been contemplating…OK…lusting after the Street Glide for the past year. I, too, will need to have the bike lowered and have the handlebars changed out. Thanks so much for the information and products that you have listed for us to use as a guide.
I went in to buy a Street Glide but left with an Ultra. I do love the looks of the Street Glide and would love to convince hub to trade his Dyna for one. It shouldn't be a tough sell. The Ultra is so easy to manuever, more so than the Dyna. I'm lucky to be tall and have no issues with seat height — no modifications to it except for LED luggage rack and custom painted windshield. I love that bike. I've managed to rack up 4000 miles this summer in between the raindrops.
Street Glide…aaahhh yes! After riding an 03 Low Rider (bought in August 2002) for for almost seven years, it was time. I test rode one, May 08 fell in love, but I also needed mods done. Most of my riding is also Interstate or just long distance. So, for my 50th Birthday my loving husband, Glenn surprised me with a 2009 Street Glide.Red Hot Denim. Custom for me at 5 feet 4 inches, 144 pounds. Glenn, took the measurements from my Low Rider. The Street Glide comes stock lowered in the rear so that was great. But, being 5-feet-4 he had the front lowered 1 inche and also 2-inch pull back bars for my short arms.
H-D Reach Seat is awesome. Kick stand extender. H-D Race tuner installed for the two-into-one Thunder header exhaust. Extra nice goodies like heated grips as I ride most of the winter. When it's time for home, an H-D Garage Door Opener. Push button fuel door release is easier at gas stops. Front saddlebag chrome guards and guard bags…one with water holder. Constant running lights in rear turn signals, great for night riding, very bright.
For Christmas Santa, brought me a much needed H-DChopped Tour Pak -detachable. This Tour Pak serves a dual purposes — extra storage, but most important, the extra weight on the back. With the Reach Seat pushing me forward, this shifts my weight forward so needing more weight in the rear. I keep 0 psi in my shocks.
The 6 speed is wonderful as I no longer feel beat up after a long days ride.
I did however remove the heel shifter.
I also changed the windshield to the next size higher – great choice. The Street Glide ,though a big girl to ride, handles so nice in tight turns, and very easy to handle. The new engine mounting proves to be well balanced and smooth. Lots of power and solid bike….but, I to plan on changing the cam for just a little more torque.
I've had two Electra Glide Classics (a sister to the Street Glide. On each I changed the handlebars to the Harley Pull Back which brings the handlebars closer to allow for the proper bend of the elbows for good posture and better control.
Having purchased a 2008 Street Glide in 2007 and putting 11,000 miles on it, I decided to have it lowered. I had a lowering kit put on it and about a month later, while traveling to Colorado, my turn signals went out. Then my cruise control wouldn't work and my security light came on and stayed on while riding. It turns out the 2008 Street Glides are not supposed to be lowered. The tire wore through the wiring harness and tore all the wires apart. I had it fixed and then found out from my Harley dealer (who did NOT do the lowering) that there are no shocks that will work with that bike. I heard it can be done by running the wires through the outside of the fender, where they will be mostly hidden and then back through near the taillight. I don't like the idea of drilling a hole in the fender, though. If you do get yours lowered, I would be very interested in hearing about it.
My Harley dealer assured me they've done used these Progressive Suspension 11.5-inch rear shocks on other Street Glides in the past and that it works fine. I also have a friend who works at a Harley dealer who had her Street Glide lowered using the same shocks. I am picking up the bike this week. Will be sure to ask my dealer about what your experienced. Thanks for sharing it.
Your article was very interesting to say the least. I had my eye on purchasing a Street Glide when I first saw them come in the showroom. I too, had a Dyna and was looking at upgrading since I was doing more and more longer trips and spending more time in the saddle.
I started to compare specs and pricing between the Street Glide and the Electric Glide Classic. When I started adding the extras that I wanted, the Classic was the way to go for me.
I got my bike in May of 2008. I also got a few extras. I put the quick release on the trunk, so I have a “Street Glide” look when the trunk is off. I didn't go with a new paint job, but did get some custom pinstripping that made my bike just a little different from the others. I am planning on leaving to go out west for a 2-week ride with friends and had been putting on little extras since we had made plans to go for the trip. I'll be sorry that I didn't get the reflectors for the engine. I have already encountered the heat from the engine on my most recent trip to DC for Rolling Thunder 2009.
I, too, have the Reach Seat, the Klockwerks windshield and the antenna in the fairing. I also put on ISO grips to cut down on the vibrations. I'm hoping to have new exhaust by next riding season. The bike rides like a dream. Now my friends are getting new dressers and I let them ride mine to see if the extras are something they are interested in.
Do you usually take the long trips solo or do you ride with a group? I'm 53 and am just getting back into riding after a several years off (kids grown and now it's back in the saddle for me!) Currently I have a 750 Honda and ride mostly back roads around in my local area and haven't ventured too far from home. I'd love to get out on the road though, but have heard it's not really safe to go it alone. I've also heard that my 750 is just too small to ride too far from home. What's your thought on this?
In all my years of riding, I have never heard of any woman having a problem (i.e. being “safe”) riding alone. If it wasn't safe, women wouldn't do it. Who told you it's not safe? Can they be specific why? It's just a bunch of hooey to scare women into not fulfilling their dreams.
As far as the 750 being too small — that's about the smallest size you want to tour with. Honda's are great bikes. Lots of power and very reliable. The 750 would be an ideal motorcycle to take on a long trip, in my opinion.
I loved reading your story. I have a 2006 V-Rod that I just love. While attending the Club HOG rally in OKC this past weekend, I hit the 30,000 mark. I have been kicking around the idea of getting a “bagger.” I ride almost every day to and from work, do some of my errands and of course, all my road trips have been on the V-Rod. The storage space alone would be nice. I was a little worried about the size of the bike compared to what I'm used to, but after reading your story, I see that we can modify to make it fit better. Thank you for the article.
I have a 2006 Street Glide and I love it. I rode solo several years ago when our daughter was growing up so she could go with us on trips. I had a Yamaha Virago 750. After our daughter was grown, I went back to being a passenger behind my husband. Then when the Street Glide came out in 2006, my husband said if I ever wanted to ride solo, that would be a good bike for me. I have always loved the traditional Harley look — batwing fairing, big front tire and fender and the Street Glide is such a sweet ride. I also lowered mine (I'm only 5-feet-3), got a custom seat, a little chrome, Rush pipes and the taller wind deflector. I didn't have to add a luggage rack since my husband is the “hauler,” and he doesn't want me to carry a heavy load. He has a 2009 Street Glide with a detachable tour box for our trips. We just got back from a 2000+ mile trip to northern New Mexico and Colorado.
I also upgraded this summer to a bagger. I choose an Electra Glide Standard, which has the same option of adding a touring pack, although I haven't done that yet. We tend to take long trips and riding a smaller bike for 500 miles or more a day was killing me.
I haven't done tons of modifications and most likely won't do too many. I have Rhinehart pipes and added lowers to protect my legs – which I love. They keep me warm. I am lucky, I am 5 feet 11 inches so I didn't have issues with the height of the bike. The bike is much heavier than I was used to — I rode a Dyna Wide Glide — and the first few times I rode it I called it “the beast.” After putting a little over 4,000 miles on this summer so far, I wouldn't want to go back to a smaller bike. This is much more comfortable than anything I have ridden. People can call it a grandma bike, but I love it.
I fell in love with the Street Glide the first time I saw it. I'm so glad that you bought one and have now told us all of the adjustments that you made to it, and the whys and how the changes corrected or modified the ride. I am about 3 inches shorter than you so the seat information is definitely a positive thing to know. I haven't had the chance to ride a Street Glide as of yet but now I will have more of an idea of what to expect. I need that storage room too. I think that the Street Glide just might be my next bike some day!
P.S. According to HD specs, your Street Glide actually weighs 749 pounds “dry” and 786 pounds road ready…. no wonder you have a tough time hefting it around! And I thought MY bike was heavy! (I ride a 2008 Cross Bones…. love at first sight!… which is about 50 pounds lighter than yours.)