Trike Vs. Motorcycle
Choosing to ride a trike like the Road Glide 3, whether it means making the transition from a two-wheeled motorcycle or learning on three wheels, is a big decision. Trikes offer riders that exciting open-air and community experience you get on a motorcycle without the thrill (or risk) of the lean. The benefits of three wheels are hard to ignore: more traction, stability, and no need to keep a big heavy machine from falling over at slow speeds or stops. They also offer disabled riders the opportunity to hit the open road with two-wheeled friends. For these reasons and more, many women and men who don’t think they can handle a heavyweight touring motorcycle have the option to “go with 3.”
A season of exhilarating rides on this Can-Am Spyder Limited and a week aboard the new Harley-Davidson Road Glide 3 during Daytona Bike Week has me hooked on trikes. Keep reading to find out why riding the Harley Road Glide 3 is so appealing.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide 3: A Real Motorcycle Experience
As we reported earlier this year, Harley-Davidson now has three models in its trike lineup: the non-faired Freewheeler, the luxurious Tri Glide Ultra, and the all-new Road Glide 3. This new version incorporates the Freewheeler’s hot rod styling with many of the long-distance comfort features of the Ultra. But while the Ultra is equipped with a fork-mounted fairing, the Road Glide 3 offers riders easier steering and better stability in part due to its shark-nose fairing which is mounted to the frame.
A large steering damper works well to keep the front end under control. Turning the Road Glide 3 both at speed and when turning from a stop is easier than I’d experienced previously. Because there is no lean like on a two-wheeled motorcycle, you have to steer the front wheel which is actually quite natural. But this means there is a certain amount of muscle required—you push the opposite handgrip to turn the handlebar in the direction you want to go—counterintuitive to motorcycle riders. I love how the Road Glide 3’s tall handlebar is positioned for a comfortable bend in my arms so I have good leverage for those sharp turns.
Besides the opposite-push turning, the riding experience feels 100% Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The Road Glide 3 operates just like a motorcycle—you use the throttle, brake, clutch and shifter just like you do on a regular motorcycle. From the distinct rumble from the Milwaukee-Eight 114 when you twist the throttle, to the loud clunks when shifting through the six speeds, it definitely feels like you’re riding a Harley Bagger.
The visual from the rider’s seat is also all Harley-Davidson Road Glide. While sitting in the rider’s seat of the Road Glide 3, you could easily think you were sitting on the two-wheeled bagger. Except for one tiny little difference—the button for reverse gear—the cockpit and riding position feels and looks identical. Even the inscription on the tank badge reads “Road Glide.”
Looking over the small dark nonadjustable windshield is comfortable, even at speed. Many riders opt to change this one out for a taller option from Harley’s accessory catalog or the many aftermarket selections. Since the Road Glide 3 fairing is the same as the Road Glide, there are already lots of options.
Activating reverse on the Road Glide 3 is simple. You put the bike in neutral, press and hold the “R” (reverse) button, and listen to the bike clunk into gear. Then when you press the button again, the bike moves backward. It can be a bit sudden and jerky, but still effective to get out of a parking space.
The Power of Three
As exciting as the torquey power delivered immediately from the M-8 engine is, it’s important to be able to stop just as quickly. Harley’s new cornering-enhanced linked brake system with ABS and Traction Control stops the Road Glide 3 quickly and safely.
Road Glide 3 Storage
Having roomy, lockable, waterproof storage is key to going to all the different Bike Week events and securely locking up my valuables while walking around. Luckily, the trike has enough space to fit two helmets, a jacket, rain gear, gloves, camera equipment, and tools in the large cargo trunk. The key that locks the forks is the same key that locks the trunk.
If you need more storage, there’s plenty of room on the passenger seat to attach an extra bag if you ride solo. Harley makes accessory seats to meet the needs of riders, including its Reach seat which brings riders closer to the cockpit, as well as the plush Sundowner and Hammock seats which give you more surface area.
Touring The Villages on the Road Glide 3
My time with the Road Glide 3 also included an overnight visit to my sister-in-law at Florida’s infamous senior development, The Villages. My riding buddy June, who so willingly introduced me to Bike Week (and pictured in these riding shots), was so excited about seeing this place that I invited her to ride with me to stay the night.
Taking the long way—trying to find some curves and elevation—the scenic Florida roads are the perfect place to enjoy a trike. There aren’t many opportunities to get a bike leaned over, so June and I just enjoyed the pleasant cruise. The rhythmic hum of the M-8 engine is hypnotic and both June and I arrived at the Villages sleepy but content.
Securing the Road Glide 3’s parking brake, we jumped in Barbara’s customized golf cart to explore The Villages’ perfectly manicured grounds and golf courses, restaurants, pools, and clubhouses. I could easily fall into this lifestyle of dancing every night, sharing mimosas every morning, and playing pickleball with friends.
After staying an extra night, I had to get up before dawn to make it back to Bike Week by 7:30 am for the Harley-Davidson Biker Belles Morning Ride and to trade the Road Glide 3 for Harley’s Nightster Special. (Subscribe to WRN’s newsletter to be the first to learn about when this review is posted.)
Specs at a Glance: 2023 Harley-Davidson Road Glide 3
Engine Size: 1868cc
Fuel Capacity: 6 gallons
Wet Weight: 1,163 pounds
2023 Colors: Vivid Black, Bright Billiard Blue, Gray Haze—each with chrome or black finish options
MSRP: Starts at $32,999
More info at Harley-Davidson.com.
The Road Glide 3 fills the needs perfectly for the rider who wants to feel like they are on a Harley-Davidson Big Twin bagger but with the stability of three wheels. With great power, plenty of storage, a full featured Infotainment system, comfortable seating position, wind protection, and a large tank that can take you 200 miles between fill ups, the Road Glide 3 is touring-ready for any sized rider.