2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide ST review

Rockin’ in the free world on Harley’s updated 117ci Street Glide ST

Photographers: Harley Davidson

Oozes style and presenceHeavy engine-off manoeuvring
Useful speakers and infotainmentExhaust quiet at speed
Charismatic enginePricy
Super-comfortable rideSlightly agricultural gearbox

Debuting in 1984, the Street Glide ST is an enduring icon in Harley-Davidson’s model line-up, and an important core product for the Milwaukee brand. It sits in Harley’s ‘Grand American Tourer’ category, making it the bike of choice for those with a wanderlust for far-flung townships. For 2023, the Street Glide ST comes packed with more features and performance than ever, but is that enough for the big bagger to compete with the best modern tourers?

The $47,495 asking price may well cause the prospective buyer to do a double-take, but if your better half spits their coffee out at the cost, you can always explain that the Street Glide comes with “cornering-enhanced” ABS and traction control, satellite navigation, premium infotainment and touchscreen, Boom! Box GTS sound system, and excellent storage in the form of those famous ‘bagger’ saddlebags. It’s a business vehicle, Mr Taxman, I swear!

Then, of course, there’s the thunderous 117ci (1923cc) V-twin, thumping out 77kW (103hp) and 168Nm (124lb-ft) at 3500rpm. In comparison, the similarly equipped $37,950 BMW R18 B squeezes 68kW (91hp) and 158Nm (117lb-ft) from its 1800cc horizonal twin, while the $42,495 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse produces 171Nm (126lb-ft) with its 1890cc V-twin.

2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide ST features
Dual 5.25in-speaker Boom! Box GTS sound system
19in bronze Prodigy wheels
165mm full-colour TFT digital screen Vehicle hold control
Satellite navigation Cornering-enhanced ABS
Bluetooth and USB phone connectivity Cornering-enhanced traction control
AM/FM radio 65cm 3 -capacity saddlebags

Weighing 369kg and with a black-on-black colour scheme, the Street Glide ST is an imposing-looking motorcycle.

Peruse the big bagger’s obsidian flanks though and you’ll find some lovely details, such as the Harley-Davidson-badged calipers, beautiful Prodigy bronze wheels, and bronze engine accents. The view from the saddle is also impressive, with the generous ‘batwing’ front cowl providing acres of dash real estate for the classy chrome-surround analogue gauges that complement the 165mm TFT screen, plus a pair of sizeable speakers.

I was somewhat sceptical as to how audible the twin speakers would be at speed, but the sound penetrated through my full-face helmet pretty well (at least with the stock mufflers fitted to this example). Cruising down the freeway, there’s enough power from the Boom! Box set-up and enough wind protection that with the volume cranked up, I could listen to navigation directions while humming along to the inbuilt radio.

The navigation works a treat, too, with visual aids such as a pop-up distance metre countdown to help prevent you sailing past your next turn, and a basic 3D preview for major intersections and freeway exits. The chunky switchblocks make it a cinch to scroll through menu options with leather gloves, though you’ll still need to come to a halt to input destinations.

Manoeuvring around the garage with the engine off requires some care, and is best done sitting on the bike and leaning forward to get as much leverage through the bars as possible to prevent any lurches. But once you’re on the move, it’s astounding how the Street Glide seems to shed weight like an Ozempic abuser as soon as you ease out the beefy clutch lever. There’s a ‘rightness’ to the way the chassis responds, whether you’re dispatching a roundabout or sweeping majestically through the Australian
landscape, the low-slung geometry and perfectly judged suspension making the bagger feel perversely easy-steering.

Gear changes feel a bit agricultural, but the solid thunk of the cogs sliding into place suits the tourer’s burliness, and I never missed a change up or down the ’box. The prodigious punch available at virtually any revs means gear changes are optional much of the time anyway. Even punting the mass of a small moon, those litre-sized pistons ensure the Street Glide carries its weight like Eddie Hall rather than Peter Griffin.

The Milwaukee-Eight donk is a gem, with all the superlative grunt you’d expect and then some, delivered with a healthy dose of that signature ‘outta my way’ Harley-Davidson bark. Chop open the fat twistgrip and it’s like the engine is cursing loudly at anyone with the temerity to be in your path. But again, this all happens deceptively smoothly, with excellent throttle transition and none of the filling-loosening vibration that some older Harleys exhibit.

There’s ample ground clearance when you’re barrelling along, too, with over 30 degrees of lean available before you’ll start grinding off bits of exhaust or foot controls. The forward mounted floorboards make those sorts of shenanigans feel misplaced anyway compared to the stripped-back Low Rider ST I rode early last year, though the enormous forks and four-piston calipers still haul her up nicely, despite the extra 30 kegs. The Street Glide’s demeanour is more laidback, and the broad floorboards provide a variety of foot positions for stretching out while you’re smashing out the kilometres. Combined with the excellent wind deflection and cossetting seat, you can comfortably cover serious distances, with multi-day interstate journeys eminently feasible should you need to escape in-laws or outlaws.

Much like the author, the Street Glide is partial to a drink or three, but the 22.7-litre petrol tank means you can leave range anxiety behind when you pack the saddlebags, with 300km stints easily achievable before you need to start thinking about filling up. Expensive though it may be, the Street Glide ST is a tourer par excellence. The maestros from Milwaukee have created a touring bike that stays true to Harley-Davidson’s charismatic roots while feeling thoroughly modern. It’s a motorcycle that feels like a throwback to simpler times, without compromising on performance, technology or safety.

2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide ST specs

Engine117ci Milwaukee-Eight air-cooled V-twin with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Primary driveChain, 34/46 ratio
StyleTourer, single seat with saddlebags (pillion kit available)
Seat height710mm
Luggage capacity64cm 3
Fuel/tank91 RON/22.7L
Fuel use(L/100km) 6.1L (claimed) 6.0L (on test)
Front suspension49mm dual bending valve
Rear suspensionPremium standard-height, hand-adjustable
BrakesDual floating rotors with 32mm four-piston fixed calipers (f), fixed rotor with 32mm four-piston fixed calipers (r); cornering-enhanced ABS
WheelsProdigy; 19in (f), 18in (r)
TyresDunlop Harley-Davidson Series bias blackwall (f & r)
Tyre size130/60B19 61H (f), 180/55B18 80H (r)
InfotainmentVehicle information, 165mm full-colour TFT, Boom! Box GTS sound system with dual 5.25in speakers, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth/USB connectivity, satellite navigation
SafetyAnti-lock brake system (ABS)
Electronic linked braking (ELB)
Vehicle hold control (VHC)
Tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
Cornering-enhanced anti-lock brake system (C-ABS)
Cornering-enhanced electronic linked braking (C-ELB)
Cornering-enhanced traction control system (C-TCS)
Cornering-enhanced drag-torque slip control system (C-DSCS)