Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special 2021 Vs. Indian Chieftain Limited 2021 Vs. BMW R 18 B 2022

Comparative review of the first edition

As fall descended on most of America and the leaves turned from green to brown, we found ourselves basking in the relative timelessness of coastal California, with only the cooler mornings and scant traffic hinting at the approach of winter. . In three baggers we sailed north on Pacific Coast Highway past Malibu’s beachfront mansions, the sun burning off the morning mist; waves crashed on rocks close enough to blur the path, and two pelicans matched our speed over the ocean. Our motorcycles were designed and built for long, patient enjoyment of this type of scene, for long-distance rides and big miles.https://www.youtube.com/embed/gt1hQPZZHjM

But its appeal lies equally in style, tradition, and the rider’s emotional connection to the bike. We make the most of all this. On the iconic California coast road, with our saddlebags packed and our music on the stereos, we headed to Big Sur.

Joining me for this journey through landscape and soul are Cycle World Executive Editor   Justin Dawes and former professional race car driver and motorcycle test rider Chris “Siebs” Siebenhaar. Collectively, we’re on the 2021 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special, the 2021 Indian Chieftain Limited, and the 2022 BMW R 18 B First Edition. All of these bikes walk the line between classic bagger style and feel and performance and technology. modern. Each translates the ideal of the bagger and represents the history of its manufacturer, in its own way. Each engine is engineered to provide plenty of immediate torque from idle and maintain low-rev road speeds while acting as the motorcycle’s visual and spiritual heart.

engine character

The engine on the Street Glide below me was the Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight 114. By design, this engine rumbles and shakes at idle as it is rubber mounted to the frame, but smooths out completely when idle. March. This engine has progressed and improved through decades of refinement and the addition of a counterweight, yet retains the signature sound that has resonated with American motorcycling for nearly a century. The Street Glide has no riding modes, just a throttle and your hand on it, and that’s all this engine needs. Engaging the M-8 gives the most direct analog feel in this group, but perhaps surprisingly, it’s also the smoothest and easiest to control. Throttle level and clutch feel, the way engine vibrations go through it; everything that makes you feel like an extension of the bike makes riding the HD a joy. The machine creates a connection between rider and bike that has become a trademark of the bagger riding experience. Both BMW and Indian replicate this in their own way with varying levels of success.

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Dawes followed up with the Chieftain Limited, which carries Indian’s Thunder Stroke 116, an engine with cooling fins on the cylinder heads and short parallel pushrod tubes, a design meant to resemble the flathead engines that powered the first Chief models. The 49-degree V-twin is solidly mounted to the frame, so it doesn’t wobble like the HDs. Not that it’s bland by any means, bursting to life with an unmistakably American combustion rumble before quickly mellowing out. But much of the 116’s less tactile identity lies in its exhaust note, which is characteristic of its narrow-angled vee; the engine’s idle gallop gives way to a loud click when the throttle is twisted and turns into a satisfying growl as the revs increase. Of the three drive modes, Standard was the best, matching driver expectations for throttle movement and engine response. Tour mode slows response to throttle input, while Sport mode’s abrupt initial response makes it hard to be smooth. The 116 is strong and torquey, with the highest output of the bunch, making the Chieftain extremely fun to drive. Still, clutch and throttle feel leave a lot to be desired. matching the driver’s expectations of throttle movement and engine response. Tour mode slows response to throttle input, while Sport mode’s abrupt initial response makes it hard to be smooth. The 116 is strong and torquey, with the highest output of the bunch, making the Chieftain extremely fun to drive. Still, clutch and throttle feel leave a lot to be desired. matching the driver’s expectations of throttle movement and engine response. Tour mode slows response to throttle input, while Sport mode’s abrupt initial response makes it hard to be smooth. The 116 is strong and torquey, with the highest output of the bunch, making the Chieftain extremely fun to drive. Still, clutch and throttle feel leave a lot to be desired.

Siebs drove the R 18 B, the most obvious of the bunch, with its huge horizontally opposed twin cylinders hanging in the wind, just as the first BMW motorcycle engine did in 1923. As a newcomer, BMW’s Big Boxer is somehow trying to reproduce the character of an American Big Twin while retaining its own. Pressing the starter button turns the bike hard to one side and then gently to the other; that’s a huge flywheel spinning to life and two coffee can-sized pistons slamming into each other. These deep engine pulses at idle cause a genre-necessary engine itch; you can feel big parts doing their thing. But the mating call of the North American bagger, accelerating from idle to hear and feel the bike, you encounter the same torque effect that you experience when starting. Of the BMW’s three driving modes, Roll was good for a leisurely ride and Rain was not used in good weather; so it was Rock, the more aggressive, that was our preference for much of the trip. The boxer is smooth and powerful in the low end of the rev range,

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Why? Because there is a moment of brilliant purity around 75 mph when the boxer spins at 2600 rpm. It’s soft, it’s loud, the sound is orchestral. But take it above 2,800 rpm and it’s a whole different animal. He turned on a buzz that made my hands and butt itch like I’d been frozen. Throttle past 3500 and it smooths out again, or keep it in the lower range, which seems to be his favorite zone, but that mid area is rough and I often focus too much on avoiding it. Riders of these bikes tend to seek a genuine experience, a moment of zen and flow, and this effect affects a part of the rev range near peak torque and approaching peak power, where riders often find this moment. BMW says the unbalanced vibration and twisting effect of the flywheel were designed as nostalgic elements of the engine’s character. but all testers agreed that we would like this bike a lot better if it didn’t have these “features.” The counterweights on both the rubber-mounted Milwaukee-Eight and solid-mount Thunder Stroke 116 are tuned to deliver a degree and quality of vibration intended to engage the rider; perhaps this would broaden the appeal of BMW’s flat-twin. The counterweights on both the rubber-mounted Milwaukee-Eight and solid-mount Thunder Stroke 116 are tuned to deliver a degree and quality of vibration intended to engage the rider; perhaps this would broaden the appeal of BMW’s flat-twin. The counterweights on both the rubber-mounted Milwaukee-Eight and solid-mount Thunder Stroke 116 are tuned to deliver a degree and quality of vibration intended to engage the rider; perhaps this would broaden the appeal of BMW’s flat-twin.

Music and Navigation

We put the ocean on our left and continued our drive along PCH until we passed Point Mugu, where California Highway 1 joins US-101, and traffic-free stretches of smooth, straight road gave us the opportunity of viewing each bike’s onboard music and navigation systems Both the Street Glide and Chieftain come equipped with Apple CarPlay, and the HD comes with Android Auto, giving you a high level of phone control over your bike and headphones while driving. Pairing your phone with Bluetooth takes just a couple of steps, no app required, and sending a playlist from your phone through the bikes speakers displays song information on the screen.

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The system of the R 18 B is, in stark contrast, a pain. Riders must run the BMW Motorrad app on their phones to play their own music or use navigation. In our tests, we had to have the app open before turning on the bike; even then, the BMW infotainment didn’t always connect. The music had to be selected on the rider’s device or use the multi-controller to select songs in iTunes only. It’s not possible to interact on the 10.25-inch non-touch screen, and in any case, the music stopped after each song. It’s intricate and unrefined, a shame as BMW’s upgraded Marshall speakers were clearly the best sounding of the bunch. All menu navigation is done with the left multi-controller and a two-way switch nearby. It’s nice for riders not to have to move their hands off the handlebars for this,

“Of course, the BMW just beat the American cruisers in the technology department,” Dawes said. “Satellite radio, adaptive cruise, heated seats and grips, it’s loaded. Yes, it is a first edition with all the advantages, but it is good to have it all”.

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Fit and finish

The sun sank below the horizon as we approached the first day’s destination of Cayucos, a coastal town of 2,600 people 20 miles northwest of San Luis Obispo. We parked the bikes at the souvenir and snack shops on the main street, near the beach and in front of the pier. It is peaceful and quiet, as you would expect a seaside town to be in winter. After a full day of looking past the rider booths, it was time to step back and look at each bike as a whole.

Looking at the two-tone Street Glide Special with its black and chrome finishes, it’s clear why Harley-Davidson’s high level of fit and finish has been the bagger standard for decades. From paint to chrome to “wire hygiene”, from design to engineering to manufacturing, HD’s long history and large production numbers have given it the ability to maintain high standards within the company and require them from your suppliers. The Street Glide also benefits from being the original form factor that the other two models here were based on. It has defined the bagger ideal long before BMW or Indian tried to do it. It’s the original, and for many buyers, its authenticity is a big part of the appeal.

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As high as HD has set the standard, newcomer BMW has managed to raise the bar for fit and finish even higher. Each and every part of the R 18 B is put together in a way that enhances the overall visual presentation. Cables, wiring and hoses have been carefully stored. The white stripes included in the First Edition are clean and crisp. Chrome looks like a pond you could jump a stone into. It’s a well-designed and well-executed motorcycle, but very few parts other than the engine evoke “BMW.” While the B is based on the 2021 R 18, which drew on the 1936 R5 as its main inspiration, the new bike’s larger gas tank, adjusted stance, new fairing and saddlebags completely transform the silhouette. Even so, there is an unsettling tension around European stylistic origins that have spilled over into an American aesthetic; it’s hard to perceive the package as authentic, no matter how well it’s executed.

Having been on the market since 2014, the Chieftain has earned its place in the bagger segment and truly feels like its own motorcycle and not a Harley-Davidson copy. The Limited trim level adds chrome trim, road bars, more chipped paint, and a larger engine, but it still features some of the same fit and finish issues we’ve seen on previous Indian bikes. Orange-peel paint on the saddlebags, visible stitching on the die-cast plastic inner fairing, and perhaps the worst offender, the tank badge. As it prominently displays the brand name, the tank badge should be a source of pride; unfortunately, the outline of the badge does not match that of the tank and the adhesive is visible through the uneven gaps. Even with these issues, excellent engine performance and (relative) chassis oscillation make the Chieftain feel like the workhorse of the bunch. It may not be as polished on the outside, but it can get the job done.

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After looking at these three versions of the American bagger and our ride in its natural environment (parked near a restaurant), we walked across the street to a Café Della Via, a small Italian restaurant. We continued a lively dialogue about bikes while eating the best eggplant parmesan of our lives, arguing and making our points between bites. We could have indulged ourselves during dinner, but the motorcycles were doing their job: taking us to great places, in this case, a charming restaurant in a city where most of the diners are passing through.

The next morning we got up early and had coffee while we loaded up the bikes. When you’re used to 70 degrees, 45 degrees feels terribly cold, especially at speed. The heated grips and accessory heated seat of the R 18 B were a source of envy for the other drivers; there are plenty of heated options available for the other models, but the B is the only one with standard heated grips.

Handling, Suspension and Brakes

Leaving Cayucos is not like leaving Los Angeles, since the coast is close and there is no traffic that prevents you from getting there. In just a couple of minutes we were driving along a remote stretch of highway without a care in the world. We passed the famous estate of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, saw hundreds of elephant seals lining San Simeón beach, and gazed at the old lighthouse at Piedras Blancas Point. As we climbed higher, the curves in the road became narrower and the landscape changed from rocks and sand to forested cliffs. These were the roads we had been waiting for.

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We streamed into the first shift as linebackers who had been practicing ballet in the off-season. The Street Glide required bar effort to initiate a turn and some inside bar pressure to keep it on the intended line, but at 781 pounds without fuel, it felt the most stable and consistent of the bunch. The Chieftain is nimble and requires little effort, as she initiates turns with ease and quickly changes direction, masking her 789-pound dry weight as we weaved left and right along the cliff. Going into higher gears, the Indian showed some shortcomings. “When you try to match the potential of the engine with the agility of the chassis, the bike starts to wobble and move,” Siebs said. “I think a little more damping control would make this bike work really well.” At 861 dry pounds, the R 18 B is the heaviest here by a wide margin, but that was only really apparent at parking speeds. It didn’t feel as firm as the Harley, but it took a little less effort to initiate a turn, and it wasn’t as nimble as the Indian, but it was more stable at higher speeds.

The front suspension on each machine was very similar, with the HD’s dual-flex valve fork being the best of the bunch. The rear suspension felt similar from bike to bike through low-speed damping, even though the Harley-Davidson had only 2.15 inches of travel, compared to 4.5 and 4.7 inches on the Harley-Davidson. Indian and BMW respectively, but the HD felt a bit harsher in the squares. bumps with edges. To adjust the rear suspension preload, the Harley-Davidson has a quick-adjust knob between the saddlebag and the fender, the Indian uses a Schrader valve behind the side cover, and the R 18 B uses ride height and load sensors. With a servo motor to detect the load and adjust automatically.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-9848850240701607&output=html&h=280&adk=995001374&adf=408206707&pi=t.aa~a.699298262~i.66~rp.4&w=720&fwrn=4&fwrnh=100&lmt=1650802655&num_ads=1&rafmt=1&armr=3&sem=mc&pwprc=2046162283&psa=1&ad_type=text_image&format=720×280&url=https%3A%2F%2Fcubzauto.com%2F%3Fp%3D1068%26preview%3Dtrue&fwr=0&pra=3&rh=180&rw=720&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&wgl=1&fa=27&adsid=ChAI8OqTkwYQj4Tjw4q2k-wuEjkAp0fm6R9-LYabpn2idMLWfvcNofAOAtDD-gmCIftk8JQrQ4OA1pqA90QiZtsr4o_a6JkxbIiBfm0&uach=WyJXaW5kb3dzIiwiMTAuMC4wIiwieDg2IiwiIiwiMTAwLjAuNDg5Ni4xMjciLFtdLG51bGwsbnVsbCwiNjQiLFtbIiBOb3QgQTtCcmFuZCIsIjk5LjAuMC4wIl0sWyJDaHJvbWl1bSIsIjEwMC4wLjQ4OTYuMTI3Il0sWyJHb29nbGUgQ2hyb21lIiwiMTAwLjAuNDg5Ni4xMjciXV0sZmFsc2Vd&tt_state=W3siaXNzdWVyT3JpZ2luIjoiaHR0cHM6Ly9wYWdlYWQyLmdvb2dsZXN5bmRpY2F0aW9uLmNvbSIsInN0YXRlIjoyOSwiaGFzUmVkZW1wdGlvblJlY29yZCI6dHJ1ZX1d&dt=1650802643807&bpp=5&bdt=1658&idt=5&shv=r20220420&mjsv=m202204210101&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D2e127d4f4f714cb9-22aebce166d20027%3AT%3D1650784990%3ART%3D1650784990%3AS%3DALNI_MbwlAyLFjMG-33b1lNLNolpm3MfbA&prev_fmts=0x0%2C720x180%2C720x280%2C250x600&nras=2&correlator=3433474632008&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=305898595.1650784990&ga_sid=1650802643&ga_hid=160292867&ga_fc=1&u_tz=330&u_his=1&u_h=768&u_w=1366&u_ah=728&u_aw=1366&u_cd=24&u_sd=1&dmc=4&adx=150&ady=6520&biw=1349&bih=657&scr_x=0&scr_y=3900&eid=44759875%2C44759926%2C44759837%2C31067235%2C31065787%2C21067496&oid=2&pvsid=250649993285480&pem=152&tmod=2016005082&uas=0&nvt=1&ref=https%3A%2F%2Fcubzauto.com%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending%26post_type%3Dpost&eae=0&fc=1408&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C1366%2C0%2C1366%2C728%2C1366%2C657&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7Cs%7C&abl=NS&fu=128&bc=31&jar=2022-04-24-11&ifi=6&uci=a!6&btvi=2&fsb=1&xpc=gSO29sAMlJ&p=https%3A//cubzauto.com&dtd=11740

By design, brakes of this genre require a bit more effort than smaller, sportier machines; it’s almost as if every bike’s beefy full-hand levers demand it. The Street Glide Special comes standard with Reflex Linked Braking and Brembo brakes, but our tester also had Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements installed, which include Electronically Linked Brakes, Cornering ABS, Cornering Traction Control, drag torque slip, vehicle grade hold, and tire pressure monitoring. Unfortunately, our test unit had blemishes or warping on the front disc that caused the lever to pulsate when applied. We haven’t found this in many previous Street Glide test miles and the current-gen HD brakes have been smooth and reliable, but this completely eliminated any hope of front brake feel on our ride. Due to this problem,

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The Chieftain Limited had decent front brake feel and was the only model without linked braking as a standard feature. It’s also the only bike here without traction control. ABS also showed some shortcomings; the rear tire screeched loudly as the brakes were applied hard. From 60 mph, the Limited was able to stop in 149.8 feet. “The Indian’s brakes are fine, but they’re a little stiff when you hit the lever,” Dawes said. “Like you could keep squeezing it, but you’re going to slow down at the same rate no matter what you do.”

The BMW let you know when the caliper started to grab the disc and gave you a high level of control through more modulation using just the front lever. Trying to balance the front and rear brakes through more aggressive driving, we found that the full integral ABS system provided too much intervention. How is that? Applying the rear brake while already using the front brake lever would cause the front brake lever to pull, forcing the rider to adjust at a critical moment. “It’s not a big deal unless you’re riding tight, twisty turns with hundred-foot ledges all around,” Siebs said. “In which case, the slight lack of control never left my mind.” On paper, the technology looks amazing, adjusting the force between the front and rear brakes according to the wheel load, but in the application it feels like it’s fighting you a bit. In the instrumented tests,

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Along with a handful of familiar tech, the B brings something we’ve never seen before in the bagger segment: adaptive cruise control. Operating the system doesn’t feel any different than operating traditional cruise control, but it eliminates the need to adjust with traffic. You can even change gear while ACC is activated. Driving in staggered formation, the radar missed the bike in front of us on the other side of the lane, so it seems more designed to follow four-wheel traffic. This feature is included in the Premium Package along with Reverse Assist and Hill Start, which adds $2,800 to the MSRP of the B.

The smell of mature redwoods in the salty, foggy air indicated that we were approaching Big Sur. This area was once a haven for artists and outsiders, home to famous authors such as Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson. We stopped for lunch at a roadside cafe; outside in the parking lot, hippies were selling salvia and local stones from a van parked next to a Tesla. Like motorcycling in the United States, Big Sur has moved up a category. But the counterculture vibe is still there if you look for it.

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After crossing the Bixby Bridge, the iconic span stretching along a seaside cliff that has been seen in movies, postcards and screen savers, we stopped at the North End to enjoy the kind of luxury that the panniers: still hot coffee in a thermos. I had been driving the R 18 B at the time, so I opened the phone compartment to take a couple of photos of our bikes with the bridge and coastline in the background. To my surprise, my camera’s autofocus and stabilization functions had broken down. Apple says this may be due to strong vibration from motorcycle engines, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the B dropped these components, but we hope that a dedicated compartment for the phone on a motorcycle will insulate said phone from harm. This is a design flaw on BMW’s part.


A couple of full days in the saddle gives the rider a lot of insight into the relative ergonomic merits of a motorcycle. Dawes, at 5-foot-10, felt the Indian required too much stretch to get to the bars. He also had very strong feelings about the shape of the hard-backed seat, which dug into his lower back.

“The floorboards are huge and give you the most room to move your feet and legs on a long ride,” Dawes said, “but the seat locks you into a position with an awkward step in the rear of the seating area. of the driver”.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-9848850240701607&output=html&h=280&adk=995001374&adf=3782551179&pi=t.aa~a.699298262~i.90~rp.4&w=720&fwrn=4&fwrnh=100&lmt=1650802659&num_ads=1&rafmt=1&armr=3&sem=mc&pwprc=2046162283&psa=1&ad_type=text_image&format=720×280&url=https%3A%2F%2Fcubzauto.com%2F%3Fp%3D1068%26preview%3Dtrue&fwr=0&pra=3&rh=180&rw=720&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&wgl=1&fa=27&adsid=ChAI8OqTkwYQj4Tjw4q2k-wuEjkAp0fm6R9-LYabpn2idMLWfvcNofAOAtDD-gmCIftk8JQrQ4OA1pqA90QiZtsr4o_a6JkxbIiBfm0&uach=WyJXaW5kb3dzIiwiMTAuMC4wIiwieDg2IiwiIiwiMTAwLjAuNDg5Ni4xMjciLFtdLG51bGwsbnVsbCwiNjQiLFtbIiBOb3QgQTtCcmFuZCIsIjk5LjAuMC4wIl0sWyJDaHJvbWl1bSIsIjEwMC4wLjQ4OTYuMTI3Il0sWyJHb29nbGUgQ2hyb21lIiwiMTAwLjAuNDg5Ni4xMjciXV0sZmFsc2Vd&tt_state=W3siaXNzdWVyT3JpZ2luIjoiaHR0cHM6Ly9wYWdlYWQyLmdvb2dsZXN5bmRpY2F0aW9uLmNvbSIsInN0YXRlIjoyOSwiaGFzUmVkZW1wdGlvblJlY29yZCI6dHJ1ZX1d&dt=1650802643821&bpp=3&bdt=1672&idt=3&shv=r20220420&mjsv=m202204210101&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D2e127d4f4f714cb9-22aebce166d20027%3AT%3D1650784990%3ART%3D1650784990%3AS%3DALNI_MbwlAyLFjMG-33b1lNLNolpm3MfbA&prev_fmts=0x0%2C720x180%2C720x280%2C250x600%2C720x280&nras=3&correlator=3433474632008&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=305898595.1650784990&ga_sid=1650802643&ga_hid=160292867&ga_fc=1&u_tz=330&u_his=1&u_h=768&u_w=1366&u_ah=728&u_aw=1366&u_cd=24&u_sd=1&dmc=4&adx=150&ady=8210&biw=1349&bih=657&scr_x=0&scr_y=5600&eid=44759875%2C44759926%2C44759837%2C31067235%2C31065787%2C21067496&oid=2&pvsid=250649993285480&pem=152&tmod=2016005082&uas=0&nvt=1&ref=https%3A%2F%2Fcubzauto.com%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending%26post_type%3Dpost&eae=0&fc=1408&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C1366%2C0%2C1366%2C728%2C1366%2C657&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7Cs%7C&abl=NS&fu=128&bc=31&jar=2022-04-24-11&ifi=7&uci=a!7&btvi=3&fsb=1&xpc=8iRcCDRp9e&p=https%3A//cubzauto.com&dtd=16031

At 6-foot-4, I thought the Chieftain’s bars were the most comfortable of the bunch, and since I have narrower hips and torso, the sag of the seat never bothered me. The only electronically adjustable windshield of the group also gave the Chieftain the best wind management.

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The B’s handlebars were comfortable for all testers. But the floorboards, which are as far forward as they can get relative to the big cylinder heads, aren’t far enough forward; cyclists can’t stretch as far as they’d like. This same restriction doesn’t leave many aftermarket options either.

The seats in the HD and BMW are well shaped and plush, comfortable for long miles without cramping or discomfort. Again, the Harley-Davidson provided the most comprehensive ergonomics with no complaints from testers.

Tourism and after-sales services

After snapping a few photos over the bridge, we packed up the bikes to head home, looking at each one one last time before putting Big Sur in the rearview mirrors. While we covered over a thousand miles on this three-day test drive, there are aspects of long-term ownership that are more important to a buyer’s decision than to a single-trip passenger. None of us were wearing a heated suit or using wired accessories, but every bike here is made to accommodate that technology. The Street Glide Special provides 600 watts of charging power, the R 18 B 660 watts and the Chieftain 710 watts. In the dash, the Harley has a 12-volt lighter-style plug and the Indian an SAE connector; each also has a USB connection in the phone compartment.

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And possibly most important of all is the aftermarket. Many parts designed for the Street Glide Special will not only fit other newer HD touring machines, but also older Harley models; With the sheer number of HD motorcycles being sold in the US, this means the customization options are almost limitless. Offerings for Indian’s Chieftain have come a long way in the eight years it’s been available, with multiple options for suspension parts, intake, exhaust, even big-bore cams, tuners and kits. But it is almost impossible to catch up with HD in this regard.

BMW has a tendency to list a base price for posting purposes and then cram in all the necessary accessories as add-ons, which is exactly what it did with the R 18 B here. Pinstripes, lots of chrome covers, Marshall speakers, adaptive cruise control, reverse assist, heated seat, and many more features may be optional, but the bike wouldn’t feel as luxurious or complete without them. So even though the base bike is listed at $21,945, any B you’re likely to see will already be configured with equipment and tech packages that push it over the $28,000 mark. Ours tested at $28,870. Aside from these BMW-made accessories, options for R 18 B-specific parts are slim, but some components like turrets, handlebars and some handlebar accessories share a size with most American motorcycles. As strange as it seems,

The best motorcycle and the best bagger

The return trip included fewer stops and less frequent communication. Thoughts of home mixed with travel notes as we made our final evaluations. We look for travel comfort in a bagger, but also agility for everyday life. We want it to be stylish with the highest quality components, worth showing off, and easy to customize. We’ve come to expect certain driver comforts like navigation and audio, as well as driver aids like ABS and traction control. There’s an inherent sense of American style and heritage to these bikes, as if just riding this machine makes you part of the same lineage as the bagger riders decades before you. We find all of these things on every bike to varying degrees,

Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special 2021 vs. Indian Chieftain Limited 2021 vs. BMW R18B 2022 57

Ever since Harley-Davidson made hard cases and a factory batwing fairing in 1969, every brand that tried to compete in the American touring segment had to do so against The Motor Company. From the inception of Street Glide in 2006 through 2020, HD sold more than 3.8 million motorcycles worldwide. For many of those years, Harleys made up more than half of all new motorcycles over 600cc registered in the US. Developed from a consistent and visible line, the Street Glide has improved year after year without ever losing its authenticity or character. The overall shape of the Special remains relatively unchanged from the early batwing models of decades past, but the performance,

The BMW R 18 B has a beautiful design. It looks like the most luxurious, its fit and finish is exemplary, and the adaptive cruise control is a very welcome addition. But much of the user interface and infotainment could use some improvement. These last points are annoying, but the defining element of the BMW experience is vibration. There is simply too much. It seemed that every time we found a moment of flow, taking in the scenery, driving without conscious effort or paying attention to any action, we entered that jarring part of the rev range and snapped back to reality. Like the previous R 18, the B leans on everything that defines this genre, sometimes even to the detriment of it. It seems unnecessarily heavy, even for a bagger, and the vibrational “character” designed into the engine can be annoying and inorganic rather than charming or nostalgic; and that was a deal breaker for the testers. As a newcomer, the B gives Harley and Indian a few things to seriously consider. However, it has issues that need to be resolved before it can be considered a real competitor.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-9848850240701607&output=html&h=280&adk=995001374&adf=842267156&pi=t.aa~a.699298262~i.118~rp.4&w=720&fwrn=4&fwrnh=100&lmt=1650802662&num_ads=1&rafmt=1&armr=3&sem=mc&pwprc=2046162283&psa=1&ad_type=text_image&format=720×280&url=https%3A%2F%2Fcubzauto.com%2F%3Fp%3D1068%26preview%3Dtrue&fwr=0&pra=3&rh=180&rw=720&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&wgl=1&fa=27&adsid=ChAI8OqTkwYQj4Tjw4q2k-wuEjkAp0fm6R9-LYabpn2idMLWfvcNofAOAtDD-gmCIftk8JQrQ4OA1pqA90QiZtsr4o_a6JkxbIiBfm0&uach=WyJXaW5kb3dzIiwiMTAuMC4wIiwieDg2IiwiIiwiMTAwLjAuNDg5Ni4xMjciLFtdLG51bGwsbnVsbCwiNjQiLFtbIiBOb3QgQTtCcmFuZCIsIjk5LjAuMC4wIl0sWyJDaHJvbWl1bSIsIjEwMC4wLjQ4OTYuMTI3Il0sWyJHb29nbGUgQ2hyb21lIiwiMTAwLjAuNDg5Ni4xMjciXV0sZmFsc2Vd&tt_state=W3siaXNzdWVyT3JpZ2luIjoiaHR0cHM6Ly9wYWdlYWQyLmdvb2dsZXN5bmRpY2F0aW9uLmNvbSIsInN0YXRlIjoyOSwiaGFzUmVkZW1wdGlvblJlY29yZCI6dHJ1ZX1d&dt=1650802643835&bpp=6&bdt=1686&idt=7&shv=r20220420&mjsv=m202204210101&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D2e127d4f4f714cb9-22aebce166d20027%3AT%3D1650784990%3ART%3D1650784990%3AS%3DALNI_MbwlAyLFjMG-33b1lNLNolpm3MfbA&prev_fmts=0x0%2C720x180%2C720x280%2C250x600%2C720x280%2C720x280&nras=4&correlator=3433474632008&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=305898595.1650784990&ga_sid=1650802643&ga_hid=160292867&ga_fc=1&u_tz=330&u_his=1&u_h=768&u_w=1366&u_ah=728&u_aw=1366&u_cd=24&u_sd=1&dmc=4&adx=150&ady=10189&biw=1349&bih=657&scr_x=0&scr_y=7600&eid=44759875%2C44759926%2C44759837%2C31067235%2C31065787%2C21067496&oid=2&pvsid=250649993285480&pem=152&tmod=2016005082&uas=0&nvt=1&ref=https%3A%2F%2Fcubzauto.com%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php%3Fpost_status%3Dpending%26post_type%3Dpost&eae=0&fc=1408&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C1366%2C0%2C1366%2C728%2C1366%2C657&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7Cs%7C&abl=NS&fu=128&bc=31&jar=2022-04-24-11&ifi=8&uci=a!8&btvi=4&fsb=1&xpc=i78HF3Ruen&p=https%3A//cubzauto.com&dtd=18716

Indian’s Chieftain Limited is wonderful to drive. It handles very well at low to medium speeds, and the Thunder Stroke 116 makes more power lower down than the other bikes. It produces the most torque and sounds great doing it. Its seating, suspension damping, and ABS could use some improvement, but the Limited’s real shortcoming is fit and finish. Baggers are, among other things, gems that are meant to be shown off, and Indian has a bit of a gap to close if it wants to be competitive with BMW and Harley in this regard.

The Street Glide Special is the most refined and balanced of the bunch. From flat, straight highways to winding mountain roads and back into city traffic, it felt like the most planted with the most consistent handling. The throttle and clutch feel is so good you almost feel like they’re an extension of your body. It has the technology and rider aids we want without over-intervention or over-complication. The individual components feel high-quality, permanent, and are precisely assembled. Excellent performance in every area tested makes the Street Glide Special the best bike in this comparison. But it’s the high level of styling, the character of the finely tuned engine and the sheer joy of using it that makes it the ultimate bagger.


2021 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special2021 indian chief limited2022 BMW R 18 B First Edition
MSRP:$29,994 (as tested)$27,999 (as tested)$28,870 (as tested)
Motor:Air/oil-cooled 45-degree V-twin, pushrod actuated; 4 valves/cyl.Air-cooled, 49 degrees, pushrod actuated; 2 valves/cyl.OHV, air/oil-cooled 2-cylinder boxer; 4 valves/cyl.
Bore x stroke:102.0×114.0mm103.2 x 113.0mm107.1 x 100.0mm
Compression index:10.5:111.0:19.6:1
Transmission/Final Drive:6 speeds/belt6 speeds/belt6 speeds/exposed axle
Horsepower measured  at Cycle World:83.03 horsepower at 4890 rpm84.78 horsepower at 4240 rpm81.51 horsepower at 4560 rpm
Torque measured  in the cycle world:113.32 pound-feet at 2,500 rpm116.23 pound-feet at 2730 rpm113.32 pound-feet at 2,860 rpm
Fuel system:Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)Closed loop fuel injection with 54mm throttle bodyElectronic intake manifold fuel injection
Clutch:Wet, 10 plates, assistance and sliding; mechanically actuatedWet, multi-plate, assistedDry, single plate; hydraulic activation
Engine/Ignition Management:Throttle-by-wire, electronicThrottle-by-wire, electronicBMS-O
Framework:Tubular steel frame with 2-piece stamped and welded backbone; cast and forged jointscast aluminumDouble loop steel tube frame
Front suspension:49mm Showa Double Flex Valve; 4.6 in. travel46mm telescopic fork; 4.7 in. travel49mm telescopic fork; 4.7 in. travel
rear suspension:Hand-adjustable low premium shocks; 2.15 in. travelSingle shock absorber with air adjustment; 4.5 in. travelsteel swingarm with center shock absorber, automatic preload adjustment with load and ride height sensors; 4.7 in. travel
front brake:4-piston calipers, dual 300mm floating discs with ABS4-piston calipers, dual 300mm floating discs with ABS4-piston calipers, dual 300mm discs with full integral ABS
Back brake:4-piston caliper, 300mm floating disc with ABS4-piston caliper, 300mm floating disc with ABS4-piston caliper, 300mm rotors with full integral ABS
Wheels, front/rear:Cast Aluminum; 19 inches/18 inchesCast Aluminum; 19 x 3.5 inches / 16 x 5.0 inchesAlloy casting; 19 x 3.5 inches / 16 x 5.0 inches
Tires, Front/Rear:Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series D408F/D407T; 130/60B-19 / 180/55B-18Metzeler Cruisetec; 130/60B-19 / 180/60R-16Bridgestone Battlecruise H50; 120/70B-19 / 180/65B-16
Rake/Trail:26.0°/6.8 in.25.0°/5.9 in.27.3°/7.2 in.
Distance between axis:64.0 inches65.7 inches66.7 inches
Floor Clarity:4.9 inches5.1 inchesN/A
Seat height:26.1 inches25.6 inches28.4 inches
Fuel capacity:6.0 gallons5.5 gallons6.3 gallons
Dry weight measured  at Cycle World:781 pounds789 pounds861 pounds

Performance measured  CW

2021 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special2021 indian chief limited2022 BMW R 18 B First Edition
quarter mile13.51 sec. @ 99.03mph13.50 sec. @ 96.91mph13.62 sec. @ 97.99mph
0–301.84 sec.1.83 sec.1.87 sec
0–604.62 sec.4.58 sec4.65 sec.
0–10013.97 sec.14.69 sec.14.62 sec.
Rolling top gear, 40 to 60 mph4.32 sec4.32 sec4.81 sec.
Rolling top gear, 60 to 80 mph4.95 sec4.95 sec5.68 sec
Braking, 30–036.2 feet*39.4 feet39.86 feet
Braking, 60–0131.6 feet*149.8 feet163.2 feet

*Since our test model had a warped rotor, braking performance numbers are from a 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special with identical weight and equipment.

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