They’ve been called “Hot Rod Baggers”. Low profile suspension. Short windshields. Sleek lines. Stripped down, but well-equipped to handle long, overnight rides. Add the high-output engines and you’ve got two powerful, practical bikes that are really fun to ride. (Want to see for yourself? Schedule a test ride.)
One has an iconic fork-mounted batwing fairing, the other a contemporary frame-mounted fairing. Each has a large and passionate following. Before you choose, it’s essential to understand the key differences.
Different Form, Different Function
When it comes to wind protection, nothing beats the Road Glide® Special model’s shark nose fixed fairing. Redesigned for model year 2015, the current Road Glide fairing is the product of unprecedented Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) design and extensive testing both in the wind tunnel and the real world. The result is an essentially buffet-free ride.
There’s also a difference in handling. If you’ve never ridden a Road Glide model before, the fixed fairing takes some getting used to. Because it’s attached to the frame, it doesn’t move when you turn the handlebar. The Road Glide fairing is positioned farther from the rider. Combined with the Reduced Reach Handlebar, this provides more rider room and helps make it a popular choice for larger riders.
The Street Glide® Special’s batwing fairing takes what you might call a more traditional approach to wind-splitting. To many riders, it’s what defines the look of a Harley-Davidson Touring model. It’s been a fixture of H-D style since it was first introduced as an option in 1969. The smaller fork-mounted fairing, even with its standard chopped windshield, provides more than enough protection from wind and weather for most riders, while still giving a sense of being “in the wind.”
Both models also include adjustable venting to tailor the airflow to riding conditions and personal preference. The best way to experience the airflow difference, of course, is to schedule a test ride.