by Bryan Harley

2010 Harley Dyna Wide Glide

The first FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide hit the scene in 1993 and quickly became revered for its kicked-out, wide-set front fork legs pitched at a heavy rake, and mini ape-hanger style handlebars. For a production motorcycle, the Wide Glide gained reputation as a hot chopper, especially for a bike straight from the factory. Over the years, its styling remained staid, but it did see internal changes as the Harley engine evolved from the Blockhead to the TC 88 to its present iteration, the TC 96. Its gearbox has also been updated from a five to six-speed unit, but the motorcycle’s overall appearance fluctuated little.

The Wide Glide was a popular model up until its discontinuation in 2009, a move that surprised many. Before it disappeared from the Harley-Davidson production line, it was released as a 2008 105th Anniversary model with special two-tone paint and anniversary badging. But the bike still featured recognizable Wide Glide traits, like tall, 1.25-inch mini ape-hanger style handlebars, a Bobtail rear fender, and staggered shorty dual exhausts.

After a year’s absence, the Wide Glide returns as one of four new or revised models introduced in the standard 2010 production line. Immediately the Harley purists dismissed it for not looking like the previous Wide Glides. For 2010, the new Wide Glide comes with a chopped rear fender and a beefed-up back end with a 180mm rear tire, and the staggered shortys have been ditched for Tommy Gun 2-1-2 exhausts. The tall bars are lower and set wider, and the bike overall sits a little lower and its demeanor is a little darker.

The 2010 Wide Glide has the marquee wide-spaced fork, with 49mm tubes set out at a rake of 34-degrees. On the backside, dual exposed rear shocks are standard Dyna fare. But the rear suspension has been lowered which allowed the seat height to be dropped two inches to 25.5 in. and cosmetically the shocks have new ‘whisky cup’ style top caps.

One of Harley-Davidson’s recent trends has been offering bikes with blacked-out trim, and the Wide Glide is no exception. Giving the wheels the black powder coat treatment make the 40 spokes on the laced wheels stand out more. The engine is also powder coated black which accentuates the machined cylinder fins. The primary has a black, matte finish that’s offset by chrome-plated rocker and derby covers. The battery box likewise is black except for a swath of chrome trim imprinted with the Wide Glide moniker, and small details like the fender mounts, mirrors, bar clamps and control housings are also blacked out.

The 2010 Wide Glide’s 1.25-inch drag-style handlebars are a big change from the mini apes of old. The internal-wiring and lack of instrumentation keeps the look of the bars clean and uncluttered. The bars do sit on 4-inch risers, so a rider’s arms are up and at the ready. But with its lower suspension, lower seat height, and sportier handlebars, the new Wide Glide relinquishes some of its chopper-based roots.

The Twin Cam 96 engine continues to provide the punch for the 2010 Dyna Wide Glide. Rubber mounting helps keep the vibes in check, but a healthy amount is still evident in the seat and bars at idle. When the TC 96 was introduced in 2007, lighter pistons and lighter, shorter connecting rods were used in comparison to the TC 88 it replaced to reduce reciprocating mass and make for a smoother running engine. This holds true at cruising speeds on the new Wide Glide, but at low revs and while idling at stop lights, the bike has a familiar shake to it.

The Wide Glide’s TC 96 measures out at the same 3.75 X 4.38 in. bore/stroke and has the same compression ratio of 9.2:1 as the Electra Glide Ultra Classic that we dynoed recently, but its claimed 92 ft-lb of max torque is dialed in to come in 500 rpm earlier in the rev range. The initial hit isn’t going to win any drag races, but when it approaches its peak torque at 3000 rpm, there’s plenty of usable mid-range power. The rear wheel torque numbers we got from the last TC 96 we dynoed fall far short of the proclaimed 92 lb-ft though, as the Mickey Cohen Motorsports dyno registered an output of 73.11 lb-ft @ 35000 rpm on the 2009 Ultra Classic. I’d estimate the Wide Glide to be about in the same range, only tuned to come on a little earlier.

The engine’s performance does get a boost from its lively and precise throttle response and progressive clutch engagement. Clutch pull is light and rider-friendly, allowing for positive gear selection as you run up and down H-D’s proprietary 6-speed Cruise Drive Transmission. Gearing is fairly standard, with first gear wide enough to take riders up to about 45 mph, while second tops out in the 70 mph range. Fifth gear is nice and wide, and had plenty to give even up top. As I traveled across the Mojave Desert on I-15 headed to Vegas, I often found myself maximizing fifth at 85-90 mph because I liked the roll-on at high rpm more than the slower build up of sixth gear at low rpm. The one item I did notice with the Wide Glide’s gearbox is a less-clunky engagement. Fifth gear is now helical cut, and the switch from straight cut gears seems to be paying off in gears that mesh more quietly.

The other area I noticed a big change is exhaust sound. You could really hear and feel the old staggered dual shorty pipes, but the new Tommy Gun 2-1-2 exhausts offer a milder tone coming from its dual mufflers. The pipes look great, with a slotted heat shield over the rear header that adds to its sporty styling chops. But the newest version of the WG has to be the most politically-correct Glide yet, seeing how H-D has the transmission sorted out to the point where its clunky shifting is getting much smoother and its pipes are fairly quiet at speed.

Hiking a leg over the bike for the first time, it feels low to the ground. At six-feet-tall, I am able to firmly plant both feet flat on the ground. The forward-mounted foot controls allow for a comfortable stretch of my legs, and the bar placement leaves hands wide, arms up and extended. The motorcycle has a low center of gravity and the low profile looks cool, but ground clearance is limited as I scraped the lower frame rails going over speed bumps.

Its low profile, long rake, tall front tire, and 68.3-inch wheelbase do not add up to a very agile bike. The pegs scrape extremely easy, and on occasion I even ground the end of the pipes. Turn-in is slow and steering isn’t light in sharp turns. It can roll through a sweeper powerfully and planted at 80 mph, but on tight radiuses and switchbacks, turn-in is slow and the bike requires a wide arc.

Riding from L.A. to Vegas, I was worried that I’d tax the suspension over hard bumps, but dual rear shocks and the fork were better than expected. Despite being burdened with my 215 lbs and 35-lb backpack of camera equipment, laptop, power plugs, and clothes, there were only a couple of occasions where I met the end of the short travel on the less-than-smooth highway between Vegas and L.A. The front fork worked well to keep the 21-inch tall, narrow wheel planted, with only an occasional skip over harder bumps.

And while the suspension receives a passing grade, the braking power of the 2010 Wide Glide isn’t the best. I could hear a pneumatic whir every time I pulled in the lever of the front brake. The 4-piston caliper on the single front disc doesn’t have good bite, but it did save me once when the truck ahead of me came to an abrupt stop. The feel on the rear isn’t as bad, but the overall stopping power is light for a bike that weighs in dry at a claimed 647 lbs.

Instrumentation on the ’10 Wide Glide is minimal. There’s a single, 4-inch, tank-mounted analog speedo with a small digital odometer winder and a console-mounted ignition switch, but that’s it. It includes a sixth gear indicator, but the light is small and not very bright which makes it difficult to see in full sunlight. It does have a fuel gauge on top of the faux left gas cap, which is a bonus, and its self-cancelling turn signals are much appreciated. On the backside, it has small, bullet-shaped taillights that are multi-functional turn/tail/running lamps that integrate cleanly into the bike’s styling.

Traveling back from Vegas, a Santa Ana headwind with gusts up to 50 mph was a good workout for my biceps as I held on against the windblast that thumped me mid-chest and tried to push me off the bike. Coming across the Mojave Desert where there are long stretches without a gas station around made fuel management a primary concern. The 2010 Dyna Wide Glide has a tank capacity of 4.7 gallons, but plan on frequent stops on long rides. I used 19.60 gallons of gas to travel 716 miles for an average of 36.55 mpg, but the fuel gauge read about a quarter-of-a-tank after only 100 miles.

My last grievance with the new Wide Glide is the placement of its kickstand. Wearing boots with reinforced toes, it’s difficult to deploy. It’s tucked in underneath the wide primary and I usually had to look directly at it to get it kicked down.
The Wide Glide we tested had the Vivid Black with Flames color combo that looked street-savvy with the addition of the small, black sissy bar on the back. The Harley Orange flames streak down the tank while the fenders are color-matched to the black of the tank and frame. A lowered suspension, lower seat height, new pipes and new bars shift the new Glide into power cruiser territory more so than the chopper-influenced styling of the old bike. Being a Harley, the new Wide Glide is primed for customization, as 21 categories of Genuine Motor Accessories popped up when I searched.

It’s $14,499 MSRP is a much more attractive selling point than the $17,620 price tag of the 2008 105th Anniversary Wide Glide and matches up favorably to the $16,899 price point of rival Victory Motorcycles’s air-cooled V-Twin cruiser, the Vegas. It’s still more than comparable metric V-Twins, as the Vulcan 1700 Classic lists for $12,999 while Star Motorcycles’ Road Star is even more economical at $12,390.