2014 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide
Base Price: $15,799
Engine: Twin Cam 103
Torque: 98.3 lb-ft at 3,500

By Tony Markovich (@T_Marko)

Coming into 2013, I had about three blocks of experience on a motorcycle. None of it was legal. I had simply taken a few turns on my buddy's old Honda CBR1000 back in high school. A short while ago, I was a part of a Harley-Davidson 110th anniversary parade, where I rode at the front of the route, and where people in the crowd gazed at us like we were celebrities. I gave high fives to cute little kids in biker vests and to the happiest grown men I'd ever seen in my life (seriously, they were begging for high fives, it was so joyful) My parade wave was a little rusty, as I hadn't put it to use since my roller-blading little league days as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray, so I was consciously putting forth my best effort not to look like a beauty queen. The leather jacket and loudly revving motorcycle helped.

It was an absolutely incredible moment in my life. As I look back on a year that has included going on Rolls-Royce trips and getting my first track time with McLarens and Mercedes-Benzes, my experiences and time with Harley-Davidson continue to stand out. The fact that I was there in that situation, basically living the dreams of all those people in the crowd was unfathomable, life-changing. In all honesty, it wasn’t fair for me to be there. What had I done to earn that?

The immediate take-away from spending time with a Harley-Davidson family (I was fortunate to see the REAL family, thousands on top of thousands on top of thousands at their homebase, Milwaukee) is the unmatched sense of passion and community. This company was founded back in 1903, and every rider is very aware of the heritage of the brand. But at the same time, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been riding or exactly what bike you have. Everybody is just excited to meet another H-D rider.

Aside from the fact that an entire city was shut down by motorcycles (literally, they closed off roads in the middle of the city for bike parking), one of the most magnificent sights was right next to the Harley-Davidson museum. On any other weekend, you'd see plots of grass. But on this weekend, they were lots for every type of rider you could imagine to safely keep their babies. I saw completely custom bikes with bright yellow wheels bigger than your pickup truck. I saw couples who had matching bandannas holding hands as they used their bikes as stoops. I saw vests with the most obscure patches, proving that that person was more traveled than you could ever dream of being. Young, old, grizzled, pure, amateur, expert, flamboyant, reserved, drunk, sober, there was at least one of everybody. Did I mention it was overwhelmingly incredible?

I have a quick confession to make. When I was out in that field, sitting on the Dyna Wide Glide that Harley-Davidson had set me up on that week (we’ll get to that soon), a gentleman came up to me to ask my about “my” bike. I told a little white lie and went along with the idea that I did actually own it (I’m sorry, sir). Had I told him I was a journalist, the conversation would have steered toward me living in NYC and how I got the job and all that jazz. I was tired of that conversation. The kind man offered his excitement of seeing a younger person on an H-D and asked me why I’d chose the bike. I gave him the answer that I will give when I eventually do have my own: “It feels like you’re joining a new family.” And I meant that.

On my trips, I made sure to talk to as many people outside of the PR people that had invited me along, just to make sure I was getting 100 percent authenticity. Not a single person was snarky about me getting to ride for free. Nobody was judgemental of me working for a magazine that puts a naked Iggy Azalea on its cover (hip-hop isn’t exactly the first choice of the typical Harley crowd -- then again, I learned that weekend that a “typical Harley crowd” isn’t exactly typical). Nobody scoffed at the fact that I’d just had a Kawasaki Ninja 300 the other weekend and loved it. They were all just overjoyed to hear that I had started riding.

That’s really the baseline of all of this: The real riders love seeing new people embracing two wheels. It doesn’t matter who you are. Once you step into that arena, there are a ton of people there to welcome you, and when you get that first motorcycle wave, you can’t help but smile and wave back. Now, let’s get to the motorcycle I was riding:

For my time in Milwaukee, I was sitting pretty on a Dyna Wide Glide. Literally, this thing was gorgeous. The design is sleek and calls back to the original Glides from the ‘70s and ‘80s. It has the big ol' fork up front with the single boxed-in headlamp with triple clamps. It’s got the “drag-style” handlebar with the wires inside the metal, it has a ton of chrome throughout the entire bike, including on the intake cover and those gigantic twin exhaust pipes, and it has an immaculate flame paint scheme on the gas tank. The one I had, as you can see, had a sick sparkle orange red flame outline over a black backdrop.

Fact: You just feel more like a biker if your bike has flames. That’s just how it is.

Once I was done dragging my fingers over the beautiful specimen before me, I wiped up the Homer Simpson-esque drool drip off the corner of my mouth and kicked my leg over. Remember, riding was still extremely new to me, so my mind was practically exploding every time I had the chance to hop on a bike. The Wide Glide quickly put me at ease.

Cruising was incredibly enjoyable on this thing. It has a 21-inch wheel up front, adding to that custom look and it lowers onto a 17-inch wheel with a 180mm tire in the rear. You might expect something that looks so chopper-like to be a bit more raw, but it was extremely smooth and is easy on the body when you hit bumps on the road. The position of the steering angle was comfortable on the arms, and there was never any time when I was turning and thought, “man, this is kind of tough.” I’m a lanky 6-foot-2 guy and this bike weighs 650 lbs, but it was never too much to handle. It felt solid but was maneuverable. Naturally, power was never an issue either.

The Wide Glide houses an air-cooled Twin Cam 103 that has 98.3 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpms. The torque is great, giving powerful acceleration and the six-speed trans maintains pretty low rpms, so it was comfortable at high speeds. There really wasn’t a humongous amount of vibration, so my arms didn’t feel slightly numb when I was finished. On the same trips, I had the chance to try out the Fat Bob and the Seventy-Two. The Wide Glide seemed like the perfect in-between for my liking. Not too heavy or difficult to handle, super comfortable, substantial, and truly Harley-Davidson. I had a hard time giving this one back.

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