Until recently baggers brought up connotations of big, heavy, slow-moving units that made much noise, took up much space and when pushed couldn’t perform. Come to think of it that also describes many bagger riders. Practical? Sure. However, never cool, never sexy. But, all shortcomings aside baggers do provide a comfy hospitable ride, have plenty of space for essentials and then some and usually come with a suite of rider comforts such as sound systems, cruise control, wind protection, heated grips and navigation, all of which typically came packaged as an ornate behemoth resemblant of a long haul Peterbilt with as many lights gaudy paint schemes and as much chrome. So what happens when an above-average rider turns a certain age, creature comforts become appealing, but you haven’t lost your taste for ass hauling and spirited rides? Usher in the era of Performance Baggers.
Much like the bobbers, cafes and even scramblers of the past, the idea of the Performace Bagger is to remove everything unnecessary, modify or replace parts that underperform and extract the most performance the platform can handle, while keeping in mind that in this case comfort is a necessity.
For years Harley-Davidson has been known for large, long-distance motorcycles with braggadocios names like Road King and pretty much owned the bagger market. In 2006 Harley introduced the Street Glide which gave the first glimpse into the modern bagger era and the platform we used for what arguably was one of the first performance baggers built for Anthony Kiedis. Fast forward a few years later when on Aug. 12, 2018, Roland Sands was named the Grand Marshal of the 78th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and presented with a brand-new Harley Davidson Road Glide FLTRX. As you can imagine, Roland has and has had A LOT of motorcycles, some more sentimental than others. This bike has much sentiment. Roland has literally grown up at the Sturgis Rally with him and his family attending almost every year since he was 15, so to be named the Grand Marshal was a huge honor, and the gift of the Road Glide is cherished. However, that meant the clock was ticking for next year’s Rally, and there was no way Roland could show up on a stock bagger.
Roland is an ex GP road racer, so performance is a component baked into the DNA of every custom build the team puts out. The Road Glide would be no exception. The first point of business was to cut the fat off the hog. The rear fender, saddlebags and side panels were all replaced with Hofmann Designs carbon fiber. The front fender is off of a $78,000 BMW HP4. The carbon fiber fender was made to fit with a couple of customer RSD fork mounts. Turn signals were deleted from the stock Road Glide fairing and the dense stock HD triple trees and bars were replaced with Kraus Moto Top triple tree, 8” Moto Isolated Kickback risers, and Moto Guage bezel, Fly Moto 1-1/8” tapered handlebars, gold of course and Black Ops RSD Traction grips mounted to the risers for optimal feel.
The internals of the engine was left relatively untouched. Performance out of the big 107 cubic inch Milwaukee 8 was increased by bolting on the RSD Black Ops Turbine Air Cleaner with a custom gold anodized nose cone and replacing the stock exhaust with a set of Vance & Hines Pro Pipes. The custom gold anodized RSD Clarity salve cylinder, RSD Clarity derby cover, and RSD Clarity cam/timing cover gave the added gold pop to the engine pulling the overall aesthetic of the bike together. With weight dispersed and HP increased, it was time to get the Road Glide to hook up, handle, and stop. Fox x RSD Signature Series fully adjustable remote reservoir rear shocks combined with custom gold anodized Trac Dynamics swing arm keeps the 18” Dunlop American Elite wrapped RSD Traction Wheel firmly planted with lots of feel, grip, and stability. Up front, the stock HD forks were upgraded with FOX cartridge kit internals. A 19” RSD Traction wheel and Performance Machine radial calipers with RSD Traction discs get the big Bagger to stop and turn. Motul oils, fluids, and lubricants were used to ensure maximum longevity out of the stock and replacement components. The stock gloss HD paint complemented by the carbon bodywork and gold accents throughout were tied together with a custom RSD vinyl Decal kit sporting the SHNC logos and the F@#K Luck badge which is not a tempt at fate but a reminder to always be prepared.