When I pulled up to my father’s house and showed him the 2013 FXDC Super Glide Custom with its 110th Anniversary trim, he immediately fell in love with it. It’s got chrome in all the right places; the gas tank, seat, and fender flow perfectly into each other, and those laced wheels tie the whole thing together. He’s a guy who bought his perfect, bone-stock Harley-Davidson years ago and has had no desire for another until he saw this bike. Now I generally don’t like the same bikes as the AARP crowd, so I knew something was terribly wrong in the universe as I, too, had fallen in love with the Super Glide Custom.
How could it be that the muscle cruiser I’d just spent hours going balls to the wall, backroads blasting on appeals to my dad? Did he suddenly become cool? Did I mysteriously get old? Wait, don’t answer that. I was intrigued by this bizarro quagmire and decided that the only way to come up with the answer was to do some more testing.
Out on the highway, the Super Glide Custom is a completely different animal. I quickly discovered its attraction to a more — let’s say relaxed — population. With an overall length of just over 92″ and a 64″ wheelbase, this bike tracks straight and true. A variety of well-thought-out features help it cruise along comfortably. The 19″ front wheel and its 100/90-19″ Michelin Scorcher 31 makes for a solid, stable dynamic and still has enough meat to carve corners. A 160/70-17″ Scorcher 31 wraps the rear wheel, which is also a nice all-around setup for touring and performance riding.
The drivetrain is where the Super Glide Custom really shines. It, along with the Street Bob, are the only two Big Twins in the lineup that use the 96″ Twin Cam. This 650-pound cruiser is one of the lightest in the lineup. I noticed the most pulling power between 2000 and 4500 rpm, but the lightweight Super Glide Custom has plenty of power to rip all the way to redline. The 27.9″ unladen seat height, which only sinks about an inch with my 170 pounds, is high enough to see what’s going on in front of you but low enough to put you in a controlled position behind the engine. This makes the Super Glide Custom feel remarkably comfortable at speeds over 75 mph. And up until then, too.
Going back to the theme of the Super Glide Custom’s dual roles, the smaller engine sucks up less gas from the 5-gallon tank than Harley’s other Big Twin models. During high rpm usage, I still managed to stay above 40 mpg, and for day to day mixed use, I massaged about 45 out of the bike. When filling up, be careful when you get to the top, as the fuel will quickly bubble over. If the pump stops at $12.84, you’re better off just leaving it there.
The six-speed Cruise Drive transmission is another huge factor in not only getting good mileage but in overall drivability. The tranny is quiet throughout the rpm range; there’s no whirring or whining since H-D added a helical-cut fifth gear a few years ago. I rarely use the 1:1 ratio sixth gear, as the acceleration below 75 mph is lacking. I’d rather run fifth gear a little high and have power to maneuver. That said, you can shift into sixth at around 65 without lugging the motor, but I recommend a downshift if you want to overtake that tractor-trailer carrying hazardous waste. Shifting is smooth, the gears grab firmly, and the clutch pull is light but provides good feedback. Neutral is easy to find every time — hot, cold, rainy, plague — which is something I can’t say about all Harleys. The Super Glide Custom is also one of the best-sounding bikes out there. The 2-into-2 chrome staggered exhaust system is pretty loud for a stock bike and has a great high-rpm scream. It actually sounds like a Harley is supposed to! The problem is that it reduces the lean angle to 29.5 degrees on the right side, which leaves you just shy of being able to fully let the bike rip around corners. The 30.9 degree left-side lean angle is just enough more to make left turns a whole lot more fun than right turns. Don’t think I’m knocking the bike though; it’s still one of the best handling Big Twins in the entire lineup. That’s what Dynas are for!
I’ve always been a fan of the 49mm Dyna front ends. Neither too light nor too heavy, it’s the handlebars that change the way the bike reacts. This is also where the Super Glide Custom becomes more of a highway cruising machine. The mini-pullback bars are a nice medium between drags and buckhorns. Minimal leverage is required to steer the Super Glide, and lane changes are as easy as a barely noticeable push. With forward controls, this would be a highway-only machine. However, the well-placed mid-controls allow the rider to sit in a more upright position for handling quick turns. At 6’1″, I had plenty of room left in my arms and legs to transition from leaning back and racking up miles to sitting upright for more spirited riding.
Our Anniversary Edition test bike came equipped with ABS, which I got to take advantage of my first time in the saddle. I had to stop short on a section of dusty highway. I took it easy on the brakes at first because it goes against everything you’ve learned to squeeze hard on a slippery road. I quickly realized the ABS could handle it and I went all out on the lever and pedal. Sure enough, you can feel it working the same as a car, and the Super Glide Custom came to a perfectly straight stop. Doing the actual work of the braking system is a fixed four-piston caliper with floating 11.80″ rotor up front and a floating two-piston caliper with 11.50″ rotor in the rear. When not in emergency situations, the Super Glide Custom can still really plant when you get on the brakes. It’s not enough to do a stoppie, but the brakes are well-suited to handle the cruiser’s 1,085-pound GVRW.
The Super Glide Custom comes in a variety of colors at different prices. Vivid Black starts at $13,199, and Big Blue Pearl or Chrome Yellow Pearl is $13,599. The beautiful two-tone combination Ember Red Sunglo/Merlot Sunglo is priced at $13,929. The special anniversary edition two-tone setup is included with the entire anniversary package that you can read about in the sidebar. The base price of the Super Glide Custom is up $199 this year. It all works out, though, as the FXDC comes stock with a two-up seat, passenger pegs, and a classy chrome strip on the battery box that cleans up the ugliest part of any Dyna.
I spent a couple of months living with the Super Glide Custom, and I’ve come to understand its attraction for riders of all ages and riding styles. It’s as enjoyable to ride whether you’re going cross-country on Interstate-80 or blasting down the Cherohala Skyway. The FXDC is one of the most versatile bikes in the Harley lineup, and, factoring in its price, it’s apparent why at least some iteration of it has been in showrooms since 1971. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s an AARP discount for new Harleys, not that I can take advantage of that for awhile. AIM
NEW BIKE REVIEW
By Tyler Greenblatt • Photos by Tucker Radecki