Although Harley-Davidson is on a mission to make the Twin Cam 103 the de facto standard among its Dyna
, Softail, and Touring lines, the Twin Cam 96 is not quite ready to fade into memory. Still fitted to the latest Super Glide Custom, the smaller motor manages to justify its existence nicely.
With mini pullback bars, mid-mount foot controls, a moderate 29 degrees of rake, and sensible Michelin Scorcher rubber, the Super Glide Custom may just be the sportiest of the non-Sportster Harleys.
In many ways it feels like the natural final destination for a rider who started on an Iron 883, progressed to a Nightster 1200, and finally feels ready to step up to a big-engine sport cruiser.
The Super Glide Custom stakes itself out as a canyon carver with undeniable Harley charisma. Along with the compact ergonomics that encourage a more aggressive riding style, there is quite a bit of cornering clearance before the peg feelers touch down. The balanced combination of 19-inch front (not the 21 you might expect on a “Custom,” and 160mm 17-inch rear (not too wide) means the Super Glide turns fairly easily, yet still has a confidence-inspiring footprint.
I have been a strong supporter of the 103 in the Dyna Switchback and Softail Fat Boy Lo, yet the 96 continues to earn its keep on the Super Glide Custom. Using it to hustle through the corners, the slightly softer power delivery suits the handling capabilities of the bike, and all the parts fit together far better than one might reasonably expect.
As a city cruiser, the rubber-mounted Twin Cam 96 has its limitations. Moving along casually at lower rpm, the vibration can be wearing after a while, and you learn to shift into neutral and keep your hands off the grips at red lights. Riders who see urban cruising as an all-day experience will want to consider a Harley with a balanced motor.
It may have a five-gallon tank, but the Super Glide Custom is an unlikely touring bike in stock condition. The rubber-mounted motor is smooth at freeway speeds, though the compact ergonomics aren’t especially suited to that purpose.
With minimalist styling – small fenders, wire wheels, exposed aluminum triple clamps – the Harley-Davidson Super Glide Custom ingratiates itself to riders with a sporting glimpse in their eyes, yet who still want the chrome and attitude to cruise on any boulevard they choose.