Harley Davidson Motorcycles

Explore the Top Harley Davidson Baggers for 2023

Explore the Top Harley Davidson Baggers for 2023

Harley Davidson is one of the most popular motorcycle brands in the world known for its cruisers and bagger motorcycles. Both the motorcycle segments offered by Harley Davidson are tailored for riding comfort, stability, adventure, and recreation. In recent years, Harley Davidson has also added an adventure touring motorcycle, the Pan American 1250 to its lineup. This new offering represents Harley’s focus on manufacturing travel-friendly two-wheelers.

Harley Davidson pioneered the bagger-style motorcycle under the Grand American Touring category. The first bagger was introduced in 1965 and after its success, Harley continues to dominate the bagger market worldwide to this date. Over the years, Harley Davidson has introduced several iconic bagger lineups, including the Electra Glide, the Road Glide, the Street Glide, and the Road King. Through these bikes, Harley has expertly merged the classic bagger styling with modern engineering and technology. In 2021, Harley launched the Icons Collection Motorcycles series to pay homage to historically significant models. The first and third releases of this series are Baggers. It is evident that the brand is dedicated to delivering performance-oriented baggers for scenic adventures and long-hauls. In this article, Viking Bags has compiled the list of the best Harley Davidson bagger motorcycles for 2023. Additionally, the history of Harley baggers is also included in the article to help Harley enthusiasts experience the extraordinary journey of the brand in the bagger market.

1. How Did the Harley Davidson Bagger Segment Started

Harley Davidson’s first bagger was the FLH Electra Glide, which was introduced in 1965. However, the Electra Glide was a result of a long evolutionary process that dates back to 1941 when the FL series emerged as one of Harley's primary post-WWII lineup.

1.1 The Harley Davidson FL Model

The letter ‘F’ is designated to the new large frame and the larger capacity of the V-2 Overhead valve engine. The new displacement of this engine was increased up to 1200 cc.

The Overhead engine also known as the Knucklehead was first introduced in 1936 as Model E and had a displacement of 1,000 cc.

The Letter “L” in the FL series referred to the higher compression and more power. The FL models continued until 1948. However, in 1948, the Panhead engine was introduced in the FL models.

1.2 The Harley Davidson Hydra Glide

In 1949, Harley introduced the Hydra Glide, which was the first FL model with an actual name. The Hydra-Glide was the first bike that featured hydraulically damped telescopic front forks and was powered by the 1200 cc Panhead engine. In the 1952 Hydra Glide model, an optional foot-shift/hand clutch system was available along with the standard hand-shift/foot clutch system.

1.3 The Harley Davidson Duo Glide

In 1958, the FL model received a new frame, and the name was changed from the Hydra-Glide to the Duo Glide. In addition to the hydraulically damped telescopic front forks, the Duo Glide also featured a new coil-over-shock rear suspension.

2. Harley Davidson Electra Glide: Pioneer of the Bagger Era

Finally in 1965, Harley Davidson introduced its first motorcycle with an electric starter, the Electra Glide. Previously all the FL models featured a Kickstarter. The 1965 Electra Glide became one of the most significant models in the history of Harley Davidson as this was the last bike powered by the Panhead engine.

The 1966 Harley Electra Glide was powered by a new 1338 cc Shovelhead engine that generated 60 hp of horsepower. The Shovelhead was ten hp more than the Panhead engine because it featured a shallow combustion chamber, large intake and exhaust valves, and stronger pistons that helped improve the power output.

In 1969, Harley Davidson equipped the Electra Glide with a detachable batwing fairing. All these models of the Electra Glide featured hard saddlebags, windshields, and luggage racks, and heavy chrome accents.

2.1 Prominent Harley Electra Glide Models

The Harley Electra Glide became a huge success and the name of the bike stuck for many years. As a result, the brand manufactured several iconic Electra Glide models, including:

  • The Harley Electra Glide Standard FLHT
  • The Harley Electra Glide Classic FLHTC
  • The Harley Electra Glide Ultra Classic FLHTCU
  • The Harley Electra Glide Ultra Limited FLHTK

2.2 Quick Features of the Electra Glide Family

These four models were heavily equipped with travel-friendly features. The Electra Glide Standard FLHT was the most basic of all the models. It lacked the Tour-Pak® for additional storage and batwing fairing and offered the bare minimum in terms of safety features and amenities, such as a mini-fairing, saddlebags, ABS, passenger seat, and cruise control.

The Electra Glide Classic was equipped with a Tour-Pak® luggage carrier, luggage rack, passenger seat and backrest, radio, ABS, cruise control, GPS navigation and infotainment systems.

In addition to the standard features mentioned above, the Electra Glide Ultra Classic came with lower-leg fairings, speakers in the back, heated grips, and an infotainment system.

The Ultra Limited was equipped with even more features, including heated seats and grip and rider safety enhancements.

2.3 Evolution of the Electra Glide Family in 2000s

The first three Electra Glide models were powered by Twin Cam 88 engine and a five-speed transmission. In 2007, the bike's transmission and engine were upgraded to a six-speed and Twin Cam 96 motor. In 2009, the Electra Glide Standard was discontinued and in its place, the Electra Glide Ultra Limited FLHTK was introduced. This new FLHTK model was powered by the Twin Cam 103 engine. In 2014, all the Electra Glide models and touring models underwent the Project Rushmore upgrades, which involved the largest number of changes ever applied to the Electra Glide family in one model year, including:

  • Batwing fairing was redesigned into a bold vented fairing.
  • The Tour-Pak became larger for extra storage space.
  • The new infotainment system with premium speakers was introduced.
  • The front fender was redesigned to give a lower profile.
  • A thicker 49 mm front fork was added
  • The Electra Glide Ultra Limited got the twin-cooled engine while the Ultra Limited had the air-cooled engine.

In 2014, the Electra Glide Classic was discontinued.

In 2017, the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine was installed in the Electra Glide and other touring models.

In 2019, the Electra Glide Ultra Classic was discontinued. The same year the Electra Glide Standard was reintroduced. Moreover, the 2019 models featured a Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. The Electra Glide Standard was discontinued after 2022. In 2021, Harley started the Icons Collection Motorcycle series. The first release of the bike was the Electra Glide Revival. The 2023 Electra Glide models include the Ultra Limited and the Electra Glide Highway King bike as its Electra Glide models.

2.4 2021 Harley Davidson Electra Glide Revival - The First Style Icon

In 2021, Harley Davidson launched the Electra Glide Revival, a limited edition bike manufactured to commemorate the 1969 Harley Electra Glide, the first bike that featured a stock batwing fairing in the history of Harley Davidson.

Priced at $29,199, the Electra Glide Revival is the first release in the Harley’s Icon Motorcycle Collection. Only 1,500 models of this motorcycle were made. Each model was serialized to make it a unique collectible.

3. The Top 2023 Harley Davidson Baggers

3.1 Harley Davidson Electra Glide Highway King

Harley Davidson Electra Glide Highway King
Photo credit: @harley-davidson

The 2023 Electra Glide Highway King has the same classic styling that was customary in the Harley baggers of the 1960s. This classic styling is evident from the chrome-finished saddlebag rails, steel-laced rims, whitewall tires, and chrome fender skirts. The latest Electra Glide Highway King is available in two two-tone paint jobs, including Hi-Fi Orange with Birch White pinstriping and Hi-Fi Magenta with Birch White pinstriping. These colors are selected purposefully as the 1968 Harley Electra Glide was also available in these colors. In addition, both paint jobs come with sophisticated black denim paint touches. Since only 750 of the Hi-Fi Magenta and 1,000 of the Hi-Fi Orange models of the 2023 Electra Glide Highway King are manufactured, a unique serial number is etched on the console of each model using laser etching technique. To further emphasize the vintage styling, this modern bagger features an Electra Glide emblem inspired by the 1968 Electra Glide fuel tank badge.

Priced at $26,999, the Harley Davidson Electra Glide Highway King is powered by the signature Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin 1868 cc engine that produces 122 ft-lb torque and 95 hp of horsepower. The estimated fuel economy of the Electra Glide Highway King is approximately 43 mpg. The ample torque production makes highway rides comfortable while the distinct rumble is easily recognizable as the Milwaukee-Eight sound. The motorcycle is equipped with multiple electronic features, such as the cornering ABS, electronically linked brakes, drag torque slip control, cornering traction control, and vehicle hold control. These features ensure optimal safety, stability, and control of the bike, making the Electra Glide Highway King an agile bagger. The Electra Glide with its rider safety upgrades and torquey engine makes for an enjoyable and practical motorcycle.

3.2 The Harley Davidson Ultra Limited

Harley Davidson Ultra Limited
Photo credit: @harley-davidson

The Harley Davidson Ultra Limited was originally introduced as the Electra Glide Ultra Limited. Introduced in 1983, the name of Electra Glide Ultra Limited was changed to the Harley Ultra Limited in 2016.

The 2023 model of this bike boasts premium touring performance and is designed for riders who prefer fully loaded American baggers. The bike is equipped with vented batwing fairing and windshield that reduce wind buffeting effectively and ensure greater highway comfort. The bike is available in nine vibrant paint schemes that come with a luxurious chrome finish. The bagger features a Limited emblem on the front fender. The Ultra Limited is powered by the 1868 cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine that produces 87 hp of horsepower and 106 Nm of torque. For smooth power delivery and quiet gear shifting, the bike is equipped with a six-speed cruise drive transmission. For reliable stopping power, the 2023 Harley Ultra Limited features an advanced braking system consisting of Reflex ™ linked Brembo ™ brakes with ABS. For a comfortable two-up riding experience, the bike features plush rider and passenger seats along with the backrest. A premium Tour-Pak™ is added, which includes a luggage carrier capable of storing two helmets and travel essentials. For enhanced rider safety, the motorcycle features cornering traction control, cornering drag-torque slip control, tire pressure monitoring system, and vehicle hold control.

3.3 Harley Davidson Road King Special

Harley Davidson Road King Special
Photo credit: @harley-davidson

The Harley Davidson Road King Special is a custom bagger that generates enough power for light touring and urban rides. Priced at $23,999, the Road King is powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 114 cubic inch engine that produces 158 Nm of torque and 93 hp of horsepower. For the 2023 model, the Harley Davidson design team has ditched the fairing to create the iconic hot rod look. A stylish nacelle is added that surrounds the LED headlight. The front suspension is a 49 mm dual bending valve and the rear suspension is lowered to create a more custom appearance and riding feel. The gloss black Prodigy wheels add to the sleek custom silhouette of the bike. For reliable braking, the bike is equipped with ABS and an electronically linked braking system. Other rider safety enhancements, such as the cornering traction control, cornering drag torque slip control, vehicle hold control, and cornering ABS, are also included to ensure a safe ride. Other prominent features of this quintessential Harley bagger include sleek hard saddlebags, a large seat for two-up riding, mini-ape handlebars, 43 mpg mileage, and a six-gallon fuel tank. As for infotainment, the bike features Boom! ™ Box GTS system, 165 mm full-color TFT screen, 5.25-inch standard speakers, USB port, Bluetooth Connectivity, standard vehicle information screen, and voice recognition for navigation and media. Despite its large frame, the Road King is an extremely agile bagger that is perfect for both beginners and experienced riders.

3.4 Harley Davidson Road Glide Special

Harley Davidson Road King Special
Photo credit: @hdavidson

The Harley Davidson Road Glide Special is the ultimate bagger designed to cover unlimited miles. If you are looking for a reliable two-wheeler for your next cross-country trip, then the Road Glide Special is the machine for the task. This technologically advanced American bagger is powered by the signature Milwaukee-Eight 114 cubic-inch engine and shares the same frame, safety enhancements, and infotainment features as the Harley Davidson Road King. The horsepower and torque production of the Road Glide Special is also the same as the Road King. However, the bikes differ significantly in terms of styling. The Road Glide Special stands out more than the naked Road King due to its bold frame-mounted shark-nosed fairing. This stylish bodywork comes with triple split stream vents for fool-proof wind protection and highway comfort. Moreover, the Road Glide Special is available in ten striking paint schemes with black or chrome finishes. Meanwhile, the Road King is only available in three unique paint schemes with an all-black finish.

3.5 Harley Davidson Street Glide Special

Harley Davidson Street Glide Special
Photo credit: @harley-davidson

The Harley Davidson Street Glide Special is another iconic motorcycle that shares the same frame, engine, performance figures, brakes, suspension, infotainment, and electronic safety features, as the Road Glide Special and the Road King Special. The main difference between the Street Glide Special and its counterparts is the styling. The Street Glide has its own unique batwing fairing that is inspired by the 1969 Electra Glide fairing. The Street Glide batwing fairing was redesigned in 2014 when members of the Electra Glide family and other touring models underwent changes. The new Street Glide Special has vented batwing fairings for improved custom styling. Since the batwing fairing is fork-mounted as opposed to the frame-mounted fairing of the Road Glide Special, the bike may differ slightly in terms of handling. However, that depends solely on a rider’s individual experience. Other than the fairing the Road Glide Special and Street Glide Special are essentially the same platforms. With super-responsive braking and suspension, the Street Glide Special is designed to respond promptly to riders’ control inputs.

3.6 Harley Davidson Road Glide ST

Harley Davidson Road Glide ST
Photo credit: @harley-davidson

At the heart of the Harley Davidson Road Glide ST is the upgraded Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine that displaces 1923 ccs and generates 168 Nm of torque and 103 hp of horsepower. These high-engine outputs promise an unforgettable long haul to riders who demand unbridled power on highways. Available in three sophisticated paint schemes with an all-black finish, the Road Glide ST is a super-sleek bagger. Other than the cylinder fins, pushrod tubes, and tappet covers, all other parts of the bike are dipped in black to achieve the domineering look. Due to its commanding attitude on the road and bold styling, it is called the King of Baggers. Compared to the Road Glide Special, this model has a slightly raised suspension that creates a sporty riding feel and more room to lean. The frame-mounted shark-nosed fairing is an unmistakable Road Glide feature. The saddlebags, infotainment system, and safety enhancements are the same as other 2023 Harley baggers mentioned above. Additionally, the Road Glide ST is one of the 2023 Fast Johnnie Enthusiast Collection model.

3.7 Harley Davidson Street Glide ST

Harley Davidson Street Glide ST
Photo credit: @harley-davidson

The Street Glide ST is the same as the Road Glide ST as it is powered by the same Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine, boasts similar power outputs, and paint schemes. The standard saddlebags mounted on the Street Glide ST offer more room to lean and a sporty profile to this pro-touring bagger. The fork-mounted classic batwing fairing is the only unique feature that distinguishes the two baggers.

3.8 Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide

Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide
Photo credit: @motorguider

The 2023 Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide is powered by Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121 powertrain which is the highest displacement engine installed on a Harley bagger. The new engine features liquid-cooled cylinder heads, a new intake, and variable valve timing. The unique VVT feature expands the powerband, improves fuel efficiency, and offers a better mileage. In addition, the Milwaukee-Eight VVT 121 engine generates 183 Nm of torque and 115 hp of horsepower for a more dynamic touring experience. The high-flow exhaust system features premium finishes and a muffler. It complements the performance, sound, and style of the engine. Despite the new larger engine, the 2023 CVO Road Glide is 15 kg lighter than the previous models. Therefore, it is more agile and maneuverable on a range of terrain. Plus it offers better acceleration and braking. Furthermore, the 47 mm inverted front forks and shocks improve handling and comfort. 320 mm dual front brakes with Brembo ™ calipers and 300 mm rear brakes optimize the stopping power. These features combined with rider safety enhancements inspire confidence in riders to test the CVO Road Glide’s potential and achieve highway speeds. The CVO Road Glide also boasts a new windshield and fairing combination that is developed using computational fluid dynamics to reduce wind buffeting and improve aerodynamic efficiency. Moreover, the shark-nosed fairing comes with adjustable air vents to enhance comfort and reduce wind-induced fatigue. The carefully designed ergonomic triangle takes riding comfort to the next level. To fight harsh weather, heated grips, and seats are added as standard features. To complement the pro-touring styling and performance, the bike is equipped with a six-gallon tear-drop fuel tank with a unique beveled edge. The 2023 CVO Road Glide is available in two distinct paint schemes that come with black and chrome finishes. As for infotainment, the 312 mm touchscreen brings navigation, communication, and entertainment at your fingertips. The Skyline™ OS with three different color displays is another unique infotainment feature. Additionally, the bike is equipped with a state-of-the-art Rockford Fosgate® Stage II sound system that features a 4-channel 500-watt RMS amplifier for saddlebags and fairing integrated speakers.

3.9 Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide

Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide
Photo credit: @motorguider

The Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide is powered by the same Milwaukee-Eight 121 VVT engine that is installed in the CVO Road Glide. The same computational fluid dynamics have been used to design the fairing and windshield of the CVO Street Glide. However, this bike boasts the reimagined iconic batwing fairings with split stream vent opening fully integrated LED lighting. Therefore, the new fairing optimizes aerodynamics, wind protection, and highway comfort. The ergonomic comfort is ensured by installing premium seats, adjustable levers on flatter and wider handlebars, and spacious floorboards. The rear shocks are remote-adjustable and offer 50% more travel than previous models. The heated seats and grips come as standard for this model as well. The bike also shares the same riding modes, infotainment system, and safety enhancements as the CVO Road Glide.

3.10 Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide Limited

Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide Limited
Photo credit: @harley-davidson

The 2023 Harley Davidson CVO Road Glide Limited is a Limited Edition Anniversary model launched to celebrate Harley Davidson’s 120-year-long production journey. The CVO Road Glide Limited bikes are serialized using laser etching techniques to make them collectible. The CVO Road Glide is powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine that generates 166 Nm of torque and 105 hp of horsepower. The CVO model features the same infotainment system, frame, braking system, electronic safety upgrades, suspension, riding ergonomics, and the frame-mounted shark-nosed fairing as the other baggers in the 2023 Road Glide lineup. However, the CVO Road Glide Limited offers a few additional features, including heated grips and seats and a 120th Anniversary-themed Heirloom Fade paint scheme. The paint black and red panel paint job has hand-laid details. The Alcantra seats, featuring red and gold stitching accents and the CVO logo, are luxurious and comfortable. On each side of the bike’s 6-gallon fuel tank, an Art Deco rendition of a flying eagle is painted.

4. Last Words

Harley Davidson has been producing class-leading baggers for adventure enthusiasts for more than five decades now. Each year, Harley Davidson  introduces an even more capable bagger that is practical for touring and everyday rides. To cater to the needs of a wide range of riders, Harley Davidson has manufactured lightweight baggers with fewer amenities, such as the Road King, and fully-dressed baggers, such as the Road Glide, Street Glide, and Electra Glide. The new 2023 cruiser lineup also has great cruisers for light touring, such as the Harley Heritage Classic, the Harley Sport Glide, and the Harley Low Rider ST. Since all three power cruisers are equipped with saddlebags, many riders consider them mini-baggers. For extra storage, you can install aftermarket luggage like baggers bags, tour packs, and tank bags. No matter which iconic Harley bagger you choose, you are bound to experience a unique sense of freedom that only comes with riding a Harley.

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