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Remembering The 1997 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard

1997 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard

Harley-Davidson's Electra Glide Standard model hit the streets in force about a quarter-century ago. It's with fond memories that riders who prefer the model in their golden years look back at a time when the cost was less than a third and the amenities were sparser than newer versions of the bike. It's time to pay our respects to the Electra Glide Standard from 1997, for those who remember why it kicked off a tradition with so many riders. It's evolved throughout the years, but it's still a popular choice for some.

Still in service today

Moto News Today reports that there are still quite a few 25-year-old touring bikes on the road. Conscientious owners kept them in tip-top mechanical condition, which is not a great feat when you love a machine and depend on it for reliable transportation. The 1997 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard sighting on public highways and byways isn't a rare occurrence. It wasn't the best model produced during the era, but it earned a following with its heavier dry weight and stodgier fairing. It came in about forty pounds overweight and the wide fairing may have curbed its aerodynamics, but it certainly deflected more insects at higher speeds. It was the choice of riders who weren't particularly interested in a sporty aesthetic or an installed stereo. It kept the price down and it wasn't difficult to cover the hole left where the entertainment system would be with a piece of plastic. It didn't come with all the fancy chrome covers and trim features. Opponents and critics could pick it apart all they want, but they didn't get the rationale behind the design

Why we love the 1997 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard

The HD Electra Glide Standard was a purpose-built touring bike that wasn't fancy, but that was the intention. The engineering of the bike is what appealed to the group of riders who made it their ride of choice. HD offered a bike that came without the bells and whistles that created oohs and ahhs in the aesthetics department. Other features stood out for riders above the cosmetics and various nonessential elements. The Electra Glide had a unique personality. It was attractive enough with a black paint job over genuine steel materials. It was a workhorse. It delivered high performance and sound. The 80-cubic inch Milwaukee produced a depth of sound that sent chills up the spine, not in fear but in anticipation of the ride. There was no replacement for the deep-throated sound of the engine that penetrated the eardrums to the brain. It offered riders comfort for the long haul with a redesigned frame made of steel and a seat set to a low 28-inches. The frame was heavier and low, but it accommodated the narrow seat in the front that allowed more room for your feet to contact the ground without standing up. It was a wise move that put the Electra Glide Standard in a class of its own. HD threw in a storage space for hauling more personal items and essentials under the seat, and they enhanced the battery capacity by a 50% increase in ampere-hours.


Auto Evolution walks us through the specs on the 1997 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard. It has a four-stroke, air-cooled 45-degree V-Twin OHV engine with 1337 cm3 displacement and a 3.5 x 4.3 bore x stroke with a compression ratio of 8.5:1. It delivers 67 horsepower and 79 lb-ft of torque. The motor is paired with a 50speed manual transmission with a dry, multi-disc manual clutch and an EFI fuel system with a chain primary and belt final drive. The chassis features a steel frame with a black paint job. The suspension has a telescopic fork in front and dual shocks in the rear, with dual disc brakes in front and a single disc in the back. The dry weight is 758 lbs with a 5-gallon fuel tank. HD equipped the 1997 Electra Glide Standard with a T-80-16 T tire on the front end and a T 90-16T in the rear.

Pros and Cons

The 1997 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard has had its share of fans and those with no preference for its perceived shortcomings. Critics dismissed its lack of chrome and fancy exhaust systems with its large windscreen. The extra bulk of the wide windscreen added to the drag. Some riders even chromed the parts to give their editions a customized dose of eye appeal. HD engineers didn't include fuel injection as an engine feature. It wasn't even an option offered by HD. Some owners didn't like the performance of the suspension on bumpy roads, but others liked the soft springs that deliver a comfortable cruise on a smooth highway. Another benefit of the design is the rubber components on the floorboards and motor that reduce vibration to nill. The bike offers plenty of power and a deep rumble. In the parking lot, it handles surprisingly well. It does come with cruise control. The maximum speed is 85 miles per hour. If you're a law-abiding citizen who observes the speed limit restrictions, it should be fast enough to get you from point A to point B without creating a traffic jam. The price is the point that some appreciate for its no-nonsense approach to highway and city riding for a few thousand less than the Ultra classic mode. The overall consensus is that it's a nice bike that retains its value well, and it was a good value purchased brand spanking new.

Final thoughts

Many HD riders have fond memories of their retired 1997 Electra Glide Standard bikes, but some took the time and effort to keep theirs in pristine running condition. You'll still see them on the road today, alongside their new and more highly evolved counterparts in the Electra Glide category. Some riders wouldn't trade them. They're content to relive the memories while making new ones.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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