Small and very versatile

Julie Marshall tests the new Harley Davidson
Julie Marshall tests the new Harley Davidson

Harley-Davidson’s Switchback may be the smallest of their tourers but you will still need to be the possessor of a fine pair of thigh muscles if you want to move it around.

Deciding on an appropriate parking space before you commit is crucial if you want to make a successful exit, as I found to my cost when I parked slightly nose-down on a sloping car park and had to ask a passer-by to give me a push.

One of the key features of the Switchback, according to Harley, is the ability to remove the panniers and screen quickly. I’m rather partial to screens and panniers, however small, so I took their word for it and left them in place, just in case I couldn’t get them back on again.

The padded seat is comfortable and the bars at a sensible height, but the suspension, though better than that fitted to some other Harley models, leaves a lot to be desired and potholes have to be circumnavigated wherever possible.

As intimidating as the size is, once you get over the fact ing 326kg with a 1,690cc engine, it’s a reasonably relaxing experience as it’s such a well-balanced piece of kit.

And, while it could never be described as sporty, nor particularly agile, after a bit of practice I felt able to sweep it around corners with some confidence – conscious always, though, of the lack of ground clearance on the foot rests.

The engine is incredible responsive and makes for effortless acceleration.

A small button on the left bar operates the very useful trip computer and the rider can scroll between gear and rpm, trip, miles to empty, odometer and time.

The indicators are typical of the self-cancelling Harley variety with a switch on each bar. Annoying at first but easy to get to grips with after a while when you work out the sequence. My only real complaint about them, and it’s just a small grumble really, is that the signal lights on the display aren’t very bright and are not in the natural sight line of the rider.

If you can cope with the weight, then the Switchback is one of the most versatile Harleys around. The 17.8 litre tank is good for around 160 miles, which is enough for most people unless a voyage to the great unknown is on the cards.

The panniers are not really suitable for an extended tour anyway and you’ll need to be quite creative with your packing.

On the road price is £13,499 but, as any Harley owner knows, that’s just the starting price with customisation costing a whole lot more.