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2008 Ridley Auto-Glide Classic

Written by  April 30, 2008

Sometimes, things just stand out in a crowd. There seems to always be that one motorcycle at a bike night or motorcycle run that just seems to have “it.” It could be a flashy paint job, a monster engine, flashy wheels, or a combination of any or all of the above. Rarely is it a stock motorcycle though, because that stand-out ride usually is a full-on custom or someone’s dream bike that they have built. Well, when I showed up to Rt. 66 Ridley in Carthage, Missouri for a test ride, I was very surprised at what exactly was waiting for me. Sitting up next to the wall outside, against a blue background, was a gorgeous motorcycle. One that said, “Look at me, I am one of a kind.” The pearl and teal paint shone in the sunlight, the flash of chrome, and the fine lines stood out in my mind right off the bat. I thought to myself, this can’t be a stock bike; its detail is way too high for a stock bike. Boy, was I wrong on that one.

Derek came out and said hi, shook my hand, and in his laid back way, thanked me for coming out. We went over some of the specifications I had questions about, and I looked the bike over. When I say Ridley puts attention to detail into their motorcycles, I am making the understatement of the year. The lines on this bike, the fit and finish, the quality of components…all are standout, and outstanding. First thing you notice about this bike is the level of components that are used. From the braided stainless steel lines for the brakes and throttle to the polished brake rotors, there are all kind of goodies used on this bike. I will go over more of the details of what is used on this bike in the ride details.

We hopped on the bikes, (he has a Classic also), set the choke, pulled in the brake, and fired off the bikes. The motors came to life, with mine being quite a bit more subdued in sound due to the stock 80DB pipes on the bike. Actually, as I have gotten older, I have gotten to where I appreciate the lack of noise constantly berating my eardrums. The exhaust has a great standout feature that you would not normally see on a stock motorcycle--ceramic coating. While not flashy like chrome, its redeeming quality makes it far more desirable to me than the fancy chrome in most cases. Tough, durable, and corrosion resistant, it makes for a lot less time taking care of something that can dull and require a lot of cleaning just because of where it is located. Derek went over some details with me to bring to my attention how different it would feel to ride an “automatic and shiftless” motorcycle, since I was used to riding my big Twin. “You will use your brakes just a bit more, because you won’t downshift. It takes some people a little time to get used to it, but most catch on quick,” Derek said. So after a little warm-up, off we went.

The bikes ergonomics are very good. Reach to the bars and controls were very comfortable. I was torn between wanting the high/low beam and the horn buttons switched out in where they were located, but for safety’s sake, they are actually probably better off where they are. The throttle was effortless, and very smooth. The floorboards had lots of room, but on the left side, the casing does rub your boot. Derek had told me that tall people usually ride with their foot in front of that case, and short people ride with it towards the back. Being six feet tall, I did end up riding with my feet more forward on the bike, and it seemed it wasn’t an issue as much as I thought it would be. The reach to the brake pedal was fine, and you could tell that the ball bearings inside the pedal housing led to a lot smoother feel on the pedal. The amount of rubber to put your feet against also gave more confidence to your braking. Braking is handled by four piston calipers front and rear, made exclusively for Ridley. A little heavier than your standard calipers of the same size, they are made that way because you will tend to slow down your bike with your brakes instead of engine braking. The front brake, as well as the back brake, works well with this bike, slowing the bike down with ease, and hauling you down to a stop with little effort.

At idle at the stop signs, the bike vibrated just enough to give you the feel you expect; a little more noticeable than a Honda, but a lot less noticeable than a Harley. To me, it was just right. When you pulled away and got up to highway speeds, the stock mirrors showed no vibrations and were very easy to see out of, another safety factor I like. The digital dash was easy to read in the sunlight, and had all the things you need to see. I would have liked bigger turn signal indicators, but that is just personal preference. Speaking of safety, this bike is adorned with great lighting, and LED turn signals front and back allow the cars around you to see what you are planning. They also have a self canceling feature, so that gets an A+. A real cool retro styled tombstone taillight out back leaves an uncluttered look to the rear of the bike. The wires for the turn signals are more or less hidden for a clean look.

The stock seat was a little hard on the tailbone, but to give it a break, it had not been broken in. It may give a little after a bit, but I would probably do the upgrade on the seat. I sat on Derek’s, and he had the touring version. Very nice, comfortable, and supportive in all the right spots, it is one that I would spring the small amount of green backs for.
The 40 degree rake in the neck, with a 3 degree offset in the trees gave the bike a wonderful ride. This bike invokes confidence in a lot of riders, from large to small. The adjustable Progressive suspension is top of the line, and handled all that I could give it. I am a big boy, (my wife reminds me of this all the time, too bad I have never met Jenny Craig) and I can test a suspension. The front tracked well, and the rear soaked up everything out there, and was very smooth going over a couple of rough railroad crossings out in the scenic area we rode in. The low seat height made for planting your feet easy, and came in at just over 24 inches. The dry weight on this bike is listed at 450 pounds, but it never felt that heavy. The 66 inch wheelbase led to a lot of the stability the bike had. It came shod with Metzler 880s front and rear, on 60 spoke, 16 inch wheels. Very nice touch if you ask me.

Riding down the road, it didn’t take long to get used to the auto-glide, shiftless transmission. I was a little worried at first when I heard the belt disengage, but got used to it. It wasn’t real loud, but I heard it, and until I figured out that it was one of the noises you hear, I was a little worried. Like I said though, after I knew I was supposed to be hearing it, it didn’t bother me. The bike responded real well to throttle input, and was very comfortable with highway speeds around 55-60 MPH. I can’t give you an interstate feel for this bike, because I didn’t take it for a ride down the super slab. With the proper tweaking on the throttle and finding its sweet spot, it shouldn’t be a problem at all to ride it at interstate speeds. The carb is more than enough for the engine, and leaves room for performance upgrades. A windshield may also help with any buffeting or streamlining, but the bike I test rode was not equipped with one, so I can’t tell you just what it would do. It didn’t take very long to get used to the automatic feature of this bike. I would love to have had one down in Florida with me when I was there in the stop and go traffic a few weeks ago. Not having to hold the clutch in was great at the stop signs, and like I said before, the bike pulled away with authority from a stop. I give the Mikuni 36MM Flatslide carb a lot of credit for that. The 90 degree V-Twin has plenty of power for its 750 CC of size.

When I got back to the shop from my ride, I set another feature of this bike that is safety minded. The parking brake. Easy to use, great piece of mind for parking on a hill. With a little practice, it is easy to engage and disengage. The kickstand on this bike is set a little farther back than I would like, but it is easy to find also.

Talking to Derek, I asked him about maintaining the bike. Maintaince is easy, with a drain plug on the front for changing the oil, a common spin on oil filter that is common on a lot of American made brands, and the K and N oil filter within easy reach. More mind easing features if you ask me. Another cool feature is the standard battery tender, with a plug in already installed right under the seat and easy to get to. I like that. I have never run across a bike with that already on it, and it makes it great for those long winter weeks when you might not get to ride because of the weather.

To summarize my ride, I would have to say I was way more impressed with this bike than a lot of bikes I have ridden. Ridley targets a certain audience, but to be honest, the bike will fit a larger segment of riders than most would know. Getting someone to just try it, may be the key to breaking down that barrier of “old school” thinking. I have to admit, I would not mind having one of these bikes myself. It would fit my wife just perfect, and the shiftless riding is wonderful. The bikes are priced high, and the test bike was outfitted with optional paint and matching frame and white wall tires. Its suggested retail was $19,425. Now that being said, I think the bike’s price is well within reason by looking at what you get exactly. The fit and finish of this bike should be looked at by other manufactures, for it really stands out. The level of components that I have mentioned deserves merit also. And then on top of that, there is the exclusitivity factor of owning one. Ridley really believes in the way they build them, for they back it up with a 2 year warranty. That also says something right there. So all and all a wonderful bike, that reaches its target audience right on the money. I really wish I didn’t have to park it; I could have had more fun and easy riding than I could ever hope for. Thanks again Derek, you showed once again why you are one of the best dealers to deal with in the Midwest.

2008 Ridley Auto-Glide Classic:
Suggested retail price as tested: $19,425
Standard features noted on test bike that stood out:

60 spoke laced wheels front/back with polished brake rotors
4-piston brake calipers, front/back
Metzler 880 tires
Tubular swingarm with adjustable Progressive suspension
K & N filter
Digital dash
Braided SS throttle and brake lines
Screw in gas caps with paint saver features
Chrome switch housings
Ceramic coated dual exhaust


Optional features:

Premium paint and matching frame
Whitewall tires


For a complete list of the factory specifications, log on to http://ridleymotorcycles.com/0eight/Ridley_8W-specifications.htm.

Review by Jim Austin

Photos by Paul 'Luc Chokota with Reflections by Paul Photography