A full Scottish breakfast is a sight to behold, particularly when nursing a dull ache in the temples from an extended evening on the single malt.
But a plate packed full of meat, blood and other bits of animal is required for the mileage ahead. After experiencing the crushingly beautiful surrounds of the Cairngorms, it’s time to get lost long the northeastern coastline of this country.
The bright white Harley is parked up on the gravel driveway of our Loch Ness lodgings, the sun catching the flecks in its Crushed Iced Pearl paint job, while a small group of Spanish admirers are posing for pictures with the machine.
That’s the beauty of a bike like this; you either hate it or absolutely adore it. And at over £21,000, your heart really has to be in it to make the investment.
Granted, it can look a little like something from the Los Angeles Police Department fleet from certain angles but there is something oddly alluring about the muscularity of the styling, the practicality and the on-board technology.
Many motorway miles have already been enjoyed with music blaring out of the Boom! Box speaker system via a Bluetooth-tethered smartphone, while the navigation system (a rather clunky customer) makes it much easier to find a hotel than a traditional paper map when the night draws in.
Jets to Lossiemouth
With clothes and belongings crammed into the two side panniers, I point the Harley Street Glide east towards the A96, but it is not long before I feel the urge to take the road less travelled and make a beeline for the coast.
The scenery has changed dramatically from yesterday’s epic mountain vistas, as the gently undulating roads narrow and become lined with sandy forests.
Sighting corners can be tricky but the breaks in the foliage give occasional views of the wild North Sea.
The Street Glide thumps through Lossiemouth just as two jets take off from the local RAF base. The noise of the heavy 107 V-twin engine is temporarily drowned out by much larger powerplants.
This particular bike is fitted with Jekill & Hyde exhaust pipes, which can be practically silenced at the press of a button near the left grip, but I’ve rarely activated the mufflers.
There is something strangely hypnotic about the guttural chug of a big Harley engine that just seems to perfectly suit this journey. It seems to make the miles disappear.
Small towns are passed through but the local roads nearly always lead back to the coast and that’s no bad thing. There’s hardly another vehicle in sight most of the time and the fresh sea air feels good on the face with the visor lifted.
Plus, the meandering route is perfect for the Street Glide, with long curving corners allowing for a nice amount of lean without the risk of scraping pipes and pegs.
Malt or Bust
Numerous tourist signs begin to appear at the side of the road, tempting travellers to dip a toe into Scotland’s Malt Whiskey Trail.
Strathspey and Speyside is home to a large proportion of Scotland’s whiskey distilleries and it seems rude not pay one a visit, but the roads get less interesting as the bike slices inland.
Instead, a spur of the moment decision is made to pick up the A9 and trace the western edge of the Cairngorms National Park. The picturesque Dalwhinnie Distillery a temporary stop-off to stretch legs and nosey around.
The place is packed full of Japanese tourists on arrival, a number of which have gathered around a display case that houses a bottle of single malt that costs a cool £450.
Dalwhinnie is dear and weirdly busy, so I decide to head outside into the blazing sunshine and take another look at the maps. From here, it’s easy to pick up the A9 and hack back towards Perth and the final destination, Edinburgh.
Google Maps reveals stretches of long, open and well-sighted tarmac that flits between national speed limit dual carriageway and smaller single-lane stuff, so I seize the opportunity to beat the tourist coaches and beat a hasty escape.
A Home from Home
Lochs, lakes, forests and peaks pass with quick succession, the breath-taking scenery apparently stuck on repeat in this part of the world.
The Harley-Davidson thunders onwards, throttle set to cruise control and the revised steering damper settings in this 2017 model soaking up the majority of imperfections in the road. A cossetting, low-set seat hugs the backside and the large, if slightly ungainly, front screen does a good job of reducing buffeting.
It is here – with Scotland doing its best impression of Wisconsin – where the Glide really feels at home. The smooth roads and stunning scenery are tackled with ease, the large footplates and swept back bars offering a comfortable position from which to take it all in.
There’s enough torque produced by the engine to be lazy with the gearing. Simply tip the huge bike into a rolling corner and throttle out, the inertia enough to pull the hulking machine through the bend.
It is surprising just how far you can lean this thing before it bottoms out, while those equally enormous Brembo brakes do a great job of scrubbing off speed.
Over 300-miles of motoring have seen me form an allegiance with the Street Glide: it is cumbersome, heavy and not exactly styled to suit my tastes. Low-speed manoeuvring is a pain, traffic is daunting and cornering at speed requires a certain set of cojones, but here, in its natural habitat, it is excellent.
The traffic steadily increases the closer the bike inches towards Perth, Dunfermline and, eventually, Edinburgh. And with every additional car, I’m brought back to reality.
Navigating the busy streets suddenly feels awkward, the bike has immediately gained a few pounds and my mind, which was borderline empty a few hours ago, is now racing with the prospect of scraping a wing mirror or having to swerve to avoid a tourist with a selfie stick.
It is safe to say that a busy city is not the Street Glide’s most natural habitat but it has served its purpose.
In this quest for solitude, it managed to nearly always find a stretch of road with few other souls around. And when it did arrive at an empty, ribboning stretch of blacktop, it delivered on its promise.
Nothing empties the mind quite like a motorcycle and few places on earth can compete with the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands.
So, when was the last time you ventured out and just… rode?
Clothing: Helmet – Bell Bullitt (£369.99, Urbanrider.co.uk), Rokker Denim Rider Shirt (£279, Urbanrider.co.uk), Bag – Velomacchi Speedway (£290, Urbanrider.co.uk), T-Shirts – Deus & Sorted Surf Shop (£30, Urbanrider.co.uk & £19.94, Sortedsurfshop.co.uk), Lee Parks Design Deer Tours Gloves (£65, Leeparksdesign.com).
Missed Part I? You can read it here.