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Harley Performance Baggers

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Motorcycle Performance

What is a Bagger Motorcycle?

Long associated with the Harley-Davidson brand, a bagger motorcycle is simply one that is customized with saddlebags used to store luggage or other necessities. A bagger motorcycle is usually thought of as a cruiser model for long trips, so why else would you need the extra storage? In fact, Harley cruiser models are often referred to as “baggers.”

But while baggers were traditionally associated with long-haul touring motorcycles designed for comfort and extended rides, performance baggers have emerged as a sort of subculture for riders who want both speed and agility combined with storage in a single package. Originating out of the customization scene where riders sought to enhance the performance of their touring bikes, the Harley performance bagger is a unique fusion of power, handling, and convenience.

Fun fact: the Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Factory Team participates in the King of the Baggers speed track competition with winning times.

Key Upgrade Features of Performance Harley Baggers

There are a number of ways to turn a base Harley cruiser motorcycle into a performance bagger.

Engine Upgrade

Harley performance baggers are defined by more powerful engines that pack a greater punch than their base counterparts. Engine upgrades to increase horsepower and torque may include installing high-performance air filters with fuel tuners to optimize air-fuel mixture and increase power. In some cases, Harley performance baggers undergo a complete engine overhaul to obtain greater gains.

Exhaust System Upgrade

Upgraded exhaust systems are usually lighter than stock, which helps increase speed for Harley performance baggers. An upgraded exhaust also improves exhaust airflow, which contributes to increased horsepower and torque, with quicker throttle response.

Enhanced Suspension

Many Harley performance baggers are equipped with advanced suspension systems and handling features. Riders can confidently lean into corners and maneuver through traffic with ease, combining the thrill of performance riding with the practicality of a bagger.

Lightweight Parts

The lighter the weight of the components in your Harley, the less air drag, and the faster your Harley can go. Fenders, hubs, pulleys, rake kits, and rotors made with lightweight materials such as aluminum or carbon fiber all contribute to less air resistance. Less air drag makes for a faster Harley performance bagger.


Aftermarket high-performance camshafts can improve valve timing. Better valve timing leads to better overall engine efficiency and performance.

High Performance Tires

High-performance tires can improve traction during acceleration. These lightweight tires are made from softer rubber and come with longer treads to achieve comfortable high-speed cornering.

Motorcycle Wheels

High-performance Harley motorcycle wheels made out of lightweight aluminum add strength and reduce drag to improve the speed of Harley performance baggers. SMT Harley motorcycle wheels are made from aircraft-grade 6061-T6 billet aluminum alloy.

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Harley High-Performance Rotors FAQs

  1. What defines a Harley performance bagger?
    A Harley performance bagger is a high-performance motorcycle that combines the iconic styling of a Harley-Davidson cruiser with enhanced power, aggressive design, and practical storage solutions. These bikes are designed for riders seeking both speed and convenience.
  2. What sets Harley performance baggers apart from traditional touring bikes?
    While traditional touring bikes focus on comfort and long-haul capabilities, Harley performance baggers prioritize a fusion of power and style. These motorcycles feature more powerful engines, aggressive designs, and advanced suspension for faster speeds and a more thrilling ride.
  3. What engine options are found in Harley performance baggers?
    Harley performance baggers often upgrade engine parts to improve airflow and combustion. Engines sometimes are completely overhauled to achieve larger displacement that provide increased power and performance.
  4. Is it possible to improve the handling of Harley performance baggers?
    Upgraded suspension systems provide improved handling and maneuverability. Suspension and handling enhancements allow riders to confidently navigate corners and enjoy a more dynamic riding experience.
  5. Do Harley performance baggers still offer practical storage solutions?
    Despite their performance-oriented design, Harley performance baggers retain integrated saddlebags for convenient storage. These bags provide ample space for riders to carry their personal essentials, making them suitable for both short rides and extended journeys.
  6. Can I further customize my Harley performance bagger?
    Of course! Customization is a significant aspect of Harley performance baggers. Riders personalize their bikes with custom paint jobs, aftermarket exhaust systems, performance upgrades, and other accessories to reflect their unique riding preferences.
  7. Are Harley performance baggers suitable for long-distance rides?
    Harley performance baggers are built off of traditional touring bikes. They retain the features of comfortable seating and integrated storage that make them well-suited for long-distance rides.
  8. How’s the fuel efficiency of Harley performance baggers?
    Fuel efficiency varies based on the model and engine size. Generally, Harley performance baggers may have slightly lower fuel efficiency compared to traditional touring bikes when engines are overhauled for higher performance with added power and torque.
  9. What are the safety features of Harley performance baggers?
    The same as you would get with any touring bike, advanced safety features such as ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and other modern technologies to enhance rider safety.
  10. Are there any specific maintenance considerations for Harley performance baggers?
    Just like any motorcycle, regular maintenance is crucial for optimal performance. Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, pay attention to oil changes, and ensure that all performance modifications are installed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
SMT Wheels High Performance Harley Bagger Parts

SMT Parts for Harley Performance Baggers

Harley performance motorcycle baggers represent a thrilling fusion of power, style, and practicality. Evolving from the touring bike culture, these machines represent a niche for riders who crave speed and performance without compromising on the convenience of storage. SMT offers a wide range of performance parts, tires, and wheels for your Harley performance bagger. Get in touch by email, phone, or chat to discuss how we can help make your Harley go faster.