Location: Mesa,
Joined: 06/10/2007
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Old School, Café-Racer, Track Only, Build-It, Ride-It
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Bikes That Don't Get Wet

April 21, 2008

I'm a big fan of all kinds of motorcycles. From my perspective every bike has it's place. A heavy Harley cruiser and a superbike can both be fun. (Though I personally prefer leading edge technology and performance). But I have a gripe. My gripe is with Harley-Davidson, their apparent lack of ambition and a bunch of new riders that need to experience what it is really like to ride a bike.


First, Harley-Davidson was one among dozens of American motorcycle manufacturers that really developed what became our addiction. The motorcycle. However, they seem to have lost focus about 50 years ago as the English bikes came in and gave riders higher performance at a lower price. Though Harley was still competitive. They even brought in some low end Italian bikes called Aermachis as a small entry level Harley. Unfortunately, they didn't compete. Then the Japanese came in with determination and focus and absolutely dominated everything two wheeled.


So, in a move, more akin to the French than Americans. They quit. Sure there were half hearted attempts at racing. The VR1000 could have done it, but development was slow. At the end of the project they were making the type of power Ducati made at the beginning of the 916 project. So what is Harley-Davidson now? A heavy, over priced cruiser. Even Buell has abandoned Harley power plants in favor of Rotax. How could they allow that to happen? Why isn't Harley-Davidson, with it's new found wealth not trying to become the juggernaut in all things motorcycle as it once was? Why don't I see them releasing I-4 platforms, why aren't they jumping in to tangle with Ducati and their big twins? Aside from the money, how can they be satisfied at their snails pace of evolution? ( i guess I answered it myself there, huh?) I would buy an American designed, engineered and produced superbike if it were available for a price between the Japanese bikes and the Italian or German bikes. That should be pretty reasonable. I might even consider a Fischer and it's only half-American made. Harley-Davidson, where are you?? Go help Buell out and make a performance bike we can be proud of.


This leads me to my final gripe. I'm quite certain the majority of riders are not like this, but there seems to be a fair amount around.

If you've seen the Harley ad that shows a horde of identical people riding identical bikes and spouting off about individuality you know what I am talking about. There appear to be a bunch of "riders" that think living to ride is about putting a few hundred miles on a $30k full dress bike at 35 mph and riding from HD dealership to bar to dealership to buy some more HD t-shirts. Then spending hours polishing off half a day's road grime. To make the point, I actually read this in a cruiser magazine recently (I'll leave it nameless because of this rant, but if the mag. wants credit just send me a message)..

No joke.. a guy was offered a detail at the dealership when he took his '08 Dyna in for service..."I asked them if they could do it without water as I intend to keep it as dry as possible as I don't feel that bikes should be wet."

Is this serious? If you really ride bikes, you WILL get wet one day. It won't hurt the poor bike, it's a machine. When it starts to sprinkle, keep on going through it. One day experience the contrast that is the beauty of crossing the desert in a monsoon storm and seeing the clear in front of you. You will know how nice it is when the sun finally comes out and starts to warm you up and dry you out.

Do your 600 mile service yourself. You don't need to take it to a dealership like every car owner out there. Take pride in knowing your bike. If it breaks down crossing that desert, you will one day know how it feels to get back to civilization having used safety wire and duct tape to get back on the road.

Don't be scared to take your street bike to the track. You may lay it down, but that's a small price to pay for the enjoyment of riding hard. You will live more in one hot lap than most people do in their life.

Don't worry about your cellphone coverage on a trip. Don't call your friend 100 miles away to get you gas if you run out. Hitch to the next town, buy a drink and fill the bottle up with gas to get you to the next town.

Your motorcycle is not a piece of jewelry. Its a means to experience life in a distinctly different way than the other 98% of the people in this country.

So, with that. Shut up about what is the best polish to use or which shirt you should wear when you ride and RIDE. I'll stop and help you out if I see you stuck on the side of the road.



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