Archive for March, 2010

Porsche made me rediscover Harley-Davidson

Posted in Harley-Davidson with tags , , , on March 31, 2010 by bleiglass

My preconceptions were that Harley-Davidson motorcycles develop strong vibrations, many wanted, but some really annoying after a couple of hundred miles. I feared these issues, and did not want to submit myself to them for a long time.

The 45 degree air-cooled V2 started to show its age, and Harley-Davidson wanted to reach a new class of buyers, those that were desperately looking for a alternative to Japanese mass production, Germany’s boring reliability or the Italian flair with a build in breakdown.

A new engine was designed, and Harley-Davidson did the clever thing to ask their friends at Porsche engineering to help optimize the concept and performance. Except for it to be a V2, many other traditional elements were thrown overboard. The new Revolution engine was 60 degree V-twin, not 45 anymore, liquid cooled  and not air cooled, and incorporates twin overhead cams with 4 valves per cylinder. First introduced in 2001 with 1130cc (69ci), it engine displacement was increased to 1250cc (73.6ci) in 2008.

This was the Harley I thought I wanted to drive, I liked the looks, and I started to study the web to better understand the differences between the actual V-Rod, the V-Rod Night Special and the new V-Rod Muscle. Actually, I started to study what Harley-Davidson was all about.

I realized that the only V-Rod I would consider was the V-Rod base model, as the “special editions” had their handlebars way to much in front for my taste (and body shape). Compare these 2 pictures:


V-Rod Muscle, and very similar on the Night Special

I could clearly see that the driving position would be much more uncomfortable for me and my belly (see it hidden by a camera in About) on the Muscle, something that was quickly confirmed when I later did actually sit on these 2 bikes at my local Harley-Davidson dealer.

I could test drive  the V-Rod Muscle. A very smooth engine but still a V2, with plenty of torque and power in higher revs. And that was a bit disturbing, as you could, and even had to, rev the engine above 7000 rpm to feel the full punch. It develops its 125 hp at 8250 rpm! Not very Harley-like in my modest expectations, it is simply too smooth, too high revs, too well done. Don’t get me wrong, its a great engine, technologically very advanced, but will it define the future of Harley-Davidson? I am not yet convinced, but it will attract new important buyers, who otherwise would not consider a Harley. And that is a good thing.

The other surprise I had, beside the handle bar being way to much in front, was the long front fork with its rake steering head at a 34 degrees angle. That was a new experience to me. I did not have to push the bike into bends, it fell into them! In the world of cars you would use the term over-steering. What a scary and unexpected experience that was, as I was used to the need of brute force and literally had to wrestle my bikes to round bends. All in all, a experience I did not like, and I concluded that I prefer, like in my cars, a bit of under-steering, and the occasional wrestling match.

As I said earlier, if a V-Rod was the choice, then the base model would be my option, as I did not want to start the intensive customization of my new Harley with a new handlebar that would looked quite odd on the Night Special or the Muscle.

And then comes the not unimportant color issue. Black is my color of choice, but unfortunately not all V-Rod’s look good in black, as I think the V-Rod base model looks only somewhat harmonic in silver.

Check out these 2 images:

V-Rod in black

V-Rod in silver

Do you see the difference? The odd thing on the black V-Rod is its silver frame, as only in the Night Special and the Muscle have this frame in black. Once the frame is in silver, the silver tank and fenders make the V-Rod look like a harmonic unit, and not like some spare parts randomly put together. My taste, and please feel free to have another one.

So as they say in Dragons Den: V-Rod, I am sorry, but I am out!

to be continued…


Welcome to my Road King Classic 2010 Blog

Posted in Harley-Davidson with tags , on March 30, 2010 by bleiglass

In March 2010, I decided it is time to start a new chapter, and move to a motorcycle I always wanted to own, a Harley Davidson. If I was looking for reliability or performance, I maybe should have stayed with my Japanese Tupperware, or, to be on the safe side, move to my Teutonic roots. But I wanted emotions, classic lines and nostalgia based on history, not just copied design or space aged technology. It had to be a Harley Davidson, as it had a CV starting in 1903, few surviving bike manufacturer can boast about that.

Moving away from 9 years and 81.000 km on a Honda GL 1800 Goldwing is a big call, believe me. Add to that 60.000 km on a Pan European, and the name HONDA is engraved in you brain. A total of 141.000 km of comfortable, reliable drive, in whatever weather conditions, from sub-freezing to melting hot, 12 month a year, left me with gratitude and thanks to my old companions.

But once the divorce had been decided, the new direction chosen, the questions started. Which Harley-Davidson is right one for me at this time of my life? Do not forget, I am a complete Harley novice, all I knew is that the are massive V2’s engines involved beside some other (hopefully wrong)  preconception of thirsty but lame performance, mad vibrations and missing suspensions.

Harley Davidson Road King Classic

I had to go through a steep learning curve, as I like to meet any sales representative well informed. I had to do my homework first, and I want to share with you the thoughts, options and considerations I discovered in my journey to a Harley Davidson during the next couple of posts into this blog.

Thereafter, I hope to be able to let this follow by the experiences and fun I will have with my Road King Classic after taking delivery of the new bike, which will happen (hopefully) in mid April 2010, when I was promised it will stops raining in the UK for the rest of the year.

But first lets have a last look at my old friend, the Wing…

Honda GL1800 GoldwingHonda GL1800, Goldwing, goodbye…