Archive for July, 2010

Ride along lake Como to the HOG Rally Lugano

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

After the not-so-impressive dinner on Thursday (the one where the tomato got lost in the Calzone), our group of 6 had a fantastic 3 course dinner at another restaurant last night (Friday) in Como.

a Italian Good Morning view out of my hotel window

I was looking forward to the announced Chapter ride around lake Como, but during breakfast the disappointing announcement was made that the ride had to be canceled. Instead members were invited  to join a boat trip to Bellagio to enjoy this sunny day or make own plans for a ride on his Harley-Davidson.

I like boats, and the invitation was tempting, but then again, I rode hundreds and hundreds of miles to Lugano to enjoy a biker weekend, and lake Como seemed as inviting from the road then from a boat.

Dik, the Chapter director,  was very helpful and went to great length in explaining to me the planed ride – via Lecco to Bellagio and on to the HOG festival in Lugano – and Howard on his “Fat Boy”, now with a brand new rear tire, decided to join me and my GPS for what turned out to be a fantastic ride.

We even could meet some of our friends turned boat-people in Lugano for lunch. I could meet a group of Harley drivers from France (Lorraine Chapter), and we took each others pictures.

Merci Serge pour la foto

While Howard and I waved goodbye to ride on to join the parade in Lugano, we could see some envy in their eyes, as the boat trip in the enclosed hydrofoil with dirty windows wasn’t exactly the most pleasant on such a sunny day – as we were told.

Sad to leave Beverly, Robin and John behind

But the parade in Lugano was waiting for us. Howard wanted to watch, I wanted to join…

Como >> Lecco >> Bellagio >> Lugano (parade) >> Como: 112 miles

Post on Parade to follow

This is the 3rd part of the 5 part report of my trip to the 19th European HOG Rally in Lugano.

Part 1: The ride south, going to Como, Italy
Part 2: Visit to HOG village in Lugano
Part 3: Ride along lake Como to the HOG Rally Lugano
Part 4: HOG Parade in Lugano
Part 5: The long ride home from HOG Rally Lugano


Harley-Davidson PowerPak 103 on the 2011 Road King Classic – its all about torque

Posted in Harley-Davidson with tags , , , , , , on July 29, 2010 by bleiglass

You never get it right, either you buy to early, or too late, and most of the time both statements are valid.

  • You buy too late as you miss usage time, fun, and in case of a Harley-Davidson, miles on the road.
  • You always buy too early, as the next new model is just around the corner and going to be announced.

Less then 4 month after I ordered my Harley Davidson 2010 Road King Classic, the 2011 model is announced, and it has as standard feature a beast of a engine, the Twin Cam 103.

Harley Davidson calls this “upgrade” the “PowerPak 103“, standard on some models, like the 2011 Road King Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Limited and Road Glide Ultra machines, and as a factory-installed option on the 2011 Street Glide and Road Glide Custom models. They key-word here is: “factory-installed”, I doubt you will be able to bring your 2010 Road King to the dealer and ask him to install the PowerPak, like he would add some new Footrests.

This said, you can upgrade your “older” model from 96 to 103 at around 700US$ per Cubic Inch. You decide if its worthwhile, I wait.

What changes with the PowerPak103? Well, physically not much, but performance wise a lot. The stroke of the engine remains unchanged at 111mm, otherwise they would need a redesigned flywheel and crank shaft, and the bore is increased by 1/8th of a inch, tiny 3 mm, but this makes the bang, this makes all the difference. The displacement increases from 96 to 103, or in metric terms from 1583cc to 1690cc. And this 6.7% increase in engine displacement results in a 10.2% higher torque, and torque is what make most of us buy Harley-Davidson motorcycles again and again and again.

Harley-Davidson cancels world record attempt in Silverstone

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2010 by bleiglass

In the HOG magazine (Summer 2010) I read the following article:

How interesting was that, a ride around Silverstone, and all the fun for a good cause. As you may have seen in a earlier post, I booked my place and got the ticket, so this weekend I jumped on my Road King Classic for the 185 mile (return) ride to Silverstone.

I must admit something smelled wrong, as the instructions for the “Charity Parade” were removed from the website, how odd, could it be they canceled it?

Well, I kept checking back, and back, and my final check was at the hospitality stand of HOG in Silverstone itself. I was told that the circuit parade had to be canceled, because of low number of registrations. I was not the only one disappointed, but I must admit the few dozen Harley riders who made it to Silverstone mid morning that Saturday may have given a pretty poor image for a “new world record attempt“. At a ride with my chapter more bikes can attend on a rainy day.

I was not happy, but specially miffed by the treatment I received from Harley-Davidson. No, not by their helpful “Customer Care Representatives” like Verena, who I already did meet in Lugano, or her boss, they were as sorry as possible and tried to heal the wound with a special Silverstone Classic 2010 Pin, no, I am disappointed by the organization itself for not letting me know about the cancellation in advance.

I get weekly advertisement emails by Harley-Davidson, and request and reminder emails for customer satisfaction survey’s, so they know my email address pretty well. And they – or at least their computer and Verena and her boss – knew that I was registered for the parade, so why did they not send me a nice hype marketing email announcing the deep regret over the cancellation of the “world record breaking” parade but motivating me still to come for all the other nice things happening at the Silverstone Classic?

OK, some of us few might have decide not to come, so what, at least we would have felt part of the family, informed, and not tricked into attendance for simple monetary reasons like I feel now. I do not treat my pillion passenger as luggage, and do not like to be treated by Harley-Davidson just as disposable decoration to its events.

I am sorry it did not turn out as planed, it would have made a interesting ride, and if the hundreds of present Harley employees would have jumped on the dozens of demo bikes available, and given “us” all huge HOG flags to attach the the rear of our bikes, it may still have been a impressive slow moving  parade and good advertisement for Harley-Davidson, like Putin did. We may have set a world record in “brightest bikes with biggest flags” on a circuit, but simply dropping the event silently was the worst of outcomes, and no good omen for next years event, and a big minus in my list of arguments for considering a life membership.

Anyway, it wasn’t a bikers event in the first place, even Harley Davidson proudly displayed “its” car, a HD-branded 2004 Ford F250. It was all about Porsche, Jaguar, Ferrari, Lamborghini, MG, Bentley, Bugatti, you name it. The rows and rows of Ferrari’s and Porsche were impressive, but once seen, whats next?

Few bikers made it to Silverstone, here some from Thames Valley Chapter, not enough for a world record attempt

This guy was guarding the Porsche Riders Club entrance, and when he realized I drove a Harley, he was disappointed it was not a V-Rod with a Porsche engine, but accepted my Road King Classic as close enough family to let me in. He waved goodbye after I left, I say thank you.

Driving past all these cars, I suddenly realized why Harley-Davidson spends so much of its marketing budget on such events: its all about their target group of buyers.

The average Harley owner is 48ish, and has some cash to spend on his toys. Here they were, all together in one place, waiting to realize that a car a nice, but car and a Harley is nicer.

Walking the stands was nice, with some interesting art, but soon you reached the row of nice smelling food stands, and I am on a diet…

intriguing paintwork by danish artist
Kristian von Hornsleth …

All left was to watch the races, little cars turning in circles in front of empty stands, honestly not as exciting as the stadium announcer made them. The question was not so much who will pass who, but like with all older classic things, who will last another round…

Well, I left this slightly disappointing event early enough to make it to the final F1 qualification shootout in front of my TV at home. Vettel got pole.

And I missed the concert with the tone deaf Jedward brothers, I call that good timing.

Visit to HOG village in Lugano

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG with tags , , , , , on July 25, 2010 by bleiglass

A good night sleep after a long drive down south, a small group of us drove the next morning the few miles from Italy to Switzerland, from Como to Lugano, to visit the fist day of 19th European HOG Rally in Lugano.

John – Howard – Beverly – Robin

HOG village – its a traveling circus, its all about Harley Davidson branding. If you come early, its not too crowded yet. The huge stage dominated a quite small market place:

Great recycled art, watch their video here

beautiful bikes, but not exactly practical for long distance riding

Our Harley-Davidson’s in front of lake Lugano. The summer heat needed some cooling, this fountain was a very popular spot:

all official Harley-Davidson demo bikes had a UK registration

Dave, editor of the Hogsback Newsletter

well cultivated rust

These ladies are a tad overdressed for a Harley-ride

A huge Goldwing trike, I did not yearn back to my GL1800 days one second

nice head-cover, from Palermo Chapter

As Howard’s Fat Boy rear tire had a (lets call it) a “weak spot”, we escorted him to the local Harley-Davidson dealer for a replacement.

Harley-Davidson Ticino were very helpful and solved the problem the same day, what a great new shop they have.

Thank you Lugano for a great day, soon your lakeside street will be solely owned again by your little train. But first we need all space for a big Harley-Davidson parade with over 3,000 motorcycles…

to be continued…

Como – Lugano – Como >> 53 miles

This is the 2nd part of the 5 part report of my trip to the 19th European HOG Rally in Lugano.

Part 1: The ride south, going to Como, Italy
Part 2: Visit to HOG village in Lugano
Part 3: Ride along lake Como to the HOG Rally Lugano
Part 4: HOG Parade in Lugano
Part 5: The long ride home from HOG Rally Lugano

The ride south, going to Como, Italy

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG with tags , , , on July 22, 2010 by bleiglass

On the first 2 day of my tour to the 19th European HOG Rally in Lugano I drove first to Luxembourg, leaving the UK through the Eurotunnel, and then on to Como, Italy, where my Chapter, the Hogsbacks, had reserved 20 rooms at a hotel.

Small groups of Hogsbacks organized their way down to Italy themselves, but as I had not much time, I rode solo the 320 and 420 mile journeys. For some, the Lugano HOG Rally was in the middle of a 2 week holiday trip, I rode down and up again in as few days as possible, I had no choice.

The weather report was fully hedged, as usual, with possible rain here and there. Did you ever hear a weather report saying that it will not rain at all? Never, no chance, so I left as usual overdressed, expecting the worst, and taking off some clothing every 100 miles.

At the end I drove in my T-shirt, I know, not the safest way, but then getting unconscious due to overheating isn’t exactly safe neither.

Some of the pictures show me driving, and they are all taken with a Hero GoPro HD camera. As I had trouble with the video sound during my first tests, video is very storage intensive and the editing is very time consuming, I selected the photo mode, which lets the camera taken 1 picture every 2 seconds.

Arriving home I had 4407 pictures on the memory chip, it took hours to go through them all and  select the best ones for editing and these posts. But t was worthwhile, I think the the quality is much better and the process is much faster then the capture of a video frame.

On a sunny day you meet many bikers on the road, and some were Harley Davidson motorcycles clearly looking like on their way to the same event I was trying to reach in Switzerland. But forget trying to find them later, with 15.000 bikes visiting Lugano on this single weekend individual nuances blur into a single mass of metal and chrome.

Antje and Marc, thank you for letting me stay with you in Luxembourg on my way south and on the return ride.

I do not regret using highways, actually I like eating miles. It may not be as picturesque as side roads, but has its merits if you want to reach a distant goal within a certain time window.

On thing I regret however, and will try never to do again, is using the 17km long Gotthard Tunnel with a motorcycle. It was like in a furnace, it got hotter and hotter, and worst, the air became non breathable and my eyes started to hurt.

Actually, you were not in a furnace, more in the exhaust muffler of a large truck.

On my ride home, I will definitively use the pass.

Once I arrived in Como, checked into the hotel, other Hogsbacks arrived, and we had good dinner… although some say the advertised tomatoes in the Calzone Pizza were hard to find.

Our Hotel, the Albergo Firenze

And during the night, 16 Harley-Davidson were safely parked in the basement, waiting for action the next day.

to be continued…

Home >> Luxembourg: 334 miles

Luxembourg >> Como: 431 miles

This is the 1st part of the 5 part report of my trip to the 19th European HOG Rally in Lugano.

Part 1: The ride south, going to Como, Italy
Part 2: Visit to HOG village in Lugano
Part 3: Ride along lake Como to the HOG Rally Lugano
Part 4: HOG Parade in Lugano
Part 5: The long ride home from HOG Rally Lugano

Silverstone Classic

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG with tags , , , on July 21, 2010 by bleiglass

Shame on me, just a few hours back from the European HOG Rally in Lugano, not a single picture posted yet, but a new post on my next ride – to Silverstone.

If it rains, I lost my ticket fee, but its middle of summer, so I am confident to leave early on Saturday morning.

Lets see if the parade takes place, I read that they will try to set a new Guinness Book record of most Harley-Davidson’s at the same time on the same track of Silverstone.

GPS: N52° 04.391′ W1° 01.566′ – about 90 miles from home

Ok, now I go to edit some of the Lugano pictures

Back in Luxembourg

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG with tags , on July 18, 2010 by bleiglass

Just a short note, without pictures, to say: what a fantastic trip I had until now! Thank you Road King.

After a 1,000 mile roundtrip I arrived back in Luxembourg, and no sore butt…

I just received a SMS and can report that John on his Heritage and Howard on a Fat Boy – who drove with me the whole way back from Lugano today – found a nice hotel near Verdun. Our ways parted near Metz as I had to dash north to Luxembourg. Thanks for your comany, I hope you both have a safe ride tomorrow back to the UK.

I will ride as planed to Gladbeck on Monday, and be back in London Tuesday.

Then I should soon be able to show you first pictures from the 19th European HOG Rally in Lugano.