Editor's note: We found this interesting article/opinion piece on a Bikernet sponsor's blog: J&P Cycles. Lowell Anderson works for J&P Cycles as director of brands. In this position, he is responsible for the assortment, design and development of products for J&P Cycles' private label brands. Prior to joining the J&P team, Lowell was a senior manager for KTM North America Inc., where he was responsible for designing, developing and marketing all the KTM hard parts and clothing for the KTM Hard Equipment product line. Lowell has a passion for everything on two wheels, and he offers in this piece the interesting perspective of an experienced performance rider who has just bought his first Harley. The kid makes a number of good points and we think his story is worth a read. Feel free to share, comment and participate.
After riding motorcycles for over 30 years I recently decided to buy a Harley…
I have to say, many of my friends and family were floored. I come from a performance background and buying a Harley is something I simply never considered. Over the years I have established a reputation poking fun of those Harley riders. In my opinion, it’s all in good fun. I will ride with anyone. There are a ton of serious issues we can get upset at each other about that carry far more weight than what type of bike we all ride. But for years if you were on a Harley, you were going to get the brunt of it if you were riding with me.
So after years of bashing the Harley loyal I decided to go out and buy one. WHY? My reasoning was simple. I wanted to learn about the bikes and see what all the hype was all about. Maybe if I spent some time riding one I would come away with a different opinion. So after a discussion with my wife and some serious convincing of my Harley friends, I began looking for my first Harley. I asked a bunch of questions and gathered a consensus of what would be the best bike for me. A whole lot of advice and hours of research later, I decided on a Dyna. I found a 2007 Super Glide on Craigslist and decided to go take a look at it. I thought this would be a good choice simply because the bike was fuel injected and according to my friends, had decent handling characteristics. I may be old but I still ride a road bike pretty aggressive. I wanted to have something that would perform decently on the roads.
The bike only had 23K miles and I picked it up for $5300 bucks. I took my wife to look at the bike and when I loaded it into the truck, unbeknownst to me, she took a picture and posted it on Facebook. Instantly my phone started blowing up! It was comical how many people called me that day. I literally had friends call me that I hadn’t spoken to in years! All of them asking the same question…..”Did you really buy a Harley?”
As soon as I got the bike home I started taking it apart. The first thing to come off was the Ape hangers and I dropped the forks to change the fork oil. I put tracker bars on the bike, changed all the fluids, greased all the joints and went through all the components. Threw on a new set of hoops and took it for a ride. After 10 minutes on the bike, I felt the need to start heading back home. The front suspension felt unstable and shoddy, the brakes sucked, and the rear felt springy. On deceleration the handlebars vibrated violently and the bike handled for sh*t. I kept looking at the front wheel wondering if I forgot to tighten something. The first corner I went into quickly reminded me what I was riding. The rear of the bike wallowed in the middle of the turn like I was riding a gold fish! That combined with the front end dive and the vibration from the bars when I dropped the throttle got me thinking about my wife and kids! Not good!
I was convinced there was something wrong with the bike. Once I got the bike home I called one of my Harley buddies to come ride the bike. Jay showed up, hopped on the bike and went roaring down the road. After about 15 minutes I started to worry…He wasn’t back and I was afraid something did go wrong. After about 10 more minutes of freaking out, I heard the bike heading back. Jay whipped in the drive, put the kick stand out and said…”MAN! This thing is great! You got a good deal!”
I didn’t know how to respond…I was speechless.
I’ve been a Harley owner for six months now, and I have to admit…I still don’t get it. There are quite a few things that I have come across that I simply don’t understand concerning the bike. I definitely learned a lot in the last six months but not much of it makes any sense to me.
So here is my list of top 10 things I hate about my Harley.
HarleySuspension- The suspension on the bike is way too soft. I ended up putting a Progressive Suspension Mono-tube kit in the 49mm forks and adding a set of Progressive 444 shocks. This helped things tremendously!
Hardware- I understand we all need to save some money, but the hardware Harley uses to put the bikes together could be way better. I have seen better looking hardware come stock on a Big wheel!
Drain plugs- You shouldn’t give a torque spec on an oil drain plug when you didn’t leave enough space to get a torque wrench on the plug. You also shouldn’t have to wrap said plug in Teflon tape so it doesn’t leak! How about a copper washer and a flat surface? Just like every other OEM on the planet.
Oil changes- I really have to spend an hour cleaning the front of the motor every time I change the oil? Yeah I know I can buy a piece of plastic for 20 bucks that I have to shove under the filter so it doesn’t make a mess…but I shouldn’t have to do that!
Stock horn- It’s safe to say I will be making an upgrade.
Blinker indicators- Why would you put these on the dash so I have to look down to see if my auto shut off blinker is still on? Do you want me to notice the car in front of me that just slammed on their brakes? Wear a full face helmet and its worse! Put the blinker indicators where we can see them without having to take our eyes off the road!
Convenience- I have to remove the exhaust to change the clutch cable and have to remove the shift linkage to get to the oil filter. You cannot be serious.
Brakes- I know these bikes are heavy, but the brakes should make the bike stop. The brakes on this bike have serious room for improvement! I have ridden the new models too and the brakes are about the same.
Painted hand controls- I know people like to go buy plastic covers for these ugly black controls, but painting them so they look like garbage after a few years is ridiculous. Two Words…POWDER COAT!
Fasteners- I don’t have bags on this bike but you need to mount a tool chest on the rear fender if you want to be prepared. SAE, Metric, Torx, Allen heads….make up your mind!
Things I Hate About My HarleyHere is the deal. I have to admit I also love some things about my Harley. I love the endless selection of products that you can buy for Harley Davidson motorcycles. Customizing this bike has been fun! I love the six speed transmission and I like some of the comfort the bike provides at highway speeds. I like the sound of the bike. I didn’t at first, but now it has kinda grown on me.
Most of all I love the passion that people have for the Harley Davidson brand. I have met more people riding this bike than I have before. People love to talk about their Harleys!
In my opinion, if you are going to buy a brand new Harley you should expect so much more. That’s the point. Selling bikes at a premium price that don’t perform and have obvious shortcomings is just not acceptable in this day and age. You may love your Harley but you can’t argue these points very easily. I really would like to see Harley Davidson step it up in the future. They could definitely make some improvements that would benefit the rider and the reputation of the brand. Here’s to hoping they do!