All posts by Bill Whitman

Chicagoland Wings!

During the 2015 season I rode with several different motorcycle groups. I guess it’s time to write about my experiences with these groups. I just read an interesting article about USA motorcycle riders’ behavior. 58% of us are what’s referred to as “Lone Wolf Riders.” No groups, no vests and no patches. We just roll our motorcycles out of the garage and go.

First up is the Chicagoland Wings! Here’s a link to their website. http://gwrra-ilz2.com/. Before I write about my experience I’m going to give you the official statement from their website. “We are one of several Illinois Chapters of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. The world’s largest single-marque social organization for owners and riders of Honda Gold Wing and Valkyrie motorcycles. We are dedicated to our motto, Friends for Fun, Safety and Knowledge. GWRRA members enjoy the freedom of belonging to a not-for-profit, non-religious, and non-political organization.”

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. I don’t own a Honda Gold Wing or a Valkyrie motorcycle. Can I still participate in this group if I don’t own one of these motorcycles? Well, I’m going with yes. Considering fact that I’ve showed up on my Moto Gizzi and other riders at the meetings have different motorcycle brands too. So I’m going to throw this out there, it pretty much looks like if you like to ride a motorcycle you can be a participant in this group.

I am a member of Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA). I own a 2008 Honda Golwing. I’m pretty sure the membership cost me about $45 a year. The GWRRA creates a magazine that they send out periodically. You can get either by mail or an electronic version to read on your iPad or such.

This magazine is filled with useful motorcycle rider information and advertisement specifically targeting Honda Gold Wing motorcycles. There are other benefits to being a member of this organization but I just don’t have in front of me to write about it. Here’s a link to their website so you can get the correct information. http://www.gwrra.org/

Next let’s talk about the meeting logistics. The meetings are held every third Sunday at the Denny’s located at 17 W 660 22nd street, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181. The meetings start at about 9 am giving you the opportunity to eat breakfast and hear what’s going on in the group and the parent organization (GWRRA). There is also an opportunity for you to gamble because during the meeting they run a 50-50 ticket raffle.

One of my favorite things about this group is that there are women riders in the group. They’re not just passengers but they ride their own motorcycles. In my opinion this reduces the level of testosterone in the group. Maybe reduces the level of testosterone is the wrong thing to say, let’s just say it dilutes the level of testosterone.

Excessive testosterone and motorcycles leads to bad things. I’ve ridden with several all-male groups and the first two things that go out the window are safety and critical thinking. So anytime I see a group that has women riders I’m in.

Before I go any farther I’d like to nail down the relationships between the different organizations. The Chicagoland wings are a chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. I believe there is more than one Illinois chapter and the technical name for this chapter is “GWRRA Chapter IL-Z2.” I may have this wrong but I believe you have to be a member of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) in order to participate in a local chapter. Without doing any research I’m going to guess that there are chapters located all over the world.

Okay, who are you riding with in this group? I’m three clicks away from 60 and would consider myself a little bit under the mean average age. I wouldn’t say that I’m an outlier on the Bell curve just a little bit off from the center. I look like I’m in my early forties and sometimes I feel like the “Kid” in the group. But, that’s just me internalizing.

The club president definitely goes out of his way to try to connect with anyone who is new or possibly overwhelmed by this experience their first meeting. This is definitely one of the friendlier groups that I’ve rode with. Example, I’ve been provided with coupons by other members to reduce the cost of my breakfasts on several occasions. I guess this is a small thing, but it’s indicative to the whole culture of the group.

On our last outing we went to Volo Auto Museum located in 27582 Volo Village Rd, Volo, IL . I’ve driven past this place several times, but never stopped in. This particular outing was about a 90 mile round trip I believe. The Volvo Auto Museum is an interesting place for me because it is filled with “muscle cars” from back in the day. I got a chance to reminisce about cars that I always wanted to own.

But true be told, I love my 2015 Honda Accord. I like how every time I get in the driver seat it adjusts to fit me after the wife has just driven it. That is just so “car-gasmic” for me. You can’t beat no key to turn, Bluetooth conductivity, wall-to-wall-air bags and a bunch of technology I don’t know how to use. Muscle cars just don’t seem so cool anymore.

Okay this blog is starting to turn into an episode of the Seinfeld show, a lot about nothing. So improve you social skills and ride with this group!

Be safe, ride your motorcycle, enjoy you life, help those in need, go to pet shelter and try to improve the planet. Oh, one other thing, please checkout all of my media, thanks.

2015 KTM 390 Duke

I’m going to start right here. This motorcycle weighs about 307 pounds without the fluids. The fluids would include oil, fuel and coolant. So let’s add another 20 pounds to be on the safe side. So the approximate weight of this motorcycle ready to ride is 327 pounds. That’s about 100 or so odd pounds heavier than a competitive motocross motorcycle. Eat enough Wheaties you could probably carry this motorcycle around by strapping it on your back.

The liquid cooled single cylinder engine generates about 44 HP. That seems like a lot of power for something that has only 375 cc. My Honda lawnmower has 159 cc and produces 6 HP on a good day. The four valves are controlled by two overhead cams. Yep, this little engine has four valves per cylinder. It’s all about moving gases through the combustion chamber with the least resistance. The engine is equipped with two oil pumps to keep all the moving metal parts nice and slippery. The engine weighs in at 80 pounds, let me guess, without fluids?

I’m a big fan of KTM’s engine design. First off, the outward appearance of the engines looks way mechanical, dude. Like every square inch has something to do with producing more HP. No fancy curves or any intrusion of arties stuff to increase the visual appeal of the engine. This baby is all business! On paper KTM’s engines seems to have a higher power to weight ratio than other manufacturers.

A state of the art injection electronics system keeps the fuel following into the combustion chamber without a hitch. Throttle response is spot on without delays or mishaps. The engine revs up quickly so you better be prepared to use the gearbox. Failure to use the gearbox correctly will introduce you to the rev limiter indicator on the display on a regular basis.

The engine is coupled with a 6-speed gearbox. The clutch is in an oil bath and has multi–plates. No slipper clutch on this baby. The clutch is not hydraulic assisted. But it had a very light pull on the lever. The transmission worked like a charm. The only problem I had was the length of shift lever. Way too short for my size 11 boots. Missed a few shifts because of my boots.

The frame is composed of tubular steel. The frame design looks pretty ridgid with some beautiful welds. The swing-arm is composed of lightweight alloys and is manufactured from some type of die-casting process. If you look closely at the swing-arm, it does look pretty cool with the bracing design. The frame and the rims are painted KTM orange, no big surprise there.

The front forks are inverted with a hefty 43 mm thickness. The suspension duties in the rear are handled by a mono-shock right smack dab in the middle of the swing-arm and the frame. According to KTM, the suspension travel in the front and rear is 6 inches. That seems like a lot of travel to me. It might be a misprint from KTM’s website.

This motorcycle has a pretty big front brake rotor. 300 mm big! The front calliper has four pistons and the rear has one. With this braking configuration, I see a lot of stoppies in the future for this motorcycle. Way cool, ABS is standard! I believe KTM is staying ahead of the curve by putting ABS on this motorcycle. The EU is going to force motorcycle manufacturers to have ABS braking systems future. The EU is going to be a big market for this motorcycle anyway.

The 17 inch rims are a light weight casted alloy material. The rims are equipped road griping Metezeler tires. There’s 110 mm in the front and 150 mm in the rear. This combination should keep this motorcycle well planted on the road regardless of the driving conditions.

The seat is about 31.5 inches off the ground which should be a good fit for a lot of motorcyclists. The seat is pretty damn comfortable for this type of motorcycle. Usually they give you plank with ¼ inch of foam and some cheap vinyl covering. The seat was actually very comfy, not La-Z-Boy comfy, but comfy none the least.

I wasn’t a big fan of the speedometer in the beginning. It looked cheap and out of place. But during the demo ride, I learned to embrace it. It was easy to read in any of the sunlight conditions during that day. I wished the tach portion was a little bit bigger on display.

What was it like to ride the KTM 390 Duke? First off, the motorcycle feels small, almost tiny. I can’t see this motorcycle being a good fit for some over 6 feet in height. The second thing that comes to mind is “fun.” Even though this is not the motorcycle for me, it did hit the “damn cool” level in the motorcycle section of my brain.

During my demo ride, the frame felt rock-solid as I pushed it through the turns. The suspension worked like a charm handling my mass during the ride. I did on one occasion squeeze the front brake lever too much causing the front end to dive. After that, I adjusted how I used the front brake. Every motorcycle has a learning curve. The engine provided plenty of get-up-and–go.

Overall, the motorcycle is a very attractive package. In my mind, this motorcycle is about three notches above entry level. The power-to-weight ratio is pretty high for an entry level motorcycle. Using KTM’s tag line, this motorcycle is “ready to race.”

There’s also a restricted version of this motorcycle to comply with the UK’s A2 driver’s license category. In the UK, new riders have HP restrictions on their motorcycles. In the good old USA, a new rider can go directly to a 200 HP machine. Yeah baby!

Also, I’d like to thank KTM and Motorcycle Center for hosting this demo ride. Motorcycle Center is located Villa Park IL and they are KTM dealership.

2014 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring Almost Got Deported!

It was Sunday morning and I was slipping on my motorcycle boots getting ready for a ride. With my boots on I headed down the hallway trying not to step on our dog. Molly is our Golden Retriever who loves to lie on tile floor in the hallway to the garage. I give her a quick pet and carefully step over her trying not to wake her. Once I’m on the other side of our 80 pound fuzzy bumpy roadblock I headed for the door into the garage. I quickly passed through the door into the garage.

I pretty much had my heart set on riding the Moto Guzzi that morning. I started transferring all of motorcycle stuff from the Harley Davidson Ultra Limited’s saddle bags to the Moto Guzzi’s saddle bags. Once everything was transferred I got on the Moto Guzzi and rolled it to middle of the garage. I got off the motorcycle to press the garage door opener button on the control unit mounted on the wall in the garage. Up goes the garage door. I walked back over to the motorcycle.

I turned the key in the ignition switch and pressed the start button. The next thing I know all hell was breaking loose with my trusted Italian best buddy in the garage. The engine started “surging” as though it was trying to dissemble itself. Not groovy! No way dude! I didn’t wait for the pistons to come flying out of the engine. I hit the kill switch and turned the key to off position to end the suffering.

It was so loud that the wife came into garage from the second floor to see if I was okay. I was fine but my Italian best buddy was not. I put the kill switch to on position then I turned the ignition switch to the on position and looked at the speedometer. It had the word “service” in the LCD display. “No shit, no fucking shit” I thought to myself. One other weird thing, the emergency flasher LED was lit on the speedometer, too.

Did I bump the emergency flasher switch near the handgrip? Pressed the emergency flasher switch a few times and no change. WTF! Italian piece of crap, double WTF! I turned the ignition switch to the off position. Waited a few minutes and started the motorcycle again. The engine was now running like it normally did, yeah! I looked at the speedometer and the word “service” was still in the LCD display and the emergency flasher LED was lit on the speedometer. Triple WTF!

Okay, Kelly Blue Book and NADA here I come. How much can I get for Italian best ex-buddy? Maybe, I’ll trade this sucker in for a Honda? Or maybe, it’s time to deport my Moto Guzzi! Nope, that isn’t going to happen. Owning a Moto Guzzi is all about a test of wills. You’re thrown into an epic battle that you must win at all costs. Once the Moto Guzzi sees the fear in your eyes, you’re screwed.

Well, knowledge is power, so off to the Google I go. I typed in my sad story on the computer and boom, there it is. Some other owner had the same problem as me. This dude is the “man” and he understands inner workings of Moto Guzzi motorcycles. As I read his post, it all becomes clears to me. My Italian best buddy has a sensor problem. I now realize that I need professional help to win this war.

I picked up the phone and called Jim at Rose Farm Classics in Woodstock Illinois. After speaking with Jim, he tells me to bring the motorcycle in on Monday. Jim’s shop is about 50 miles from my house. So I ask Jim “Do you think it will make it?” He responds, “I guess we will find out.” Note to self, don’t ask Jim to predict the future again. So Monday morning rolls around and off I go at 4:30 am to beat the traffic.

I arrived at his shop around 6:30 am. Right around 7:00 am Jim shows up. We pushed my Moto Guzzi into his shop to the lift and up it goes. He connects his computer to my Moto Guzzi’s computer and tells me the throttle position sensor had an error. I ask him, “Should it be replaced?” He responds, “Nope,” and follows up with “I’m going to upgrade the software.” He then tells me this should solve my sensor error problem.

I asked Jim if he can do the 6,000 mile service with 5,000 miles on the motorcycle. He says “Sure, but I’ll still need to come back at 6,000 miles so he can reset the computer.” Okay, fine, I’m here, let’s get it done. I wish I could tell you what was done on 6,000 mile service. I can’t, Jim has a really nice leather couch in the showroom. The next thing I know it’s 11:30 am and I’m waking up from a nap on the couch.

I got up off of the couch, walked into the shop and asked Jim if we’re all good, he responded “Yep.” We rolled my Italian best buddy out of the shop. I turned the ignition switch on and up pops Veloce in LCD display. The emergency flasher LED was no longer lit on the speedometer either. Yeah! Veloce is an Italian word which means fast, quick, and speedy. I now have my motorcycle in the sport mode and I hope it’s ready to roll. I hit start button and my Moto Guzzi comes to life. Sweet!

Yep, my Moto Guzzi will remain in the USA in the garage with dual citizenship for now!

2015 Indian Chief Classic’s first 200 mile trip!

This is going be a continuing series about how my 2015 Indian Chief Classic performs and my experience of owning it. I’m not going to bullshit you about anything about this motorcycle. I don’t work for Indian. I’m just another motorcycle consumer like you. If something sucks, you’re going know about it. I’ll deal with facts, figures and my opinion.

Last Sunday, I rode with the Lilac Village War Lords. Nope, not true, sorry. Sounds pretty cool, though, say it with me “Lilac Village War Lords.” The truth is I rode with the Jersey Pine Cruisers. The Jersey Pine Cruiser’s home base is in Mount Prospect Illinois.We rode into the fine state of Wisconsin around the Lake Geneva area.

Okay back on track! I need to have the pre-load adjusted on the rear shock. I’ve got a feeling that motorcycle comes from the factory for someone south of 200 pounds. Well, guess what, I’m north of 200 pounds. So during the ride, my spinal cord got adjusted, a few times. I’m hoping that there’s going to be aftermarket air-shock available soon.

It was a 90 degree day. Good day to see if that big V-twin gets hot between my legs. Guess what? It does! But, it seems to be concentrated on the right side. I saw that coming, not a big deal. Just the nature of the beast. If you want a cooler running engine, then get one that’s water-cooled. I will say this, my old Harley-Davidson 2012 Softail Deluxe would roast both legs, medium well!

The transmission works like a charm. No bouncing back and forth from first to second trying to find neutral. My 2014 Harley Davidson Road King on occasion likes to play “find neutral if you can.” No sponge gears either! What’s a sponge gear? Let’s use my 2014 Moto Guzzi California Touring as an example. Sometimes when I down-shift, it feels like I’m stepping on a sponge. There’s some resistance, but nothing happens. When I feel the “sponge gear” coming on, I up-shift and then down-shift again. It’s all good. It adds some spice to my life.

The engine develops a lot of useful torque. I find myself lazily going through the gears. There have been times when I should have down-shifted, but I didn’t. The engine doesn’t complain by the usual methods. It’s almost like you only need the transmission to get the motorcycle moving. After that, it’s pretty much like an automatic with a few adjustments now and then.

I really don’t feel this motorcycle is drag strip material. It’s new and I haven’t put it through its paces yet, but you can tell. I’m good with that, too. I’m going to guess it’s all about the mass your trying to propel. Send this motorcycle to Weight Watchers for a few months and you’ll have different story to tell.

I can set my helmet on the seat with the engine running. If I try the same feat with my Road King, Ultra Limited or the Moto Guzzi I’d be picking up my helmet off of the ground in seconds. Engine vibrations are kept under control. So if you’re dead set on shaking handlebars, mirrors, floorboards and fuel tanks you’re out of luck.

I read that some people complained about the distance from the handgrips to the levers. I have a normal size hand and didn’t have a problem operating the levers. By normal, I mean I am unable to palm a basketball. The brakes have a really good feel to them. It would appear they provide more than enough stopping power.

I guess my brain is starting to attenuate out the engine noise. It just doesn’t bother me anymore… nor does the rattling coming from the fuel tank area that I once heard in the distant past.

2015 Victory Magnum

A 100 watt stereo! Damn! Not 50 or 75, but 100 motorcycle shaking watts. That’s a lot of wattage in your cottage. It’s hard for me to imagine that 100 W stereo provides manufacturers with leverage to sell their motorcycles. Okay, before I sell my next motorcycle, it’s going put a really big stereo system on it. It would appear that I know absolutely nothing about marketing motorcycles.

The Magnum is powered by Victory’s 106 freedom engine. This engine is pretty much distributed through their whole line of motorcycles. It’s an air/oil cooled 50 ° V twin with a displacement just north of 1700 cc. There are four valves per cylinder to keep the gases flowing freely through the cylinders. Single overhead cam configuration is used to put the valves in play. The cam shaft is driven by a chain, no pushrods in this engine. The engine holds 5 quarts of oil and has a wet sump design.

The engine is fuel injected with 45 mm dual throttle bodies. The engine is also nicely chromed up so you better leave the dealer with some chrome polish. There’s also a counterbalancing device spinning around inside the engine. So if you’re looking for the Harley-Davidson or Moto Guzzi engine experience, you’re out of luck.

There’s an oil cooler neatly tucked away on the two forward frame down tubes. The oil cooler is also hidden by some painted plastic shroud that adds to the aesthetic qualities of the motorcycle.

I once had a Victory motorcycle owner look me in the eye and tell me that the Freedom 106 engine does not produce any heat. I thought to myself, “This is a wonderful story and maybe they shouldn’t legalize drugs.” We really need to bring back the dinosaurs to thin the gene pool a little bit. I’m sorry, but some people have just got to go! The engine produces approximately 87 HP at 5200 RPM and 95 foot-pounds of torque at 3100 RPM. Oh yeah, for the record, the Freedom 106 engine does produce heat! They all do. Get over it.

The engine is coupled with a six-speed no-hassle gearbox. No battle to find neutral or problems missing a shift. I do have one complaint. Where in hell is the toe-heal-shifter? What’s the deal here? Haven’t motorcycle manufacturers figured out that when you install floorboards on a motorcycle it is just natural to put on a toe- heal- shifter arrangement. The exhaust plumbing is neatly routed to both sides of the rear wheel and provides you with an opportunity to polish a lot more chrome.

This motorcycle comes with two disk brakes in the front and one in the rear. All three brake rotors are 300 mm. The front calipers have four pistons and the rear calipers have two pistons. The brake should provide plenty of force to reduce the momentum of this 760 pound motorcycle. The model I drove had ABS, which is an option. I didn’t feel any pulsing through the foot or hand control, so I guess Victory has that nailed. In 2016, the EU will require all newly manufactured motorcycles to have ABS on them. I’m going to guess that American manufacturers will follow suit and make ABS standard on their motorcycles.

The factory custom paint is stunning. The design or the presentation of the motorcycle gives you some sort of modern Art Deco interpretation. No dull curves just a lot of straight lines. The seat is around 26 inches off the ground giving the inseam challenged access to a nice bagger. Wheelbase is around 67 inches to make sure this motorcycle will run in a straight line at high speeds. The motorcycle looks large from ground level, but it pretty much falls in line with the other cruisers out there.

I hope Victory didn’t reduce the travel and the rear shock absorber to lower the back end of the motorcycle. I’m a firm believer the more travel on the shock absorber, the better the ride. But I’m going to guess Victory has done something to reconfigure the frame geometry so the comfortable ride is not lost. The rear wheel is only 16 inches so that should help in slamming the backend.

The front wheel on the other hand is 21 inches. I have no idea what the craze is with these big front wheels. I’m going have to do some research to figure out how it affects the steering geometry. But it seems to be the craze. I guess the guys who created those plastic tricycles that were referred to as “Big Wheels” when I was a kid were way ahead of their time.

The bags are cavernous so we can pretty much bring all your worldly possessions with you. The release button to open the bags is simple to use. The bags are also lockable. I guess the one problem that I have with Victory’s big configuration is the lack of metal to protect them. I don’t see any possible way of connecting some sort of guards that wraparound the bags to protect them from scuffs and scrapes. Call me paranoid, but both my Harley-Davidson’s have bag guards wrapped around the rear bags.

I rode the model with the mini ape hanger bars. Not really a big fan of ape hangers, but they were mini ape hangers, so I was going to give them a try. I guess my problem with ape hanger bars is I don’t feel I have enough control over the motorcycle. As I started out on the demo ride, I thought to myself this was a bad idea. But as the motorcycle moved down the road, I got more accustomed to manipulating the steering through the mini ape hangers. Would these be my bars of choice? Nope!

The lights are LEDs all-round the motorcycle. I’m a big fan of LED lights. I own a 2014 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited equipped with a LED head and passing lights. At night it doesn’t just light up the roadway, it lights entire landscape. I hope in the future other manufacturers step-up to the plate and add LED lighting systems to their motorcycles.

Riding this motorcycle is way cool. Everyone will be looking at the paint job on this motorcycle. So if you need to get noticed, this is the motorcycle for you. You’ve got a nice rumble coming from the exhaust pipes. Plenty of get up and go so you can leave the stop lights like a “Boss.” The motorcycle has pretty good clearance on the floorboards and feels balanced when turning. So when the need arises, you can push this motorcycle through the turns like Valentio Rossi. Don’t try dragging your knee though, that’s not going to go well for you.

If you buy this motorcycle, you’d have largest front wheel on a production motorcycle. The brakes have a good feel to them all way through their actuation. Turning the throttle provides a nice analog feel from the engine. The seat is comfy and should fend off butt pain on long rides. Crank the stereo and you could be a roving DJ as you travel down boulevard. You would be “The Man” or “The Woman” on this motorcycle. That’s a fact, jack!

The only real complaint I have about Victory baggers and touring motorcycles is they seem plasticized. So you’re probably asking what the hell is plasticized. We’ll let me give you another example. I have a 2008 Honda Goldwing which is completely covered in plastic. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a metal frame under all that plastic. Or has Honda somehow figured out how to embed titanium in plastic. Call me old-fashioned, but I guess I just got to see some metal tubing somewhere on the motorcycle.

Oh, sorry one other compliant. Where in the hell is the FOB? Who wants to put a key in and turn it on a $23,000 motorcycle? Not me, call me a lazy American! Harley Davidson, Indian and Ducati have FOBs. What’s the deal, Victory? At this point in my life, I have been FOB-o-tized. That’s right FOB-o-tized, no damn turn keys for me jack! You can get carpal tunnel from that key turning stuff.

The big question is would I own a 2015 Victory Magnum if my wife would let me? The answer is” Hell Yeah.”

2015 Indian Chief Classic Day One

This is going be a continuing series about how my 2015 Indian Chief Classic performs and my experience of owning it. I’m not going to bullshit you about anything about this motorcycle. I don’t work for Indian. I’m just another motorcycle consumer like you. If something sucks you’re going know about it. I’ll deal with facts, figures and my opinion.

Why did I buy an Indian Motorcycle?

The truth is I wanted own a piece of American motorcycle history. Not the history of a brand that died sometime in the 1960s. I know Polaris is trying to link their Indian motorcycles to the ones that were built in 1901. I’m not having any of those shenanigans. I have no emotional link with those motorcycles. The whole Indian motorcycle beginning and ending happened before my starting date on this planet.

Although, I’ve read about the history of the old Indian brand and their motorcycles in few books that I currently own. My Indian motorcycle’s history started in 2014. This was when a very competitive and cool product was brought to life. Also putting these new motorcycles in the mix was bold move! You’ve gone to war with the “Death Star” aka Harley Davidson. Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Victory and Kawasaki have all made changes to their line ups. They’ve retreated from certain motorcycle segments in hopes of greener grass in other segments. I’m hopeful Polaris / Indian has a lot of cash and the “force” is with them.

Something made in America! Yep, as I get older that’s starting to be a factor in what I purchase these days. I know all of the parts are not made in America, but at least it’s assembled by an American worker in an American factory. I know that people in other countries read my blog. So I want to make this perfectly clear. I am not suggesting that the craftsmanship in other countries is less than what goes on in the United States. I just think it’s cool to build things in the USA.

I’m not a Harley Davidson hater! I’ve been to several Indian demo rides where Harley owners couldn’t trade in their motorcycles in fast enough. There have been some painful and frustrating Harley Davidson experiences for me too. But I consider owning a motorcycle like any other life experience. You’ll have your ups and downs, that’s just how it goes. Without a doubt, I know that Indian dealer will one day will provide me with a painful and frustrating experience too.

Which model did I buy?

I bought a 2015 Chief Classic in black. The 2015 Chief Classic in black was cheapest one of that model. Any other colors than black raised the cost of the motorcycle. I thought about buying the Chieftain in the same color, but I needed to control costs. It’s about a $4,000 dollar difference between the two. Plus, I already have two motorcycles like the Chieftain.

Being able to remove the windshield was a big factor in my decision. In July and August it gets very warm in the state of ILL. I’m not a big fan of riding a motorcycle without a leather jacket. I have a Vanson perforated leather jacket that is bearable to wear in warm weather. Removing the windshield even makes it more bearable because air flows through it, cooling me.

What did it cost me?

I paid roughly 6.25% less list price. You do the math! I know you will. The Indian dealer provided me with a mid-size windshield. The windshield was part of a promotion to promote sales. Yep, nothing like giving something to get something. If I would have bought a 2014 model last year, it would have been roughly 9.55% less than list price. Indian had a stronger promotional mechanism in place last year. But, I have a strict unyielding no loan policy, no cash no buy! One of my life rules, I guess.

What Indian extras parts did I buy already?

Well, I cannot go without a toe-heal-shifter. It seems odd to write this down, but it’s a fact. It just doesn’t feel like a motorcycle without floorboards and a toe-heal-shifter. That cost me another $160.00. I’m getting older and lose things on occasion so I bought a second fob. That was damn close to $150.00.

What other extras parts did I buy already?

At this point in my life I can’t go anywhere with my stuff. I don’t know when in the hell that switch flipped but it did. Back in the day I’d ride a motorcycle all day long without bring a single thing with me! Now a days I’ve got hand tools, tire repair kits, air compressor, jumper cables, rain gear and a bunch of other stuff. So I bought a set of soft bags manufactured by US Saddle Bags. These bags are made in the USA. The cost of the bags and mounting hardware was right around $800.00. This was about 40% less than the Indian bags.

US Saddle Bags did not provide me with any monetary incentive to purchase their product. I prefer it that way. There are a couple reoccurring themes in my life, I’m not very good at kissing ass, nor have I ever been employee of month.

I bought the hardware to mount my Garmin GPS unit to the handlebars. I’m a big fan of GPS units. I believe I don’t use GPS unit like most others. I don’t use it to get to a destination. I just use it to find my way home. I roll my motorcycle out of the garage and just go! After three to four hours of riding I hit the home button. It plots a course home and I’m on my way.

I do have one little problem with my new GPS unit. It somehow knew where I lived without programming that information into it. This is a bit unsettling and feeds my paranoia about the New World Order. The old GPS unit required me enter my home address. The guy at Garmin told that when I connected the GPS unit to my computer it got that information. I know he’s probably lying to me and he’s part of the New World Order.

What Indian extras parts do I plan on buying in the future?

I’ll probably buy the front crash bar and the rear crash bars. I don’t know why they call them crash bars, but in reality they’re more like fall over bars. Also I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy the rear backrest and a rack to hold more of my junk. I’m not completely sure, but I’ve estimated that these parts will run me around $2500. Basically I plan on outfitting it exactly the way my 2014 Harley-Davidson Road King is set up.

What is way cool?

This motorcycle is loaded with chrome bits! The Indian branding is all over the motorcycle. I love the sound that resonates from the exhaust pipes. From what I’ve seen so far, it looks like the accessories are extremely easy to install. The transmission has worked like a charm from day one. No fooling around for neutral or ghost gears. I can’t think of a better term to describe its operation than “smooth.” The red background lighting on the faceplates of the speedometer and gas gauge at night.

What blows already?

The engine seems a little bit on the noisy side. Rode it a little bit without a helmet to make I wasn’t hearing other things. The noise is not a big deal, but it’s there. The noise is also hard to define and the exact location can’t be determined.

The suspension seems a little on harsh side. During its next visit to the dealer, I’m going to ask them to adjust the pre-load on the rear shock. I didn’t see any adjustment for the front forks. I’m not going to bitch too much about this, because part of the problem is my mass.

There seems to be some rattles coming from the motorcycle. I noticed this on the several demo rides that I did on other Indian motorcycles over the last two years. So it’s not really a big deal for me because I’m used to riding Harley Davison’s. So I should be conditioned to tune out any rattles. But for some reason these rattles resonate in my brain.

The rear cylinder on right side does generate some heat. I wear Kevlar lined jeans this might help to reflect the heat away from my right leg. To be truthful, it was not as hot as my 2012 Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe that I owned. The fact is on an air and oil cooled engine, the heat is just the nature of the beast.

Victory’s 2014 Cross Roads Classic

Victory’s 2014 Cross Roads Classic is solid bagger in a crowded market segment. All of the other motorcycle manufacturers have one or multiple entries in this arena. I get the whole bagger business because every motorcycle that I own has bags on it. I guess I just can’t leave home without taking a lot of stuff with me. This might be related to age, because back in the day, I never brought anything with me when I rode a motorcycle.

This motorcycle is equipped with the Freedom 106 V-twin engine. The displacement is a little north of 1700 cc. This is Victory’s bread and butter prime mover for all of their models. The engine relies on air and oil cooling to keep engine heat at bay. The engine uses a wet sump configuration to store the oil. There’s an oil cooler mounted in lower front of the engine. It’s mounted right between the two frame down tubes.

Four valves are used to move the air, fuel and exhaust for combustion in each cylinder. Most of the vibration is absorbed through the rotating counter balance system inside the engine. The electronic fuel injection worked without a hiccup. Very linear engine control though changes to handgrip position. No surprises or dead spots during my demo ride.

The six speed overdrive constant mesh gearbox worked like champ. No whining, clunking or other weird sounds emanating from the gearbox. The primary drive is a gear. No chains or belts on this baby. The rear wheel is driven by a belt. A belt drive system has become standard issue on this type motorcycle throughout the different manufacturers.

 

I didn’t make it to the sixth or the overdrive gear during the demo ride. I’m pretty sure everything still would have been groovy if I shifted the transmission into 6th gear. During the demo, I didn’t have to hunt for neutral. That’s one of things that really pisses me off! No toe-heal-shifter! This type of motorcycle should come standard with a toe-heal-shifter.

The front suspension is an inverted cartridge telescopic fork with 5.1 inches of travel. The rear suspension is a single mono-tube gas shock with 4.7 inches of travel. The front suspension in not adjustable, what you see is what you get. I’m pretty sure the rear suspension has a pre-load adjustment. Either way the suspension did a good job soaking up the bumps in the road.

There are two disk brakes on the front wheel and one disk brake on the rear wheel. The ABS is optional on this model. The model that I rode was enhanced with ABS. No way to turn it off either in case you’re one of the people who doesn’t need or like ABS controlled brakes. Me, I’m a big fan of ABS used to decelerate a motorcycle I’m driving. I felt a little pulsing on the foot brake during hard braking. Otherwise, the brakes did their job during the whole demo ride.

The brake rotors are 300mm all the way around. There are 4-piston calipers in the front. The rear brake has a 2-piston caliper. The overall length of the motorcycle is 104 inches. This is a long motorcycle! A 2015 Harley Davidson Road King has an overall length of about 97 inches. The Victory Cross Road Classic is a good seven inches longer than Harley Davidson’s Road King.

This motorcycle is equipped a 5.8 gallon fuel tank. That should get well over 200 miles down the road. The dry weight of this motorcycle is around 780 pounds. So I’m going guess the “wet” weight is around 810 pounds. Why do manufactures provide you with the dry weight? Do they think you’re going to ship it from place to place instead of riding it? Duh!!

The seat height is about 26 inches from the ground. So it falls right in line with similar models from different manufacturers. When you change the oil, you’ll need five quarts instead of four. The color scheme of the motorcycle I rode was a Two-Tone Bronze Mist & Khaki. I’m not completely sure, but I think that’s your only choice. It grows on you over time. Sort of, I guess.

There are four things that I don’t like about this motorcycle. The speedometer is one of them. Don’t get me wrong, the speedometer functions like a charm, providing you with speed, gear position, engine RPM and all of the usual idiot lights. It’s just doesn’t “POP.” It looks like just some add-on device to the design of the motorcycle.

I’d like give you an example of speedometer that “POPS”: The Harley-Davidson V-Rod has such a device. The V-Rod’s speedometer looks like piece of art. The speedometer is actually incorporated in to the design of the motorcycle. It enhances the look of the motorcycle. Not just something that has been added at the last moment during the design phase.

I’m going to throw this out there. It seems to me Victory motorcycles are designed for tall people. Let me rephrase this, people with long arms. The seat height falls in line with that of other cruiser manufacturers. So inseam-challenged people should be okay. It’s just turning the handlebars from one stop position to the other requires long arms. I’m talking about blocking a jump shot long.

What’s up with the cruise control buttons? You’re going to need a really long thumb to work them without removing you hand from the handgrip. Also, they’re a little bit on the “cheesy” side. While I’m bitching, I think white wall tires would have been a nice addition to the overall look of the motorcycles.

What did I like about this motorcycle? I’m going to start with the floorboards. There’s plenty of room to move your feet around. Ride a motorcycle for few hours and you’ll understand how cool that is. The engine, it’s bullet-proof. I’m pretty sure in produces less vibration than its competition. Just change the oil and maybe it could go on forever. The seat was very comfortable during my 40-minute demo ride. As I recall, it was the stock seat. Sometime on demo rides they install upgraded seats on the motorcycles.

Even though this motorcycle is on “long” side, pushing into the turns builds confidence. Don’t try dropping your knee into the turns! The floorboards will quickly remind you of what type of motorcycle you’re on. The transmission is a true asset on this motorcycle. No battling for neutral or shifting into “ghost” gears. Throttle response is on the money. There were no delays or abrupt operation during the demo ride.

The big question is would I buy one? The answer is “Hell Yeah!”

Under the category of “this blows big time”: Victory has decided to remove this motorcycle from their 2015 line up. I’m hoping this is a temporary discussion on their part. They have knocked off five models total in 2015. It must be a cold cruel world in the motorcycle business to have to cut five models of their lineup.

My Moto Guzzi is Well!

I picked up my Moto Guzzi from the dealer last Saturday night and rode it for a couple hours. My two hour ride was to make sure everything was groovy. There was no charge for the repairs because my Moto Guzzi was still under warranty. The warranty period ends in June 2015. So I guess I just made it under the wire. I was very glad to see my mechanical friend again after a painful 6.5 week separation.

When I got home I popped open the garage door and rode my motorcycle into its assigned parking spot on a rubber mat. Put the kickstand down and turn the ignition off. Walked over to where a flashlight is a plugged into an electrical outlet to keep it charged. Grabbed the flashlight and walked over to the Moto Guzzi and inspected it for any type of oil leak. After my careful inspection I didn’t see any type of leak and I noticed that the dealer did a really good job of cleaning up the oil mess on my motorcycle.

I rode it for about eight hours the next day Sunday and again inspected the motorcycle for leaks when I brought it into the garage again. Everything was groovy, no leaks. I got pelted with a little bit of rain during my ride today because I forgot to put my rain suit in one of the saddlebags. For some reason I remembered to pack all my tools and supplies for any possible road mishap. But no rain gear! I think I’m going to develop some type of personal checklist to make sure my motorcycles are ready for anything that the road throws at it. Yep, that’s going to happen!

Okay, how am I going to rate my first issue with my Moto Guzzi motorcycle. To be perfectly honest, I’m not very happy about the 6.5 weeks to make the repair. Second thing in the hopper is that I’m not very happy about the response from the home office. I made several calls to the home office without a single response. This is the first time that I’ve ever called the home office of a motorcycle manufacturer, so I don’t know what kind of response I would’ve gotten from the others and have no data to make a comparison.

One of the reasons that it took 6.5 weeks to make the repair was the availability of parts. This would seem excessive except this is relatively a brand-new model for Moto Guzzi. I did a little research and found out that this is a problem regardless of manufacturer. Also, Moto Guzzi does not produce the same amount of motorcycles as other manufacturers. This fact has a lot to do with the availability of repair parts.

To make matters worse, the Piaggio computer system was experiencing difficulties due to a migration of data into the servers. Piaggio is the parent company of Moto Guzzi. Thinking rationally now, this could possibly be a reason that none of my phone calls were returned from the home office. I’m pretty sure the computer system is tied in with customer service.

Okay, what was wrong with my Moto Guzzi? There are two breather hoses connected to each cylinder head which connects to a Y-tube. The Y-tube connects to another device which returns the oil back to the crankcase. The connection parts on the right cylinder sitting on the bike had failed. Also, the Y-tube developed a crack and was leaking oil that was supposed to be returned to the crankcase. If you have a Moto Guzzi that is similar to mine, you might want to have the dealer inspect the breather system.

I’d like to thank Windy City Triumph in St. Charles Illinois for their communication skills, cleaning my motorcycle and making the repairs in a timely fashion once they had received the parts.

Wear your helmet! I don’t want you to get hurt. I need as many people as possible to read my blogs. As far as I can tell, dead people don’t read blogs. Be safe!

2014 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited: How Mine Got It’s Road Mojo

I think the motorcycle gods are out to get me. The kickstand on my 2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited failed. This failure immediately exposed my motorcycle to the effects of gravity. Down my motorcycle went at 9.8 meters per second per second. It came to an abrupt halt when both the front and the rear crash bars hit the ground. Very minor damage to the crash bars, just a little scuffing, no bending.

New bolt for the kickstand.
New bolt for the kickstand.

You might not know this but back in the day, I had the capability to bench press 375 pounds not bad for someone who weighed 210 pounds. So for some strange reason, I thought I still have the capability to bench press 375 pounds and tried lifting the Ultra Limited by myself. I quickly remembered that I’m three clicks away from 60 years old and my 375 pound bench pressing days were 37 years behind me. So apparently I am a near 60 years old weakling.

Good thing a couple of “youts” saw me trying to “clean and jerk” my motorcycle.  The three “youts” walked up to me and asked me if I needed some help. I immediately said, “I sure do.” At this point, my pride had been completely eroded away. Together the four of us lifted my Ultra Limited into its normal operating position. I offered them some money for their help. I told them they could “buy some beers with the money.” They looked at me and smiled. They were probably thinking, “Why does this old dude want to get us drunk?”

So when your kickstand fails on your Harley Davidson where do you go for repairs? Well, I went to the Indian dealer down the road. Yep, the Indian dealer! I remembered the Indian dealership’s location from all of the demo rides I participated in last year. I rolled up to the Indian dealer’s service garage door and asked for some help. The service manager walks up to me and asks “What’s up.” I tell him my sad story about the kickstand. I ‘m thinking I’m going to catch some shit about bringing a downed Harley Davidson motorcycle into an Indian motorcycle dealership.

That doesn’t happen. All of the sudden, three Indian dealership employees are whirling around the bottom of my Ultra Limited with tools. I felt like a stock car driver at a pit stop.  One of my pit crew members shows me a strip bolt head that was used to hold the locking mechanism on my kickstand. Another member of my pit crew tells me “we might have one of the bolts lying around.”  He digs through the “bolt bin,” but no such luck. Again, the motorcycle gods show their displeasure with me.

I also remember that there’s a Harley-Davidson dealer roughly 10 miles south of the Indian dealership and begin my journey. I tried to pay the service staff at the Indian dealership, but they wouldn’t have it. I’m not sure, but if I would’ve had the title for my Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited on me, I might have driven away on an Indian Chieftain. Damn you, Willy G! Damn you!

I called the Harley-Davidson dealer on my smart phone and told them of my plight. They informed me not to use the kickstand and they would put me at the front of the service line. I thought to myself “cool!” I backed my wounded Ultra Limited out of the service bay and off I went. As I was heading to the Harley-Davidson dealer, I still couldn’t believe that the Indian dudes had an opportunity to let me have it and they were really cool about the whole situation.

As I rolled up to the Harley-Davidson dealership service garage door, I beeped the horn as instructed. A couple of guys immediately came out and asked me if I was the guy with the kickstand problem. I informed them that, yes, I’m the one. The other guy slides a small scissors jack and jacks up my motorcycle so they could look to see what the kickstand problem was. The guy looking at the kickstand looks up at me and tells me, “Yep, the bolt holding the kickstand in the locking mechanism had sheared off.”

Then he proceeds to tell me ”this is the first time he’s seen this type of failure in the kickstand.” He pulls the kickstand off takes it to the back where he can remove the broken bolt with an easy out. A few minutes later, he’s got a brand-new bolt and the kickstand in his hand. He reinstalls the whole assembly test it to make sure it works. He lowers a scissors jack and puts weight on the kickstand wiggling my motorcycle around during the test procedure. He then tells me, “It’s all good now.”

The service manager walks up to me and tells me that he’s going to try to get Harley-Davidson to pay for a new front crash bar and rear crash bar. I thought to myself, “I don’t think I want the crash bars changed now that my motorcycle has some ‘Road Mojo’ and I have a story to tell.”

I’d like to thank American Heritage Motorcycles which is the Indian dealer. They are located at 474 Redington Drive in South Elgin IL  60177. They can be reached by phone at 888-627-2340. Also, I’d Iike to thank Fox River Harley Davidson. They are located at 131 S Randall Rd, St Charles, IL 60174. The can be reached by phone at 630-584-8000.

Ride your motorcycle and be safe!

2014 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited Infotainment System Fail

This is going to be my second season with my 2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited. I really like riding this motorcycle it’s a lot more comfortable than I thought it would be. I’m going to throw this out there it’s the most comfortable motorcycle that I’ve ever ridden. The seat and the handlebars are pretty much a custom fit for me. I have often wondered how comfortable someone over 6 feet would be riding this motorcycle.

It does have a few characteristics that I need to get used to. One of them is that the motorcycle does feel a little bit top-heavy. I consider myself to be a person that has above average strength.  So I’m cool with it. You might want to eat your Wheaties before you try to muscle this motorcycle around.  Also, I’m used to riding a Honda Goldwing which has a much lower center of gravity. With that said, I am very selective and careful on what surfaces I ride the Ultra Limited on. The Ultra Limited weighs somewhere around 940 pounds so it’s no lightweight. My Goldwing is damn close to 1000 pounds.

The Goldwing has an inherent design advantage over the Ultra Limited due to the engine configuration. The Goldwing’s engine mass sits low in the frame, unlike the Ultra Limited’s engine frame relationship. So I was prepared and it wasn’t a really big shock. Either way, the Goldwing and the Ultra Limited are on the upper end of the motorcycle weight scale spectrum. So it might be a good idea to get a gym membership if you purchase either one of these motorcycles. You’ll need to pump-yourself-up!

The other thing that I need to get used to is the bat-wing fairing. The fairing is mounted to the front forks and affects the handling of the motorcycle. The front fairing on the Goldwing is independent of the front forks so it doesn’t affect the handling. I already knew that from reading several reviews in different motorcycle publications. Not the end of the world. I just have to plan and execute my turns with a little bit more precision.

All in all, I’m in love with this motorcycle.  I don’t mean “replace the wife love,” but I do mean motorcycle love. That’s right “motorcycle love.” Its a different type of love. I should get back on track now. The Ultra Limited has a lot of well thought out amenities that come in very handy during its usage. I’m very happy with the engine. If you have read other posts I’ve written, you know I’m a fan of the V-twin engine. 2014 was the first year Harley-Davidson incorporated a non-traditional cooling system into some of their engines.  I did have the chance to ride this motorcycle during some very hot August days and everything was groovy.

Okay the bad news. I went to pick up Ultra Limited from the dealer where it was being stored during the winter. Got on my motorcycle turned the ignition on switch and the infotainment system didn’t work. I got the green screen of death and then it went blank. Okay, not the end of the world, I purchased the 7-year warranty. I’ve got other motorcycles to ride, it’s all groovy.  So I left the dealer without my Ultra Limited.

The dealer called me about a week later and told me it was fixed. They told me they updated the software and so forth. The wife dropped me off at the dealer. Went to the service department and there it was waiting for me. I turned the ignition on switch and the infotainment system lights up with the Harley-Davidson logo. Yep, all good now! I pressed the start button and the motorcycle labors to start, but it starts. Okay, cool, put on my gear on and off I went.

A couple days later, I get the need to hear some V-twin rumble.  I turned the ignition on switch and the infotainment system didn’t work. WTF! I pressed the start button and again the motorcycles labors to start, but it starts. I start thinking to myself “Harley piece of shit! Where’s the nearest Indian dealer?”  All of the sudden, the cognitive part of my brain engaged. “The battery is almost dead, dumb ass!”

I removed the right side panel to get to the charging plug and connected to the trickle charger. The LED on the trickle charger is solid red which means the battery is being charged.  The very next day, the LED on the trickle charger is flashing green which means the battery is almost charged.  Day three arrives and the LED on the trickle charger is solid green which means the battery is charged. Yeah!

I turned the ignition on switch and the Harley-Davidson logo appears on the infotainment system display. Cool we’re going in the right direction. I pressed the start button and engine comes to life without a problem.  I ran the infotainment system through its paces. Yep, I’m ready for the summer now. I guess I won’t be making a trip to the nearest Indian dealer.

So what did learn from this experience? Number one, I need to make sure my baby’s stored where it’ll get fed enough electric juice over the winter. Number two, if the battery is low on electromotive force the infotainment system will show you the green screen of death.