Tag Archives: Bill Whitman

2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King.

I need to get this out of the way right now! That tinted or smoked windshield, or whatever the hell it is, has got to go. It really makes the motorcycle look like “crap.” WTF! It invokes anger in me, so much so, I want rip it off with my bare hands. Yep, I have issues. But, doesn’t everyone? Otherwise I’m all good with this motorcycle.

One other thing I’m going to throw out there before you invest too much time reading this: I love Harley Davidson motorcycles. So this isn’t for you if you’re a hater who doesn’t understand the relevance of a Harley Davidson motorcycles. You know who you are! You might want to go to You Tube and watch kitten videos instead of reading this.

That’s right, “love.” I don’t care that they’re not perfect. Also, I know there’s a possibility that my beloved Harley Davidson motorcycle will leave me stranded somewhere. Hopefully, my Harley Davidson won’t strand me during a zombie apocalypse. That would suck big time and that would really piss me off!

Every relationship has its ups and downs, including motorcycle relationships. If I would have wanted a motorcycle that doesn’t break down and would last forever, I would have bought another Honda. I don’t want a perfect relationship. I want a relationship that I can grow from.

Let’s get over this hurdle first. $28,000 for hopped-up Road King? Yep, it seems like a lot of money. But, you’ve got to dig a little deeper to understand the value. This motorcycle comes with a Screaming Eagle twin cam 110 cubic inch engine. You know what they say about engines, “there’s no replacement for displacement.”

This engine produces more horse power and torque than the twin cam 103 engine. So you’ll have that going for you as cruise down the boulevard. Get a few Harley Davidson or S&S catalogs and start collecting the data to convert your 103 cubic inch into a 110 cubic inch engine. Once you do that math, you’ll gladly put your money down on CVO Road King.

The paint jobs on the 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King required extra attention to detail to get it right. I’m going to imagine the paint job was done independently of their other models. I’m not big fan green paint jobs on anything except farm tractors. I remember walking up to the motorcycle and thinking to myself, “Green! WTH.”

All the colors on this planet and they’ve got to use green paint? Really green damn paint! But after a while, the green paint job begins to grow on you. You have two other color choices if you’re not happy with Deep Sherwood Pearl and Galactic Black. Yep, you didn’t think Harley Davidson was going to call paint job regular green did you?

This motorcycle comes with a lot of nice amenities that aren’t incorporated in the regular Harley Davidson Road King. The toe-heal-shifter and the linkage are not standard Harley Davidson issue. The upgraded version looks way cooler. The seat is leather and very comfortable for those long rides. This motorcycle comes with an upgraded exhaust system. The V-twin rumble leaving the exhaust pipe is pretty much standard Harley Davidson issue.

The fancy grips and levers also add to the coolness of the motorcycle. You’ve got LED lights all the way around. I not happy that the passing lights are missing. Not groovy! The 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King comes with an upgraded speedometer. The speedometer is programmable for different back ground illumination color options. I sure hope Deep Sherwood Pearl is one of the choices.

The front and rear rims are all chromed up. They really look nice in the whole framework of the motorcycle’s design. This motorcycle comes with Harley Davidson’s Reflex™ Anti-lock Braking System. Also, the brakes are linked. I’m a big fan of linked brakes. I know some people have a problem with the concept. I believe Harley-Davidson’s linked brake system disables when the motorcycle is under a certain speed. The brakes provided plenty of stopping power with no fade.

The clutch is hydraulically assisted with some type of slipper mechanism. A slipper clutch is probably a good idea on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to reduce driveline lash during downshifting. The clutch lever had a really light pull and a good feel to it. The 6-speed gearbox I believe is standard Harley-Davidson issue. The gearbox worked like a charm during my demo ride and finding neutral was a breeze.

The brake and clutch lines are braided stainless. The handlebars are black and not chromed. Also, the front and rear crash bars are black. The rear crash bars are smaller and at the bottom of the saddle bags. It doesn’t look like it provides the same protection as the standard crash bars. The majority handlebar wiring runs through the bars providing a clean look.

This motorcycle is also equipped with electronic cruise control system. It appears to be the same system as the regular Road King. Keyless ignition is standard and so is a factory security system. The saddle bag lids open with touch of one hand. The saddle bag locks are now incorporated in the latches.

During my demo ride the motorcycle felt stable through some pretty demanding curves. I’m going to attribute this to the upgraded touring frame which includes larger front forks. The bearings in the steering head have also been upgraded. The handlebars seem to be lower and wider when compared to the regular Road King. I think the lower and wider handlebars provide the rider with more control when cornering the motorcycle.

There was noticeable difference when I turned the throttle during the demo ride. There’s monstrous low end torque being generated from the twist of the wrist. In theory, the 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King produces 118 ft. lbs. of torque at 3750 rpm. There also seems to be a lot less vibration emitting from the 110 engine as compared to the 103 engine. It was a pretty cool day during the demo ride, so I can’t comment on engine heat. But, I’m going with bigger engine more heat produced. That’s just a fact of life with air-cooled engines.

There’s a very big chromed up air cleaner on the right side of the engine. In Harley Davidson’s brochure it’s called the “Heavy Breather.” Yep, that pretty much says it all. The air cleaner is probably instrumental in getting enough air in to the combustion chambers. There’s plenty “Screaming Eagle” badging all over the engine.

Would I buy a 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King? Probably not. I’m not one of those guys who customizes his motorcycle. I may buy a few odds and ends, such as bag guards, rear rack or backrest. I’m just not a big fan of billet pieces on a motorcycle. I know all about making it your own, but I’m pretty happy with the way it comes from Harley Davidson. Although, that Screaming Eagle twin cam 110 cubic inch engine is pretty damn sweet.

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 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!