Tag Archives: Harley Davidson

My HD Ultra Limited is getting new shoes!!

Photo courtesy of Michelin and used with permission.

First off and foremost I’d like to thank the folks at Michelin for sending me a set of new motorcycle tires for my 2014 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited. Obviously, my Harley Davidson doesn’t wear gym shoes. (I was trying to use some urban slang to connect with the hip people who read this blog.) Again, I’d like to thank the folks at Michelin for finding my blog in the ocean of motorcycle blogs on the Internet and contacting me. I plan on provide updates on these tires throughout their life. Please check my blog, You Tube channel, and podcasts periodically for these updates.

 

Photo courtesy of Michelin and used with permission.

 

Michelin motorcycle tires have always been a big player in the MotoGP circuit. There must be a lot of smart guys working for Michelin. Not only are they good at mixing rubber compounds. They’ll be pressing ahead with the introduction of enabled wireless technology in their tires for the 2017 MotoGP season. The data from these tires will be shared with the media broadcasting the races. This will give the fans an opportunity to get real-time data from a tire that is zipping around a track at speeds in excess of 200 mph.

Michelin’s line of Scorcher tires have been available through Harley Davidson as OEMs for a while now. But now they can be purchased through authorized Michelin tire dealers. Michelin Scorcher tires offer superb tread life and excellent durability, while Michelin’s ADT (Amplified Density Technology) technology delivers excellent feedback and handling. The tires come in three versions: Scorcher 11, 31 and 32.

 

Photo courtesy of Michelin and used with permission.

The link below is for the current line of the Michelin Scorcher series tires for Harley Davidson motorcycles. This is by no means a complete reference, and in the near future, could possibly be out of date. I would recommend that you contact Michelin or a Michelin motorcycle tire dealer directly.

2017_Scorcher_Brochure_ENG_V3

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.

My Moto Guzzi is Sick!

I guess I may have pulled my Moto Guzzi out a little bit early this year. The very first ride of the season! Usually I take the Goldwing out on the first ride of the season.  The Goldwing is the flagship of my motorcycle fleet. It’s tradition to ride that motorcycle out first. But this year I decided to switch it up. Plus the fact the Goldwing battery is still on the charger. I must be slipping, I had all winter to put it on the charger, but I waited until the last minute. I think my brain is starting to fail me.

I pulled the Moto Guzzi out of garage and fired him or her up. I’m still not into determining the sex or naming my motorcycles yet. I wonder what that says about me. No time to psychoanalyze myself now. I rounded up all of my tools and supplies that I carry with me on motorcycle rides. I like to be prepared, must be the Boy Scout in me.

I know what you’re thinking. What does coolcycledude carry on a motorcycle ride? Okay, here goes:

An air compressor

Two flashlights

Tire repair kit, plug type and that squirt in stuff.

Toolkit Harley Davidson

Toolkit Metric

Pressure Gauge

Wire ties

Wire

Tape

LED road flares

Jumper cables

Rain gear

A second pair of gloves

A light long-sleeve shirt

An extra pair of socks

First aid kit

Two towels

Water

Okay, back on track. I packed the Moto Guzzi up and did the finial walk around to make sure everything is “groovy.”  I throw my leg over and drop my butt in the seat.  Lifted the kickstand up, pull in the clutch, tap the gearlever down and off I went.  Yeah, first ride of summer! Good bye winter! Looked at the speedometer and the temperature display is reading 39 degrees. Okay, not quite summer yet.

Yep, not quite summer yet so I turned on the heated grips. Nice! I had about an hour ride to meet the group that I was riding with that day. I arrived at the my destination parked the Moto Guzzi . Took one more walk around the motorcycle.  Walk over to the group and introduced myself. First time riding with this group! You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and meet new motorcycle people. That’s one of my life rules.

One of the guys from the group had brought pecan rolls for everyone. That was pretty cool. We all started the motorcycle chit-chat for about twenty minutes. Then the destination, route and safety protocol was discussed.  Everyone mounted up and off we went.  About an hour later we arrived at restaurant that had a train car incorporated in it. What in the hell else would you do with an old train car?

After eating lunch we went outside for a photo-shoot. Then we proceeded towards our motorcycles.  I put all my gear on and again walk around my motorcycle.  On the left of my Moto Guzzi there was a small puddle of oil. WTF! There was oil on the engine casing and the saddle bag. Double WTF!! Yep, my Moto Guzzi is sick, damn! I pulled out the smart phone and looked for the nearest Moto Guzzi dealer.

I fired up the Moto Guzzi to see how bad the leak was. It looked like it was seeping out of the cylinder head. The air traveling through the cooling fins must spread oil on the engine casing and the saddle bag. Okay, cool, not the end of world. The nearest dealer was about eight miles away. Now I need to make a decision, do or die time. Will it make it to the dealer before losing its life blood? After several moments of deep thought I came to this conclusion. It better!  So off I went.

Once I hit the dealer which happens to be Harley Davidson dealer that sells Moto Guzzi motorcycles. I just can’t keep my ass out of a Harley Davidson dealerships. I parked my Moto Guzzi near the service garage door. Got off and went to look for the Moto Guzzi doctor. Found the service writer dude and he tells me “The Triumph guy won’t be in until midweek.” “Okaaaay” I’m thinking.  Before I had the chance to say anything else he proceeds to tell me” he also works on Moto Guzzi motorcycles too.”

So my Moto Guzzi motorcycle is at a Harley Davidson dealership wait for “Triumph guy” to fix it. Does anyone else see how the forces of the universe are working against me?

Harley Davidson Livewire

I got a chance to sort of test ride the Harley Davidson’s Livewire electric motorcycle. I attended the Chicago International Motorcycle Show back in February. In the Harley Davidson area they had the Livewire mounted in a contraption that let the rear wheel spin freely, but kept everything else in check. Very similar to what Harley Davidson does with their internal combustion power motorcycles at the show.

I have ridden the Zero electric motorcycle several on occasions. So this isn’t my first rodeo with electric motorcycle. Right of the bat the Livewire looks “cool.” The Livewire looks compact and sleek. It’s on the small side. If you have long legs I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be groovy for you. The seat is also on the small side too. The seat is set back a little so you’re leaning forward to reach the low mounted bars.

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Under the heading of way cool the grips, front brake lever and control buttons are standard Harley Davidson issue. These provide a great feel or transition from Harley Davidson internal combustion models. The speedometer looks like an IPhone on steroids. Probably a great platform for displaying more data for the rider to see as the Livewire progresses through time. It looks like the Livewire has LED lighting front and rear.

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If you never been on an electric motorcycle the first thing you’ll learn is about torque in action. From the very first rotation of electric motor shaft about 95 % of the maximum torque in generated. An internal combustion engine on the other hand needs RPMs to generate torque. That’s why an internal combustion engine on a motorcycle requires transmission.

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Once you have turned the throttle on Harley Davidson Livewire all hell breaks loose. The high pitched whine of the electric motor replaces the one-potato two-potato sound. I was surprised how linear the throttle control felt. The guy run the display told me “go ahead and crank the throttle.” So, I did. The motorcycle leaped like a cheetah launching itself after prey on the African plain. The force caused the front forks to compress and backend lift up.

Now remember the Livewire was mounted in a contraption that let the rear wheel spin freely. So the motorcycle was unable accelerate which would have absorb the energy transmitted to the rear wheel. The suspension and the roller that rear wheel sat on absorbed the energy. Either way the Harley Davidson Livewire seam pretty damn powerful.

I’m hopeful the Livewire demo truck will make it to my part of woods this summer. If it does you know my butt will be waiting in line to ride one.

2014 Harley Davidson Road King Blog Series 11/9/2014

This is going be a continuing series about how my 2014 Harley-Davidson Road King performs and my experience of owning it. I’m not going to bullshit you about anything about this motorcycle. I don’t work for Harley Davidson. 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 purchase a 2014 Harley Davidson Road King?

There’s a lot of other manufacturers that produce a similar type motorcycle. Why didn’t I pick one of those? I know, without a doubt, that this motorcycle is going to be expensive to operate compared to similar products from other manufacturers. I went into this relationship knowing that up front. Also, Harley-Davidsons are not the cheapest motorcycles to purchase either.

Good Bye Money!
Good Bye Money!

Whether people want to admit it or not, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle brand is an icon in the motorcycle world. The brand represents the true essence of motorcycling. All of the other major manufacturers have tried to copy or produce duplicates to compete in that market segment. In my opinion some of the manufacturers have built a better mousetrap. But, they just don’t have the same “motorcycle life force” as a Harley-Davidson does.

White Wall Tires
White Wall Tires

I’m a big fan of motorcycles that have a nostalgic look to them. I must be getting old! At this point in my life I don’t need 150 HP at the rear wheel. I really prefer motorcycles that have less plastic on them. It seems like the current motorcycles produced have all been plasticized. I like to see the tubular steel frame instead of a formed casted aluminum one.  I like the look of metal fuel tank with attached emblems on the sides.

Nice Emblem!
Nice Emblem!

I like the look of white wall tires and chrome rims with chrome spokes. I’m really not a big fan of these fancy digital displays currently being used on new motorcycles. I know there’s a way to cut costs and to provide the rider with more information. But to me they seem cold and lifeless. Essentially no different than the $10 Timex watch that you can buy. But the speedometer on the 2014 Harley Davidson speaks to me. Not through physical communication but in a metaphorical way.

How Fast Am I Going?
How Fast Am I Going?

I don’t like wrenching my motorcycles. So I purchased the seven-year warranty. No other manufacturer offers a seven-year warranty. The downside of purchasing the extended warranty is you must adhere to the prescribed maintenance recommended by Harley-Davidson.  The prescribed maintenance periods are every 5000 miles until the motorcycle dies or until the warranty runs out.

I like the fact that there are Harley-Davidson dealers located all through the United States. In the event that my motorcycle does have a problem during its usage on the road, there are approximately 700 Harley-Davidson dealerships within the United States. There were almost 900 Harley-Davidson dealerships in 2007 but the economic downturn wiped 200 of them off of the face of the earth. I believe that some of these dealerships will come back due to the improved economic climate.

Rumble! Rumble!
Rumble! Rumble!

I’m a really big fan of the product. The air/oil cooled V-twin engine is one of my favorites. I prefer motorcycles with V-twin engines as opposed to parallels, opposed or in lines. Like everyone else who prefers a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, I like the rumble from the engine. Also, I don’t have a problem with the vibration that the engine produces. I know that’s just the nature of the beast and an experience that I prefer.

Next blog I’ll talk about the purchasing process and the costs.

2015 Harley Davidson Street 750

Well, I finally got to ride this motorcycle. I started drooling when I was in the demo line. I thought to myself “Yeah baby! I’m going to ride Harley-Davidson’s latest entry into the motorcycle arena.” I ran up to the sign in to make sure I got on the list to ride it. I was prepared for fisticuffs if anyone who dared enter my path to the sign-up sheet. Gave them my driver’s license and signed the waiver. I asked the lady at the sign up tent when does the demo ride start? Her response was “now!”

Behind me one of the demo ride chaperones calls out ”front and center.” He then goes on and gives us the usual speech, no stoppies, no wheelies and the always dangerous slingshots. He also explains that we’re required to follow all traffic laws. The other demo ride chaperones went over the ride protocol and our route. Both chaperones reaffirmed the concept that Harley-Davidson will not be responsible for any fines that you get in your disregard for the traffic laws.

During this whole dog and pony show. I was fooling around with all of my recording equipment trying to get it ready for the demo ride. I usually miss the first ride to set up my equipment. I was jerking around with my GoPro camera chest strap when I noticed all the sound around me had stopped. I looked up and everyone was looking at me. Yep, not good ran through mind. One of the chaperones asked me if I was okay with a smile on his face, then I knew that everything was cool. I immediately apologized for my lack of participation and the whole group got a little chuckle out of it. Note to self, try to stay in the now.

I threw my leg over the motorcycle and planted my ass in the seat. Rocked the motorcycle forwards and backwards to make sure it was in neutral. I reached forward under the speedometer and turned the ignition key. Hit the start button and the engine came to life without a hitch. No “one – potato – two – potato” emanating from the exhaust pipes. I heard some foreign sound that didn’t register in my brain. Oh well, it has the Harley-Davidson logo in the speedometer.

The controls on the handgrips are definitely not standard Harley issue. I was somewhat surprised and disappointed that the controls were not Harley standard issue. That is one of the first things I notice on a Harley-Davidson is how the controls pretty much transverse through each model. Well, I guess if you’ve never ridden a Harley before it’s all good?

Finally, after what seemed like a long time, one of the demo ride chaperones waves his arms around like he was landing jets on an aircraft carrier. Within minutes all lined up by the exit for the street. Right off the bat this motorcycle is a good fit for me. I’m 5’8” and the reach to the handlebars is comfortable. I’m not overreaching and leaning forward, but in a neutral sitting position. The seat is very accommodating for an entry-level motorcycle. Sometimes on an entry-level motorcycle they provide you with a plank to sit on.

I turn the throttle a few times and realized the liquid-cooled 749cc 60° V twin was quick to rev up without a lot of mechanical noise. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a tachometer embedded in the speedometer. But I could feel how quickly it revved up. The engine is compact and neatly tucked under the oversized fuel tank. You really wouldn’t know that the engine was under the tank if it wasn’t for the big air filter housing on the right side of the motorcycle.

The engine is fuel injected with four valves per cylinder. The valves are driven by a single overhead cam configuration. The compression ratio is 11:1. This is starting to enter the in-line for crotch rocket engine compression ratio zone. This motorcycle produces somewhere around 57 HP right around 8000 RPMs. 8000 RPMs is also when the rev limiter kicks in. Also, the engine produces a peek 41 pounds of torque at 4000 RPMs.

Once underway, I quickly realized the clutch cable needed some adjustment. The clutch would grab on the very end of the lever travel. This provided somewhat of a digital effect upon releasing the clutch lever. This probably is a very easy fix due to the cable adjustments on the clutch lever. The clutch lever kind of flopped around its holder which wasn’t too cool. Neither the clutch or brake levers are adjustable.

This motorcycle felt very light under me, almost dirtbike-ish. This motorcycle is somewhere around 500 pounds with all the fluids. Yep, all of the fluids! The steering was quick, definitely not like riding my 2014 Road King or Ultra Limited. The steering provided more of a sport bike experience then a cruiser experience. I’m pretty sure that’s one Harley-Davidson was looking for because this vehicle may be operated in tighter situations than their normal products.

I didn’t get a chance to go through all of the six gears in the gearbox on the demo ride. But the gearbox performed flawlessly during my whole demo ride. It was even complete with that well-known “clunk” when you put it in first gear. Finally, some Harley-Davidson DNA! This is probably a small complaint, but I wish the gear shift lever knob was a little bit farther forward from the foot peg. I missed a few shifts because of the boots that I was wearing. Not a fault of the motorcycle.

The Harley-Davidson Street 750 has seven spoke casted rims with the 17-inch front wheel and a 15-inch rear wheel. The rims are nothing fancy but they fit nicely with the whole design of a motorcycle. My favorite aesthetic feature of the motorcycle is the layout of the rear fender, seat and the fuel tank. The shape and size of the fuel tank really enhance the look of this motorcycle. This motorcycle comes in three colors, a pretty cool red, a dark gray and a black.

The 37mm front forks are nonadjustable. I was unable to see any type of adjusting mechanism for the two rear shocks. So this would leave me to believe that this motorcycle would not really be a good choice for two up riding any great distance. I’m not very happy with the brakes during my demo ride I had to make a hard stop. I had to squeeze like hell with my hand and push down pretty hard with my foot to de-accelerate this motorcycle. Definitely not what I’m used to, but I need to keep reminding myself that this is an entry-level vehicle.

I felt like there was very little quantum entanglement with any Harley-Davidson motorcycle that I have ever ridden past or present. I’m emotionally invested in the brand and I feel this is too much of a departure from their core product. It just seemed to “Honda-ized or Yamaha-ized” for me. It reminds me of a motorcycle that was built in the 80s with fuel injection.

My expectations were that was going to be on a miniature V- Rod. Although the engine has a lot of torque, it lacked the essence of a Harley-Davidson engine. It almost seems foreign if you’ve ever ridden one of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles with a V-twin engines. But with that said, I think Harley-Davidson has hit the mark on an entry-level motorcycle with an outstanding price point.

Also, I realize this motorcycle is going to be used to penetrate European, India and Asian motorcycle markets. And if you’ve never ridden a Harley-Davidson motorcycle they just might pull this one off. I just don’t know how the faithful are going to absorb this motorcycle into the collective.

2014 Harley-Davidson Street 500

I finally got the opportunity to see Harley-Davidson’s new motorcycle—the Street 500—up close and in person at the 2014 International Motorcycle Show in the Chicagoland area. There it was, in Harley-Davidson’s designated floor space. Only the 500 and not the 750. Yep, I got to sit on it, touch it and to be completely honest with you, I did some fondling.

I spent a lot of time researching these new motorcycles on the Internet and looking at the pictures. But nothing beats the experience of the light energy bouncing off of it going into my eyes and being plastered in the back of my brain. I’m no expert in motorcycle marketing, but I really think these two new motorcycles are going to give Harley-Davidson an opportunity to penetrate other manufacturers’ similar product markets.

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This is definitely a rogue move for Harley-Davidson. A lot of people will suffer undue pain because these motorcycles are currently manufactured in India. This isn’t the first time that Harley-Davidson has had motorcycles built in other countries and glued on their nameplate or spray-painted it on the tank. Harley-Davidson wants to be a global company and manufacturing “stuff” in other countries is just part of the framework.

Well, let’s start with the engine, it definitely looks a lot like a scaled-down V-Rod engine. I’m assuming it is because that seems to be a proven technology that has served Harley-Davidson well. It’s a V-twin with a 60 degree spread, four valves per cylinder with water flowing through its veins to keep it cool. It has a name and it’s called “Revolution X.” Currently the Revolution X engine will come in two sizes a 500 and a 750. It definitely looks good in the frame. The engine is all blacked out.

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The Street 500 had one disk in the front and another disk in the back to provide the deceleration for these two motorcycles. The rear wheel is rotated by a belt drive from the engine. The exhaust system is a two into one on the right side of the motorcycle and it is also blacked out. The rims look to be casted with no special design in mind. The air cleaner seems rather large probably to keep the engine from suffocating.

This baby comes equipped with Michelin tires, a 140 x 15 in the back and a 100 x 17 in the front. I don’t know if this motorcycle has ABS. I guess I should’ve done little research before I started writing this, but that would require extra work. I’m pretty sure that if this model doesn’t have ABS future models will. I know the EU is going to require motorcycles to have ABS braking systems in 2016.

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No traction control on this baby. None of that electronic fancy boy crap to muck up the riding experience. Standard controls on the bars include the start button, kill switch and turn signals. The key switch is buried under the uneventful speedometer. I’m going to guess that the speedometer provides very little information to the rider. But there’s a strong possibility that I’m ill informed. I’m a big fan of having a tachometer, so I hope it’s their when I get to ride his baby sometime in June.

I do have a few complaints about this motorcycle. Part of the wiring harness near the back of the motor on the right side is what I would consider somewhat exposed. I definitely see this portion of the wiring harness somehow hidden behind the frame and future models. Some of the welding looked a little crappy. I especially didn’t like the weld job that attaches the foot brake pivot point. Definitely not cool. I’m sure these things are minor production problems which will be corrected in the future.

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While at the show, I did my own market research. Stood by the Street 500 and watched how many people got on and off it in about a 15 minute time frame. Seven people took their time out from the show to sit on the motorcycle and turn the throttle, squeeze the brake and clutch levers. A few bounce around on the suspension and twist the handlebars back and forth rubbing the front wheel into the carpet. One guy went as far as to adjust the mirrors. That behavior was somewhat confusing. I’m guessing he was actually projecting himself riding the motorcycle. Sure why not.

I’m going to guess that if I was born 35 years later, I would be riding one of these motorcycles. I definitely would choose the 750 over the 500. It is by no means perfect, but for a 20-year-old kid without a lot of cash, it offers the opportunity to ride the ultimate branded motorcycle. These two motorcycles will give a lot more people access to becoming part of the Harley-Davidson tribe… a very good thing for Harley-Davidson because their current demographics seem to have one foot in the grave.

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I’m going to guess these vehicles are very important to Harley-Davidson’s global sales strategy. I’m sure Harley-Davidson has been drooling about getting some of the market share of the 10 million motorcycles sold in India each year. Failure to participate in this market will sooner or later devastate the company.

Getin’ those “Youts” on them Harley-Davidson’s

My wife has been watching the X Games for the last half of our marriage. I don’t see the mass appeal or what she sees in these shenanigans. She stares at the TV almost in some zombie state watching these kids do life-threatening stuff. Sort of like the Hunger Games except the kids have motorized vehicles. To be completely honest, my biggest problem with the X Games is they’re done outside in the cold. That definitely has no appeal for me.

Well, it looks like Harley-Davidson doesn’t see the X Games as shenanigans either. They see it as an opportunity to place two of their new products and give them an old fashioned out-of-the-box appeal. I’m not talking their usual material such as “Ride Free,” “Screw the Man” and the rest of the stuff Harley-Davidson propagates. I’m talking about a precise, well thought out results getting product placement scheme.

The two new products that I’m talking about are the street 500 and street 750 motorcycles. I think these motorcycles are going to give Harley-Davidson an opportunity to enter the other manufacturers’ markets segments. Not just enter, but also have a competitive advantage to take market share from the other manufacturers. So it would appear Harley-Davidson is no longer on the defense, but they’ve moved to an offensive position. The next couple years should tell if this strategy has helped motorcycle sales for Harley-Davidson.

So for the X Games, the “youts” have taken the new model motorcycles, put screws in the tires and used them for a motorcycle ice racing event. Ice racing on motorcycles is nothing new. There are specially designed motorcycles just for these ice racing events. It’s done in cold climates all over the world. One thing is for sure: You’ll never see coolcycledude racing a motorcycle on ice.

So now these kids who participate in the X Games are wearing Harley-Davidson promotional products and ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles in front of targeted demographics… as opposed to Monster, Red Bull, Mountain Dew, the Navy and some type of bubblegum that I don’t know about all over their outfits.

2012 Harley Davidson XL883L Sportster SuperLow

Last summer I got the opportunity to ride a 2012 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL883L SuperLow. I definitely wouldn’t normally ride or purchase this size motorcycle. Not that it’s a bad motorcycle, it just seems beneath me. Wow, that makes me sound pretty damn arrogant. I want to make this perfectly clear I’m not dissing this product. It’s just that I prefer bigger and more powerful motorcycles. Well, maybe I’m dissing it just a little, sorry.

So there I was waiting in the demo line to pick out a motorcycle to ride. I’m going to have to get on my little soapbox here for a few seconds. I am somewhat confused why we can’t sign up for these demo rides online before we get to the event. Let’s face reality. Not only is Harley-Davidson letting you ride their motorcycles they’re also farming for information for their database.

Think how fast the flow would go if you actually had the ability to sign up online. I mean, seriously, all the information would be absorbed into Harley-Davidson’s database directly from the web without having to reenter it by hand or whatever other system they use during the demo rides. Hello, Harley-Davidson, anybody out there?

Okay, back on track. So finally it’s my turn as I progressed through the line to sign up for the demo rides I am at position one, staring at the sign-up sheet. Looking at the sign-up sheet, I realize my ability to procrastinate has once again impacted my life choices. Scanning the sheet I notice there’s only one available slot. The lady at the table tells me the only thing that is left is the “Sporty 883.”

So as I bounce “Sporty 883” around in my brain, I came to the realization that that was the only motorcycle left. So now my choice turns into a no-brainer. I watched as she wrote my name down on the sheet and looked up at me with a big smile and said “You’re going to enjoy riding that motorcycle.” I thought to myself “Okay, if you say so.”

Doesn’t that lady know that I am coolcycledude, master of the two wheel transportation systems? The same coolcycledude with 400,000 views on his YouTube channel and over 2 million hits on his blog. I got a feeling she probably doesn’t give a “shit” that I’m coolcycledude master of the two wheel transportation systems. I guess when it’s all said and done coolcycledude is just another lemming waiting in a demo line to ride a motorcycle. Reality is such a cruel realm.

I checked my pride and walked over to the motorcycle. I made a couple laps around the motorcycle looking it over and few things really stood out from the get go. Wow, this baby’s got a lot of chrome on it for the entry level motorcycle. It also appeared that the gas tank seemed extremely large for a sportster gas tank. I came to find out that the gas tank held 4.5 gallons of fuel. I’m not sure but that’s got to be the largest gas tank ever placed on a Harley-Davidson Sportster.

Threw my leg over the motorcycle and plopped my butt down on the seat. The seat felt comfortable right off the bat. Nice reach from the seat to the bars puts me in a neutral position not leaning forward or backwards. The handlebars seem a little high above the tank, but it all works out. The controls on the handgrips are standard Harley-Davidson issue, nothing new here. The speedometer was installed in the center of the handlebars with a few “idiot” lights for good luck.

The ride coordinator signaled that they were going to be starting soon. So I turn the ignition key to the on position and hit the start button. Yep, I’m on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The engine produced a familiar rumble that I have come to love. Okay, she was right, I’m going to like riding this motorcycle. This motorcycle immediately fell into the “not too shabby” classification.

The ride coordinator signaled me to move into the line. Pulled in the clutch and popped this baby into gear and headed out of my parking spot to get in line. The clutch had a really light pull from the lever handle and that familiar “clunk” bellowed from the transmission when I put this baby and gear. Let the clutch out turn the throttle little bit to propel my “Sporty 883” to my designated spot in the demo line. Put this baby back into neutral and cranked the throttle a few times. Nice!

Looking down at the fuel tank with the brilliant red paint job, I realized how cool it looked on this motorcycle. I mean really, the tank provided a really nice design flow for the motorcycle. Again, I started surveying all the chrome bits and pieces on this motorcycle and again I was amazed at the level of detail for what I consider to be an entry-level motorcycle.

The demo ride guide started waving his arm signaling it’s time to go. Pulled clutch and dropped my foot on the gear lever that for that familiar clunk and slowly let the clutch lever out and turned the throttle. Right off the bat, I realized this motorcycle was really easy to handle. I’m going to guess this thing weighs in somewhere around 500 pounds. The seat position and the handle bar configuration should provide a new rider with exceptional feel and feedback when maneuvering this motorcycle.

Okay I’ve got a complaint. In my opinion the foot pegs are too high and maybe too far back. This foot peg configuration is probably designed to help increase ground clearance. But, this really isn’t a big deal because if I owned this motorcycle, I definitely would put forward foot controls on it. I’ve never been a big fan of the foot pegs right below the seat. Well that’s just me and you might see it a different way.

I don’t think I can say this enough, but the motorcycle had a very intuitive and natural feel during my demo ride. No surprises with how it cornered, stopped or throttle response of the engine. I did have a sparring match with the gearbox during my downshifting events. The lever would sometimes bounce back and provided weird feedback to my current gear position. I’m going to attribute this to my lack of feel because it’s a new motorcycle that I’ve never ridden before and the placement of the foot pegs which was relatively uncomfortable for me.

During the demo ride we took a detour to a partial expressway and I ran this baby up to 65 miles an hour to see how it would handle. Sometimes motorcycles with short wheelbase can feel unpredictable at high speeds. The “Sporty 883” was solid as a rock at 65 mph. Also, it had considerably more roll-on power than I thought it would. But I guess you can attribute that to the engine’s V-twin configuration and a relatively flat torque curve.

Speaking of the engine, it is an air cooled V-twin with fuel injection. This is pretty much standard protocol for Harley-Davison engine. As I mentioned earlier, it’s got a five speed gearbox. The final drive is a belt. Belt drive is a wonderful thing that keeps you from cleaning a chain. Trust me you don’t want to clean a chain. The engine also has considerable amount of chrome bits with a very nice chromed exhaust system.

I’m going to guess this motorcycle was designed for one up riding and the ability to carry some gear. I definitely feel this motorcycle wouldn’t be compatible for two up riding for any length of time. But I’m sure there’s somebody out there who can prove me wrong by sending me pictures of a “Sporty 883” carrying a whole family plus their farm animals in some third world country.

Who is this motorcycle for in my opinion? I think Harley-Davidson put a lot of effort in the design of this motorcycle to benefit new or minimal experienced riders. So if this is your MO, this definitely would be a motorcycle that you would demo ride and give it some serious consideration. I also believe that this motorcycle is competitively priced to give someone with a limited budget access to the Harley-Davidson motorcycle riding experience.