HD’s NEW Motorcycles-The true Meaning!

by tom on February 5, 2012

The Machines We Ride
My take on Current Events

Harley Davidson ™ rolled out two new models this week, with attendant hoopla and fanfare. The LA times article is here:

Now, I’m not the world’s largest follower of Harley Davidson and it’s style, but to my casual eye, it seems that this is a prime example of “new trim and paint”. Not that I have any argument with the Motor Company ™ or the way it does business, it’s success is unarguable. No, my bellyache is with ‘new’ introductions that look just like the last batch.

Granted, the fender and seat treatment is new on both models, but the press release has to tell us that one looks like a “Bobber” and one a “Lowrider”. In my 45 year infatuation with motorcycles, neither of those terms would have come to mind based on the pictures I have seen. To me, one looks like a Sportster ™ and one a Dyna™. Maybe it’s just poor photography. Or maybe not.

Steve McQueen rode a bobber. I know he had a Triumph ™ and a Matchless™ and many others, but that Triumph ™ is what a bobber should be modeled after. Cut fenders, fore and aft. Painted wheels (let them be RED). Tricycle seat. Minimum chrome. A chain. Made to ride and ride hard.

Argh. I begin to believe that motorcycling has passed me by. I have a Kawasaki Concours ™ for touring, a Suzuki V Strom ™ for the less traveled road, and a Ducati Multistrada ™ for hooting around. Each does it’s job exceedingly well, and fills a need in my life. Each is purpose driven and looks it. The proper tool for the job at hand.

Which leads me to seat height. The motorcycle world in general seems to be obsessed with low seat height. So that even the most ‘length challenged’ among us is able to ‘flat foot’ a motorcycle with both feet. When I was learning to ride, motorcycles were great, tall beasts, and you learned to stop with only one foot on the ground, and the other on the brake. Seat height was irrelevant and not considered in motorcycle design. Balance and weight and motor design and placement were the over arching design needs. Steve McQueen didn’t worry about seat height. He worried about weight and handling and power generation.

I remember when you could tell a dirt racer (motocrosser today) by the way he handled his silverware. If he handled a fork in his left hand, he used his thumb and first two fingers only. His little finger and ring finger were permanently curled from griping the bars and covering the clutch in case of motor failure. Fingers didn’t straighten out until at least 2 weeks off the bike.

All of which means I am old. It is part of the celebration of my life that I have lived long enough to become statistically meaningless to the motorcycle manufacturers. I am the last line of the survey form, 60 and over. I can ride what I want to ride, and not have to worry about what my peer group thinks of what I ride. I am no longer in Harley Davidson’s target demographic. Hooray, me!

Clear weather and good roads!


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Glenn Case February 14, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Tom, well, I would swear it was me writing this post. I am with you 100%. I am 48 and have never been and probably never will be a HD fan. Your selection of bikes is spot on. I love my Ducati, but I have to say that I dream of a Concours tourer at times when my limbs start to cramp on long rides. Motorcycling has definitely not passed you by – you are living it, and I hope you continue to do so for many years to come. Great post!!


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