As a follow-up to our previous “Decisions, Decisions” entries, we decided to officially start working off our Bucket List. Truth of the matter is, we’ve realized that some times it’s simply a good idea to live for today while still planning for tomorrow… since we really don’t know what the future may hold.
As I noted in my previous entry, Life IS good, but Life is also full of surprises that can sneak up and catch you napping. Thankfully, our recent wake-up call appears to be something less ominous than originally thought. But, it makes you take stock of things and reminds you to not take life for granted. But, I digress…
Anyway, after much deliberation and consideration, we decided to go with the FXDWG – Dyna Wide Glide. We thought long and hard about other HD models and the Wide Glide continued to be the bike that looked, fit and rode the way we envisioned our ‘first’ dabble in the cruiser bike genre.
Perhaps the reason the Wide Glide struck a chord was because the one other HD that really caught our interest over the years was the limited edition, 2003 HD 100th Anniversary CVO Softtail Screaming Eagle Duece. I was actually thinking long and hard about buying one of the ’03 CVO Dueces 3-years ago but opted to give the BMW R1100S a try instead. No regrets with the BMW, but part of me wished I’d have snapped up the ’03 CVO Deuce I’d found in Illinois as the price was very reasonable, the bike was in great shape and only had 1,200 miles on the clock. Cest la vie.
Now, while we don’t really want to turn our tandem cycling blog into a HD blog, we will have to take some liberties in this entry because we were really amazed by our first impressions with Harley Davidson as first time buyers and, believe it or not, as first time riders: the Wide Glide is an absolute joy to ride… solo and two-up!
The sale managers — Randy & Bob — were awesome and our sales guy Brian was the nicest guy you’d ever like to meet. Of course, as we’ve learned over the past couple weeks, as a customer walking into a HD dealer we truly felt that everyone in the stores we’ve visited understands the value of customer service and focus. To a person, everyone we met at Earl Small lights up, smiles and makes you feel like a long-time customer even if they’ve never seen you before. We found the same thing to be true at the Smokey Mountain Harley Davidson dealership in Maryville, Tennessee… which was a pretty amazing place on a much larger scale that Earl Small back home in Marietta.
We were pretty clear about what kind of deal we were looking for at Earl Small’s and they came through with what I still believe was about the lowest price I could expect to find on a 2011 Wide Glide. Our visit to Smokey Mountain HD and a few inquiries with other dealers before writing the check for our Wide Glide confirmed this. Moreover, we took a look at the used bike market and still found the deal offered by Earl Small’s was the better value by a long stretch.
As for the bike itself, my ride home while a little disconcerting given the very far forward position of the foot pegs and shifter / brake controls compared to my sport bikes was actually a very fun and comfortable experience. There was also the issue associated with having brakes that aren’t bedded-in, never mind having only one front caliper/rotor vs. the dual caliper/rotors I’ve always had on my sport bikes. In fact, I have to go all the way back 32 years to my Honda CB550F SuperSport which was the last single front caliper/rotor bike that I owned. But, once I got my head wrapped around the location of the foot controls and the need to allow for longer stopping distances and vastly different steering geometry that the 68 inch wheelbase with wide-set 49mm forks, a 34° head tube and 36° fork angle yield, I was a pretty happy camper.
There’s no question that the Wide Glide is not cut out for making tight turns at slower speeds and is a beast to push around in the garage and driveway. However, the Wide Glide really had a pleasant, lively ride on the various twisty roads we explored on Saturday. Although, that light and maneuverable feel comes at the price of understeer in some cornering situations: getting on the throttle before exiting a turn on the Wide Glide is definitely a no-no. In fact, I’m thinking I might see if the bike will take a slightly wider front tire to increase the amount of rubber on the road for stopping and handling purposes: 21″ x 80mm is REALLY narrow. Another interesting change is cornering clearance and lean angles; they’re not anything close to what I’m used to. However, I quickly discovered why the Wide Glide doesn’t have feeler pegs on the front foot pegs: the first thing that you “drag” when you approach a lean angle that would come close to putting the rear pipes or primary drive case in contact with the ground is the heel of your boot! It caught me a bit by surprise the first couple times that my heel touched the asphalt, but it was a lot better than relying on the sound of metal scraping the ground.
From a comfort standpoint, I was really surprised how easy it was to adapt to the forward position pegs and the low-rise, pulled back bars were also placed well: not too high or too low in relationship to the very low-rider, dropped seat height of only 27″. Before Debbie swung a leg over the bike I’d already swapped out the small tissue-box size pillion saddle for the wider and more ergonomically shaped Dyna Smooth Style Passenger Pillion (P/N 51404-10) and the Wide Glide Backrest Pad (P/N 51732-10) for added piece of mind and something to lean against. Debbie was as pleased with her position as I was with mind, and grinning from ear-to-ear throughout our ride. However, what I needed to do was to adjust the rear shocks to deal with the added weight of a pillion per the owner’s manual; however, much to my surprise HD did not see fit to provide any tools with the bike, including the spanner needed for rear shock adjustments. So, that will be one of the first things that goes onto my list of things to get for the bike.
Power was also surprisingly good: lots of off-the-line torque and the ability to get up to speed in a hurry… much faster than I’d expected for a stock 96″ motor. The transmission reminds me of my BMW R1100S, in that the shifts always feel clunky at the shifter but the actual transmission engagement is silky smooth. And, speaking of similarities, I was surprised to find that the HD uses the same turn-signal layout and functions as my BMWs: one switch on either side of the handlebars.
There are quite a few other little things that I’ll need to address and that I could also point out. However, as I said, I don’t want this to digress into a Harley Blog vice our focus on tandem bicycles. Bottom Line is, Debbie is as giddy as can be over the new two-wheeled two-seater and we’re anxious to see how we will actually end up using it. More to follow… but in moderation.