OK, I will confess that we put way more miles on the Harley-Davidson this weekend than we did the tandem. Like 60:0, or there abouts. But, we have our reasons, and good ones at that!
However, that said, the H-D stuff was both very cool and very interesting on a variety of fronts.
#1 – Great people, all around. (Very much like the tandem community, but clearly different)
#2 – We really like riding our FXDWG… really, it’s a very comfortable way to ride a motorcycle. I’m not sure I’d feel the same way about a ‘recumbent bicycle’, but the forward control riding position is a very comfortable way to sit and ride while still being able to control the motorcycle… with far more precision that I would have guessed. No, it ain’t no sport bike, but it definitely has its place and is a very nice and ‘fun’ change from the beemer. (The ‘fun factor’ is very similar to what we experienced when we first started riding a tandem bike some 14 years ago.)
#3 – Great events: Our friends Dave & Deb whom we met at On The Border invited and introduced us to our first Harley event: a fund-raiser for breast cancer research at Atlanta Harley-Davidson on Thornton Road in Lithia Springs. The Curves & Chrome weekend is a series of events all aimed at raising funds to fight breast cancer and the Saturday event we attended was Boobapalooza. Although we didn’t participate, today was the 6th annual Bikers for Boobs ride & poker run from Lithia Springs to Carrolton, Georgia (OK, it’s a bit more colorful and edgy than your average tandem gathering but the goals are similar with some added purpose in this instance). What we learned this weekend was that we’ll need to do a better job of carving-out time for these types of events so that we don’t cut ourselves short and miss some of the activities and social opportunities. (This will create some interesting challenges given the desire to balance cycling, motorcycling and weekend chores with my 50-60 hour in-week work week that doesn’t get me home before 7:00pm – 8:00pm each night.)
#4 – Earl Small’s Staff: These folks are great! I’ve been a PIA all week where I’ve probably exchanged just about everything I’ve bought and through it all every one of the guys working the parts counter has been pleasant, helpful and accommodating. Any time you have a question or are looking for insight, there’s always at least two or more folks from the staff ready to jump in and show you how something works or offer insights and advise. (Very much like the better tandem dealers who are also selling a lifestyle, but on a much smaller scale… you can actually find H-D dealers in nearly every town, not so with knowledgeable tandem dealers who are far and few between)
#5 – If you think upgrading tandems is expensive: Actually, the tandems are still off the charts when it comes to the cost. You can easily spend as much or more upgrading a set of tandem crossover cranks as you can for a full exhaust system, shocks, or other significant non-cosmetic changes to the motorcycle. However, the H-D upgrades are far less expensive than similar equipment changes I’ve made on my sport bikes: shocks and exhaust are about 60% of the comparable items, e.g., Vance & Hines exhaust vs. Laser for the BMW, Progressive vs. Ohlins shocks. (Of course, all of this is relative as there are folks who have never seen the need to upgrade anything on a tandem or their motorcycle)
#6 – There is no end to the things you can ‘tweak’ on a Harley-Davidson. At one point today I almost decided to cry uncle and buy a used 2003 100th Anniversary Edition CVO H-D Softtail Deuce if only because just about everything you could upgrade had been upgraded by the factory. It would probably save us thousands in the long run vs similar upgrades to the 2011 FXDWG we just purchased. Of course, when I took a step back and throught more rationally I realize we’d never put 90% of the’03 CVO Deuce upgrades on our FXDWG. But, we still like that ’03 CVO Deuce!! (Hmmm. Sounds a lot like high-end tandems for some consumers)
#7 – Great people all around. (Again, very much like the tandem community, but clearly different)