It should come as no surprise that I find Harley’s cool. I enjoy things that have a mean factor, I believe in mo’ noise mo’ better, and of course I loved Sons of Anarchy. While this sentence is full of cliche’s, it is so true that I am almost ashamed of myself.
This month marked the one-year anniversary of my getting my motorcycle endorsement and I blame this desire for an American V-Twin on the very event. I took my MSF course at Barb’s Harley Davidson in Mt. Ephraim, NJ. I decided to pay the extra money and take the course here for one main reason; you learn on a Harley Street 500. Now before the Harley loyal raise their pitchforks and scream about it not being a “real Harley”, I actually agree with you. The styling is okay but the sound and attitude are decidedly more metric than ‘Murcia, but that’s for another article.
The Street 500 I named Betsy, in my eye, was a perfect bike to learn on. It was low, light, and not that powerful…at all. Also, I knew that I was looking to buy cruiser style motorcycle for my first bike so learning on one just made too much sense. This is compared to the barrage of 250/300cc bangers most others places use. Anyway, I’m getting a little off topic again, there will be a dedicated post about my learning experience don’t you worry!
As I went to my lessons, I would walk around the showroom, uncontrollably drooling over the two-wheeled candy in front of me. Granted this is H-D’s goal by offering the course at their dealerships, but damnit it was working. The funny thing is, I know that Harley’s are not perfect and are simply overpriced. I see those pitchforks raising again, let me speak! If you use common sense, most H-D models just don’t make sense. Most of the juicy models, at least the ones I want, cost at least $20,000 once you tack on basic accessories. On the metric side, I can easily buy a similar sized bike for $11,000-$15,000 new. Don’t believe me? I sense an example coming.
The two bikes up for comparison are the 2017 Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe and the 2017 Suzuki Boulevard C90T.
Suzuki Boulevard C90 T
HD Softail Heritage
Both are retro style cruisers with the Harley taking the edge on retro, the engines are close in size (Suzuki 1,462 cc, HD 1,687cc) and both will take you on a decent sized road trip with lovely comfort. While the H-D’s extra torque will punch you off the line, Suzuki’s fuel-injection adds an extra level of refinement and the C90T also sports liquid cooling. Now for price. The C90T starts at $12,899 and right now you could grab one for a few dollars less due to the new model year coming. The H-D starts at $18,549 for the basic black color, the two-tone style paint in the picture above will start at $19,299. You don’t have to be a seasoned accountant to show you what you can do with an extra $6,000 to $7,000.
So, our logic tell us that you can buy the Suzuki or Yamaha or name another non-H-D motorcycle and be better off. Do it, your wallet will thank you, and your smile shall still be as wide, right? Wrong. So foolishly wrong.
If you read my Ducati article, you know that emotions play a massive role in buying these machines. While there are many rider who really love their metric/ European cruisers, H-D’s have an emotional pull that almost no other motorcycle manufacturer has. If we look past the entry level Street 500 and Street 750 models, just about every Harley looks amazing. I know style is subjective but the only two models that don’t fully tickle my tinkle are the 2018 Fat Bob, and Road Glide’s. Now the Fat Bob is primarily due to the stock exhaust and the headlight, they aren’t deal-killers but I’m not too sure about them. The Road Glide however has an ugly fairing in my humble opinion, it just looks fat. Aside from these two though, the rest of the models look great.
Then there is the noise. You cannot even begin to talk about Harley’s without discussing that wonderful V-Twin rumble. For the most part, if you think about riding across the country on a motorcycle, the noise in your head is pure Harley. Lastly, the marketplace for H-D’s cannot be rivaled. The amount to which you can customize an H-D is unreal, I honestly had no clue until I started looking for part for my Suzuki M50. If I have six different major exhaust systems to choose from for my bike, any given Harley seems to have 30. What this means is every owner can feel as though the bike they bought is truly unique, although the sheer numbers of Harley’s out there tell a different story.
When I think about these factors, things like the overall cost, poor day-to-day reliability (until recently it seems), and lack of innovative technology fly right out the window. I just want one, badly. In one of my various “I won the lottery” dreams, I have a Street Glide, Fat Boy, and Heritage Classic in my garage, along with a fleet of various British and Italian motorcycles. So maybe I shouldn’t feel foolish for wanting one, but rather embrace the fact that one day I will have a Harley or four. Hello, my name is Michael, and I will have a Harley.