Thursday, August 24, 2017

Did I predict the future??

Even though I'm not a French physician writing in quatrains, I think I may have predicted the future last week when I blogged, "So, unless you're in an interview with the MoCo., let the Low Rider be in a Softail frame. It's adorable." But did I really perceive the coming of the new Softail frame through my crystal ball? (Yes, that is my crystal ball!) Let's review:

*In case you missed it, Harley-Davidson announced a new cruiser frame to house the Milwaukee-Eight motor for the 2018 model year. And now the Low Rider IS a Softail.

  • The Dyna model family as we know it began with the Super Glide, when Harley combined the Sportster with the larger big
    twin models of the day, waaaaay back in 1971. That was 45 years ago.
  • Nearly 35 years ago the Softail family was born from the brain of Bill Davis, who sold his patents, prototype and tooling to Harley, who produced the first FXST Softail in 1984. 
  • For decades people have said that even though a new model year had been announced, the only real difference from one year to the next was engine displacement and/or paint. 
  • Traditionally, the newest motor goes in the Touring lineup first, then it makes it down the rest of the family tree the following year. That happened with the Twin-Cam 96ci, 103ci & 110ci motors. But when it came to the new Milwaukee-Eight, it was
    too big to fit into the traditional Dyna & Softail frames.
  • Earlier this year Harley announced they were moving the manufacturing of the Softail line from York, PA (where the Touring & Trike lines are produced) to the Kansas City plant, birth place of the Dyna, Sporster & Street bikes.
  • It wouldn't be cost effective to continue to make four motors - the Milwaukee-Eight, Twin Cam, Evolution (Sportster), and Revolution X (Street). Harley has always been good at balancing the books as well as their bikes- that's one of the reasons they've been in business for 115 years (not many companies can say that). 
So yes, I'm a Witch (told you that crystal ball is mine!), but I really didn't use a anything to foresee the change coming. Anyone who knows the pattern of a successful company knows that they will continue to innovate and push the envelope.

I am proud to keep my 2004 Dyna Super Glide as well as excited to witness this moment in history. I might even possibly add to my collection with a new Heritage Classic 115th Anniversary edition.

Don't forget you're invited to FXCHD's Fall Open House, September 22-24 and you can see the new Softail family for yourself. Not in the area? Don't worry - just go to a Harley-Davidson dealership close to you.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Don't be "THAT Guy": 13 Biker Snobbisms to avoid

Yes, the world of motorcycling (aka Bikers) can be intimidating. And yes, when we're intimidated, some people try too hard to fit in. So I'm here to stop you before going too far and you do a shameless Sons-of-Anarchy-makeover. 

Once you've learned a bit about something, especially if it's something you're passionate about, it can be hard not to share your new-found knowledge with everyone. Bikes, Star Wars, credit scores, or even wine - the path from novice to snobbery is actually a pretty slippery slope. 

If you've already caught yourself being a "big-bad-biker" with reckless abandon, you should definitely check this list out- make sure you'll never be found guilty of these snob acts.*

*To keep things accurate, I've graded these acts on a level of 1 to 10 backfires (the universal biker symbol of snobbery).
You've completed tons of research before buying your bike, you test rode it, bought it way below asking price, and have read through the owner's manual twice. Now you're telling your friends, family, complete strangers and even coma patients just how spectacular your bike is, exactly why you choose it, and are giving mile-by-mile recaps of the rides you've gone on. Besides annoying those around you, there's the needlessness of it all. Trust me, a simple, "Hey - I got a new bike," will do just fine. 
Snob factor: 2 backfires 

Those commercials with the lux sports car going through the cones, with the "professional driver - do not attempt" warning on the bottom of the screen. This does not apply to you since you took the Basic Riders Course and have the "M" endorsement on your driver's license - you are now an expert. You'll correct your friend's on their riding style, you'll yell at those inconsiderate drivers for the smallest traffic infraction. But please, until you become a certified driving/riding instructor or go into law enforcement, be the better person and let the small things go. 
Snob factor: 4 backfires
You believe Harley's are built to last, which they are, but that doesn't mean they're maintenance free. So when you allow your bike to go 25,000 miles or more without anything more than an oil change, and that poor bike finally cracks under the pressure and you're a long way from home, it's not the mechanic who is at fault. Bonus points if you insist the dealer take the part your bike needs off a new bike in the showroom just so you can get back on the road. 
Snob factor: 6-8 backfires

Another rider who is new to the sport is excited about a new road they've discovered. Except that excitement doesn't carry over to you, and you make sure to say it. "Wow - you've lived here how long and didn't know about that road? Well, I've known about that for -" Don't, just don't. He or she is trying and here you are, being the "big-bad-biker" and crash their efforts.
Snob factor: 5 backfires
It's a nice day for a ride, so you've ridden up to the local dealership to see if they've got the one part you've been wanting, only to find out it's not a part they have it in stock. Now, somehow, you get it in your head that the Parts Department is to blame, even though it was you who didn't bother to call first. Extra snob points for complaining how you had to ride all that way, on a beautiful day, while they're stuck inside trying to help you.
Snob factor: 4-6 backfires

You know the entire history of Harley-Davidson Motor Company, which is great - maybe write a book. But when you're at the dealership, talking with the Service Department Manager, don't get into a debate about why you think a 1977 FXS Low Rider is an over-valued piece of sh.... Unless you worked next to Willie G. for all those years.
Snob factor: 5 backfires
Did you go to MMI? Great, we'll get you a job application. Ok, so you asked for a black oil filter, and they put a chrome one on instead. But if it's a matter of meticulous detail ("I hope you did torque that to the recommended 3.5 foot pounds of torque...) or subjective taste ("Well, I certainly don't use anything but Amsoil and you have only Harley-Davidson oil...") maybe just let it go.
Snob factor: 8 backfires

You're out riding with a group of friends and they stop for lunch. Like to go around the table, asking everyone what they thought about the ride? Well stop. You're not Oprah. You don't need to interview each of your companions on how they felt about the ride they just took. If they want to get verbal about it, they will, and then you can join in with your experiences.
Snob factor: 3 backfires
It's great you know enough about bikes to help your friend narrow down the choices. But don't be 'that guy' who tags along to the dealership and then immediately (and without invitation) become the sales negotiator, as if saving your friend from making the mistake of not letting you choose the perfect bike for him/her. 
Snob factor: 4 backfires

Just like when you go to the doctor because you're sick, chances are it's something small and simple, like a the flu rather than the next pandemic. Same goes for your bike. So when you say you want to drop off your bike because there's a wobble in the front end, and we ask if you've checked the tire pressure, it's because we're trying to save you time and money. Bonus points for insisting you did, you still drop off your bike, and the only thing we find wrong with it is that the front tire is 12 pounds under pressure. 
Snob factor: 5-7 backfires

You know who you are. You can never talk about bikes without mentioning the review. "Did you see what had to say about the [fill in the blank]? Well, I'll tell you...." Nice. You know what's not nice? Your regurgitation of reviews. And what makes you even more of a snob is if you bring up these reviews out of topic. 
Snob factor: 2-4 backfires
There are nearly 40 bikes across 6 'families' in Harley's 2017 model year, and not everybody is as educated as you when it comes to which bike goes where in the family tree. But when you correct someone's honest mistake ("The Low Rider was never in the Softail family!!") you just come off as annoying. Even if you're intention is well meant, you still come off as a near complete ass. 
So, unless you're in an interview with the MoCo., let the Low Rider be in a Softail frame*. It's adorable. And the ride is still good.
Snob factor: 6 backfires
*A few days after I posted this blog, Harley announced their 2018 lineup, with a redesigned frame that combines the best of the Dyna & Softail frames. And now the Low Rider DOES exist in a Softail frame!! Read more about it in my "Did I predict the future?" blog.

No doubt about it, riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is more about freedom than anything else. But whenever someone is talking about their bike, or even bikes in general, you announce to any and all gathered: "I will only ride my [fill in year, make & model]!!" with as much passion as Patrick Henry asking for liberty or death. You see, by announcing that you've narrowed down the big, wide world of motorcycles to just one isn't the best way to impress. Remember the saying, "Knees in the Breeze," and let each ride their own.
Snob factor: 7 backfires

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

3 Things Every Harley Owner Should Be Doing For Their Bike

"Being an owner means being responsible," is one of the things my Dad used to say, and it makes sense. As an owner you should be vigilant and watch for early warning signs to help prevent major disasters later on.

This is true if you are responsible for an animal - you have your dog/cat vaccinated to prevent him or her from getting sick. If you own a house and ignored that the furnace was going out or the roof leaked, you know you'll be into spending some serious money to get them fixed.

I asked Chad, our Service Manager at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson, what are the 3 things he wished Harley owners would do for their bikes, and here's what he said:
Battery Tender
Sure you need it during the winter when your bike is hibernating and the snow is falling. But even in the warmest summer months, if you're not riding for even a week or two, it's a good idea to plug your bike in. 

Brake Service
Everybody loves to go fast, but forget that it's just as important to be able to stop when you need to. If you have your bike routinely maintained (like your owners manual says in the back), you'll be fine. (Are you maintaining your ABS?) The very worn brake pads above are mine, off my bike, while she was getting her 50K mile service.

Tire Pressure
We had a customer bring his bike in for service, swearing up & down that the wheel bearings were gone in his front tire. What was the actual problem? His tire pressure was about 12 pounds under what it should be. If he had just bothered to check he could've saved himself a bit of money.

Doing these three things is not a guarantee that your bike won't need service or repair later on. But it will help you to get to know your bike better and possibly prevent major damage down the road.