I love my Harley-Davidson Sportster 883. I have had it for a couple years now and it has been a great, dependable, fun, intermediate motorcycle for me. My wife and I have ridden it to Martha’s Vineyard and back and I enjoy commuting on it. That being said, I am eager to upgrade to a more advanced motorcycle. By advanced I mostly mean more powerful. I do not mean more difficult to steer, maneuver, pick up, back up, or anything of the sort.
I tend to obsess a little about things that interest me. I frequently check motorcycle review sites on a more than daily basis. (see the “clickers” located in the sidebar)
I have read many many reviews on all types of bikes and I fantasize about riding them. Earlier I wrote a post about my top motorcycle picks. That list is still interesting to me but may have changed slightly. Who knows which bike is best for me.
Through the many readings it has become apparent to me that Harley’s refusal to incorporate newer technologies is a problem for me. This is Beef #1. It wasn’t really a problem for me until Harley came out with the XR1200. I like old bikes and I like simple machines that run well. Harley fits this bill well. The XR1200, however, opened my eyes to what could be easily adapted to Harley’s other bikes. It was also obvious how wrong it was for Harley to not include adjustable front suspension since they are trying to compete with the sportier bikes.
The bike that I am most thinking of buying, if I don’t buy a Harley, is a BMW R1200R. Reading the reviews and specs on this bike is like a tech enthusiast’s dream. All of these tech advancements have to aid in keeping the rider safe. Also, Harley’s are so very heavy. There has to be a lighter way to build a Harley. I am an average gent. I am about 5’10″ and even though I have gained a few pounds I am still under 180. I am also not a body builder by any stretch, therefore riding a bike that is six, seven, or eight hundred pounds seems out of the question to me.
I made a picture of the inner struggle between my Harley self and my BMW self.
Now on to Beef #2. I like the Harley band of brothers mentality that exists. It’s fun to belong and since I love to ride, it’s great to be associated with that. There is, however, a stigma on male sportster riders. Sportsters are cheaper, smaller, and they are “chick bikes”. This is a dramatization of how I feel a typical introduction goes when I meet a fellow HOG rider:
dude – “cool you ride a Harley, what do you a ride?”
me – “a sportster 883.”
dude – “oh…that’s cool….hey, John, how’s it going…..” and he moves on to talk with someone else.
There is classism in the Harley band of brothers. Try to imagine how the rich Porsche 911 owners felt when Porsche came out with the Boxster and all of a sudden people were in the Porsche club who weren’t as rich, weren’t as old, and were often women. Some people spend $30K on their Harley. I spent just over $4K. (I got it used from a “chick” who asked me several times if the bike was for my girlfriend)
Since Harley is typical America, bigger indeed does equal better. This means that even though I really like the Nightster 1200 it is still small compared to the big bikes and I would still not be equal with other Harley riders. Since I don’t want to endanger my life by riding a bike that is too heavy for me I am being shunned out of the Harley band of brothers one encounter at a time.
I may just go join my euro friends on the BMW motorcycles even though I would miss a lot of great things about Harleys. My wife would also very much disapprove of me switching to the dark side that is everything non-Harley.