Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2005 15:08:02 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: Re: Ramblings of a madman...-
From: Donnie Frank <>

>Donnnie...the new turn signals don't auto-cancel after 8 seconds.
>They continue blinking until you turn or lean the bike.

Well wadya know? It sound like, from an engineering perspective, H-D's sort of "perfected" those self-canceling turn signals. Good for H-D. However, I assume our $4.00 winker relay that can be had at any Autozone has now been replaced with a considerably more expensive, proprietary "magic box?"

I suppose automation of our daily tasks has its merits, but it seems ya gotta draw the line somewhere. Would a Harley still be any phun if all you had to do was think to start it??? Conversely, it wouldn't be practical if you had to fix it all the time (like say, a post-war Harley). I think there's a perfect middle ground, and Harley reached that middle ground in the late '80's/early '90's. It's my personal opinion that H-D motorcycles peaked during that era. One could argue that that's because I'm from that era (purchased my bike in '89). But I don't know...the Evo brought about a new age of reliability. That engine was as perfect as an engineering nightmare like a V-2 possibly could be. Why did they change it? Why did they add stuff? Why did they add that timing chain in place of road-proven gears? How long before H-D admits they fucked up with that damn cam chain and an S&S timing gear set comes stock on a TC-88???

Any thoughts???

I think my problem with the newer H-D's is that the very first thought that runs through my head when I see these new, modern conveniences is, "How the hell would I fix that?" Or, "I bet that costs a million dollars to replace." Or, "How long can I ride with that thing broken?" Or, "How hard is it going to be to find that part?" and on and on. I imagine myself broken down on the side of the road with nothing more than a leatherman and a flashlight (2 things I always have with me). Add the fact that it's night time, raining, and on a lonely stretch of highway...oh's Sunday, too...about 2:AM (a situation that's happened to us all, I'm sure). I wonder if this new, streamline vehicle, with all its creature comforts, could be fixed with a basic set of road tools or tools that could be borrowed from a nearby farmer?

Harley keeps adding these conveniences to make pushing that starter button and riding down the road a little easier to do. Isn't that's what a car is for? You can bog a car down with all these modern doo-dads because there are weather-proof places to put these new devices. There are places in a car that will never see more than 100 degrees of heat or the light of day or a drop of moisture. You'd be hard-pressed to find a place like that on a Harley. Maybe Harley is *counting* on the new age of fair-weather bikers???

I understand that Harley wants *everyone* riding their motorcycles. Since I own a few shares of HDI *I'd* like to see everyone riding their motorcycles, too. But where do you draw the line? Do I *want* a 60-year-old guy getting on his first Harley - maybe his first motorcycle - and then riding around me? Do I want him around me when a dog or cat or child runs out in front of him or a person of his age demographic changes lanes right into him? Definitely food for thought...

It's easy to sell "convenience" to a 50-year-old customer (seemingly H-D's newest and strongest age demographic). How "convenient" or "easy-to-ride" should a Harley be? No matter how you sugar coat it, it's still a heavy motorcycle that requires some skill and intestinal fortitude to be ridden safely.

I guess with the advent of "computer-driven" cars, it's only natural that motorcycles would follow that same progression.

I'm sure some of you folks agree, some people were just not meant to be on a motorcycle. We've all seen them; leaving fuel petcocks on (which doesn't really matter much these daze with vacuum-operated petcocks or F.I.), taking off with the front wheel still locked (I've personally seen this like 4 times), or taking off without turning on the fuel at all (I'm staring at a "Turn the gas on dummy" sticker given to me by a friend of mine). Try as they may, some people just don't have the "in-the-wind" gene in their blood. In the old days these non-riding types were weeded out by the need to be able to handle or repair such a beast. Now anyone with a cell phone and gold card can ride. You used to have to have some mechanical talent and upper body strength to ride. There were things about the machine and the "in-the-wind" experience that you had to understand. It wasn't an idiot-proof machine. This kept a lot of people off H-D's - maybe rightfully so? Ya had to *want* to ride badly enough to learn how to use a screwdriver and a wrench. Ya had to by physically able to handle the machine (dare I say pick one up?). Nowadaze anyone can ride one (and anyone does).

I've seen Harleys purchased, wrecked, repaired and sold in less than 200 miles. Should those people have been allowed on such a heavy machine in the first place?

With traffic being such that it is these days, it would be nice to see more 2-wheeled vehicles on the road. I guess there are definitely 2 sides to the "new fangled Harley" argument.

You can't argue the fact that *having* less to go wrong means that less *will* go wrong. My '89, with it's "old-fashioned" carburetor, choke, and rocker switches for turn signals, is a machine I've always been able to count on.

I can tell you this; I sure wish Carley had a kick-starter. Honestly, I kick-started my bikes for years before I had one with an electric start (electric start worked intermittently on my 1970 and '71 450 Hondas - design flaw). I wish I still had that option with Carley...or maybe no option...strictly a kick start. That's all I had for years. I didn't mind it then. I'm sure I wouldn't mind it now. A kicker would certainly weed out a bunch of would-be bikers.

At this point guys like me are lucky. Because of the HUGE Harley boom of the early '90's there are plenty of old bikes around in *sweet* condition to be had. When I wear Carley out or decide to increase the heard, you can betcherass I'll be lookin' through the paper for that garage candy - that one sweet, garage-kept, early model FXR with under 10K (dare I say 5K?) on the odometer.

"Well-weathered leather, hot metal and oil, the scented country air - sunlight on chrome, a view of the landscape, every nerve aware..." Neil Peart (drummer and lyricist for Rush and avid motorcycle enthusiast).

Any thoughts?


Donnnie Frank