To Harley or not to Harley?

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jaskc78
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To Harley or not to Harley?

#1 Unread post by jaskc78 »

So earlier this year I'd decided that if I got promoted I'd buy myself a new Harley as a gift. Well, I found out over the last week that I will be promoted. Probably either September or October, and that'll mean about $300 more a month, then December is 12 years in the Air Force and that's another $200 a month.

So...with $500 a month, I'm gonna get a new motorcycle. In the next couple months I'll be debt free with the exception of my truck payment, but I'm gonna roll over the credit card payment and other crap to pay it off sooner. That combined with my own Mass Vehicle Liquidation Sale, I'll have to buy more stuff to drive/ride to work.

Currently looking at the Yamaha V-Star 1100 Custom with the Midnight trim, the Honda VTX1300T, or the Harley Softtail Night Train or Dyna Fat Bob.

The Honda and Yamaha have the price thing going for them, because they're $4500-6000 cheaper than the Harley right off the bat, and the accessories seem to be a lot cheaper, too. The Harley, however, is....a Harley. Is the Harley name really worth the extra dollars? I understand that the Harley has a bigger engine and a whole slew more after market support availability, but how do they stand up as far as build quality? I want a bike that'll do just as well around town as it will cruising 80mph on the highway for hours on end. And while I appreciate the after market options, I don't want to feel like they're necessities.

The Honda is water cooled, which I think would be very nice when the air gets to be 110 degrees+, but the people I work with that ride Harleys say that the oil cooler makes for very reasonable engine temps even on the hottest days. The 6-speed transmission would also be very nice for highway cruising, but I'm sure the 5-speeds on the Honda and Yamaha are both more than capable. The shaft drive on the Honda and Yamaha is also enticing, but again I'm sure that the folks at Harley Davidson wouldn't still be using a final drive system that was weak or flawed and the folks I work with, again, have nothing bad to say about the belt or chain drive on Harleys.

Anyone have any insight? I think a lot of it will come down to the test ride, so maybe I just need to wait for that to see what all questions are answered for me, but I'm just not that patient.
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#2 Unread post by BuzZz »

I am a brand mean. I don't care what name is on the thing.... if it hits all the right nerve clusters, I'll ride it.

So I would say ride all the bikes your looking at and buy the one you like best. Bikes are a very subjective thing, what feels good to one guy might not feel right to the next guy. Even within the same styles and usage groups.

All the bikes will be as mechanically dependable as the next bike. Air-v-water cooling is up to taste again. Both systems do the job just fine. Water-cooling allows tighter control of engine temp range and so they can make the tolerances tighter, so there's that to think about if it is important to you.

As long as you buy the bike that feels best to you when you ride it, you can't really go wrong.
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#3 Unread post by jaskc78 »

thanks for not helping at all, Buzzz. :laughing:

and yeah, it'll come down to the test ride, i think, since i've never been good at making decisions based on price.
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#4 Unread post by BuzZz »

If you try to justify a motorcycle based on money, you miss the point, IMHO. :mrgreen:

It has always come down to 'how much money do I have for a motorcycle?' at bike buying time. Then I buy the best candidate I've found for that much, lol. If I had 30 grand, I would be riding that tricked-out Hypermotard S they got on the display stand at the dealer in town. So I'm not the one to say much about that. :roll:

If the most expensive choice is the one you like best, it is still the best deal. If you like the cheapest bike best.... even better. My life don't work that way though..... :wink:
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#5 Unread post by jaskc78 »

yeah, i know what you mean there, Buzzz. i can count the number of times i've kept cash in my pocket while walking past something i want on one hand...maybe even just one finger.

oh well, guess it'll wait til test ride time, which is going on through the end of the month according to the Harley Super Ride. i know what i'm doing tomorrow.
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#6 Unread post by jeff_connors »

All the models can be confusing. Start at the general and move to the specific. Just like an AF checklist!

Type of bike you like, cruiser, sport, standard

Looks and features, seat feel, instruments, etc.

Price

Just because you have the money to afford that bike, that does not mean you have to spend it. Establish your priorities, family, investments, TSP?, etc. A bike, no matter how anyone justifies it, is a toy. UNLESS you replace a vehicle with a bike and most people don't do that. Now my bike is a toy but one thing has helped pay for it. If you take your bike TDY, the travel pay will help you pay for it and buy tires, etc. And it's fun to take the bike if you can.

Personally, Harley's to me are overpriced and over-hyped. You will have just as much fun on a two wheeled non-Harley bike. I know a lot of people say it's a "life style." That is BS. I don't need to buy a life style. I love my bikes and have 4 currently. I have about the money in those that I would have in the cheapest Harley. My 2 cents.
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#7 Unread post by Wrider »

Alright, time for my two cents.

The 1100 VStar isn't going to be as powerful as the VTX1300
the VTX is about as powerful as the Harleys, about the same amount of torque.
Shaft drive is the least maintenance, but there is NOTHING bad about belts as long as you keep the belt on there straight. (I've seen HDs with 50K on the clock and the original belt)
As far as air/oil/water cooling, when I was in Phoenix I saw all three do just fine, so don't worry about that.

Honestly if you can afford any of them, I'd go test-ride them all. Show up with some decent cash in hand and most dealers will let you test ride just about any bike on the block.

And just to confuse you a little more, may I throw in the Suzuki Boulevard line? Shaft drive, liquid cooled, V-Twin, and just as reliable as any of the others... :)
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Re: To Harley or not to Harley?

#8 Unread post by Ryethil »

jaskc78 wrote:
(snip)

I'll have to buy more stuff to drive/ride to work.

Currently looking at the Yamaha V-Star 1100 Custom with the Midnight trim, the Honda VTX1300T, or the Harley Softtail Night Train or Dyna Fat Bob.

The Honda and Yamaha have the price thing going for them, because they're $4500-6000 cheaper than the Harley right off the bat, and the accessories seem to be a lot cheaper, too. The Harley, however, is....a Harley. Is the Harley name really worth the extra dollars? I understand that the Harley has a bigger engine and a whole slew more after market support availability, but how do they stand up as far as build quality? I want a bike that'll do just as well around town as it will cruising 80mph on the highway for hours on end. And while I appreciate the after market options, I don't want to feel like they're necessities.

The Honda is water cooled, which I think would be very nice when the air gets to be 110 degrees+, but the people I work with that ride Harleys say that the oil cooler makes for very reasonable engine temps even on the hottest days. The 6-speed transmission would also be very nice for highway cruising, but I'm sure the 5-speeds on the Honda and Yamaha are both more than capable. The shaft drive on the Honda and Yamaha is also enticing, but again I'm sure that the folks at Harley Davidson wouldn't still be using a final drive system that was weak or flawed and the folks I work with, again, have nothing bad to say about the belt or chain drive on Harleys.

Anyone have any insight? I think a lot of it will come down to the test ride, so maybe I just need to wait for that to see what all questions are answered for me, but I'm just not that patient.
My intuition tells me to stay out of this one but fools rush in...

From my experience, the Honda is the better choice for a japanese bike. It has a lot of features that are neat and it's very realiable.

However, a Harley is a Harley. If all you want is an appliance then go for it. I'm not trying to be snobish about this though you've probably heard this rant before. The problem is that a Harley rides different and it resides in a different world. The experience of riding a Harley is like a lover. All people have warts and not so nice things about them. However, the one that twists your crank isn't necessarily going to be most perfect or even the best house trained. Harleys don't try to be your best friend. Harleys are so much more. They have a personality as such that every one of them takes on a personality of its own.

I love them the same way I love old Triumphs and pony car Camero. I've been told that when you would by a Ponymaro new, the first thing done was find a back road and stomp the loud pedal. The torque of the engine would twist the frame and the resultant frame seasoning would cause each Comaro to drive differently. Each one handled and drove different.

My only problem is that I'm smaller and have less strength so many Harleys are out of my reach. But I love them all. And when you drive up someplace, you don't have to explain why you didn't by a Harley.

This one is for the guys. :rockon:
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#9 Unread post by paul246 »

Get whatever turns your crank but at least consider buying used. There is a glut on the market no matter what brand you decide upon. Great time to pick up a low mileage bargain.
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#10 Unread post by king robb »

No doubt...craigs list is loaded with great bikes for super cheap. I wish I had an empty pole barn and a loaded checking account.
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#11 Unread post by RockBottom »

I was struck by your "hours on end" comment. I'm certainly open to the notion that it's just me, but I rented a Fat Bob last Christmas and rode it 200 miles one day. I felt that I'd been beaten with a baseball bat. I was absolutely exhausted. I think it was a combination of the riding position, vibration, heat, and noise. Bob was a hoot for short rides, but not long ones, at least for me.

That said, I haven't ridden any of the big Japanese cruisers so this may be more of a cruiser thing than a Fat Bob thing.
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#12 Unread post by HYPERR »

BuzZz wrote:I am a brand mean. I don't care what name is on the thing.... if it hits all the right nerve clusters, I'll ride it.
Mega ditto! 8)

I have 4 different bikes right now and I love them all equally. Each one has it's own distinct personality and each one is so much fun to ride in its own way! :D
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#13 Unread post by Wordherder »

Just went from a Zook Intruder 800 to a Harley Superglide Custom.

The H-D vibrates like a concrete compactor, is mucho expensive and the company is always grubbing for even more of your money (harley credit cards, special harley bug dissolving juice or your chrome will dissolve, harley special motor oil and harley special this and harley special that, I've gotten at least one envelope in the mail every day since I bought the thing a month ago).

But when I start that Harley up, I grin like a banshee. I mean, Damn. OK, DAMN. Nothing else in the world sounds like that off-kilter, for-gods-sake-tune-me-up 96-cubic-inch motor. Yeah, I like it when heads turn to check it out because I'm an attention mean, sue me. People pull up next to me, give the bike the once-over, and nod. "Nice bike," they say. I never, ever, heard that riding the Suzuki.

The harley's acceleration is so-so. I could beat the thing easily with the old Intruder. And don't try twitching the Superglide thru any sort of sharp turn or you'll end up in the hospital. Slow and steady, plan each twisty at least a week in advance, that's my new bike.

But I won't go back. I can't. Some sort of pixie marketing dust they sprinkle on you at the H-D dealer. Must ... always ... ride ... Harley ...

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#14 Unread post by jaskc78 »

Rode the Fat Bob today, they didn't have any Night Trains available.
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#15 Unread post by RhadamYgg »

jaskc78 wrote:Rode the Fat Bob today, they didn't have any Night Trains available.
What did you think of it?

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#16 Unread post by jaskc78 »

RockBottom wrote:I was struck by your "hours on end" comment. I'm certainly open to the notion that it's just me, but I rented a Fat Bob last Christmas and rode it 200 miles one day. I felt that I'd been beaten with a baseball bat. I was absolutely exhausted. I think it was a combination of the riding position, vibration, heat, and noise. Bob was a hoot for short rides, but not long ones, at least for me.
I was worried about that too, Rock, but only got to ride it for about 10 miles and didn't even get near highway speeds so couldn't tell.
RhadamYgg wrote:What did you think of it?
Liked it, but I think it was a bad idea to go test ride it when I know I won't be buying it for at least another few months. It was a lot of fun at 45-50mph, and was very surprised at how easy the clutch was. For some reason I wasn't expecting that at all. I knew it was a hydraulic clutch from the reservoir on the handlebars, but was still surprised how easy it was to pull. The front brakes seemed soft, but the salesman mentioned that to me before I even started it up because it only had 150 miles on it.

Took a bit of getting used to where to shift it since all I could hear was the salesman's motorcycle so I had to kind of shift and then check the speed or downshift if it started shaking too much, and I was really cautious seeing as it was still so early in the break-in period.

The one thing that I did notice was with the fat of a front tire the cracks in the road didn't seem to grab it near as easy as I've gotten used to on the Ninja or Madura. I still felt pretty much every bump I went over, but the cracks in the road didn't grab the tire at all. I've been told that the Dynas have a tendency to be a little rougher than the Softails, but I don't know if it was just a bad road we were on or if it was just that much rougher of a ride than I'd expected. Think I'm gonna go ride that section of road a few times on the Madura and see how it goes before I take any more test rides up that way.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the test ride except for how short it was. Would have really liked for it to have been about 20 miles longer. Do the 10 miles on the back roads, then hop on the freeway for a bit to see how it feels at speed. Hopefully I can convince them to let me do that once it gets closer to buying time. I think the fistful of cash idea is my best bet on that.

I would have really liked to have taken a Night Train out so that I could compare the two, but best I could manage was to sit on one in the showroom. Had a very hard seat, but I love the look of it. Very sharp with all the anti-chrome (blacked out).
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#17 Unread post by MTNMAN800 »

jaskc78 - Lots of good bikes out there and I think most of the comments already posted are pretty spot on. The one thing I would suggest coming from the sport bike background to the cruisers is look for a little more HP than the V Star 1100. I just came off a Yamaha FZ6 and got the Road Star 1700. I am very pleased with it - but I am really glad I didn't go any smaller. When you get used to the power and performance that you have with your current bikes it will be very different going to a cruiser. The smaller cruisers don't have the power you think they do. They do have good torque, but I would recommend looking larger than the 1100 in the Star Line. With the Honda's being liquid cooled, the 1300 will be more to your liking vs the 1100, to make it a fair comparison (power wise) look into the bigger star bikes.

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A good point...

#18 Unread post by Ryethil »

MTNMAN800 wrote:jaskc78 - Lots of good bikes out there and I think most of the comments already posted are pretty spot on. The one thing I would suggest coming from the sport bike background to the cruisers is look for a little more HP than the V Star 1100. I just came off a Yamaha FZ6 and got the Road Star 1700. I am very pleased with it - but I am really glad I didn't go any smaller. When you get used to the power and performance that you have with your current bikes it will be very different going to a cruiser. The smaller cruisers don't have the power you think they do. They do have good torque, but I would recommend looking larger than the 1100 in the Star Line. With the Honda's being liquid cooled, the 1300 will be more to your liking vs the 1100, to make it a fair comparison (power wise) look into the bigger star bikes.
It's been my experience that if the bike is comfortable and fits you then the larger engine is usually the way to go. It's much easier to ride down at "normal" city and hiway speeds. Your not constantly trying to keep it on the pipe or in some hp/torque sweetspot. That is the reason that while 750s seem to be forgotten, they are only slightly bigger than 600s and are the added hp/torque allows a more laid back biking experience.

As far as big twins, there are several good ones and they aren't all Harleys. I like the Road Star and I love the VTX1300. They and others are torque monsters that are really easy to gain confidence in. And the price per smile ratio is great!

However, if I were you (and I'm not), I would do some fairly intensive reasearch and decide what you want ahead of starting your search for a bike. I love Harleys for their specialness. I also love Buells, Ducaties, Triumphs and maybe even the Norton Commando if it ever comes to the states. All this maybe moot because you may try out something you've never even though about and realize it and you are soulmates. I didn't say it was all going to be rational. 8)

I would say one thing else. Don't listen to other people that "know" what you should have. Harley's are special but the Sportsters aren't "real" Harleys and the Big Twins are bulky and take forethought so you don't get caught in a place they aren't comfortable in. I get away with riding a Sportster because I'm a gurl and it doesn't take much to learn the specialness of a Harley Big Twin. You might feel pressure to get a Harley or some other bike because other people's ideas of what you should get but don't listen to them. Unless there is some kind of "scene" that goes the bike type and model. I'm hard core Harley lover and most of my biking friends also ride Harley's so I have become a fixture on the Harley social circuit.

However, motorcycles are about freedom. Make sure you keep yours.
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#19 Unread post by joolz »

Why not have a look at the new Triumph Thunderbird?
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#20 Unread post by Ryethil »

joolz wrote:Why not have a look at the new Triumph Thunderbird?
I guess paranoia on my part. We have a Triumph dealer in town and he pretty much a "good egg". However, while I've sat on the Thunderbird and like it's ergonomics (I can fit on it!) there just isn't as many dealerships as Harley or others if something goes wrong. I still love Triumphs and the local dealer will still try to help you get parts from the suppliers that carry them. I don't trust them out of town. I'm not so sure a new Triumph wouldn't be the same way.

I guess this is sort of a back handed compliment. The new Triumphs are put together in a unbelievabley better way than the best of the old ones.
Alex
It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places. WtPooh

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