Sunday, September 07, 2014

Leaning Harley

Marla and I went out for 130 great miles today -- Hwy 1, Hwy 19, Hwy 30, Rushford, Hwy 16, Lanesboro with a little BBQ snack, Fountain, Wykoff, Spring Valley, Hwy 1, then home. Beers on the deck bar in beautiful sun, light breeze after the ride.

This summer I've switched back and forth between the Wing and the Ultra on a very regular basis. Mostly riding the Ultra to the Health Club each day because it really is a joy around town and in parking lot tight spaces -- but have switched to the Wing a lot too. The Ultra went on the 200mi Ronald McDonald ride up the WI side of the Mississippi to Treasure Island and back on some MN twisties through places like Welsh and Mazeppa to Rochester. The Wing made the trip to Indianola IA for the balloon viewing, and a 230mi higher speed jaunt over to WI to "BuckKnuckles" on 88 NE of Fountain with a bunch of twists.

Right now if a gun was held to my head and I HAD to drop to one bike, I'd keep the Wing because:

  1. Safety -- the brakes on the Ultra are easy to lock and not good at all compared to the Wing. Longer stopping distances is not a good thing. Linked brakes on a big bike are really important -- Harley now agrees. 
  2. Long distance ride / comfort -- I still haven't given up on the idea of long solo rides entirely. If I want to ride over 500mi a day, or really even over 300, then the Wing wins hands down. 
But if I had to pick, I'd REALLY miss the Harley.
  1. The sound and engine feel continues to grow on me. 
  2. Riding through a little town at slow speed with the torque and the easy low speed handling is pure joy. 
  3. On 30mph corners or less, any time you need to do a little gravel, odd steep entrances to places, tight quarters, U-turns, etc, it makes you feel like a professional. Sure, after a lot of practice and suspension tweaking, I CAN do all those things on the Wing now and feel "comfortable", but I don't feel "smug". The Ultra makes me feel smug, and let's face it, there is a reason that liberals love being liberals -- and smug is the reason.
If we were not negotiating on building a "shed condo" in IA right now, I'm pretty sure I'd be headed out to Rochester Harley and dealing on a new Road Glide with ABS / linked brakes. Pretty much solve the #1 safety issue, and from what I've been able to glean, come much closer to the Wing on comfort while doing just as well or better on all the Ultra wins. The Wing would go on the sales block (sob, sob), and I'd move forward as a one bike guy.

But, we ARE in the building deal, and until things are more settled, sitting tight on the bike picture is probably the right answer. I've also not COMPLETELY put the Indian dream to bed ... the Roadmaster  is the right answer there, but the issue of on the road and even local service is a drawback -- going up to St Paul to service the bike is not appealing.

So I'll soldier on into pumping season in IA with a lot of 12 hour days in the tractor with a little time to ponder the way to motorcycle Nirvana. Such are the burdens of the Moose!

Whatever the future brings, rides like today are experiences that can't be priced. One has to just be very thankful to have been alive to be able to enjoy the moments!

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