I rode our new Harley to work to see how it works as a “commuter” while exploring saddle and handlebar options with Killer Creek Harley Davidson (KCHD) parts guru CJ via Email. Other than that, not much to write home about, so to speak. In the evening it was bill paying and catching up on other “home work” as is the norm for every Monday evening on a work night.
I rode our 2013 Road King CVO ‘Blue’ to work to remind myself why I really like Blue; David M. at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta (HDA) knocked it out of the park on the latest dyno tune. I heard back from CJ but we really didn’t come up with a clear path forward on the saddles or handlebars. Lots of good suggestions, but none were a good fit for us as the Low Profiles come with a very small passenger saddle and Debbie’s really liking the large, comfy stock passenger saddle. The Reach saddles also don’t work as they lower you but they also push you forward and I need to go back. CJ’s logic on bars was figure out the saddle first then do the bars which makes sense. So, still pondering as of Tuesday with our Daytona trip on 19 October looming.
After paying bills and getting all of my finances sorted out from the past two very expensive weeks, Tuesday night was spent giving the Road Glide its first real cleaning. The prep and wash it received ahead of delivery was good, but I had to lay my hands on the bike and give it my special treatment. After about two hours on the J&S lift I had it pretty darn clean and ready to start receiving its first Zaino treatments. As I was doing that I was also texting a gentleman who has a set of chrome CVO wheels for sale at a very attractive price. I’m somewhat torn on doing the bling thing on this new bike vs. leaving it aesthetically closer to stock as a “working man’s bike” with its very nice and coincidentally color coordinated black and polished aluminum wheels, etc.
As of right now I’m leaning towards keeping the more conservative black & polished stock wheels and may even go with the black-tipped Rinehart slip-on mufflers to carry that black and chrome/silver theme to the back-end of the bike.
I rode our new Harley to work again and stopped by Hellbender Harley a mere 5 minutes from my office to talk saddles and handlebars with the parts folks and our buddy Nick. Handlebar incompatibility with bars like the Road King Fat bar that we have on our 2013 CVO was, as I suspected, related to the “pin” used on Road Glide risers to streamline handlebar installation at the factory and that could be quickly and easily resolved by removing the pin. As for saddle options, after talking about what I felt I needed the parts crew suggested Harley’s Tallboy saddle and they just happened to have one in their demo saddle fleet. We swapped out our Road Glide’s stock saddle for the Tallboy and son-of-a-gun if that didn’t work pretty well right out of the box for me. It felt like it replicated the riding position I have on Blue with the Low Profile saddle which seemed pretty bizarre since this is the saddle they developed for the really tall riders. Of course, it initially felt like it exacerbated the handlebar issue as the bars were already too high and too far forward on the stock saddle. More to follow.
Once I was back at home I decided to check the various dimensions of the riding positions on both the Road King and Road Glide with a tape measure; wow, was that revealing. Turns out, the “massive looking” Road Glide Ultra with its top case only provides an additional 1″ of linear rider compartment room with the top case in the furthest back position: that was a huge surprise. So, how did they give the passenger all that extra room? They shoved the driver 2″ closer to the gas tank compared to where a driver sits on the Road Kings and “special” versions of the Road Glide and Street Glide. The Tallboy saddle put me in the exact same position as my Road King by giving back those 2″ and taking it away from the passenger. So much for all of that generous room and I’m still waiting for Debbie to ride with me on the Tallboy saddle to see if that will work for her. After all, the Road Glide Ultra is all about providing Debbie with a more comfortable ride than the Road King.
I rode the new Harley to work again to confirm I wasn’t imagining the HUGE difference the Tallboy saddle made. No kidding, being 2″ further back transformed the very uncomfortable and unsettled feeling of the Road Glide into something that was nearly perfect in both comfort and ergonomics. Even the “mini-ape” style stock handlebars felt OK for short rides, but still far less than ideal as they were. Honestly, the Road Glide finally “felt great” for the first time since taking it home. I was now sitting “in” instead of on top of the bike and that made the center of gravity feel much more intuitive which translated to better and more predictable handling, better stability when stopped with my feet down and so on. Even the stock bar position seemed to be less of an issue to the point where if I could safely re-adjust and roll the bars back about 1″ – 2″ I’d have my hand exactly where I needed them to be without spending $250 for a new set of bars.
Our original plan was to go off and log some big miles on the new bike but with temps in the 60’s and Debbie still recovering from a 24-hour care-giving session with her mother on Wednesday through Thursday morning she was in no shape to be up early and out for a day-long motorcycling adventure. Instead, I let her sleep in while I did some work and on-line shopping for a few parts and accessories I “needed” to put on the new Harley:
- Color-matched filler panels for the gap between the saddlebags and rear fender.
- A shorter AM/FM antenna.
- Accessory switches to control the Motolights I’d be transferring over from the Road King.
- Chrome passenger foot board pans to clean up the appearance of the cheap-ass stock footboard pans.
- Get-a-Grip handgrips for the bike.
I also called up the folks at a certain company in Tennessee to order a key component for the “Unnamed Accessory” (UA) as we’ll need to be able to use the UA with the new bike for our Daytona Beach trip on 19-22 October. As to whether or not the UA will be repainted to match the new bike by then remains an open issue: I’ve got to figure out how to get the UA over to our local paint & body guy to see if and when he could throw some paint and a couple of clear top coats on the thing. More to follow.
I spent the balance of the morning pulling parts and accessories off of Blue since my current plan is to sell our beloved 2013 Road King CVO as it will no longer have a real purpose with the Road Glide at our disposal. So, having a bunch of sunk cost on a “garage queen” that just sits around waiting to be used for a ride to lunch or work every now and again isn’t really a smart move given the cost of insurance and the fact that these things depreciate like Range Rovers and Jaguars: at last check the high retail was about $22.5k with a low retail of $13.5K for an average retail of $18.5K. Somehow buyers never do the math to understand what “average” means and assume the high number bikes are unicorns. Yeah, well.. with only 11k miles on the ODO and given the condition of our Road King CVO, it is a unicorn! Anyway, as I said, there are a lot of accessories that can be moved over to the new bike — such as the $700 Motolights — and various other parts than I can sell after I put the stock parts back on the CVO, so all of those started to come off on Friday morning.
It was around 11:00am when Debbie pulled me away from the bike to go for a tandem bike ride, noting we’d need to be back by 2:00pm as I had a potential buyer for the BMW coming by to give it a look-see. We were out on the tandem by 11:20am and had a really great day on the bike. The weather was ideal and both of us were feeling pretty good, despite both of us being a bit tired from a long-feeling work week and me having some lingering right leg issues after apparently doing some damage to a tendon last Saturday night whilst dancing at Johnny’s Hideaway. Given the 2:00pm appointment for the BMW viewing we had to forego our every-other Friday lunch date at The Red Eyed Mule and had lunch at home instead.
Andrew arrived shortly after 2:00pm on his BMW K1200 with his wingman Paul on a Kawasaki Concours. He gave the BMW a long look over and was ready to make an offer before even considering a ride. He’d apparently owned a 1999 model and just had a hankering to buy another one, as many BMW owners are apt to do, remembering that I had an ’04 BMW R1150RT in the stable alongside the ’03 BMW R1100S at one time. I strongly encouraged him to take a ride on the bike before we talked price-to-sell and lead him on a nice 6 mile loop from the house. After the ride he made his offer and I said I’d think on it for a bit. Well, that bit was about 45 minutes and I decided to counter with just a small “upper” to his offer. I think it was about two hours later that I heard back and he was “interested” in the offer and checking with bank on funds availability; it all sounded good but familiar as prior interested buyers had said the same thing only to have their spouses veto the purchase.
Debbie and I got cleaned up and headed over to Loco Willy’s for our Finally a Friday celebration around 5:30pm and found quite a few friends there from Lockheed when we arrived, along with the other usual suspects. We were having a grand time when I received a text from Andrew saying we had a deal. Moreover, he was anxious to close on the deal and collect the bike… really anxious. So, I left Loco’s and met him and Paul back at the house to sign-off the title and bill of sale, transfer funds and load all of the parts into Paul’s truck. Andrew rode off on the bike shortly there after and that was that. And no, no sellers remorse. I had a great 7 year run with the bike but since it was rarely ridden there was no point in holding on to it, nor was there a reason to hold-out for higher selling price: the market sets the value and I pretty much got market value and then some. So, I’m good. Just hoping it behaves for the new owner. 14-year old motorcycles have a way of suddenly acting up when they start to be treated differently.
With the deal done and the bike gone I headed back to Loco’s to resume our Finally a Friday celebration with something of a load lifted now that there was a little more room in the garage for the three remaining motorcycles. After all, it was REALLY crowded in there with all four motorcycles jammed into just the one parking bay and I was constantly having to move bikes around to get “the right one” for any given moment out of the garage. For now, it’s just the three big bikes and at least one of those needs to go before too long and while I sometimes waiver, Blue is still the most likely.
I think I feel asleep as soon as we arrived home on Saturday night, so around 9:00pm and that is never good because I only seem to get 4-5 hours of sleep a night and find myself waking up in the middle of the night and unable to get back to sleep. Such as the case on Sunday morning when I woke up around 3:00am. I spent a good bit of the time writing this blog update and then doing research on saddles and exhaust slip-ons for the new Harley as well as wavering on whether or not to just do the slip-ons or a full exhaust system, tune and dyno work. The difference is about $1,300 once you add-in the $500 header, $400 for a tuner and another $400 for the dyno work vs. $400 – $700 for a set of slip-ons: yup, it all adds up quickly and I’m already getting post motorcycle upgrade fatigue with just the few minor tweaks I’ve been making. Seriously, the real winners in the motorcycle world are the aftermarket parts, accessories and shops that install all of that stuff for folks who don’t do their own wrenching.
I think it was around 3:00am when I wandered out to the garage and began to do some work on the new Harley. First on my list was pulling off the gauge cluster that covered the handlebar riser so I could see what all was entailed with removing the indexing pin. The gauges cluster came off with just the removal of two self-taping screws, a cover plate and disconnecting three connector plugs. Imagine my surprise when the bars rolled back a couple of inches as I loosened the clamp bolts on the riser! I’d wrongly assumed they were indexed without any fore-aft adjustment and it was good news that I’d be able to roll the bars back to get them both lower and closer to me without removing the index pin from the riser.
With that major accomplishment behind me I decided to swap out the black passenger foot board support bracket for a chrome one that I still had on hand from my failed effort to move Debbie to foot boards on Blue several years back as the black ones just looked very out-of-place along side all of the other chrome bits on either side of the motor. Those will go well with the chrome foot board pan covers I have coming for the bike.
As dawn arrived it brought with it a fine mist, cool temps and overcast skies which pretty much killed my ambitious plan for logging 370 miles on the new Harley with a trip up to Telico Plains for lunch and then a ride across the Cherohala Skyway to the Nantahala Outdoor Center before heading back home: about an 8-hour trip with a lunch stop.
Instead, we headed up to Dahlonega “the back way” for lunch at Shenanigans. There was something of a foggy mist in the air when we left the house around 9:00am. After a quick stop at the bank to deposit the funds from the sale of the BMW as well as a check that came in from the gentleman who bought the Corbin saddle off the Honda F6B we headed on up the road to the mountains. We went without our jackets which was only made possible by the big fairing and large windshield on the new Harley. It was definitely borderline in terms of temp and the light mist and then heavier mist we encountered as we got closer to Dahlonega.
We arrived at Shenanigan’s just as they were opening for lunch at 11:00am and quickly made our way to the pub. Debbie needed something warm and Angie (?) recommended a hot apple cider with spiced rum and caramel — it was amazing — and I did my usual, a Diet Coke and a sip of tequila. We had a wonderful time visiting with Angie and one of the other gals who worked the still somewhat empty tables in the pub and defaulted to the Shillelagh sandwich for lunch, a club sandwich with black forest ham, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato, and a special mayo.
After lunch we headed back home, but with our jackets and gloves on as it felt like the temps had actually dropped while we were eating. I will say the new Harley was a dream to pilot through the twisties, far more confidence inspiring than either of our three prior Harley’s. I’m guessing it’s the weight and downforce on the front fairing coupled with the somewhat higher center of gravity, but that’s just a guess. Regardless, it was a great ride and both the Tallboy saddle and pulled-back bars gave me a great riding position. Sadly, I don’t think Debbie was as comfortable on the Tallboy as I was, so that’s still problematic. Speaking of the Tallboy, since it was a demo saddle and I’d had it “checked-out” since Wednesday our destination was Hellbender so we could swap it back for the stock saddle to complete the demo process.
We rolled into Hellbender around 1:30pm, pulled off our demo seat and chatted with the parts folks and our friend Nick for a while about the saddle and “what’s next. The Tallboy was far-better than the original stock saddle but didn’t check all of the boxes for us.
- The seat pan left a lot to be desired, just way too flimsy and poorly supported by the frame. I’d have to either reinforce it with fiberglass or just use the pan as a mold for an entirely new fiberglass seat pan for the long-haul.
- The durability and longevity of the materials used for the foundation and cover were also a bit questionable given the $350 price tag.
- The front saddle’s foam was also a bit too soft for my needs and would need to be reworked with a firmer foam at some point.
- Debbie just wasn’t feeling as good on the Tallboy as she was on the stock saddle; she could tell it was not as wide and definitely could tell she’d lost some separation between us. Comfort wise, she thought it was more firm but not too firm.
So, at this point we’re still looking for a better solution because sitting on the stock saddle took me back to being a very unhappy camper. Just to bridge the gap until I can find “the right saddle” I may try to find a second-hand Tallboy to use for Daytona and/or do a quick Franken-saddle by butchering it and the stock one up to move the upper half of the passenger foam from the stock saddle to the Tallboy. As for the foundation, I’d probably need to add a few bumpers to the underside of the saddle so the pan would actually sit on the frame along its entire length, not just at the nose channel, rear tang and apparently some part of the mid-section. We’ll see..
In another bit of weirdness, before leaving Hellbender I wanted to give them a little business for the loan of the saddle and picked up a set of the Custom Dynamics 1157 LED turn signal rounds. Unfortunately, when I installed them in the bike the lights themselves did as there were supposed to and synced up with the flashing unit’s normal blinker tempo. However, the indicators on the dash were doing double-time. The good folks from the parts department at Hellbender didn’t have a solution so I returned the lights and they’re going to check into that.
We stopped in at Loco Willy’s on the way home to catch the last 1/2 of the Georgia – Vanderbilt football game and to visit with Christian and a few other friends who were there watching the games. We didn’t stay long as we’d be coming back for dinner in just a few hours.
Once we arrived at home I found a large box propped up in front of the garage (thanks FedEx, good thing it wasn’t raining and that we have a low crime neighborhood) and I couldn’t think of what it could be. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was the parts I’d ordered from the good folks in Tennessee on Friday morning for our Unnamed Accessory: yeah, it came that fast. Now that’s exceeding customer expectation!!!
My second big surprise was finding the license plate and registration card for the new Harley in Saturday’s mail, a mere 8 days after purchasing the bike. I’d asked Melanie at Killer Creek Harley Davidson how long tags were taking since we’d be headed to Daytona on the 19th. She said, 3-5 weeks was about the norm. But, she said she’d see if she couldn’t expedite our plates so we’d have them before we left for Daytona: let’s just say my expectations were greatly exceeded. It took me no time to get the plates on the bike, as I hate riding around with a drive-out tag.
As for the rest of our day, there were a few things we had to do around the house and garage with the college football games going in the background. I was running a little low on energy having been up for 14 hours but kept on pressing. Debbie was smarter and took a bit of a nap. Around 5:30pm we headed to Loco’s for dinner and capped off a great day with a couple of Blizzards from Dairy Queen and both fell asleep watching the Alabama – Texas A&M game.
Like Saturday, I was up a bit early… around 4:30am. I spent the better part of the morning doing more homework on the slip-on exhaust systems. I’ll probably talk to my tech at Atlanta Harley-Davidson, David M., before doing anything as at some point I’m guessing I’ll do the head pipe, induction and tuner to get the full juice from our Harley. But, in the interim I’d like to do “something” to adjust the exhaust note and the top candidates are a Fullsac slip-on solution, the Rinehart Racing slip-0ns, the Rush Big Louie and the Kerker cans. Vance & Hines would be nice, but they’ve priced themselves out of the market in my mind. They’re good and the quality can’t be beat, but they’re not $200 better than Rinehart or Kerker.
I also turned my attention back to those Custom Dynamics lights and did a little checking on the internet. I discovered there’s a procedure that needs to be followed when installing LEDs on the newer Harley’s with the CANBUS systems that allows the bike’s CPU to “learn” how to sync up the turn signal flasher timing with the low-voltage LEDs. I tried that at home on Sunday morning using some 6-year old Custom Dynamics LEDs and the procedure didn’t work. So, I may live with the rapid flashing dash indicator for a while to see if our bike isn’t a slow learner. If all else fails, I’ll stop by their truck at Daytona and let them sort it out with a new pair of lights.
As daylight arrived so did Tropical Storm Nate with rain and strong winds making it a stay-at-home-day for us. No tandem riding and no motorcycling; instead, it was mostly a day that I spent in the garage working on motorcycles, e.g., installing the Motolights, Centech fuse block, leads for heated gear, saddle bag organizers and some bits and pieces that were needed for the “Unnamed Accessory” that arrived yesterday. On Blue, in addition to donating a lot of parts to the new bike I also needed to swap out a few more parts to put her back to near stock ahead of her potential sale. I struggle with selling either Blue or the recently acquired Honda F6B so it may be spring before I pull the trigger and list one (or both) on the classifieds.
We actually stayed-in for both lunch and dinner today, with me making hot wings, fries and margaritas for lunch and then Debbie whipped up some Caesar salads topped with stir fried chicken for dinner: yummy stuff! Lots of football in the background with a lot of really good games, many of them going down to the wire which always makes them more interesting and enjoyable to watch.
Anyway, that’s about it. We’ve got rain off and on all week which might make getting the motorcycle and related equipment ready for our Daytona trip on 19 – 22 October a bit of a challenge. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the various parts that will hopefully begin to arrive this week so that the bike will be all squared away for your trip.