The First Week With The New Harley Road Glide Ultra

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Sunday

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.

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And Then There Were Four, Motorcycles in the Garage That Is….

Midweek

Last week’s blog entry ended with me receiving a message at 10:30pm on Sunday from Melissa at Killer Creek Harley-Davidson confirming she’d been able secure a hold on the last remaining silver and black 2017 Road Glide Ultra in Georgia. All that remained was running some numbers and finalizing a sales contract which we did on Wednesday afternoon.

It was a great year-end close-out purchase where the actual cost of the motorcycle was not much more than the dealer invoice, or about 15% off MSRP with the dealer profit and another $500 that I agreed to cover for the cost of getting the motorcycle picked up from Savannah and delivered to Killer Creek by one of their porters. There were, of course, the various fees for freight, documentation and dealer prep which are all dubious but factor into new vehicle purchases and then Georgia’s nasty all-at-one/all-up-front ad valorem tax of $2,100 which you pay on new or even used vehicles. However, once all was said and done, the cost of the bike “out the door” was still less than the original MSRP and that ain’t bad.   So, after doing a quick consultation with a friend who had also done a similar deal not too long ago with Melissa and then getting Debbie to weigh in with a yea or ney, I called Melissa back and said let’s do it. With a token deposit made via the phone, it was game on!

Killer Creek’s porter made the 560 mile / 9 hour round trip to Savannah to collect the motorcycle from Savannah on Thursday and we did a little bit of celebrating with an impromptu mid-week dinner date at Henry’s Louisiana Grill in Acworth.  As usual, we were able to quickly find a couple seats at the bar where we’d go ahead and have our dinner.  Why the bar we’re always asked?  Because that’s where you meet the most interesting people!  True to form, we ran into some long-time friends from “back in the day” when Pretty Twisted was still busting out the tunes at various nightclubs and bars around town.  We miss the sound of that band with Jody rocking the vocals backed up by Tyler Porch on the guitar and 3rd set vocals with Joey on the drums and Doug on bass.  It was a beautiful thing and they had quite a loyal following.  Anyway, it was a real treat running into Anne & Jeremy who were out celebrating one of Anne’s kids birthday.  Later on we meet a lovely and fun-to-be with couple who joined as at the bar while they waited for a table to open up as they had their two pre-teen daughters along with them.  We had such a nice time chatting and Henry even stopped by to drape beads around everyone’s neck and give the girls shots.

I should probably mention that in the midst of all of this we also had a compressor go out on one of our 2-year old air conditioning units on Tuesday night.  Jim, our local Hammock technician, was over within an hour and confirmed the diagnosis I’d made: bad compressor.  The folks from Hammocks came out on Thursday at 9:30am and by a little after noon had the compressor replaced and the house back cooling again all covered under warranty: how nice was that!  It was actually pretty nice sleeping with the windows open and a fan going on Tuesday and Wednesday night!

Friday

On Friday I rode Blue over to the dealership shortly after lunch and arrived around 2:00pm to ink the deal with Eric – Melissa’s designated hitter – and their business manager. I also spent a few minutes with their parts manager CJ to make arrangements for having the brushed aluminum & stainless steel “lower forks” on the bike replaced with a set of “chrome lowers” as it was the one thing I never changed on our Wide Glide that always needed to be changed. It was a big “upper” to the cost and I’ll leave it at that: pure vanity.  See photos of pre- and post-chrome make-over, below.  Yeah, it looks a lot better!

20171008_170727

Eric gave me the official “new buyer” tour of the store and otherwise kept me entertained while we waited for Melanie, the business manager, to work through the paperwork. I think it was around 4:10pm when I was called in to begin the signing process and we may have set a record for that as I was out in about 10 minutes and headed on my way home on Blue: just an awesome buying experience in my mind.  It helps to know what you’re looking for.

Back at the house I threw on a kilt, collected Debbie and off to Loco Willy’s we went to celebrate Finally a Friday. It was a good night as always and, as always, my plan to be a tea totaler feel apart quickly.  However, we stayed sufficiently long enough and enjoyed some ribs with fries and slaw along with liberal amounts of Diet Coke such that by 8:30pm we were good to go. We stopped by Subourbon’s on the way home to see if some of our friends had gathered there to listen to the local rockabilly group Hot Rod Walt and the Psycho-DeVilles as hinted at earlier in the day.  No dice; however, we did run into Josh and his wife Becky, a fellow biker and co-worker and we had a nice time visiting with him while the band was setting up. We didn’t stay long, didn’t even have a cocktail… and headed home to call it a night.

Saturday

Saturday started out to be a perfect day.  I had a “hot buyer” for the BMW coming by at 9:00am to give it a look-see and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  We’d have one motorcycle going out the door about the same time the new one came in the door.  He showed up right on time, liked the way the bike looked and then we headed out for about a 6 mile ride with me leading on the Honda F6B and him on the BMW, noting that he’d actually ridden up on BMW R1200S, the follow-on to the R1100S.  When he left I didn’t have a good feeling that he’d buy the bike, so I tempered my enthusiasm.

With that out of the way I decided to knock out the yard work so that I’d have the afternoon free to run and errand before picking up the new Harley leaving a little afternoon time for our “first rides” as well as leaving Sunday wide open for riding.  We had something of a challenge in front of us as we really need to get at least 500 miles on the bike before we head to Daytona Beach on October 19th and, ideally, 1000 miles so that I can have the 1K service done before we make the trip. Otherwise, we’ll be looking to pull the bike into Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona for service on Friday morning: not ideal for a variety of reasons.

After finishing up the yard work, Debbie and I got cleaned up and headed over to The Red Eyed Mule to grab a little lunch before driving 40 minutes across the top end perimeter to Atlanta Kilts in Buford where I had a new tweed crail jacket and vest waiting for pick-up along my formal Prince Charlie jacket & vest which were in for some alterations. I also picked up yet another utility kilt, a tan one that I’d be wearing with my wood Pendleton shirts over the winter: it just seemed like a nice ensemble.

We finished up with Kathy at Atlanta Kilts about 20 after 1:00pm, which would put us at Killer Creek Harley Davidson around 2:00pm.  In theory, that would be perfect timing as the new bike was supposed to be out of service by 2:00pm after having the front lower fork sliders changed-out for the chrome forks.  Our friend Chuck had also mentioned wanting to come by and meet us but him time table kept on moving to the right such that by 2:45pm — with the bike now ready for pick-up — we just said pick another meeting place.  Anyway, the bike looked great and Eric posed with us beside it for the ubiquitous “new Harley owner” photo in front of the dealership.  Now, to be honest, Melissa should have been out there with us…. next visit, for sure!

NEW BIKE

We ended up meeting everyone at Twin Peaks where we’d be able to watch all of the college games on their 40+ big screen TVs while visiting with Chuck & Julie.  Much to our delight, our friends Ryan and Jeanette came along too!

Of course, I had to get there and I will be honest: the first ride on the new bike did not inspire confidence.  Remembering that we test rode Chuck’s Road Glide Ultra which had an aftermarket saddle and bars, the stock Road Glide Ultra’s seat had me sitting about 2″ too far forward for comfort. The plush seat was also too plush, the handlebars were too high and too far forward and the windscreen was too tall.  Yeah, it was going to take some work to dial this one in.  Well, time and money: uggg!  But, hey…. at least we got the color that we wanted!!

We had a great time at Twin Peaks, where we had the Georgia / Tennessee game in the background while otherwise snacking on appetizers and enjoying the good company.  As the early college games began to wind down and dinner time approached we offered up a change of venue: Loco Willy’s (how unusual) for dinner.  My ulterior motive was to get on home where Debbie could ditch her car and join me on the new motorcycle as I knew she was very anxious to see how it felt, after it was her motorcycle too!

By the time we went home and got back over to Loco’s our friends had taken up residence on one of the smaller tables as a party of five had somehow ended up taking the table for 10: really? Oh well, you go with the flow and make due.  We ended up with the six of us from Twin Peaks and were joined by friends Mike & Bettiann.  Somehow Debbie and I thought the other had ordered dinner and after seeing meal after meal come out we checked on our order: what order!  Whoops. The kitchen got our Loco Wrap to us quickly as the group was talking about heading down to Johnny’s Hideaway in Sandy Springs to do some dancing.

It was about a 20 minute ride from Loco’s over to Johnny’s Hideaway and it gave us our first chance to ride the big bike on the Interstate and with other bikes: it was a great ride!  Once we arrived at Johnny’s it was a shark fest in the parking lot with four Road Glide’s and an batwing Ultra Limited in the mix.

Our evening at Johnny’s was over-the-top, noting it was my first visit and only Debbie’s as her last had been nearly 30 years ago. They played 80’s and 90’s dance music and I’m pretty sure Debbie and or I were on the dance floor for 90% of the time we were at the club.  Amazingly, I’m not sure it was all that late when we left, perhaps 11:15.  I say that because we were at Loco Willy’s by 11:40pm where we joined Rex and Brian at the bar for a midnight breakfast sandwich!  It was a great way to wind up the evening as we continued to celebrate bringing the new, big Harley into the fold: it was the perfect ride for a cool fall evening…  a forerunner of future rides to be sure.

Sunday

The plan for the day was to take a short day trip on the new Harley to get some miles on the bike and to figure out what changes we might need to make before we headed to Daytona Beach on October 19th. We relaxed a bit on the breezeway as we gathered our thoughts and tried to get the cobwebs out from our epic afternoon and evening hanging with our Harley friends.

I think it was around 9:00am when I heard back from the gentleman who rode the BMW on Saturday with an offer to buy the bike; I said yes. His numbers were definitely in the range I was looking for and I was good with that. He said he’d be by with a downpayment and then complete the buy on Tuesday.  I told him I’d go ahead and hold the bike for him on his word and I’d work up the sales contract, etc. by Tuesday.

Yippie. The timing was perfect as the garage was really getting a bit too crowded with the three big bikes and the smaller BMW. In fact, I ran the front fender of the Honda into the back of the BMW while Debbie was chatting with me as I was maneuvering the Honda into it’s tucked-in parking position behind the BMW.  Yeah, that sucked.  I should be able to touch it up to where only I will see it, but it really make the point that the garage was just not big enough for four motorcycles, a truck and a car even with the three garage bays.

It was around 11:30am when we headed off on the new Harley towards Blue Ridge where we’d have lunch at Harvest on Main, a neat restaurant with an amazing menu. We found the place on one of our trips to Gatlinburg with David & Deb and breaking in Blue I.  The ride up on the new bike was a bit sobering as the “best ever” feeling I had on Saturday night’s trip over to Roswell was replaced by some second guessing on the wisdom of buying the big bike. The problem was hard to pin down, but it just felt like I was riding on top of of the bike instead of being settled into the bike.  The soft saddle made my butt sore and the high handlebars with the pushed forward riding position of the overstuffed saddle made my back and shoulders sore on the 90 minute rides to and from Blue Ridge.

Sadly, when we arrived in Blue Ridge I found that I had another text from the BMW buyer wherein he basically said, sorry… I can longer buy the bike as my financing feel through. Really, financing on a $5k motorcycle purchase when you already have two other much more expensive BMW’s sitting around in your garage?  I think what he meant to say was that he either (a) had a change of heart and took advantage of my willingness to take a verbal contract vs. doing the downpayment/pre-purchase agreement, or (b) his wife said no and, well, took advantage of our verbal contract.  Either way, I was still stuck with the BMW.

Even though I was troubled by the way the bike felt throughout our lunch, I will say that it was a lovely lunch date with my sweetie: she had the ground tuna burger and I had the 1/2 pound hotdog. Yeah, we should have probably shared the blackened salmon BLT!  After lunch I took Debbie next door to the House of Threads, a store that our friend Misty suggested a while back and one that we’d found some cute things for Debbie at in the past.  We found a very nice Miss Me sweater for Debbie that I can’t wait to see her wearing as the weather cools off: it’s stunning!  Well, OK. The sweater’s not stunning, Debbie just has the ability to make a lot of clothing look stunning.

We stopped by our friends Ryan & Jeanette’s home on our way home to try out a different saddle that someone thought might be a better fit than the stock one. Sadly, it wasn’t but at least we knew we could take a few similar saddles off our list: I didn’t new “lower” what I needed was “further back”. After grabbing a bite to eat and visiting with friends at Loco Willy’s on our way home, we finally rolled in to the house around 7:30, made our weekly phone call to my folks to see how they were doing (a great call, as always…) and then chilled while watching Sunday Night Football as I also worked to sort out which potential BMW buyers I needed to get back with, etc., and began my search for saddles, handlebars and windscreens for the new Harley.

So, other than loosing my mind with the purchase of two fairly expensive and big motorcycles over the course of three weeks, we’re doing fine.  I’m sure I’ll get the motorcycle situation sorted out.

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Blue’s Back Home

After confirming the compensator repairs had been completed by our Tech, David, last Friday, Debbie took me over to Harley-Davidson of Atlanta (HDA) on Tuesday afternoon to pick Blue up.

Kelly was still out and Joel was filling in for her at the service writer’s desk. Joel wasn’t able to find the repair ticket, but the job was invoiced in their system so he was able to get me paid out on my deductible and other portion of the repair that wasn’t covered by my Harley-Davidson Extended Service Plan (ESP).

I must say, when the porter fired-up and brought Blue out of the shop I was really impressed with the way she sounded, at least I assumed it was our Road King CVO that had been fired-up just watching the coming and going of people in the shop and at the service desk.  Sure enough, as the bike left the shop Blue came into view in the parking lot.

Regardless of any shortcomings that Blue may have, she still is one of the best-looking bikes Harley-Davidson has produced in a long time, at least to my senses. The styling is a crisp take on the classic Road King look with a boat load of chrome and one of the best blue paint schemes I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to believe that paint was a factory finish… albeit a one-at-a-time custom paint job by their CVO paint contractor.

After confirming to Debbie I’d be good-to-go with the bike for my ride back to the office and giving her a kiss goodbye I swung a leg over Blue and fired-up her motor for the first time after riding nothing but the Honda F6B for the past week; wow! What a contrast in technology between the silky-smooth running flat-six motor in the Honda and the not-exactly smooth-running V-twin motor in the Harley. It’s not that the differences are in and of themselves individually bad, but it speaks to how different these bikes are. As before, the Road King also felt really small compared to the Honda F6B with its massive fixed fairing and visually busy inner fairing and much larger saddle. Riding out of the parking lot was once again a challenge as the steering on the two bikes is so very different, the Honda being nearly effortless and intuitive whereas the Harley has to be actively countersteered and managed through the turns. It got a little more intuitive the longer I rode the bike but just so very different.

While underway I was reminded of a few other things that underscore what levels the playing field on the pros and cons of Blue vs. JB:

  • The Honda seems to envelope you in a cloud of radiator heat, raising the temperature you feel from your feet to your head as you ride about 10 degrees. It’s not as noticeable at certain speeds or when stopped and idling.
  • The Harley Road King gives you the knees in the breeze feel with no engine heat except at the right side of the rear cylinder where even on an 80* day you can feel your right calf and hamstring muscles being slow roasted.
  • The Honda’s exhaust note on hard acceleration is reminiscent of a Porsche 911 Super Carrera with a flat-six motor and at times it’s not the exhaust that you hear, it’s the mechanical sounds from the motor and transmission that seem to drone on. Of course, most people who ride Gold Wings wear ¾ or full face helmets so I’m guessing they don’t hear all of the things that I’m hearing while wearing just a ½ helmet.
  • The Harley’s exhaust note – at least to me – just an amazing thing that reminds me of a 1960’s muscle car’s exhaust and under most conditions / power levels completely masks any mechanical sounds.
  • The Honda is clearly a finely tuned machine that exhilarates as it soothes the senses.
  • The Harley is a vibrating, noisy beast that never lets you forget that you’re riding a motorcycle and that is what, at least to me, gives the Harley’s something that’s analogous to a soulful.

What does all of this mean? Well, I’m looking forward to adding the Road Glide Ultra to our stable so that we can ride it enough to understand if having that big Harley Shark Nose fairing will be a blessing or a curse on our average ride around town and, more importantly, the longer road trips that keep us at interstate speeds for several hours. In some respects, it felt great to be back in the wind on the Road King today, but that was just for a short trip on a lovely day. Will being sheltered from the wind on the Road Glide be more like the Honda F6B where I sometimes wish I had a lot more wind blast? Or, will it be a welcome relief during a long ride on a hot day? And, how about that extra room and all of the added creature comforts that come with the Road Glide? Yeah, that’s going to be interesting!

By the way, the total cost of the repair was $781 which included the $300 newer and more improved 2014 compensator, a $97 chain tensioner assembly, $119 in other parts, $229 in labor and $36 for the tax man of which my cost was the $50 deductible + another $13 for the “installation kit” that the Extended Service Plan (ESP) didn’t cover. Not that I’m keeping score, but on a pro-rated basis that means I’m $179 away from breaking even on the annualized cost of my ESP.   However, I did note that the iPod controller on Blue II is starting to act-up like the one did on Blue I and that would be a $350 warranty repair item, so we may be a little ahead by our ESP anniversary in November.

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A Great Weekend With A Surprise Ending: FLTRU Update

Dental Update: Hopefully one of the last!

On this past Wednesday I finally received my permanent crown, bringing me one step closer to being past through with my cracked tooth / root canal procedure.  There’s one more check-up visit next week to make sure the crown’s fit and my bite are all good-to-go for the long haul, after which I will hope this is all behind me.

Skipping the 2017 Southern Tandem Rally

It was a bit of an odd-feeling week in that we had originally planned to head to Salisbury, North Carolina on Thursday afternoon for the 2017 edition of the Southern Tandem Rally. However, as we continued to work our fall calendar we found there were several conflicts  beginning to develop and I also found with Debbie being out of the workforce and free to travel I’d been burning quite a bit of vacation time since April.  So, STR 2017 became one of the fall casualties along with the fall edition of Thunder Beach at Panama City Beach, Florida.  It was tough passing on STR as we always have a great time getting together with long-time tandem-cycling friends, never mind getting out on the triplet with our friend Lisa.  Thankfully, our other friends Eric & Linda were able to ride with Lisa on her big yellow triplet, as you can see from one of our friend Christen’s photos I’ve poached off of Facebook.

From left to right: Lisa, Linda, Eric, Betsy, Mark, Ryan, Christen Audrey.

Looking ahead to 2018, we know we’ll be attending the 20th edition of the Georgia Tandem Rally at Athens, Georgia in May but everything else is still “wet” in terms of our riding plans. Again, we have balance our cycling, motorcycling and other leisure time interests never mind home maintenance and family commitments against each other and that always requires some give and take.

Getting the BMW out on the used motorcycle market

I think it was Wednesday night when I finally listed my 2003 BMW R1100S for sale on Cycle Trader’s site.  I’ve never had much luck with Cycle Trader but will see what if any traffic it generates.  Thus far I’ve had one hacker attempt to get an Email address from me, i.e., Phishing, I’ve had a dealer offer to help sell the bike for a fee and have gotten two Cycle Trader leads, one from North Georgia and another from San Diego, California.  I’ve replied to them both but have not heard back so no idea if they were legit or just something Cycle Trader does to make clients feel better about the value of the Cycle Trader site.  My asking price is a little high just to hedge my bets against low-ballers and to make sure I have some negotiating room between my ask and “go no lower than” number as there is a point where the bike becomes a piece of artwork and is just taken off the road.  Lord knows, in 20 years it might be worth something.

Thursday:

The only real newsworthy item to come out of Thursday was a note back from Kelly at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta wherein she advised all of the parts needed to repair Blue’s failed compensator were now in hand. She also included a photo of Blue up on a work lift which implied David M. was already at work installing the new compensator, tensioner and other related parts that were the source of my more recent issues.  This was good news!  In fact, I somewhat expected to receive a call on Friday morning telling us we could come and collect Blue.  However, the call never came, nor did one on Saturday. In fact, I think it was around 4:00pm on Saturday when I called HDA to see what the story was on Blue. Turns out, Kelly was out of the shop since Thursday night and while the bike had been finished by David on Thursday, the call to let us know it was ready for pick-up fell through the cracks.  So, with any luck, we’ll go and get Blue this coming Tuesday afternoon after my dental appointment.

Friday:  

The Honda Has a Name, or at least a Persona

I thought I mentioned this in a previous blog entry but then realized it was just something I mentioned in a Facebook posting (which I always remove within 24-hours).  But, as I was working on the Honda F6B last weekend the big black bike finally revealed it’s persona to me: #007.

Sure enough, for whatever reason, Honda of Russellville serialized all of its signature series bikes and they use a three-digit numbering scheme such that our Honda F6B carries the number #007.  As a life-long Ian Fleming / James Bond novel reader and movie watcher 007 is synonymous with Bond, James Bond and it’s just a great fit for the bike.  For short, we’re simply calling the Honda “JB” as it’s a little less obvious than 007, Bond or James.  I even toyed with the idea of Jane Bond to allow for a more feminine touch but Debbie didn’t think much of that idea so we went back to JB.

The point of all this was to make it easier to reference the Honda without calling it the Honda F6B and hence forth I’ll be using JB in the same way we call our Harley Blue.  With that in mind, JB got a bath as did our tandem bicycle on Friday morning: both of them were sorely in need of a good cleaning.

With the bikes cleaned up and temps headed into the 80’s Debbie and I were able to get out for a very nice tandem ride from the house on Friday. We rode our mid-distance loop and even though we decided to take it at a comfortable pace we ended up with one of our faster average speeds for the year.  I’m guessing last Saturday’s workout at the Beautiful Backroads Century may have played into that.

Back at the house we changed from cycling clothes into motorcycling clothes, hopped on the Honda F6B, aka, JB, and made the short ride over to The Red Eyed Mule for our every-other-Friday lunch date and Jake’s Big Daddy burger.  Yes, it was delicious!

Now, I would be remiss if I did not mention we encountered quite a few people while we were out cycling and motorcycling who were conspicuously friendly and just thrilled to see us out enjoying ourselves.  It seemed like every motorist, the pedestrians and two cyclists whom we crossed paths with were all-smiles, made friendly and/or tongue-in-cheek comments or simply wanted to let us know it looked like we were having fun.  It truly lifted my spirits and warmed my heart as that’s rarely the norm of late.

Speaking of Selling Stuff: That Corbin Saddle

As mentioned last week, I also put a classified ad out on one of the Honda F6B discussion forums for the black snake-skin / Corbin dual heat touring saddle that came on our Honda when I purchased the bike.  It’s a very nice saddle, but just not a good fit for Debbie and me so we’re hopeful one of the interested buyers will pony up the cash to take it off our hands. If it doesn’t sell off that list, there’s always ebay.

Since I had a couple of interested parties, I finally used Friday afternoon to get the saddle cleaned-up and ready for sale.  I also had to make a box that would be big enough to ship the saddle. Thankfully, the box the stock saddle I purchased for the big Honda was larger than it needed to be and I was able to tear it apart and put it back together so it will accommodate the Corbin saddle.  Shipping will be about $100 for buyers in the Southeast, closer to $100 for the middle of the nation and $135 for the west coast.

I’m also about to see if I can find buyers for a few other parts that came off the Honda F6B when I took possession: they include the Clearview Shields windscreen, a pair of mini-footboards and a pair of highway pegs which also got cleaned up on Friday afternoon while I had the power washer out.

  

At 3:00pm I had to dial-in for a 7-day-a-week teleconference at work which sort of broke up the afternoon and gave me a good excuse to just chill out on the breezeway for a short while.   After that I went upstairs to check on Debbie who was both getting ready for our Finally a Friday celebration at Loco Willy’s and getting a few things together for a short, overnight trip to the mountains on Saturday and Saturday night.  I also had to figure out what I needed to bring, if only for Saturday night and the ride there and back.  Yes, I was going to see how ‘JB’ worked on an hour-and-a-half ride that was about 30% interstate, 45% two-lane highway and 25% curvy foothills roads while Debbie followed me up in her Honda Accord since JB didn’t have the ability to carry all of our “stuff”.

Debbie visiting with Brian but engrossed in a discussion.

Finally a Friday was a good time, as always.  We had David & Deb along with Billy & Dava with us at the bar and Brian & Lindsay took great care of us all.  Brian was still pumped from attending last weekend’s “Georgia 1/2 mile Shootout” at Heaven’s Landing Airport so he and I spent a lot of time talking car stuff.  Although the crowd seemed a bit thin when we first arrived by the time we headed home around 8:30pm the place had filled up with regulars quite nicely.

Saturday:

Our original plan was to drive over to Atlanta Kilts in Buford, Georgia, to pick up the Crail kilt jacket and vest I’d ordered back on July 1st.  The Crail jacket will give me something I can wear more-or-less as a suit vs. the very formal Price Charlie jacket which allows me to wear my tartan kilts for New Years events and the like instead of my tuxedo.  Of course, I’m thinking I still need to have another kilt made from a Black Isle tartan or similar plaid.

However, as we thought about the goal for Saturday — getting some down time — adding in an extra 2-hours of interstate driving wasn’t high on our list so we’ve deferred the visit for a week or so. Instead, we just went on to the mountains at 8:30am while traffic would be non-existent.

The ride up on JB was interesting.  The biggest challenge was not having a cruise control or anything like a throttle lock to help with maintaining speed and giving my throttle hand a break every now and again.  I’m thinking something like the relatively inexpensive Universal Motorcycle Cruise Control might be good enough for the rare, longer ride on JB.  As noted before, I’m still somewhat surprised at how much heat the radiators shed off down each side of the bike and something new: how much heat comes through the center tunnel of the bike at highway speeds.  Saddle comfort was good, but if we were going to take JB to Florida on a 4-5 hour ride (which we’re not) I’d have to have Marietta Upholstery put in a more firm foam material similar to what we did on Blue.  What else? The aftermarket National Cycles / VStream windscreen is still a bit marginal on cooler days and at interstate speeds, but fine as the temps warm up.  That was about it, otherwise it’s an amazing machine. It’s not exactly quiet, but all very different from the Harley’s various mechanical and exhaust sounds and, well, absolutely no vibration to speak of.  Just a very nice and relaxing ride.

Our day away in the mountains was everything we’d hoped it would be: very relaxing and so good to be able to visit with the folks whom we’ve met and see whenever we return. Many of the friends we’ve made spend a lot of weekends at the resort, while others are more like us and just pop up once every 3-4 weeks to decompress. The only major disruption of the day was having to take my 3:00pm daily conference call.

It think it was around 5:00pm when we headed out to have dinner away.  I’d hoped to stop at shop that specialized in cycling apparel to replace my now far-too-small bib shorts, but son-of-a-gun if they hadn’t gone out of business.  Imagine my disappointment, especially when most of the websites still indicated they were in business.  Oh well, on to Plan B.   Dinner was very nice and we had a great evening of dancing and visiting with friends.

Sunday:

I’ll be selfish and note I had a great start to my Sunday morning because it began with a long motorcycle ride.  Now, that said, it sure was lonely and I would have rather had Debbie on the bike with me instead of her following behind in her car.  However, as mentioned, there were some reasons why I wanted to take JB on a short trip and most of those things were accomplished.  With this trip I’d also burned through another tank of gas and with the Interstate and 55 mph highway riding vs. just stop-and-go commute riding the bike was able to get 38.4 mpg, up from 36.6 mpg on the first tank.  No other major new observations on the ride quality, etc. of JB, other than noting that it’s so refined it seems to lack soul.  The latter is the hallmark of a Harley, as each bike seems to have its own personality and soul; not so with the F6B.

We were back at home around 11:00am and we had ourselves sorted-out by 11:30 am.  After finishing lunch and doing a little work on a noisy front hub on the tandem we headed out once again for a loop ride from the house.  Given it was a little later in the day it ended up being a pretty darn warm ride for late September.  But, we needed to sweat-out some toxins so that was fine too.  It was just good to get out and spin our legs and like Friday’s ride, we actually had a pretty good pace.

It’s always a good weekend when we can get in a couple of rides on the tandem.  Again, somewhat disappointed we weren’t able to get up to Salisbury, North Carolina for the three days of riding with a lot of our friends at the Southern Tandem Rally, but then again it was nice not having to make the 5 hour drive home after the event as I had a lot of yard work to do back at home before returning to work on Monday.

Speaking of which, after “chilling” on the breezeway after our ride for a bit I changed into my yard care clothing and knocked out some shrub maintenance and then cut the lawn. As on Saturday, I had to take a break at 3:00pm for a conference call before finishing up the lawn.  It was around 6:30pm when Debbie had to leave to baby sit the three granddaughters while Wesley & Julie went out with an old friend who was in town.

I spent the better part of the evening getting the Corbin saddle ready for shipment to whichever buyer came in with the best offer on cost/shipping.  I also did a little work on a pair of Debbie’s western boots to give them something closer to their original distressed-look vs. a fresh coat of brown polish I’d applied a few years back. In hindsight, I should not have never messed with the finish on those boots. Hopefully she’ll like the revised appearance and will wear them a bit more often.

After that it was mostly working on the blog with one little exception: see below.  Debbie, she was busy with the girls until almost 11:00pm when she headed for home, arriving around 11:30pm and very much out of gas.  She headed to bed while I pushed on to get this blog done.

The 2017 FLTRU:  Yes, We Caught the Bus

There’s an old metaphor about dogs chasing cars where the rhetorical question that comes with every pursuit is, “OK, you caught it… now what are you going to do?  Yeah, well… I think we caught the motorcycle we inadvertently ended up chasing.  But, I honestly think it’ll be a good thing long term… it’s the near term that I need to sort out.

It was around 10:30 pm when Melissa from Killer Creek Harley-Davidson dropped me an Email to let me know she’d gotten off the phone with someone from the Harley-Davidson dealership down in Savannah a couple of hours earlier where I’d found one of the last remaining billet silver and vivid black 2017 Road Glide Ultra’s still on the showroom floor. The complete backstory on why we were now looking at and considering the acquisition of yet another motorcycle is in last week’s blog entry, so feel free to catch up if you missed that.

Anyway, to make an already long story short, Melissa asked them to put a hold on the bike pending her getting back to us to get some firm numbers and do a deal if that’s what was in the cards for us.  But, referring back to the comment above about “OK, now you’ve caught it… what are you going to do?”

At first I was elated and then I became very anxious I’d now gotten way ahead of the buying /selling cycle by having at least two too many motorcycles coming into the garage. And, to make the “jump” from Blue to the silver and black Road Glide was a one-way ticket as there are certain things I’ll need to do that will truly be the beginning of the end for Blue’s place in our stable.  Now, the thing about Blue is, she is and always has been more of a looker than a keeper: it’s purely a love affair with that beautiful blue CVO Road King. So, the smart money says, get over the vanity stuff and get on with a more practical motorcycle that suits your needs: that would be the Road Glide.

So, sure enough, there’s a billet silver and vivid black Road Glide Ultra / FLTRU in our future: thank you Melissa @ KCHD; you are awesome!  And, thank you to my Brother-From-Another-Mother Chuck who introduced us to Melissa after he recently traded a water-cooled Twin Cam 2016 Road Glide Ultra for the 2017 with the new water-cooled Milwaukee 8 four-value motor: that really made me take notice of the improvements that had been made.

Therefore, near term, we’re going to end up with four motorcycles sitting in the garage for a while.

  • The 2017 FLTRU will be added by the end of next week and it will become our primary weekend bike trip / road trip bike
  • The 2013 Honda F6B will at least for the time being remain my daily commuter bike noting that the FLTRU could easily replace the Honda for commuter duty.
  • Our 2013 FLHRSE5 “Blue” will probably end up on the bubble in that with the FLTRU at our disposal, riding Blue would be like riding our Wide Glide “because it’s there.”  That’s not a good thing, but…  she sure is a pretty bike.
  • The BMW R1100S had to go; period.  There’s just no reason to keep it as it’s not going to be ridden: I’m just well past riding sport bikes at this point in my life. The ONLY way it might stay in the family is if I can’t get what I think is fair money for it.  At which point it becomes garage art; who knows, it might actually be worth more in the future than it is today.

Anyway, if we pull off this acquisition there will be a lot to get done before we head down to Daytona on October 19th, including getting in the first 1,000 or so break-in miles on the FLTRU and I’m not sure how I’ll do that with just 18 days and two weekends after this coming Saturday.

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Weekend Recap: Another Busy One & Still Looking at Motorcycles!

The Honda F6B: It’s a Keeper!

Ok, I’m really enjoying the new-to-us Honda Flat-Six Bagger (F6B)! It remains a joy to ride and is even better-suited for commuter duty than the last two BMWs or my Honda Blackbird way-back-when.  The quality of the ride, the storage space for my computer bag, helmet, etc. and all of the other features are just spot-on for what I was looking for.  The engineering is also beyond 1st rate: I can’t believe how much I’ve missed having a Honda motorcycle!  But, I digress and return to less fun and invigorating news.

Our Harley Road King, Blue: On the Fence

Sort of like last week and with a little bit of deja vue, on Thursday I had to take our Harley-Davidson Road King CVO over to Harley-Davidson of Atlanta for service, yet again.  As mentioned in last week’s blog entry, when we headed out on Blue for dinner on Sunday the problem I had reporting when I dropped the bike off; WTH?   Just to be sure they knew what kind of noise I was talking about, I used my smart phone to capture several hard-start events and sent my service advisor and technician a link to the YouTube file:

I was able to get an appointment for the bike on Friday, hence dropping it off on Thursday night.  I’m still not sure what the real story is as my tech said he didn’t realize the bike even had a start up problem, even though that’s what the service advisor had written up on the repair ticket, taken right off of my Email.  His comments led me to believe he never even tried to reproduce the problem, but also didn’t note that it had any trouble starting when he was doing the dyno runs. That doesn’t surprise me as it has been somewhat sporadic.

The sad part here is, I’m guessing I wasted $400 on a dyno run that I didn’t need as it turns out the bike had a bad compensator, a recurring issue with Harley-Davidson’s even after several “fixes” had been fielded.  On the bright side — if there is one — my service advisor had encouraged me to get the Extended Service Plan (ESP) for the bike when it came off of the 2 year warranty period. She said it’s rare that those ESPs don’t pay for themselves in far less than the five-year period of performance under the service plan.  Sure enough, ESP will cover the replacement with an upgraded Compensator and the related bits that support it inside the Primary Case. The bad news was, the parts needed wouldn’t be on hand until the next Thursday or Friday.  Frankly, I thought Harley had fixed the compensator in 2013 so I was surprised that I was even eligible to receive an upgraded compensator that I didn’t know I’d need at some point.

So, as of right now on Monday evening I’m still without our Harley and hoping we’ll get it back on Friday morning so we can use it this weekend. Or, should I say, go riding so we can do some soul searching on just how much we still like riding the Road King vs a larger touring bike like the Road Glide Ultra.  Again, referring back to last week’s blog, putting Debbie on the back of the Honda F6B with it’s refined performance and roomy passenger space created a new experience for her that the Road King is having a hard time matching in terms of comfort and the riding experience the two different bikes deliver.  More to follow.

Visit to BMW on Wednesday

Also as mentioned in last week’s blog, I needed to go by our local BMW dealership to see what I could learn about the BMW resale market and get their assessment of the value our BMW R1100S could be expected to return either as a trade-in or an outright sale to an interested buyer.  Jenni and Bob gave me some sense of what the book value ranges were for trade-in and retail. Moreover, Bob also shared that this vintage / model of BMW is only appealing to a very narrow segment of hard-core BMW enthusiasts. He had a 2005 model sit on the showroom floor for a really long time before a buyer surfaced, so that’s not encouraging. However, Jenni volunteered that they were having their annual fall open house on 14 October and that if I wanted to bring the bike to the event with a for sale sign it would get a lot of exposure to the right audience. She also mentioned that Nate Kern, a long-time BMW Motorsports Advisor, test rider and racer for the dealership, was interested in picking up one of the older Boxer Cup Replicas and that she’d let him know ours was coming on the market. Over the weekend I sent photos of the bike to Jenni to share with Nate so perhaps we’ll hear something back at some point. Regardless, I’ll be putting it out on the Cycle Trader website and see if there are any bites.

Blue II Goes Back to Harley Davidson of Atlanta

As mentioned, I had Blue II scheduled for a follow-up service visit on Friday I rode Blue II to work on Thursday and then left work around 3:30 to drop it off at the shop. Again, the discussions regarding the starter issue were a little prickly since what I described was most likely spot-on: the bike probably had a bad compensator. But, at least on Thursday afternoon, my friend and service technician really never knew there was a serious problem when the bike came in: he just knew it needed the brake & clutch fluids changed and that I’d asked to have it dyno’d again as it was having the aforementioned start-up issues and other issues “while just riding along.”

Last week we’d timed the drop-off such that it was dinner time and we stopped at Loco Willy’s. However, given that I had to work on Friday and it was only 4:15pm, we opted to head home and would have dinner at home later. Not an exciting night from that aspect, but at least we had Thursday Night Football to look forward to and, well, lots of things to do at home in the evening. Well, an my tooth and jaw were giving me trouble again, so much so that I had Debbie book a visit for me at the dentist’s office on Friday so I could have them check and make sure something wasn’t amiss; the level of discomfort was back on par with the first indications I had a cracked tooth.

Friday

I made it through the morning and headed to the dentist around 11:00am. The problem ended up being the creation of an unintended food pocket behind in a gap that was created by a too-small temporary crown and my gum line. Flossing wasn’t getting the job done and I’d been reluctant to blast water into the very tender gum with my Waterpik but apparently that’s what was needed as food was collecting in that pocket and irritating my gums. Dr. Keith cleaned out the pocket to eliminate the immediate source of my discomfort but also asked if I’d been under a lot of stress of late: I said only for the past 15 years. Regardless of why, I was / am apparently grinding my teeth, so much so that I’d already worn down the temporary crown to a point where a small hole had opened up. He recommended that I get a mouth guard for use during the night as a hedge against doing further damage to my temporary crown as well as my teeth. Thinking back, I’ve had this diagnosis once before back in the 2000 time frame and my stepdad, Bill, who is a dentist even made me a mouth guard. Oh well, at least I knew what was causing the discomfort and could do something about both the grinding and food entrapment.

After returning to work and finishing out the day I knew I was ready for an evening out… a kilting as well! I have no idea why I’ve become so fond of the kilts, except that they are really comfortable, far more so than being stuffed into a pair of jeans. With my kilt on and Debbie looking awesome as always, we headed over for our Finally a Friday celebration at Loco Willy’s. Interestingly enough, there weren’t a lot of people at Willy’s when we arrived. In fact, it was downright quiet. That was good in that we were able to get seats for ourselves and for Deb and David and it also meant that we were able to spend almost all of our time visiting with Deb and David since there weren’t too many other folks pulling us off for side bar discussions. But, it was definitely a subdued night and, quite frankly, I think I needed a bit more of a party atmosphere. Then again, Debbie and I had to be up by 6:00am on Saturday morning so getting home early wasn’t such a bad thing.

There was a bit of good news in that I had successfully sold both the lowering bracket and one of my extra windscreens from the Honda F6B. The lowering bracket would be going out via USPS in Saturday’s mail to a buyer up in Michigan and the windscreen would be getting dropped off at the FedEx store to be shipped out to a buyer in Arizona. The lowering bracket was a nice windfall as I sold the $395 part for $225, about the going rate for a used link in great shape. The windscreen was sold at a bit of a loss but the real eye-opener was the shipping costs which were 80% of the cost of the windscreen. Seriously, $38 to ship a $50 windscreen. As I look at the massive and heavy Corbin saddle that I need to sell I shudder to think what that might cost to ship even via UPS Ground.

Beautiful Backroads Century

Waking up early on Saturday morning we were both vividly reminded of at least one reason we began to shy away from weekend charity event rides: you’ve got to get up early!  Really, I’m up at 5:00am and in the office by 6:10am five days a week, do I really need to be getting up at 5:30 on the weekends??    Well, yeah… if you want to go out and ride with a few hundred other people and the start time is 8:00am at a location that will take you a little time to drive to.

Thankfully, the ride starting point was a mere 30-minute drive from the house in light traffic so we didn’t have to leave the house until 6:45am as Debbie had picked up our registration packets on Friday.  I think I was actually up around 4:00am and Debbie finally stirred around 6:15am.  It didn’t take us long to get ready, noting I’d packed the tandem in the truck on Friday night.

After arriving at the Budweiser Brewery in Cartersville which served as ride central for the event, we made our way over the starting area so we could locate and visit with some of the other folks from Lockheed Martin’s cycling team.  No, Debbie and I didn’t have matching Lockheed jerseys so we went with our compliment-garnering Hawaiian print jerseys from Voler & Blacktop Cyclery in Bakersfield, California.

We’d forgotten how much fun it was to be at a large, non-tandem cycling event with all of the various different levels and types of riders on hand.  We actually missed getting out with single bike riders for an event like this.  Just hanging out a shooting the breeze at the gathering area around the start / finish point was really enjoyable.

One of the other Lockheed Martin riders had some type of camera on his bicycle and I was later advised by our cycling club captain that Debbie and I had been caught on his bike cam just before the start….…

and then just before we decided to go off the front of a large group of cyclists to get into some cleaner air.

Yes, yes… I know.  Center line rule violation.  Hey, they don’t call it the Beautiful Backroads Century for nothing as the roads are nearly void of any vehicles on Saturday mornings at 8:00am.

We also snapped a selfie our ourselves around the 40-mile mark so we could see if we were still having fun or looking a bit fatigued as we’d ridden the first 36 miles pretty hard and really didn’t have too many 50-mile rides under our belts.

Thankfully, we were still feeling fresh and the temps never really made it out of the low 80’s by the time we finished our ride at 10:30am.  We found one of our team mates enjoying some of Budweiser’s product in the big lunch tent after the ride and joined him for a short while as we ate our very nice event-provided lunch. I think it was around 11:15 when we finally packed up and headed for home, arriving in the driveway just before noon: about perfect timing!

We’ve both decided that we enjoyed the event so much that we’re going to search out the ride calendar and begin to do more of these.  After all, it was on these very types of rides in and around the Atlanta area that Debbie and I first started to log miles on the tandem some 20 years ago this past August 2nd.  Hard to believe that 20 of our 24 years as a married couple have been spent out riding our tandem bicycles.  It’s a beautiful thing!!

While the urge to take a nap was strong, I resisted as I had a few things I wanted to get done around the house. First up was washing Debbie’s car as it always seems to rain when she heads up to her mother’s home with its gravel driveway, as last week was no exception. With her Honda all squeaky clean I next turned my attention to the BMW as it was also sporting a rain-day coat of grime from the last time I rode it to work. Sadly, I decided to pull the windscreen off so I could wash out some grit and grime that had collected between the transparency and the motorcycle’s dash. I carefully put the windscreen out of the way, propped up on one of the two lally columns in the garage and went out washing the bike. After washing the bike I pulled out the cordless blower to chase away the water that gets trapped in the various nooks and crannies and son-of-a-gun if I didn’t hit the windscreen with a blast of wind from the blower. Sure enough, it fell onto the convex side instead of the concave side and skidded across the concrete floor: yup, it was scratched all to heck. After streaming a colorful string of expletives together – most of which were directed at myself – I finished cleaning the bike, reinstalled the windscreen and confirmed the scratches were too severe to easily buff-out and then promptly ordered a replacement from 7jurock, an aftermarket manufacturer who I’ve used in the past. No sense in getting too upset for too long: it’s just money, right?

With the Honda Accord clean and the BMW I decided to revisit the finish on the Honda as it really needed a lot more prep work than I realized when I did my first cleaning. This time I did what I should have done the first time and hit it with the clay bar treatment before the polishing compounds and Zaino polishes. As suspected, I was able to remove quite a bit of grime that had somehow stayed on during the first cleaning: black’s like that. On the bright side, the bike really did look much better after the re-do on just the center console and saddlebags. I’d finish the rest of the Tupperware on Sunday morning.

While I was out working on the vehicles in the garage Debbie was mixing a little bit of napping with college football out on the breezeway: it was really quite a lovely day. About the same time as I finished up working on the Honda F6B’s paint I received a call from Kelly at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta who confirmed that Blue had a bad compensator (surprise, surprise).On the bright side, my Extended Service Plan adjuster approved the repair of the bike but sadly it would take a week since some of the parts they’d need for the installation of the new and improved compensator had to be ordered. Frankly, I’m still smarting a bit from paying a second $400 for a second dyno run which may or may not have been needed given the problems the bike had been having with the compensator. I even had a follow-on discussion with my service advisor that included a loaded question on the service and for the first time ever I felt like I got stiff-armed a bit: very disappointed in that.

Well, it was dinner time and with that wonderful news on Blue fresh in my mind I decided to do a double dose of kilting for our dinner visit to Loco’s. We took a detour to the local FedEx store so I could drop off the windscreen that was headed to Arizona before heading to Loco’s.

Once again, a thin crowd at Loco’s but our friend Bobby was “batching it” and was at Loco’s when we arrived.  As before, the thin crowd allowed us to have a lot of quality time with Bobby, David & Deb. Shortly before we were ready to leave our friends Gene & Clark came in, noting it had been several weeks since we’d seen them. Another good night at Loco’s to be sure and, thankfully, an early night as well.

Sunday

I was up early again on Sunday but that gave me time finish clay-baring and polishing the Honda F6B before heading out to do yard work. It was around noon when I finished up the yard and we decided that we’d head out on the Honda for a day of local riding with a stop at Loco Willy’s for a late lunch at 1:00pm, followed by a drop-in at Twin Peaks around 2:00 where several of our friends had congregated after church to have some lunch and watch football. There was also a plan to head over to Killer Creek Harley-Davidson (KCHD) where there was some type of promotional event going-on, pretty much the norm for warm weekends at KCHD. I had an ulterior motive in making the trek over to KCHD as I wanted to confirm what our friend Chuck paid for his Road Glide Ultra just a few months back, as he was really pimping the deal that the sales manager worked on his bike acquisition.

I think it was around 3:30pm when we headed off for KCHD where we had a chance to be introduced to and visit with Melissa for a bit. We shared what we were looking for but what they didn’t have: a 2017 FLTRU Road Glide Ultra in Billet Silver and Vivid Black. If we’d have been willing to take home a black quartz Ultra Limited with its batwing fairing we’d have had the deal of the year but, sadly, I just don’t like the batwings and while the black quarts looks great on the Road Glide Custom, it doesn’t work on the Ultra. Melissa gave me her email and I said I’d send her my contact information, etc. so that she could go and work-up a deal on a 2018 when they start to arrive.  For me, it will likely come down to the bottom line: either the 2017 in silver/black or an all vivid black 2018, I could live with either one… after blacking-out the pin stripes on the vivid black bike that is; been there and done that with our Wide Glide to great effect.

But, to be sure that Debbie is ready to go where she said she’d never go – to a Harley with a Barcalounger – we took our friend Chuck up on his offer to take his Road Glide Ultra out for a spin while we were hanging out at KDHD. I still like the fixed fairing and riding position on the Road Glide and Debbie was very comfy in the Barcalounger on a moving Harley Road Glide Ultra as she was sitting in what was essentially the same seat on the Ultra Limited at HDA last week.

The big question really is, are we ready to grow-up and ride a big bike all the time, as selling off the Wide Glide, BMW and Blue would definitely leave us with just the two big, fully-fared touring bikes.  It suffices to say, we’re anxious to take Blue on at least a short trip before pulling the trigger on a Road Glide.  Now, I should note that back in June of 2016 just before heading down to Key West on Blue II there were some concerns over her roadworthiness and dead in my sights and noted in that blog entry was a water-cooled, billet silver  & vivid black Road Glide Ultra as a potential replacement bike.  So, very much like the Honda FB6, when I get something in my head….

We headed over to Taco Mac from KCHD around 5:30pm as our final social gathering for the day.  I think it was around 6:30pm when we headed home where we split a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner while watching the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.  Debbie was pretty tired after our busy weekend and dozed on and off throughout the game.  Nice end to a nice weekend around the house!

 

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2013 FLHRSE5 / Road King CVO

Some recent photos from the past weeks…  It still looks like new with less than average wear and tear from use.

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Older beauty shots of identical, previous bike (totaled by motorist in Daytona due to crash bar tab being deformed, aka, frame damage) to show how it’s equipped; everything was moved over to a second FLHRSE5 (we really liked this bike):

  • Bike has a Fullsac head pipe and slip-ons / TTS tuner. Recently dyno’d at 96hp / 112tq.
  • Paul Jaffee Stealth III license plate frame, color matched
  • Four point quick release bracket w/caps, color matched
  • Heat deflector, color matched
  • Original seat foam replaced with extra firm padding.
  • Things that I’d likely remove if they have no added-value for re-sale / trade-in:
    • Ohlins rear shocks
    • Custom Dynamics turn signal circles and LED equalizer
    • Centech AP-1 Fuse block for heated gear/bike charger, moto lights, LED equalizer and charging port
    • Motolights

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Photos of R1100S: It’s Going…

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