New Harley: The First Week & Let the Mods Begin!

For a variety of reasons I’ve pretty much decided the Road King won’t be a bike I take to work unless the BMW and Wide Glide are both “down” for maintenance, so weekday rides will probably be pretty rare unless we’ve taken a day-off or are on vacation.  But, we had one of those rare occasions on Wednesday when Miss Debbie came home and said, “I need a burger or pizza at Olde Towne”.  I responded by asking if she wanted to ride or drive over: “Ride!” was the answer.

We had a longer ride than planned when I realized I’d left my wallet at home just as we got to Olde Towne. If we’d been in the truck it would have been a bad thing, not so on the bike: it was just a little more saddle time.  And, the saddle time was made all that much better because we both had a chance to experience what it was like riding with the audio system fired-up.


When we first saw the Road King CVO with the iPod-driven, 200 watt, 4-speaker audio system we both were of the same mind: who wants that on a bike?  Debbie tends to use her time on the bike to clear her head and if I need tunes I just take my iPod and throw in the ear phones.  Guess what: the audio system was pretty cool.  I didn’t say much about it, but when we arrived home after dinner Debbie got off the bike and said, “I really like having the music on the bike.”  I did too; imagine that.

About the only nit with the audio system is that it’s a far cry from the Harman/Kardon® Advanced Audio System with Automatic Volume Control (AVC) that comes on Harley-Davidson Street, Road & Electra Glide models with fixed fairings. On one hand, it’s probably a good thing to have the audio controls out of reach to prevent “fiddling while riding”, but it would have been nice to have the AVC integrated into the on-board amplifier.

After Wednesday night’s ride, the bike sat idle until I paid a visit to H-D of Atlanta on Friday to have the bike’s “sounds” and security system error light evaluated.  For reference, sounds are just sounds, it’s the noises need attention:that applies to just about any machine. Only one of the “sounds” was a noise, and the tech went ahead and adjusted the primary chain’s tension to take care of that.  The other sounds were just H-D 110″ motor & transmission sounds.


LED left, bulb right

The security system error light was a self-inflicted wound.  I switched out the incandescent bulbs in the turn signals for some Custom Dynamics LEDs I hand on hand, but for which I did not yet have the signal light equalizer: that was on order and in the mail. No big deal I thought, the flashers just flashed quickly “as if” there was a bulb burned out but I get the benefit of great on-coming visibility that comes with the very bright orange LEDs.  Unbeknownst to me, the lights, alarm, security system, audio, etc. are all tied-in to the bike’s self-diagnostics and the low-voltage LEDs were tripping a fault code and fault codes trip the security system error light: ooops.

The tech showed me how to access and reset the fault codes so when I returned home I switched back to bulbs, cleared the fault code and all is good again. I rode the bike over to The Red Eyed Mule where I met Debbie for lunch and headed back home after that, as I was expecting UPS to drop off a box with the second round of accessories for the Road King, i.e., rear luggage rack, etc.

This is that painful and expensive part of the process I call “getting things sorted out”, which is pretty much true of all bikes, at least in my world.  I don’t think I’ve ever owned a bicycle or motorcycle that I didn’t need or find reason to “tweak”, especially when they were new.  And, even as tweaked-out as a Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) bike is, there are still things that need tweaking; guess that’s part of their business model and what drives the massive H-D aftermarket economy.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to master the “get it right the first time” approach.  Case in point, the first two things I purchased for the bike were a waste: a clear-bra kit for the tops of the hard bags and a headlight trim ring.  The clear-bra kit was a great idea, but the quality of the adhesive film was seriously lacking so it lasted about a week before I pulled it off.  The trim ring with visor was also a visual bust unless the windshield was installed, as that’s hardly my preferred way of configuring the bike. So that’ll go up on eBay since I chucked the box at the dealership when I installed the thing as I was SURE it was the right look for the bike.  Definitely NOT the look I thought it was once I stood back and soaked it all in.  If someone was going to go retro and add-back the passing lights and standard Road King windshield, it might work better, but at least to me… it just looks like an add-on part that doesn’t fit or flow with the rest of the headlight assembly or CVO concept.

novisor visor

Anyway, the summary of changes thus far looks like this:

1. Custom Dynamics LEDs, albeit on hold pending arrival of the equalizer. Again, these suckers are amazing in terms of how visible they make our motorcycle to on-coming traffic.  I’ve had these on the Wide Glide since Oct ’11, front & back. In fact, these orange clusters were poached off the Wide Glide.


2. Kuryakyn Scythe II Mirrors, also poached off the Wide Glide. I just like the rear-view perspective they provide from the very wide and low positioning of the mirrors and, well, they look pretty good too!   I suspect I’ll need to order a 2nd pair before too long as the Wide Glide just doesn’t look right without them.


3. Turn signal trim rings are also an add-on.  As with the Wide Glide, I just prefer the look of trim rings vs. the stock plastic covers that came on the bike. I think it compliments the headlight trim.  I’d borrowed the ones with visors off of the Wide Glide to go with headlight trim ring that also had the visor, so at least that wasn’t a throw-away when I ultimately decided to stick with the stock headlight trim ring.

4. Finned Cylinder Head Bridges are a must in my book; the engine just looks unfinished without them. Yup, they’re also on the Wide Glide.  Photo at left, no bridge: at right with the bridge.

nofins fins


5. Four-Point Docking Plate for the rear luggage rack was also a must-have as we plan to make several trips a year on the Road King using our touring bag.  I went with chrome without really thinking about it but, in retrospect, should have gone with the ones that were painted black, as I plan to have these painted Crushed Sapphire to match the surrounding trim in the future; saw that on another CVO and it looked great.

6. AirWing Luggage Rack looked to be a good match for the touring bag vs. the Stealth Rack which looked a lot better but didn’t offer as much support for the bag.  I’m guessing we’ll be pushing the 10 lb load limit a bit; really? 10 lbs? Sheesh. rack1 rack_bag


7. Magnetic Docking Port Covers: Oh yeah, I also popped for the chrome docking hardware covers since the only time the docking port will be used is when there’s a bag on the rear rack.  When the bag comes off the bike, so does the rack. In photo at right, the left docking point is uncovered, whereas the one on the right has the chrome cover installed.

8. Clear Bra for Case Lids: Yes, we picked up a second set “just in case”. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve pulled off the first set because they just looked awful.  I’ve given the lids a healthy coating of Zaino and we’ll roll the dice for a while to see how we do at keeping the lids from getting buggered-up.  If they start to collect scratches or scuffs, I’ll put the clear bra on.  On the bright side, this looks like a different type of material vs. the first kit so I’m hopeful that it will be similar to what’s on the side panel covers: a very clear, almost invisible treatment.

OK, I’m sure you’re as exhausted from reading this entry as I am from writing it.  I’ll defer the write-up on our Fullsac upgrade to another entry once it arrives.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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