Between the constant rain in late July and acquisition of the Road King on August 6th, our beloved Harley-Davidson Wide Glide has gone unridden for nearly six weeks, as best as I can tell.
Normally that’s not an issue since I tend to put the motorcycles on a Battery Tender whenever they go unridden for more than a week. However, with the addition of the Road King I was forced to adopt a revised parking arrangement for the bikes which moved the Wide Glide out of range for the two charging cable drops.
Tonight I decided that — with only a 10% chance of rain in the forecast — tomorrow would be a good day to take the Wide Glide to work instead of my default commuter bike, the BMW R1100S. It would give the Wide Glide some much needed exercise and I could re-familiarize myself with the bike’s handling and ride characteristics, as it’s quite different from the Road King.
Imagine my surprise when the lights dimmed and the starter went “wha, wha, clickity, clickity, clickity, clickity” as I attempted to crank the engine to life. Yup, pretty much the universal sound of a battery that has discharged. I jumped-off the bike using some booster cables attached to my truck’s battery and then took it for a short ride to fill the gas tank, charge the battery and to see how different it felt from the Road King, which has been our Harley of choice for the last 550 miles of leisure riding racked-up since 6 Aug when we wrote the big check for the King.
Wow, what a completely different riding experience that was! Of course, thinking back to 10 Aug when I finally swung a leg over and rode the King for the first time for the ride home it also took a bit of getting used to. Bear in mind, the King weighs about 849 lbs vs. the 665 lbs of the Wide Glide: yup, 22% more girth and you can feel it when you move the bike around as well as when riding. The steering geometry is also quite different with 26° of rake and 6.7″ of steering trail on the Road King vs. 34° with 5’2″ of steering trail on the Wide Glide. You also need to factor in the extra 5″ of wheel base and the very tall & narrow 21″ x 2.25″ front tire of the Wide Glide vs. the King’s much wider 19″ front wheel. And then there is the 96 cu in vs. 110 cu in motor, the different engine mounting approaches and very different riding positions… hands, feet and butt!
In short, the Wide Glide had a lot of front wheel flop, lots of vibration felt mostly in the feet but it felt much lighter and had a far-more spirited ride quality vs. the uber-plush Road King.
When I got to the gas station I decided I’d just let the motor idle as I filled the tank, so as not to risk another low-battery / non-start condition. Once I was back at the house I repositioned the two Harley’s such that the Road King was now on the J&S lift tucked back in the deepest part of the garage bay against our folding ping-pong table. The Wide Glide to the King’s place along side the BMW where it was once again put back on the Battery Tender in the hope that it will be back to a full-charge tomorrow.