Yesterday I rode the Wide Glide to work just so it could get some exercise and so I could remind myself of how it felt and handled on a familiar ride I know by rote. As it had the night before, the steering felt a bit floppy due to the front end geometry and very tall, narrow front tire. Not a big deal once I remembered to start out with a more positive grip on the bars and heavier steering inputs. Overall, the ergonomics of the riding position was, well… sublime. There’s just something about how that bike fits me with its forward control position, seat height relative to bar height and the drag bar position — noting I moved them back and down a bit right after I bought the bike back in June 2011.
Today I decided to ride the Road King to work: same route, same time of day, etc. I gotta tell ya, the Wide Glide has a much more ergonomically compatible riding position! Really, it was eye-opening to say the least. Now, it’s not that the Road King is uncomfortable, as we were out on the bike riding from 10:00am until 5:00pm on Sunday and I was no worse for wear. The Wide Glide just fits like a glove and I always feel “at one” with the bike, which is true of my BMW R1100S.
The Road King, on the other hand, makes me feel like I’m sitting on top of a motorcycle… which was also somewhat true of our BMW R1150RT sport touring bike and even to a certain extent, our 1998 Honda CBR1100XX grand tourer / uber-sport bike. It’s not a bad fit on the King, it’s just very different. Both are comfortable. In some ways it’s very much like the difference between driving Debbie’s Honda S2000 roadster and my Toyota Tundra: you sit down in the S2000 whereas you sit up in the Tundra.
Not sure what I’ll do about it, or if there’s anything I can do. I already investigated handlebar changes and the folks at the Harley-Davidson of Atlanta parts department essentially said, “You don’t want to go there if you don’t have to.” Unlike other bikes where bars can usually be swapped-out without too much trouble so long as the net change in cable / hydraulic lines isn’t significant, the ’13 FLHRSE5’s wireless throttle linkage, hydraulic clutch, cruise & audio system controls, etc. turn a bar-change into a complex and potentially expensive proposition. I may have to do some further investigating on that if I can’t find some other solution associated with perhaps a reshaping of the saddle or finding a different way to position my feet on the floorboards. I thought about ditching the floorboards and installing forward controls, but I’m not sure they play nice with the lower fairings.
More to follow…