De-Modifying Blue Before She Goes to Salvage

As a partial follow-up to my last public blog entry on our Daytona incident, here’s the story on Blue.

After trailering Blue home from Daytona on October 17th, I spent Sunday morning on the 18th taking a full set of photos for the insurance claim and then washed all of the crimson and grime off as I was tired of seeing it and didn’t want Debbie to see it.  My service advisor later told me she prefers to have the bikes come in “as they were at the time of the accident” but I told her I’d bring a thumb drive with my 32 photos so she’d have that perspective.

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state_farm_insuranceHaving not heard from State Farm after filing an on-line claim Saturday morning, I called them on Monday the 19th to follow-up. Let’s just say I wasn’t impressed with their performance. I ended up having to poke my agent a few hours later to get the claims team engaged as my insurer / representative in this incident: very disappointing to say the least and after those initial calls on Monday the 19th I’ve not heard a peep, not even a “how’s your wife doing” courtesy call from my agent or agent’s staff.

Geico logoGEICO’s claims folks were on the phone to me after their insured client filed her claim and included my information. They’d already pulled everything I’d provided to State Farm in my on-line claim as well as the information I gave to the claims team earlier in the day from some industry shared data base that they maintain before calling me. The GEICO experience was excellent.

20151031_101052I loaded-up and trailered Blue over to Harley-Davidson of Atlanta (HDA) on Tuesday morning so they and GEICO could do their estimates.  Shortly after dropping off the bike Brian from GEICO called about the bike and I let him know that it was just dropped off at Harley-Davidson on Thornton Road in Lithia Springs.  He made it over to HDA on Wednesday and came up with his estimate of the damages at around $7k.  That seemed a little low, but he also allowed that once the Harley folks looked at the bike they might find additional damage.

Just to give you an appreciation for how much force the engine guard with the lower fairings absorbed and how deformed they were in the collision, here are two pretty good perspectives. Even though the engine guard includes a disclaimer that says it’s not intended to provide protection from bodily injury in a collision, I’m pretty sure the lowers + engine guard up front and the rear saddle bags kept Debbie and me from having serious leg injuries.

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The tab was flush before the accident and is now coved, noting that the bolt that attached the engine guard to the frame has been removed.

It was Friday before HDA did their estimate and sent it over to GEICO: it was $11k higher than the GEICO quote, driven mostly by the need for a new frame.  Having looked over the bike myself, I was actually surprised to learn Harley will not even authorize repairs of minor damage to a frame, which on the surface seems both a bit wasteful and wrong-minded.  For example, the part of our frame that was damaged was the mounting tab for the engine guard, an accessory mount that was not a structural component of the frame. To me, it looks like something that could have easily been repaired with a plasma cutter, sheet steel, a TIG welder and then touched-up in about 60 minutes. However, in retrospect and given the potential liability associated with a frame repair, Harley has had to adopt this position and there’s no fuzz on the ball: if it comes to the MoCo’s attention that a dealership fixed a frame, Harley would pull their franchise.  So, I get that.

Brian and Kelly finally connected on Thursday or Friday and all indications were that the bike would be a total write-off as the cost of repairs had reached GEICO’s threshold for not economically feasible to restore.  I’m a little bothered by this in that it appeared to use the NADA Ave Retail value for that benchmark, and that NADA Ave Retail number is a lot lower than my loss in all of this.  I’ve put about $4,100 in aftermarket parts and other custom work into what was a $30,000 bike to start with. I’ve also had to pre-pay Georgia’s Ad Valorem taxes up front ($1,350) at the time of purchase and just bought a$2,680 5 year / unlimited mileage Extended Service Plan (ESP) for the bike.  Thankfully, the ESP is transferable to a new bike or refundable on a pro-rated basis, but everything else is sunk cost that would need to be covered to make me whole.  Upgrades/mods that need to be covered would include the Fullsac exhaust system and TTS module which is married to the bike’s ECU.  I’d also like to recover the $400 pro tune that David at HDA did in August. The Motolights and some custom saddle work make up the bulk of the other sunk cost in the bike that I can’t salvage.

As a hedge against taking a loss on other less-costly custom parts and accessories that I’ll need for the replacement bike —  we’re looking for an identical 2013 Road King CVO in Sapphire Blue — I made arrangements with GEICO to retrieve Blue from HDA so I could salvage some of my aftermarket parts. This should save GEICO a few bucks on the claim and while making it a lot easier for me to personalize the replacement bike.  So, on Saturday I once again borrowed my friend David’s trailer and collected Blue from HDA. As I write this I’ve just finished up returning the bike to mostly stock trim.  On Monday I’ll contact GEICO to let them know the bike is ready for pick-up, after which they’ll dispatch a tow truck to collect the bike and finalize their valuation and make their settlement offer.

So, here’s all what’s been swapped out or removed from Blue to return her to near stock condition, noting that the “Was” (modified) is depicted on the left with the “Now Is” (back to original) on the right:

First up were the easy cosmetic things like the “Live to Ride” derby cover, the plain point cover, and the Screamin’ Eagle air cleaner cover that I switched back to the CVO originals. The cosmetic items also included removing the granite colored fined cylinder head covers that fill in the large cylinder head gap near the spark plugs.

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Although still somewhat cosmetic, a little more involved was returning the rear license plate bracket to stock. Blue had a Paul Yaffe Stealth III license plate frame that was paint-matched by Joe Zett at Xtreme Dynamics in New Jersey along with several other parts. The total cost of the paint matching was $450 for the license plate frame, heat deflectors, rear four-point docking station and two docking covers.  I’d already pulled off the docking station and covers before taking the bike to HDA.

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Moving into the more functional aftermarket parts, I swapped out the Kuryakyn Scythe II mirrors for the stock ones, I removed the previously mentioned heat deflectors with the custom paint match, and also swapped out the Custom Dynamics LED turn signal lamps with the original incandescent bulbs.  Along with the Custom Dynamics LEDs was a voltage equalizer installed behind the battery box.

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Also a bit more involved was removing the brake caliper-mounted Motolights, their wiring and the harness that tied them into the bike.  Not sure how we’ll handle this as part of the claim as the right-hand Motolight housing and mounting bracket both need to be replaced.  I attempted to repair the deformed stem on the housing but it’ too far gone and no longer aligns correctly.  Amazingly, it wasn’t clear where the light was hit by the car, which speaks to the quality and durability of the Motolights and their chroming process.

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Probably one of the real must saves from Blue were her custom-made Ohlin rear shocks. They were a fairly easy swap-out with the OEM H-D Sport Shocks due to our wonderful J&S motorcycle lift: don’t know how I’d get by without that lift for projects like this.

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The electrical box on Blue took a bit of work to unravel. With electrical leads needed for two sets of heated gear, power for the Custom Dynamics voltage regulator, another accessory’s power filter, and power for the Motolights the only solution that would work to support all of that was the installation of a AP-1 auxiliary fuse box. It was a very nice and tidy installation with the fuse box attached to the bike’s alarm screamer and just two leads going to the battery. Everything else was cleanly routed and/or hidden behind the battery box.  All told, there was probably $250 worth on electronics hiding under the saddle and behind the battery box.

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And here she is for the last time in all her original glory sitting in our garage.  Sure doesn’t look like a motorcycle that needed to be totaled.

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Then again, having fired the engine several times over the past few days to load, unload and move it around in the garage, the engine and primary / compensator seem to have some new noises and, well, it just didn’t feel quite right. So, at the end of the day, it’s probably best to say goodbye to what could have been future issues and lingering doubts about what else may have been knocked about in the collision.

Oh well, tomorrow I’ll call Brian and tell them to come and get her as I start to get serious about finding a replacement bike.  I’m 95% sure it will be an identical replacement. The only other bike that has ever piqued my interest from an aesthetics standpoint was the Atomic Orange / Galaxy Grey 2013 Road Glide CVO.  Then again, now that they’ve redesigned the Road Glide fairing, a 2015/16 would be the way to go.  But, still not sure about having a massive fairing as we’ve done just fine with the sport screen on the Road King.

Again, odds are, next time someone sees us on a Harley it will look just like the one we’ve been riding for the past two years.


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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