Footboard Follies: Harley-Davidson Please Get Your Act Together

Also as mentioned in my November 22nd update, I ordered a set of passenger footboards for the lovely Miss Debbie to try-out on Blue II. They were something I’d always thought about putting on Blue I, but Debbie really didn’t have any interest.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 9.17.52 AMWhile I’m no fan of how they look compared to the passenger foot pegs, I’ve become a huge fan of the comfort they provide by eliminating that small pressure point below your instep.  Debbie was only mildly bothered by that on our long trips to Key West and Daytona, but only mentioned that after I told her I’d ordered the footboards.

The Joy of ‘FARKLING’ Is Replaced By Angst

FARKLE is an acronym for motorcycle parts and accessories that are “Far Out Really Kool Likely Expensive”.  They include chrome parts, electronics, lights, performance upgrades and other stuff that gets added to motorcycles at a premium cost and that yield mere pennies on the dollar when the bike is offered for sale or written-off as a total loss as we saw with Blue and even my ’98 Honda CBR1100.  So, now that you know what FARKLE is, let’s talk about Debbie’s new passenger footboards.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 8.47.32 AMHaving ordered the footboards on-line, I was anxiously awaiting their arrival and installation as I was certain they’d be something Debbie would like. Now, because our motorcycle is a CVO, there was not a ‘kit’ that would produce a set of passenger footboards that would match the rest of the “Slipstream” controls on Blue.  Instead, I had to buy three separate parts: the passenger footboard mount, a streamliner footboard pan and the streamliner footboard insert.  The cost ended up being about the same as the standard streamliner footboard kit and the assumption was everything I needed to do the installation would be included, lacking any notes in the on-line catalog to the contrary.

Well, I was a very disappointed to find Harley’s on-line product description of the foot board brackets was incorrect once the parts arrived on Wednesday and I began to prep them for installation.  From the product description and the alternate photo of the brackets shown in the photo below note that, “...footboard mount hinge pins and installation hardware” are listed and depicted as being included.

Add the comfort and convenience of passenger footboards to your Touring motorcycle.

  • Chrome finish
  • Allows installation of traditional D-shaped, Swept Wing, Tapered or Old-Style Passenger Footboards (sold separately) on Touring models
  • Includes left and right supports, footboard mount hinge pins and installation hardware

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 8.54.18 AM

Yes, well guess what was NOT included per the installation instructions that come with the very same part: the four hinge pins, two springs and two delrin balls you need to install the footboard pans and footboard inserts.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 8.59.16 AM

Thankfully, our local Harley-Davidson dealer had the 4 pins, 2 springs and 2 balls in stock and $22.89 lighter in the wallet I was good-to-go.

Interestingly enough, the product description and photos on page 426 of the the Harley-Davidson print catalog for Touring Bikes does provide a ‘hint’ that these eight parts that cost $21.60 to buy separately are not included with the chrome version; see the bottom listing in the image below.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 7.38.10 AM

Note that the photos in the print catalog are not exactly consistent in terms of showing what is and is not included.  For the parts in question (Passenger Footboard Supports), there is a black version and a chrome one under the exact same product description. In the photos, the $109.95 black support clearly has hinge pins, springs and balls, whereas the $139.95 chrome support does not show these additional parts in the print catalog, which is different from the on-line catalog (go-figure).  As more evidence that the photos aren’t always accurate, the Streamline Passenger Footboard and Mount Kit shown above it in the print catalog shows the hinge pins but not the springs and balls: the on-line catalog uses the same photo.  In checking the Table 1. Service Parts Table on the Instruction Sheet, the springs and balls are included. Good grief, talk about a dyslexic approach to product specification and catalog editing.

Technically, this poor job of catalog editing results in something called wire fraud when a product is offered for sale, but what is actually delivered is by design materially different and of lessor value that what was paid.  In this case, Harley-Davidson technically owes me at least $12 + tax for the four pins I had to go and buy separate that were clearly “included” based on the description of the product offered for sale in their on-line catalog. The $9.60 + tax for the spring and ball could also be arguably included.  Really, why on Earth would anyone not expect parts that are essential to the function of a component not be included or at least clearly identified as being required to complete an installation.

This is yet another example of how Harley-Davidson motorcycles are analogous to addictive drugs: no matter how bad and how expensive Harley’s shit is, their die-hard customers somehow feel compelled to keep giving up hard-earned money for things that are emotionally and financially draining.  The yin and yang with Harley-Davidson is truly bizarre and I’m pretty sure the Gen-X and Millennial generations aren’t going to accept some of the crap that boomers like myself seem to keep setting aside for the love of the brand and soul of the machine.

To to completely honest, it’s really a darn shame I find the Polaris Industries Victory and Indian motorcycles to be so visually unappealing and the big Japanese and German touring bikes to be visually challenging and emotionally uninteresting, as I really was tempted to switch horses with the write-off of Blue.  But, I digress.

The Footboards Get Installed

Anyway, here’s the before and after on Blue II, remembering that she’s still missing part of her exhaust system. On the left is the standard foot peg and on the right is the new footboard, an ultra narrow “slipstream” version.  Installation wasn’t all that time-consuming and the way the things go together is pretty interesting; about as unsophisticated and simple as anything I’ve seen.  It’s not exactly a “tight” installation, but the engine noise and vibrations will certainly mask the rattling sounds that will come from the footboards when there’s no passenger on the bike.

20151204_141053 20151204_142102

Looking at it along the right side of the bike, they don’t look all that bad in the down position.  Stowed, not so much… but it’s rare that Blue ever gets ridden without Miss Debbie on board, and that’s a good thing!

On the left side, the derby cover was a bit obscured and the primary case area just looked cluttered.

20151204_144035

I used that as an excuse to go retro with a plain derby cover,similar to the points cover on the right side of the bike. I like that look a lot better: very clean which will be a nice fit with the footboard if and when it’s in the stowed position.

20151206_180150In terms of how they will work, I put Debbie on Blue II last night after our Finally a Friday at Loco Willy’s and she was a bit surprised — pleasantly I might add — how it felt to put her feel on footboards.  She’s never stepped foot on a footboard before so that was as honest a reaction as I could hope for.  So, we’ll see.  They may end up being something I only install for the longer road trips, or she may find she doesn’t miss the foot pegs all that much.

I still need to figure out what office in the MoCo to send my complaint to, which is to say, an office that will do something to correct the product descriptions… I really don’t give a rat’s ass about the $23; it’s the principle of the matter that grates on my nerves.

POST SCRIPT: THE LETTER


From: mplivingood@comcast.net
To: store@harley-davidson.com
Sent: Sunday, December 6, 2015 8:37:06 AM
Subject: Inaccurate Product Description: 53070-00A

Greetings:

Please note the on-line product catalog description for your Chrome Passenger Footboard Support Kit – 53070-00A is incorrect.  Please fix this.

Summary:

The description states, “Includes left and right supports, footboard mount hinge pins and installation hardware and the supporting photos would also lead a consumer to believe the hinge pins were included. However, that is not the case: the kit does not include the hinge pins, springs or balls needed to complete a foot board installation, as these are additional parts the consumer must purchase separately, although not stated as such. The latter is confirmed by the “Table 1. Service Parts” list on the included Instruction Sheet.

Interestingly enough, on page 426 of the print catalog for Touring Motorcycles, the photos for the black vs. chrome Passenger Footboard Supports do offer a clue that the pins, springs and balls are not included.  I say a clue, because directly above the chrome support is a photo of the streamliner footboard product that is missing the springs and balls which are, in fact, included.

In legal terms, this failure to complete an accurate technical data review and reconciliation of the product specification and the catalog results in something called wire fraud.  But, more importantly, it leaves me the customer sitting with a part that I can’t install without first locating and buying eight (8) additional parts from a Harley-Davidson dealer at a cost $21.60 + tax.  Thankfully, my local dealer had these parts in stock, but not all dealers do.

In theory, Harley-Davidson owes each customer who purchased this product based on the on-line description & photos at least $12 + tax and perhaps even $21.60 + tax as parts that the description states are included are not, in fact, included based on how the Streamliner Passenger Footboard and Mount Kit – 50378-07B is described and sold.  Yes, I know your legal staff can site an outside council determination and case precedent to show there was no intent to defraud so it’s a moot claim.

However, more to the point, real damage done is that a loyal Harley-Davidson customer and CVO owner is once again faced with substandard quality of products, parts, accessories and the supporting technical data produced by Harley-Davidson.  Frankly, I’ve just about lost my passion for the soul of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and already sold off my HOG stock back in May 2014 as I could see the writing on the wall.   Moreover, if Victory or Indian ever figure out how to make a motorcycle that doesn’t look hideous I’ll sell the ’13 FLHRSE5 & ’11 FXDWG sitting in the garage and buy one of the Polaris Industry products to end my relationship with Harley-Davidson.  Again, that’s the real damage.

It’s way past time to step up your game.

 

Regards,
Mark Livingood

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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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