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Old 09-17-2014, 09:11 PM   #1
Cakeeater OP
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Harley Demo Day review

Last Saturday I found myself in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with time to kill. The local Harley dealership had a factory demo day. So I jumped in and rode a bunch of bikes.

I've only owned one HD -- my Road Glide Ultra -- and I went from an HD skeptic to a fan wih this bike So far 28,000 trouble free miles and I take it on gravel, highway, off-road (slowly). My background was all Japanese bikes...both on and off road.

It was a good day to demo bikes. It was mid-50s. Weather Service said winds were mid-20 mph with gusts to the mid-30s. The weather kept the wussies at home, and that meant I got to ride a lot.

There were 16 bikes to demo, and we went out for a 12ish mile loop on mostly two laners. Not many turns, but some rail road crossings, bad pavement, high speed areas…and serious wind.

The bikes I rode in order were:


Sportster 48:

I got this bike because it was the last one available when I arrived. I'm not a bit feet forward guy, and this had pegs way out there. And the suspension was nonexistent. Seriously. It felt like a Rupp minibike frame.

But...I laughed like hell the entire ride. Jeez, was it fun. The damn engine has no high end, but down low I had to hold on to keep from sliding off the shitty hard seat. It vibrated really bad at some speeds, at some speeds it was smooth. Going over railroad tracks it just smacked my back. But I laughed. It pulled fast up to 80 into a 20 mph headwind and I had to hold on tight to keep from blowing off. It was like being with a crazy drunk girl with issues. Fun. It got me to thinking of the mod possibilities.


CVO Road Glide Ultra.

I was surprised HD brought this bike as it’s the newest and pretty much the most expensive bike in the HD lineup.

First off: The buffeting issue is solved. On my Road Glide I’ve tried various windshields, finally settling on a Madstad..which allows for a pocket of air to go behind the windsheild. The new fairing design is much better than the old one.

Second: The handlebars are much farther back. I didn’t like it. The tillers felt exactly like a Gold Wing. The highway pegs were waaay out there. I had to stretch to reach, and I’m an even 6 in low shoes. It's like they lifted the ergonomics of a Goldwing, minus the wide GW engine.

Third: The 110 watercooled engine is very smooth and very powerful. At speed I felt I were on a Gold Wing. Acceleration and smoothness seemed to be pretty even-steven with a GL1800 -- no shit. Even at idle there wasn’t as much of a paint shaker idle as my 103. If this is the future of HD engines, I like it.

Fourth: The stereo didn’t rock as loud as I thought.

Street 750.

This was the reason I came to the event. I was excited to ride it.

The fit and finish are pretty much what everyone talks about: Paint is good, wiring and switchgear is bad. I drove with my blinker on like a noob because I couldn’t even see the flashing light and the turn switch was moody.

The bike is SMALL. I curled up and lifted my legs to the pegs and immediately my right leg cramped up. This is not a bike for people my size. I rode out of the dealership on the pegs. Some of the Harley guys thought that was pretty funny.

The engine and transmission are real sweethearts. The bike loves to rev. It clicks into gear like a Honda 125. Very nice fueling. Very easy to ride. It pulls hard all the way to when the limiter kicks in. And I hit the limiter ALL THE TIME, because it loved to rev. And this engine goes. The bike feels tiny...but the motor reminded me of a V45 Honda I rode way back when. The Street will wheelie, and I spent my entire demo ride zooming up on the guy ahead of me...then slowing down...then speeding up.

The chassis works really well. I couldn’t really test it….because I was riding in a pack of Harley demo riders, but every corner I zipped around and hit the gas and the bike just goes. Very smooth suspension.

For small people, or people just starting out, this is an excellent motorcycle. For me, I’d want to raise the seat considerably so I could fit. But the guts of the bike are very good. I came away impressed.

Not Street Bob. WIDE GLIDE
Like I said, I’m not a feet first guy. And this bike looks good, but I didn’t like it much.
I found myself riding in 4th gear at 70 mph just to keep the vibes down.

On the turns I ground my heels pretty fast. The cornering clearance just isn’t there for me.

Of all the bikes I rode, this was my least favorite.

Road King
This felt like coming home and finding your old pal was better than you remembered.

Several years ago my brother and I wanted to go on a five day 3,000 mile trip to the east coast and back. I rented a Road King with the 96 cu in. engine and I thrashed that bike trying to stay up with my brother on his St1300. I had a good time and found the bike much more capable than I thought it would be...which led me to ride more, and eventually buy one.

This time around the Road King had much more power and better handling with the upboosted 103 and fork improvements. I know some here (like BMW Dean) have said the same thing. This 2014 Road King is a really good motorbike.

I rode it fast over railroad tracks and it was smooth. It ride smooth and easy at 80 into a 20 mph headwind. When I got off it, I was very impressed. There’s a reason why HD owns the touring marketplace in the U.S. For real world traveling, where it’s often windy as hell and the roads are longgggg, it’s a great ride.

One omission: I did not ride a Vrod. They had just one to demo, and for all the talk about it being a red=headed stepchild of Harley……everyone wanted to ride that bike. Maybe it was a chance for Harley faithful to try something they’d never buy…who knows? But the Vrod always had a waiting line to demo it, and while I wanted to take it out (I’ve never ridden one), I had to leave before riding.

The Road King is the bike I'd buy. The Sportster was so damn much fun i'd look for a used one to mod. And the Street.....? HD is onto something here. That motor would make the heart of a good Adventure bike. And I would think theres much more power in that short-stroke motor. Flattracker? xr1200 replacement?

Cakeeater

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Old 09-18-2014, 04:52 AM   #2
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Cakeeater, could not agree more on the '14 Road King, now a totally enjoyable dependable bike.

I now have pared my bike collection down to the most enjoyable that I have ever had. For the first time in my riding career I am completely happy with each bike and have no burning want for anything else...........Much to the happiness of my ever indulgent wife.

'14 RK
'14 650 Husky Strada
'10 R1200GS 30th Anniversary

Each one complements and makes the others that much more fun to ride.
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Old 09-18-2014, 05:46 AM   #3
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Did that Street Bob have forward controls? They should come standard with mid controls.

I agree with your assessment of the Road King. I demo'd a brand new off the truck 2014, and I thought it was a hell of a motorcycle. They are a little cramped for me (being 6'5"), but it was nothing an extra $2000 couldn't fix

My local dealer has a 2015 Road Glide that they really wanted me to try out last time I was there. I'm definitely going to take them up on that offer sometime soon.
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Old 09-18-2014, 06:36 AM   #4
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Nice review, Cakeeater. I agree with your comments on the new RK, and I'm glad I bought mine.

Anybody have any experience with the soft lowers Harley sells that snap onto the engine guards? $90 in the catalog. They might have been nice yesterday. Went for about a 360 mile ride and a good part of it was in a cool rain.

I sat on a Street, and a woman at work bought the 750. I've got a 35 inch inseam, so ergos don't work well for me. I'd like to see them develope that bike into a light weight sport touring bike.
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Old 09-18-2014, 07:13 AM   #5
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Nice review.

I love my 2014 RK.
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Old 09-18-2014, 07:40 AM   #6
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Just need to cross-check....CVO models really $39K....like in American $39K?
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyena View Post
Anybody have any experience with the soft lowers Harley sells that snap onto the engine guards? $90 in the catalog. They might have been nice yesterday. Went for about a 360 mile ride and a good part of it was in a cool rain.
Yes. They work. I've ridden in rain on the highway and discovered my already wet boots drying out behind them.

Keeps much wind and wet off you, but at the cost of wind resistance. Not so much you notice a reduced power, but that your mileage decreases. I have not noticed any negative side-effect in windiness on my person while using them.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:09 AM   #8
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Cakeeater:

If you were going to convert a Harley model to an Adventure Touring motorcycle, would you start with a Sportster (883 or 1200) or a Street 750? And why?

BTW, Thank you for your insightful review of the Harley test models.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:23 AM   #9
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Street Bob

Quote(The counterbalanced 103b is much smoother at idle than the rubbermount 103, but it vibrates at speed)
Just thought i'd point out that If by Street Bob you mean the Dyna FXDB,it has the rubber mount 103,the softails have the counterbalanced 103,it may have been one of the Softails you rode,i'm not sure on the model names,also like someone else said the Street Bob has mids as standard.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tnbrit View Post
Quote(The counterbalanced 103b is much smoother at idle than the rubbermount 103, but it vibrates at speed)
Just thought i'd point out that If by Street Bob you mean the Dyna FXDB,it has the rubber mount 103,the softails have the counterbalanced 103,it may have been one of the Softails you rode,i'm not sure on the model names,also like someone else said the Street Bob has mids as standard.
Ooops! I think I made a mistake. I musta been a Wide Glide I rode. It wasn't a Softail...twin rear shocks and all. I get confused. THe pegs were forwards.

I'll go back and edit.

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Old 09-18-2014, 08:30 AM   #11
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Interesting that you had so much fun on the Sportster. I never considered a Sportster or a Softail because of the limited suspension travel but I rented a Heritage Softail last weekend (it was the only bike available) to ride Huricane Ridge while visiting Seattle. I had a blast. The floorboards scraping through most turns made it seem like I was going much faster than I was. The suspension didn't bother me but I suppose that if I stayed planted in the seat sharp bumps would hurt. I did 350 miles no problem. I'm 5'9" with 30" inseam and it fit nicely like a 7/8 scale Road King. The 5 gallon tank was narrower and more comfortable and at 46mpg on my trip range was fine.

Last time I rented the 2014 Ultra Classic which was better than my previous generation model. Noticeably more rigid fork, better brakes, better wind management, a little more power and the LED headlights were awesome.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boatpuller View Post
Cakeeater:

If you were going to convert a Harley model to an Adventure Touring motorcycle, would you start with a Sportster (883 or 1200) or a Street 750? And why?

BTW, Thank you for your insightful review of the Harley test models.
For me, hands down: The Street. The motor is very docile. Smooth down low, lots of power up high. Very predictable fueling. Such a small motor too...it would be easy to jack the bike up a lot and keep the seat from being a skyscraper.

The motor and gearbox were a real surprise on the Street. Reminded me very much of some Hondas I owned. Quiet and mellow at low revs, but nice acceleration all the way up the ladder. I didn't notice any real vibration at speed. The bike had plenty of oomph into a headwind at highway speed. (Again, I'm locked into a demo pack...so limited abilities to test it.) I hardly used the brakes either.

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Old 09-18-2014, 09:00 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by NuckaMan View Post
Just need to cross-check....CVO models really $39K....like in American $39K?
That does indeed seem to be the MSRP of their "CVO".
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Old 09-18-2014, 09:58 AM   #14
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Too bad you didn't get a chance to ride a fat bob. By far, HD's best handling bike, and my personal favorite out of the Dynas.
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Old 09-18-2014, 10:23 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
Too bad you didn't get a chance to ride a fat bob. By far, HD's best handling bike, and my personal favorite out of the Dynas.
I woulda liked to ride that. But....to reserve a bike, I had to skip a ride to get first in the reservation line. I wanted to ride as much as possible. Some bikes like the Fat Bob were always reserved. I was lucky to snare the CVO and the Street...because they had lots of interest.

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