Monday, August 8, 2011

Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better

Harley has introduced its new 2012 lineup of motorcycles, and despite the hype wrapped around new motorcycles, I have some concerns.

The new touring class bikes, among a few others, will come standard with 103 cubic inch (1688cc) engines. They promote this engine as having more power and will cruise at lower rpm. What they also don't say but another on-line article says that these engines will be water-cooled (for the first time) which means that they will have a small radiator.

I thought that the larger engine and radiator would mean that the new bikes would be heavier. So I did some sluething, comparing specifications of the 2012 Road King (812 pounds on-the-road weight) with my 2008 RK (775 pounds on-the-road weight). 37 pounds heavier. Hmmm...

Will 37 pounds make that much of a difference? Well... it could.

One of the first things that I noticed on my 2008 Road King when I brought it home was how much harder it was for me to handle -- not while riding, but while trying to park it or even move it around in my garage. Its weight and physical size makes it a bear to move when it is not running. I worry that the newer, bigger engines (and radiator) will make the new bikes beyond my ability to handle.

Frankly, I had no trouble achieving cruising speed on my old Dyna Low Rider, which had an 88 cubic inch (1422cc) engine (and no radiator). That bike was sooooo much easier to handle when it was not running. Its on-the-road weight was 630 pounds -- 145 pounds lighter than my current Harley. (Of course, it was a cruiser, not a touring bike, and that is a huge difference. I know that I am comparing apples and oranges.) However, my partner and I rode two-up on that Low Rider regularly and we rode cross-country three times (with a week's worth of clothing packed aboard!) The bike did fine; a larger engine wasn't needed (in my opinion.)

While I have no intentions of getting a new Harley any time soon -- I'm happy with my 2008 Road King, and want to get the investment out of it that I put into it to make it fit me comfortably -- when it comes time to consider a new bike, I'm not so sure I would get another touring-class Harley.

And who knows, by the time I get around to considering my options about another motorcycle, one of these things will happen: 1) I may consider another type of motorcycle, more suitable for how I will use it (which is pretty much just riding around where I live, not going on long trips), or 2) not get another motorcycle at all. As I age, I find that my riding skills are slowly getting worse, such as slower reaction time and fear of riding in the dark because I can't see as well.

I am not ready to give up riding yet -- but I am open to ideas of downsizing to a bike that I can manage more easily. I had dreams of touring which, unfortunately, cannot be met. I can't ride more than 250 miles/day due to my chronic health condition, and my partner cannot ride as a passenger with me. I miss him so much, I find there are times that I choose not to go for a ride because I want to spend time with him.

uggh... listen-up Harley: not all of us want bigger, heavier, bikes. As we age, those things are harder and harder to handle. And no, I'm not ready for the ultimate "geezer-glide": a trike.

Stay tuned....

Life is short: evaluate your options and know your limits, too.

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