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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Hardly Ableson

Ok, the majority of people that read this blog are most likely adventure riders, actually the majority of riders that read this blog are Pete and I.

Lately..... since I was 19 years old, I have wanted a.....wait for it......a Harley Davidson. "WTF" you say. "The TLH, Vstrom riding adventure guy wants a Harley, how can that be?" Truth be told, I have had a love, hate relationship with the iconic American brand for 26 years. Love to have one, but thought they rode like shit, broke down a lot, and I really did not want to dress like a pirate to have to fit in. The other issue was, the only bikes in the Harley line-up that I liked were the Sportsters.

A little bit of Harley rider logic, or at least from what I have gathered from my years of research. Some, not all Harley riders ( mostly the doctors or lawyers by day, and SOA prospects on the weekend, the ones that can't ride in the rain, or get my bike dirty types) consider all other bikes inferior to HD. This is the same group that then slam any HD riders on Vrods (liquid cooled engine i.e. modern engine) because they are not "real" Harleys. Sportsters......well those are chick bikes, even though more women ride Dynas. They also call them half-a-Harley, or piglets. If your lazy boy on wheels called an Ultra Classic Limited is a HOG, then the Sporty is a piglet. If there isn't 1800cc's in the frame, it's too small. For the love of Christ when did an almost 900cc motorcycle become small. That was huge in my day.

Corporate badass's

yes, girls do ride Sporty's

I have never seen such a passionate and hateful group of riders anywhere. Now the dressing up like a bad ass pirate, Hells Angel wannabe. I get it, you have to look the part to be accepted into the group. No different than the ADV guys, in our head to toe matching riding suits, looking like a stromtrooper (notice that little slip), I mean stormtrooper, or Power Ranger. The sport bike riders looking like they just got off the MotoGP track, in head to toe leathers, with knee pucks that haven't had a scratch.

Please shoot me if I ever show up anywhere dressed like this, that includes Halloween parties.

The current trend is the hipster look, lots of flannel, Doc Martins or Vans, Bell retro helmets, groovy glasses (do bifocals count) because I'm all over that. Can a 45 year old be a hipster? Am I too young to be an old hippy. Wait, I got it.......I'm an old grunge rocker from the '90's. YES, THAT's IT. I have found my look. Dave Grohl, Eddie Vetter, and Terry Burt.

Eddie likes dogs and Airstream trailers.....he is a god

Anyway, I've gotten a bit off topic. Where is this going? Well....this week I went in search of Sportster 883 Iron. One of the 3 bikes in Harley's line-up that I really love. The others being a Sportster 48 and 72. Unlike the adventure bikes I lusted for in the past that were priced at the top of the scale $25K GS Adventure. The Sporty's are Harley's most affordable bikes. $10K for an 883 Iron, which pales in comparison to some that are close to $50K. This maybe the first time that I wanted something cheap. Whoa.

So I headed up the local HD dealer to just have a look and see what was on the showroom. They had one of each, an 883 Iron, a 48 and a 72. The 883 has a, you guessed it, 883cc V-twin, air cooled fuel-injected motor. the 48 and 72 are 1200cc. It's practically the same engine, and for a few hundred bucks the 883 can be brought up to 1250cc.

The demo bike

Low and behold they have an 883 demo available, damn thing only has 22km on it, and it's a beautiful flat black colour. Harley calls it "black denim". For a tough biker image, it's a lame colour name. Geez, why didn't they just call it "gay biker bar black" instead. After signing a waiver that basically says, "you break it, you buy it" I was on my way. This is only my second Harley riding experience. I took my friend's (Scotty Goggles) Street Glide for a ride once. Hated it. It was too big, too stretched out, hated having my feet up in front of me, and it didn't want to corner. Every time I'd lean it into a corner, it wanted to stand back up again. It wasn't for me.

I knew right away the Sporty was for me. The unmistakable Harley sound coming from the dual pipes. Not obnoxious and loud (I hate loud pipes, and I don't think they save lives,  they just piss off neighbours) The mid pegs were familiar, and the bike was nice and nimble, effortless to ride. It is top heavy though. Power....well there is no lack of it, nice low and midrange, plenty for my 170lb frame, and for the riding I like to do. The suspension....well it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, there is some, I hit one big bump that was spine jarring, but for the most part it wasn't too bad.

Brakes... I was expecting crap brakes, because that is all I have heard. However in 2014 Harley upgraded the brakes, and they now have a good bite, they certainly were no worst than the ones on the Vstrom.

Handling...well it doesn't corner like a Vstrom, I scrapped the peg feelers a couple of times. The bike has a heavy, yet nimble feel to it, if that makes any sense. As long as you don't get too aggressive in the corners, or carry too much speed it's fine.

Ergos...I found the bike very comfortable for the 20mins I was riding it, I have short legs for being 6ft tall, my pant legs are 32". Plus I am not very heavy. I think for any long trips a set of highway pegs to change position and stretch out a bit maybe in order and a windshield for the highway.

Controls, very nice, except for the self cancelling turn signals, not too sure about them yet. Clutch and brake levers were nice and big, and felt good, handlebar position was nice. The new speedo, is easy to read, and now comes with selectable digital tach and gear position indicator, as well as km to go til empty.

Overall, loved it. This is gonna sound real corny, but I felt like a real badass on that bike. Like an extra on SOA. The sound of the V-twin, the vibrations, it's a raw basic bike, that looks killer. Maybe at 45 I'm now truly going through my mid-life crisis.

Plus the chicks really dig the Harley's. Which is important. When was the last time you saw two chicks straddling a Vstrom like this.


  1. Ahem: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-vFEumEE4aCU/U-xdaLcWApI/AAAAAAAAkCs/fKaP3n52VJc/s800/68232_452416848127107_1535823895_n.jpg

  2. Ok, that was awesome Andrew, thanks for sending that along. You gave me a chuckle this morning.