Thursday, September 01, 2005

Choose your wheels wisely.

Those of you who know me are aware that I'm not the biggest fan of a certain American V-Twin engined motorcycle manufacturer. Understand that my distaste is not directed towards the owners of these heavy chrome beasts - fact is, some of the nicest folks I've met at rallies ride an FXLRHTSCXR (or whatever...). It's just that I feel that these bikes are all show and no go and the whole company is based on a marketing campaign that abuses tried and true blind patriotism rather than being based on the machines themselves. [OK - rant mode off]

Anyhow, a good friend of mine (let's call him Bob) purchased an Ultra Classic Electra Glide with all the trimmings last year. By the time he finished adding the obligatory "Genuine HD" bling, "Screaming Eagle" strait pipes (ugh), Corbin saddle, official jacket & beanie helmet, and opting for the extended warranty (good idea), his fully-faired chrome beast cost him - get ready for this - $39,500CDN! Yup - that's enough to buy 2 equivalent Japanese cruisers with plenty of change to spare. Did I tell him he was crazy? Of course. Did he listen? Nope.

Before continuing with his story, I want to make it clear that I never rubbed his nose in it or even gave him a subtle "I told ya so". Bob is, after all, my friend and it's just a bike (albeit, a damn expensive one).

Here's how it's gone for him so far:

  • Motorcyclists in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have a favorite weekend getaway known as the "Island Run". Basically, we ride over to Prince Edward Island and run the whole circumference; using every possible backroad to stay as close as possible to the shoreline. Last year, just one month and a half after having gotten his HD, Bob calls me up and says "How about an Island Run this weekend?". Of course, I couldn't resist! So we left Friday after work, riding along Highway 15 towards the Confederation Bridge when I see Bob and Tammy (his wife) pull off to the shoulder. I check for traffic and pull a U-turn to go see what happened. The bike has died! No warning, no oil leak, nothing - its just dead. Pull-out the cellphone and call the HD dealer in Moncton for some guidance, and after being on hold for 12 minutes (no kidding) one of the mechs comes on and says - get this: "It could be anything; he shouldn't have been riding it so long so soon after buying it... It's a new bike, you know!" WTF? Couldn't believe it! This guy is trying to throw the blame on Bob for actually trying to tour on what HD considers to be their top-of-the-line touring mount. And believe me, it's not as if we were pushing it in any way - just a nice slow touring pace... Oh well; they send a truck to pick up Bob's bike and that was the end of our Island Run - without even making it to the Island. Seems his battery had gone bad (of course, it wasn't covered by the warranty).
  • Earlier this year, Bob decided to go to Laconia for the Annual Bike Week. I wasn't tagging along this time (couldn't get off work), so he was riding with some of the usual Crazy Bastards(TM), my usual bunch of riding buddies. This time, he actually made it as far as Fredericton (about 200kms/125miles) before he noticed a huge puff of blue smoke behind him and the oil pressure gauge heading south really fast. Again: phone call, towing, back to the dealer in Moncton, wait to get it fixed, leave again the next morning. Bob told the other guys to go ahead and not wait for him - which they did (he was the only one, out of 12, who was riding an HD and he felt bad about holding everybody up). Bob and Tammy ended up riding 12 hours strait to get to Laconia and catch up with the rest of the gang.
  • Two weeks ago Bob went to Cape Breton to do the Cabot Trail after I told him how great a ride it was (I went earlier in July). Everything went fine, until he was on his way back home and stopped because of some road construction near Amherst. He's at a complete stop, pulls his left foot off the floorboard to shift into neutral, and his foot is left searching in mid-air for the shifter - it was hanging below the bike! Of course, this wouldn't normally be a big deal for other motorcyclists: you pull off to the side, get out the toolkit and tighten the bugger up. Only one problem with HD's: no toolkit included! Believe it or not, even the toolkit is an "HD Genuine" option. Here's the funny bit; Bob rolled all the way back to Moncton (80kms/50miles) in second gear, pulled up to the HD dealer, walked into the showroom (Saturday morning - the place was full), and began a-hollerin'. This time (after a long, animated chat with Deeley Canada - the official Canadian distributor), they agreed to take the bike in and do a complete inspection (I've seen the invoice - 4 pages).

Well, Bob's bike finally got a clean bill of health. Now it's for sale - any takers?


Anonymous said...

he probably did something wrongt with the the hafrley to have so many problems.

Lucky said...

Something wrong? In this case, I think the only thing he did wrong was to buy it! No offense, but when a brand-spankin' new bike gives you that much grief within the first 1000kms - it's not because you've done something wrong. I'm not banging on HD - any bike can be a lemon - but to point the finger at the owner (in this case) is simply arrogant.

Anonymous said...

I've owned over 20 motorcycles in my life. None have been as reliable as the 3 Harley Davidsons I've had. My ride is now an Ultra Classic Electra Glide with 45k miles and no problems.

Lucky said...

Anonymous - Glad to hear that you're happy with the Harley. Like I said above - any bike can be a lemon, but it just seems harder to swallow when the bike cost you $40K! I guess my critique wasn't so much of his bike, but of the way that the dealer and distributor treated him.