Friday, September 9, 2016

Motorcycle Adventures: Time for a New Harley?

It's been about three months now since I took delivery of my clattering, angry, sewing machine of doom. Thus far, the Sportster has proven to be an excellent all-around machine for me, with more than sufficient power for freeway blitzes and on-ramp dashes, sufficient storage in the saddlebags for small grocery runs, and sufficient comfort for a decent day's ride.

But, I was also fortunate to be invited to a reveal event at my local Harley dealership, where they showed off the new Harley Touring line for 2017 with the Milwaukee Eight engine.

I was impressed. Look, I'm not a motor-journalist, the Sportster is the first bike I've ever owned, and only the second I've ever ridden. I know I like it, but I don't know but that I may like something else as well. The people who ride a lot of bikes all seem to have a lot of good things to say about the new Touring lineup, I'll leave that to them.

One of the best features at the reveal party was a Ultra Limited Low on a dyno. Not a real test drive admittedly, but a good chance to work through the 6-speed transmission with the improved clutch, and wind the new Milwaukee Eight engine up towards the redline. Getting on, I knew imediately that a low bike will never be for me. At 6'1" it felt like my knees were past ninety degrees, and would be screaming at me over the course of a long ride. But the engine! The noise! The idle! The things that I love about my Sporty are all present here, only more! Gear changes were smooth but still distinct, and on the dyno, at least, the big bike passed the speedometer's 120mph top with plenty of revs to go.

I want a bike with this engine.
I'm a sucker for this Black Denim color
Maybe not a tourer, though, There's a lot of storage space there, which I like, and a whole lot of toys (stereo, cruise control, sat-nav, all you need is a sandwich maker) but I'm not quite there yet. But when that engine trickles down to the Dynas like the Softail Slim in a few years...

Or maybe I just need a Night Rod Special. The closest thing Harley's got to a sportbike, but with better looks than pretty much any recent crotch-rocket from Japan.

Looks fast while standing still.

I plan on being on my Sportster for a few more years at least. But when I'm ready to move up, or my daughter finally sells me on giving her my old ride, it's nice to know that the next step up is going to be just as fun.

Thanks to J&L Harley-Davidson for sponsoring the member's only H.O.G. chapter reveal. It was a fun event and a great way to meet the new 2017 lineup.

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