Monday, September 10, 2007

On a silly bike...

Mark Richardson has an article on Harleys in today's Star. Now, he's just returned from riding out to Sturgis on an HD, so I guess it's to be expected that his brain wouldn't be working terribly well. Mine often doesn't after a few days in the saddle. Nonetheless, for those of you unacquainted with the world of motorcycles, let me state my point up front: Harley Davidsons are not good motorcycles, if they ever were.

Richardson starts out the article by stating that a Harley can't really be compared with other motorcycles. This is true enough. It is worse than all of its competitors on every practical dimension. But then he somehow draws the conclusion that Harley's still (if they ever) provide value for the money and are still respectable motorcycles. Let me put this as clearly as possible. From every objective standard, Harley Davidson motorcycles are overpriced and provide incredibly poor performance. They can rarely reach even moderately high speeds, they do not handle well in corners, and they have quite substandard pick-up. They are comfortable, but so is a chesterfield. Then again, chesterfields only get about 1000 miles less riding each year than the average Harley.

For the money you pay for a Harley you could generally spend 75% as much and get a Japanese bike which did everything just as well. Now, it wouldn't be a Harley, and it wouldn't have that unique sound which indicates that you are riding on decades-old and antiquated technology. But it will do everything a motorcycle should do better.

This is admittedly just a rant a day after seeing about 1000 Harleys this weekend and probably not a good rider among them. But seriously, if I have to see another middle-aged man buy a bike which he spends more time polishing than riding, totally blissful in his ignorance of what a poor machine he owns, I am going to cry. Or I am going to ride away somewhere that he can't come, or would never think to try.

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