Monday, July 08, 2013

Two wheeled thunder

So, last month I spent a weekend taking a motorcycle riding course. The Basic Riders Course that is designed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and offered over a weekend of Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday.

I had taken a similar course back in '81 while on casual status after completing the Special Forces Qualification Course (5-81 for what that's worth). Three days of classroom instruction and riding skill development exercises resulting in minimal competency on a motorcycle and your motorcycle endorsement on your drivers license. This one was similar in form and function. Four guys, six women, two instructors, and a bunch of bikes. The course is run by the State of Vermont DMV and the bikes are provided and maintained by the state. It was an excellent course and the two instructors were very capable. They had madd skilz, great attitude, and great coaching abilities. I cannot say enough about the quality of the course as implemented in the persons of Pat and Mike of the Vermont DMV.  Their insights into my handling and ways to improve it were spot on and everyone passed the test and walked away with their motorcycle endorsements.

Which leads to my purchasing a motorcycle a couple of weeks ago.

A beautiful 2008 Harley Davidson Cross Bones Softail motorcycle, part of their Dark Custom series from several years ago.

As you can see from the photo, it has a windscreen. Said windscreen had a very serious crack in it that went unnoticed by myself and the folks at the dealership.

"Aha" you're probably thinking, "I'll bet they missed it". My bride noticed it right off the bat when I got it home to show her. So, I went back the next day to inquire as to the best way to repair it, figuring that it was an "as is" thing with which I could live.

I rolled up, parked it and when my sales guy walked up, I inquired as to how I should repair it. Super glue and clamps? Something else perchance?

He examined it and appeared to be dumbfounded. "Wait a minute, let me get my parts guy."

Cool, a real expert will impart the wisdom of the ages on how to do this. I'm getting experience already!

Out comes the part guy, examines it, they consult, he goes back inside. He reappears momentarily with a measuring jig and measures the windscreen.

They look at me with solemnity and inform me that it needs replacement.

Uh-oh I figure, it must really need it, I guess I'm going to have to buy a new one after all.

Nope. They're replacing it.

Kostenlos. AKA, free. Gratis.

They feel bad that my first Harley experience has been marred by nobody noticing something so obvious and they don't want my first experience to be bad, so they're replacing it for free, they'll contact me when it's in.

Wilkins Harley Davidson in Barre, Vermont. I had heard good things about the folks there on a personal level, and good things about the dealership on a business level. All of which appeared to have been justified. I wanted to buy from them  before I left for just that reason, a reputable and trustworthy dealership for an expensive purchase like that is a rare find and I wanted to exercise that while I had one I could trust.

It's too bad I won't be able to keep coming back to them after this, but they gave me a name for a place that they would use where I'll be from now on.

I recommend them if you're in North Central Vermont.

The bike is trick. It's been modded for looks and performance and handles well. Plenty of power to move a big guy like me around and a commanding HD voice, which I'm getting used to.

A man and his bike.
It is a big bike but a friend observed, having not met me but knowing how big a HD like this is, that descriptions of my size were apparently not to scale. Having seen me now in this picture with the bike for reference, she observed that the bike appears a lot smaller than it really is. Knowing from my perspective that it is a big bike and reviewing these photos, I have to concur.
Making a big bike look smaller than it is.

Improved instrument cluster and flush gas caps.
It's a nice bike and I'm somewhat smitten by it. Straight pipes as I was informed, not having had previous experience with such things. So, it's a bit louder than your stock Harley. While down here visiting my in-laws I kept wondering why all the Harley's driving by on the street were so quiet.

Ah, it's not them. C'est moi.

Riding it is becoming more natural, though I'm not there yet. I'm beginning to get the hang of it and moving it and myself around in response to the road. In Vermont, if you're not on the Interstate, then pretty much every ride is a good ride for a bike. Even the ride to the Interstate is a good ride for a bike, let alone taking alternate routes to the places that I need to go to.

Of course, this requires a helmet, leathers - upper and lower, and rain gear. As my bride noticed, "it's like a boat - you have to keep pouring money into it." Sad but true, though they are a one time investment (more or less), they are not free.

Next weekend is the time to move it to the new location, the subject of another post.

I'm looking forward to it and I'll ensure that I document it as best I can.

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