I recently read a blog post on the J&P Cycles website that I feel requires a timely response. The post is entitled, “10 Things I Hate About My Harley.” As a impassioned Harley-Davidson owner and restoration enthusiast (see my current bike), I feel compelled to put together a thoughtful response – The 10 Things I Love about My Harley.
The focus of the article was mainly on spacial design (or lack thereof), hardware/fastener quality, and other manufacturing-related corner cutting. As a trained engineer and someone who has owned well over twenty different motorcycles of various varieties, it is hard to argue against his points, nor do I plan to.
That said, while reading the article, I felt bad for the author – he seemed so disappointed (and he shouldn’t have been). My primary hypothesis is that his history with performance motorcycles and his expectations (albeit reasonable for any other motorcycle) clouded his initial experience. A Harley is a Harley and will always be a Harley. It is an animal all its own – separate and distinct from the rest of the motorcycle species. He was comparing apples to oranges.
Again, I am not making excuses for the brand; I concede to the author’s points. There are things Harley could do better. However, I felt genuinely bad because it seems that the author missed out on the pure joy and pride I feel in owning my Harley. I realize that some of what I am going to describe below is more fuzzy and intangible than say suspension specifications, but these are the “10 Things I Love About My Harley. I am guessing a few of the reasons I love my Harley are why others might hate them, but I am not alone in my loyalty and feelings toward the brand. Please make sure you read all the way to #10. I think this is what our J&P Cycles author missed out on.
The 10 Things I Love About My Harley
1) Sound: Nothing compares. Try and try again, but you aren’t going to make any other cruiser or sport bike sound like a Harley. You can change the pipes, etc., but it ain’t happening. And when you get on a big old hog and crank that throttle, there is nothing “more motorcycle” than that.
2) Community: The Harley community is like no other. It brings together people from all walks of life – dentists to outlaws. Rally events, swap meets, etc. – they are the best.
3) History: The company’s history is incredibly long and the story is amazing. I recently visited the Harley Museum in Milwaukee (see my detailed blog post with pictures), and it was one of the coolest places I have ever been.
4) Patriotism: Harley has supported our troops during times of war – past, present and if necessary, future. I feel good supporting a brand that supports people willing to put their lives on the line for this country. They also provide police motorcycles. Few things are more American than a Harley.
5) Customization – There are a million affordable parts for Harley’s. They are easy to get and it allows you to really make your bike your own.
6) Parts Availability – Sort of an offshoot of above, but it is really easy to get historical parts for Harley’s. I restore Shovelheads mostly, but you can easily get after market parts going back to the flathead era if you want. I also appreciate the interchangeability of parts as well between bikes of different generations.
7) Longevity – Harley’s were made to be re-buildable indefinitely. Yes, you might be doing a major overhaul sooner, but you can essentially rebuild a Harley as many times as you want. This is why you see Harley’s with ridiculously high miles on Craigslist. The cost of the rebuilds is usually very manageable.
8) Very User-Serviceable – Harley’s were also made for your average weekend mechanic. You really don’t need much except some wrenches and a service manual. Their simplicity is one of their greatest assets. Also, I want a bike that needs some attention every now and then. I have owned Honda’s that go for days and days and never need anything. To be honest, it is kind of boring.
9) Highway Comfort – You are not riding an aggressive sport bike hundreds of miles. Harley’s were made for highway cruising and there is nothing like being out there on one.
10) Connection – This is the most intangible of my 10 points, but the one I think our J&P Cycles missed. I feel a meaningful connection to my Harley. It is a member of my family, and it would pain me greatly if I ever had to sell it. I never mind spending time with it when it needs a little TLC, and that connections grows over time. I have never felt that connection with any of the other motorcycles I have owned. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is about it, but it speaks to me in a way I don’t think another motorcycle can.
So there they are – The 10 Things I Love About My Harley. If you liked this post, please share on social media.
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