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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #1
In my half-bath in the house, there's a basket by the sink that contains numerous useful items. A replacement box of tissues, some towels, and a half-filled bottle of hand cream from Bath&Body Works.

Often times, while "sitting" in there, I would pick up that half-filled bottle of hand cream and swirl it around. Because of the density of the hand cream, I can make the bottle appear as though it is full, because the dense hand cream will coat the sides. But of course, as the hand cream settles over time, once again the bottle will appear half full.

How does that relate to a motorcycle Road Test Report?

For twenty years, I've been on Honda motorcycles. They were the trusted choice for me. There's a lot to be said for a Honda (various models) but......
In many ways, they are like that bottle of hand cream, in that they offer a false view, if presented right, of the "best of the best" that can be found.
You can mess with them, in engineering & design, and make them appear as if they are full of everything, and yet they are a manipulation of the genuine article.

Arguably, Harley Davidson may not indeed be the FIRST of its kind out there, but the loyalty to American made (to whatever extent) is definitely there. So much so, that people all over the world, covet to own one, and many do.

That said........I approached my recent purchase of a HD Fatboy with some prejudices, both pro and con. I was looking at the HD in general, as a "half full" product. Mostly from the point of view from those who had issues, -vs- those who did not. That's the way it is with ANYTHING out there that can be purchased.

Appearance is the first element. What catches my eye. Since we all see things differently, as attested to by our choices of spouse, home, cage, motorcycle......we are not all going to agree as to what is ascetically "beautiful" or appealing. For "me" personally, I have been sucker-punched by a "Cruiser" style motorcycle. So when I walked out of the showroom, to look at the bikes in the lot, the Fatboy in front of me, made me giddy.
Yes, a "Cruiser," and yes there's Chrome.

When we started her together, the Salesman and I, it was natural for me to move into the second element of appreciation; the sound of the engine. Not just the amplification of the "potatopotatopotato" that came from the Screaming Eagle after-market pipes, but the sound of the regular pulse of the engine. The steady, confident and strong pounding of the cylinders.

Sitting on the Fatboy, revealed a lower seat than my former Honda Shadow preferences. I was at more of a 45 degree angle to the ground (flat footed) than on my other bikes. The reach to the after-market handlebars was longer, due to a wider spread of the grips by design, and so I found myself more straight-armed than the Honda. The jury is still out as to whether or not on a long trip, I will become more or less fatigued by the straight-arm position, which I will speak to after my trip to Rhode Island in two weeks. It CAN be said that "so far," I don't find any issues related to the distance. I DO however, find a bit of discomfort by the current metal grips. They are a bit irritating to my hands, with the feel of the knurling. I may find myself covering them one day, or changing them out.

The Transmission, and the shifting response is strong, definite and noticeable, to my left foot, and my ear. Personally, I appreciate the well-defined movement between gears, as opposed to the spongy uncertain feel that I used to get from the Honda motorcycles I have owned, never knowing for SURE that I was in the gear I was attempting to get to, until I twisted the throttle to feel the acceleration, and sometimes when missing it, being embarrassed by strong motor response that didn't show in movement.

The ride itself is comparable on all bikes, when it comes to the exhilaration of the thrill of riding. I DID note the definite increase in noise and push from the lack of a windshield, which is easily remedied by a decent windshield as an after-market option. However, the tendency to feel a backward sliding of my butt on the seat did not occur, thanks to a very nice HD after-market seat that has a four inch or so rise in the back, holding L4 & L5 in their places.

The Clutch is very touchy, but I'm sure can be adjusted if need be. I don't have much room for quick release in First Gear. I had to learn very quickly to release more slowly and gingerly, and definitely more Throttle. Being geared as low as the HD is, it NEEDS to be encouraged. I found that out by stalling the bike, the first time I rode it around the Dealership parking lot.

The brakes .............ah the brakes......they squeak a bit first thing in the morning, but as they heat up, they perform admirably. I had to learn how to apply them with just the right amount of tension; and with the right amount of down-shifting motor slowing, to avoid burning out the brakes prematurely, and without over-exaggerating the braking power which would stop me on a dime, if I let it.

Taking the bike into corners conservatively, is my theme. I don't try to race the bike thru the leans, but I do appreciate the feel of the leaning. In any case, the control, and stability of the bike in cornering was reassuring. At no time (since I am conservative in my turns) did I ever feel out of control or that the bike was driving ME, after about the first mile or so that I rode it. The 1450cc change for me, from a 750cc bike, revealed itself in terms of the pull of the acceleration when I asked the bike to give it to me. It was always ready and willing to respond.

I was a tad disappointed in the lack of an on-board tool kit; a nicety that is available on most Honda motorcycles and likely other bikes. Personally, I would at LEAST offer the tools necessary for seat removal, for access to the battery and fuses; a tool for the adjustment of the back shocks, for those times when I have opportunity to take a rider, and a tool for checking the Transmission Dip Stick (Torx 25?).

The jury is still out for me, on the wheels solid hubs. There is an eye-appeal for me, and others who are loyal to the Fatboy, and the multiple holes around the perimeter of the hubs, to allow air-flow. I was warned that on exceptionally windy days, I MAY feel some "push" of the tires, do to the solid surface of the hubs, but I have not experienced that yet.

In terms of price, I wonder how much of a "new" bike I could have bought for the price I paid for a "Used" motorcycle. That said however, I realize that when I buy "American" ANYTHING, I'm typically paying more for it, than something made in Indonesia (for example), just because of the cost of Labor here, -vs- there. I surrender to higher prices for the domestic version.

Overall, to date, the bike starts well; runs well; is controllable when reasonably ridden, and gets a lot of attention. Amenities like a simple gas gauge, self-cancelling signals, EFI and a Security System, go a long way to increasing my appreciation of the HD Fatboy. Time will tell if it proves itself to me, and I will be sure and let you know, as you might suspect.

-Soupy
 

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Gone.
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17,857 Posts
You can replace your seat screw with one that you don't need a tool to get off. That will allow you access to the battery and fuse panel. You can also put on a Battery Tender pigtail, which would allow you to jump start the bike if you ever need to without taking the seat off. Other then that there's really not much you would need a tool kit for, but some guys will throw a multi-tool and some duct tape or pliers or something in a saddle bag. My shock adjusting tool stays at home.

Now that you've bought a Harley you'll have to learn how to ride with a "superior attitude" and remember to not wave at anyone riding a metric bike. Most dealerships will give free classes in this.
 

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Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
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:coffeescreen::coffeescreen:


Eye you are bad
 

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American Legion Rider
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23,631 Posts
Eye_r_bad said:
Now that you've bought a Harley you'll have to learn how to ride with a "superior attitude" and remember to not wave at anyone riding a metric bike. Most dealerships will give free classes in this.
:coffeescreen::coffeescreen:


Eye you are bad
Hey, it's what people think. Why not promote it.:D
 
G

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You can tell HD riders are fully trained in not waving to metric riders. HD does a good job informing the HD rider in this area. :)
 

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It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye
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Now that you've bought a Harley you'll have to learn how to ride with a "superior attitude" and remember to not wave at anyone riding a metric bike. Most dealerships will give free classes in this.
No need for the dealer, just find the overweight dude with a HOG vest on and his chest puffed out.;)
 

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Aging & Worn
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4,516 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Pigtail for Tender already installed.

As for the "wave" (which we've exhausted in another Thread in here), I will only NOT wave to scooters.

-Soupy
 

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American Legion Rider
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Pigtail for Tender already installed.

As for the "wave" (which we've exhausted in another Thread in here), I will only NOT wave to scooters.

-Soupy
I certainly don't know why. They are facing the same idiots you are.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #9
You're right hog..........

-Soupy
 

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2,132 Posts
Low gearing is not a cause for stalling.

High gearing and not being use to it will be a cause for stalling.
 

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The 43rd Poser
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440 Posts
In my experience... the solid wheels pushing you is a myth. My best friend had an '04, very similar to yours, same blue, two-toned with black. I rode it quite a bit, and never ever felt it.

I rode a Road Glide for years, and they say crosswinds will push that big fairing. Never experienced it. I believe controlling that comes with experience.

I was riding staggered right following a Sportster on a club run one day through the mountains of Eastern Kentucky... we came across a holler on the 4 lane, and the Sportster went from the left side of the right lane, across the left lane, across the yellow line and damn near into the grass. When we stopped for fuel, he blamed the crosswind.

I felt the wind, but it never took me out of the right track.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #13
Did a good deal of riding on the Fatboy yesterday. Seemed like (and perhaps this is just "me" getting used to the HD) it was chugging a lot. I don't mean hesitating so much as I mean SOUNDING rough. I had a few more acceleration (in between gears) back-firing as well.

She's got plenty of "get up and go," though. I think perhaps I am just not yet used to the motor sound.

-Soupy
 

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American Legion Rider
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You seem obsessed with the potato sound and I'm betting you are insisting on being in too high of a gear. I keep mine at 2k rpm or higher unless stopping or stopped. It probably is chugging but you are the cause. Try doing everything one gear lower. If that isn't the problem because I know you read the manual so should be in the correct gear, then you are finding out why the person that owned before you sold it. He probably did "something" to it to make it "cool" and did it poorly. In the correct gear there should be no chugging. But it's not a Honda either. If you don't know anyone that you trust to ride it then tell your dealer EXACTLY how you are riding it and what happens. Just be prepared for him to say to shift down a gear and laugh.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #15
I tend to (perhaps BECAUSE it's a HD) not let it wind out at max revs in any gear. I'm very disciplined by the Manual, yes.

Was it in here I quoted the Manual? Nope, it was another Thread......

Upshifting:

First to Second at 25 MPH
Second to Third at 35 MPH
Third to Fourth at 45 MPH
Fourth to Fifth at 55 MPH

I try to remain loyal to those parameters, given the road conditions (because there are variables at times).

Like I said, there is no loss of power at all, unless cold.

-Soupy
 

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American Legion Rider
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I honestly can't tell you what gear I'm in most of the time. I go by sound and have realized on my machine 2k rpm's is key. The only time I can say for sure what gear I'm in is first when taking off or 6th cruising. The rest is done whenever I get to or below 2k means down shift. Probably that would be the chugging point you describe but it sorta sounds like you are even lower than 2k. I'm not familiar with that bike. Does it have a tach? If so, what rpm do you get this chugging?
 

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Gone.
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I couldn't tell you what gear I'm in most of the time either. I shift when it sounds / feels right, and don't honestly think about it. You just have to get used to the bike, Soupy.

And don't break out in a sweat if you rev the engine a little bit. It has a rev limiter and is built like a tank. It won't let you hurt it.
 

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Swamp Rat Rider
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I tend to (perhaps BECAUSE it's a HD) not let it wind out at max revs in any gear. I'm very disciplined by the Manual, yes.

Was it in here I quoted the Manual? Nope, it was another Thread......

Upshifting:

First to Second at 25 MPH
Second to Third at 35 MPH
Third to Fourth at 45 MPH
Fourth to Fifth at 55 MPH

I try to remain loyal to those parameters, given the road conditions (because there are variables at times).

Like I said, there is no loss of power at all, unless cold.

-Soupy
You certainly won't Lug your Engine if follow those Guidelines .. Just Remember Downshifting as well when coming into town or heavier traffic that slows you down .. Although I don't DownShift Into Above 10 MPH .. Unless Clutched in Coming to a Stop ..
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #19
I honestly can't tell you what gear I'm in most of the time. I go by sound.............. Does it have a tach? If so, what rpm do you get this chugging?
I SOMETIMES can lose track of what gear I'm in, (usually it is when I'm in Fourth, and should probably shift up to Fifth), but not often. I'm pretty attentive to what I'm doing when riding, because of the perspective that there is a lot going on and I can't afford to be mindless when I ride (not suggesting that YOU are "mindless" sir. Not at all), since safety is paramount in my thinking.

No Tachometer

I think the "Chugging" is mostly the sound of the bike. Don't forget, I'm coming off of twenty years on a Honda!

-Soupy
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #20
You certainly won't Lug your Engine if follow those Guidelines .. Just Remember Downshifting as well when coming into town or heavier traffic that slows you down .. Although I don't DownShift Into Above 10 MPH .. Unless Clutched in Coming to a Stop ..
I try to use "down shifting" whenever possible. I anticipate stops WELL in advance (for example). If anything, I tend to try and go a gear lower too soon, (mostly guilty of that).

The logic of downshifting (for "me" anyway) is to save on the brakes, if nothing else.

-Soupy
 
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