Test Our Metal: Harley-Davidson Demo Rides
There’s no other motorcycle manufacturer that has the cult-like following enjoyed by Harley-Davidson. All you have to do is google “Harley tattoo” to find hundreds of people proudly displaying a permanent reminder of the brand they choose to ride. Now THAT’S loyalty.
The Motor Company is very polarizing though. Many non-HD riders have a strong distaste for the brand, perhaps because of the perceived “air of superiority” associated with Harley riders moreso than the bikes themselves. That’s a little unfair. I don’t fit the image of the typical Harley rider with my full-face helmet and armoured leather jacket. I definitely don’t see my bike as a status symbol or feel that I’m better than someone else because it says “Harley-Davidson” on the tank, and I’m sure many other Harley riders feel the same way. However, I do love my Sportster, and I look forward to Mile One’s Demo Days each year. I even try to drag my sportbike-riding friends along too, because like many things in life, the saying rings true: “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”.
The demo rides were very well-organized, leaving the dealership in Kenmount Business Park and going out the TCH as far as Paddy’s Pond. It’s not a long enough ride to get a really good feel for the bike, but it’s long enough to be able to tell if the controls are in the right place or if the seat is going to deaden your arse. There was a much smaller crowd than I expected, so I had the opportunity to take out everything I really wanted to ride, and more besides.
Here are my thoughts on the five bikes I tried out:
The look of this bike was very appealing to me, with its fat front tire and bobbed rear fender. It was beautiful to ride on the highway, the 103 cubic inch (1688 cc) was torquey and controllable, and the suspension offered a smooth, stable ride. The ergonomics are just “wrong” for me personally though. The bars are much too wide, the seat is too hard and I’m not a fan of the floor boards. Which, by the way, offer very little cornering clearance.
Dyna Super Glide Custom
Compared to the Softail line, the Dynas have a smaller 96 cubic inch (1573 cc) engine, and exposed twin shocks. When I sat on the Super Glide Custom, it was just…comfortable. The mid-controls and pull-back handlebars put my hands and feet right where they needed to be, and the seat felt supportive as well. The bike felt great on the highway, and easily maneuverable at parking lots speeds. Would I buy one? No…only because it feels too similar to my Sportster.
Dyna Street Bob
Ok, I’ll be honest. The only reason I took out this bike was because of the colour. Red metal flake. Absolutely delicious. I would like EVERYTHING I own to be this colour. As for the bike, it’s very similar to the Super Glide, aside from the seat and handlebars. The solo seat is small and hard, and the handlebars are of the “mini-ape” variety. I found the vibrations on the highway to be a bit intrusive, but I was surprised that the mini-apes were not quite as uncomfortable as they looked. Not my thing, but I can understand how others would love this bike.
The 72 stands out in a crowd. The metal flake paint is amazing, the 21” spoked front wheel looks enormous, and there’s even an old, old-school sissy bar. HD set out to create a retro-looking bike, and they hit the nail on the head. This bike was FUN. Highway riding is not the 72’s forte, but I would have loved to have it for a day to ride around the city. It felt small and light, even compared to my own Sportster. The downside: the seat looks great but feels awful. I’m still not sure if my arse is too big or too small for it, but I didn’t like it one bit. The gas tank makes this bike very impractical as well, 2.1 gallons is not a whole lot of gas. This would make a great “second” bike…to use for puttering around town in the evenings, or to take to a Show & Shine…which you would probably win, thanks to that beautiful paint.
Dyna Fat Bob
I’ve loved the Fat Bob since its introduction in 2008. It looks different than all the other Harleys, with its twin chrome headlights (I kinda have a thing for that look), dual front disk brakes, and aggressive tires. I finally got the chance to ride it, and as far as I’m concerned it’s the best bike in Harley’s entire line-up. The only thing that I would have to change if I bought one is to switch out the forward controls for mids. I’m 5’5”, and I had to position myself way forward on the seat, almost on the tank in order to reach the controls. The bike handles BEAUTIFULLY, and thought the brakes are not at sportbike-level, they’re much better than most cruisers. It’s official: my next Harley will be a Fat Bob!