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New Motorcycle Review

Born Again

Why would anyone want a Harley?

Nicholas Frankl and Alexis Bachofen

European Motorcycling Correspondents

I've been riding sports motorbikes since the age of 10, if you call a Puch 50cc a motorbike, however over the years as I grew so did the bikes and before I was old enough to drink in America I was riding a Honda CBR 600, not that it lasted very long. My mind though was set on Japanese, British and Italian sport bikes and there was no way I was going to change my mind, no matter how many I wrote off. I've ridden almost everything there is to ride, and thrashed them all, from 250cc to 900cc. I've even given an Austrian police helicopter a run for it's money on the new Kawasaki Ninja, when it originally came out. Which brings me back to my initial question, why would anyone want a Harley when there are so many sports bikes out there, which handle, accelerate and power you through the traffic and along the tarmac?

Now a few years older and wiser I have begun to realise why it's one of life's necessities to own a Harley Davidson.

It was not until Summer last year whilst in Los Angeles that I rode a Harley for more than five minutes....The result, I was born again!

Sure you can say to yourself, Harley's belong in America. "Yes", you would be right, had I been driving anything else I would have probably been shot at, but Harley's are also great here in England, and I'm not the only one coming around.

Many think that Harley riders are posers, especially here in London, but trust me they're not. It's one big family and the family is growing larger by the day. I had personally never ridden a Harley in England, so I though I would give it a try.

Harley Davidson UK kindly lent me, for a week, an Electra Glide - Road King, 1338 cc and 325kg of American chrome muscle. With an air-cooled 2 cylinder 4 stroke 45-V-twin engine, it produces 102NM @ 3000RPM. Sure it's not as fast as some bikes out there, but what it lacks in speed it makes up in style and comfort.

The carburettor engine propels a primary two row chain through five gears, with a secondary toothed belt dive, which adds to the comfort for both driver and pillion.

The bike sits on the road, the rider only 692mm off the ground, stable as a horse. I did in fact sometimes feel like I was riding along on my favourite sofa. The front brakes consist of double perforated discs with floating callipers. rear brakes are single disc, again with floating calliper.

The Road King comes in various colours: Vivid Black, Laser Red Pearl, Sinister Blue Pear and Violet Pearl. Also schemes: Mystic Green / Black and Laser Red / Black.

With an overall length of 2395mm you're getting a lot for 11,995 on the road with a full one years unlimited mileage warranty.

A full tank of unleaded petrol (18.9 litres) will cost you around 12, which is quite a lot, but it will take you well over 130 miles. I also advise anyone with a Harley Davidson to keep it securely locked up, immobilised and if possible covered at all times, (the pillion boxes easily fit a cover), if possible even locked and chained in a safe garage. Expect to pay quite a lot for insurance, however talk to your local dealer who may know of a good insurance agent or company.

The bike corners well, of course you can't get your knee down, but who would want to. The Road King is so comfortable that I could have driven to Edinburgh and back. Try that on a sports bike and you'll be seeing your GP for haemorrhoid ointment. The Road King comes standard which a front screen, which enables the riders to not have to wear eye protection whist on the motorway. The screen can be easily detached in a matter of seconds. It also comes with side pillion hard bags, to store wet weather gear, maps and anything else, which also clip on and off effortlessly. Trust me they came in handy on many occasions.

Sunday afternoon I rode up to Box Hill which a couple of friends. We stopped for lunch at a burger stop, where there were at least 100 other bikes. In and amongst which I found five other Harley Davidson's. However to my amazement once I had parked up many other bikers came and admired the Road King asking me all sorts of questions. There seemed to be a remarkable bona fide interest which surrounds the Harley Davidson here in England which is steadily growing. Even a little boy looking at all the bikes said and I quote, "Daddy I like the big red one the most!"

The Harley is no longer seen as the enemy but more as the King of Bikes, and Kings are allowed to have faults. So who cares if it's not the fastest, it's not built for speed. Who cares if you can't throw it around corners, drive carefully and you'll live longer. Why do I need to wear a leather outfit which makes me look like I have some bizarre sexually fetish, when I can cruise along wearing jeans and a leather jacket and an open face helmet. Some may say I'm trying to pose, but no, I'm just comfortable. I can go into a nice restaurant and sit down for a good meal without looking like an extra from Mad Max.

The Road King is the most enjoyable Harley I have ridden to date. I took pleasure every morning polishing the bike, making the chrome gleam in the sun. Hearing the Evolution engine burst into life made me feel alive. Any excuse to ride the bike I seized, never wanting to leave my steel horse alone for too long. Even my girlfriend, who hates motorcycles, loved the Road King.

Included in the 11,995 is also one years membership to the H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group). Making you part of a special family, or owners club, providing you with help in the event of theft, mishaps and roadside breakdowns. It also provides information on safety courses, rallies and all sorts of other Harley Davidson events.

All in all the Harley is the perfect motorcycle, and the Road King, when driving it, I felt like the King of the road. I now find myself asking why would anyone want anything but a Harley?

For more information on Harley Davidson motorcycles contact you nearest available dealer, or on the web, soon you too could be part of an ever growing family.