We ride. We bench race. We opinionate

There seems to be a lot of conversation about the new Harley-Davidson Pan America within the BMW community. I follow both groups on social media and I’m amazed at some of the comments I’ve read coming from both crowds. Even Zach and Ari have a video out explaining how either brand shines outside of their respective genre. As a guy who likes all-things motorcycle, I find the Us versus Them to be the same argument as to the chicken and the egg. I like eggs and I like chicken. Why argue about it?

Clearly, Harley-Davidson has stepped beyond their comfort zone with the Pan America and BMW has done the very same with the BMW R 1800 Classic. Or are they still in their comfort zone? Both companies have been around a very long time, (and it shows) and both companies have produced motorcycles that have appealed to a wide range of interests. Just take a look at their powerplants and you’ll see how each have held on to the past and brought those designs into the future. Classic lines and designs can sell product, that’s for sure.

I’ve never been the guy that thinks mine is better than yours when it comes to brands. Every brand can have a bad day and even a model within ranks can have issues that it can’t outrun. Rose-colored face-shields can soften our opinions but time marches on. So back to these respective groups on social media – reading comment after comment of how owners of one brand talk and think of others amazes me. As riders, we ride and usually own several makes and models over the years. Heck, even in some sort of secret and successful marketing strategy by these makers of motorcycles, we may own several bikes at a time consisting of different brands! And then to splinter off even further, these bikes could even be for different types of riding based around touring, dirt or sport. Does that make any of the plethora of bikes I’ve owned any better than yours? Of course not. But social media has given most folks the power and authority to comment their negative opinions that add nothing to the discussion. We ride. We bench race. We opinionate.

I’ve owned a lot of motorcycles over the 45 + years of riding. Some were good, others were great and a few left no impression on me. But they all served a purpose in getting me where I am today. It took many miles and a lot of dust to figure out what kind of riding I like to do and of course, some motorcycles are more suited to me for that purpose. I’m not going to go out of my way to pull the conversation down to a lower level by beating up the so-called competition to the brand I’m currently riding. If it takes Harley-Davidson to up the game in the ADV category, then so be it. Honda, Moto Guzzi, Triumph and Yamaha will have to up their game along with the BMW line-up. Will Harley-Davidson bring out a smaller displacement ADV bike? The Saucepan America? My bet is not in the near future. But would it be so bad?

Will Harley-Davidson bring out a smaller displacement ADV bike? The Saucepan America? My bet is not in the near future.

There’s plenty of room around the world for any manufacturer to step out and create something new and exciting. As a consumer, I can appreciate the effort it takes to bring a new bike to the dealer’s floor and it’s interesting to see how opinions and brand loyalties then become the discussion. I get it, we take a certain pride in what we ride and bragging is what fills the comment section. I still wave at anyone on a motorcycle regardless of what they’re riding because you never know at what stage of the motorcycle experience they are in. At the end of the day, we ride, and what we ride is a matter of where we are in our participation in this sport.

I acknowledge all of my fellow riders and would stop to help or shoot the breeze with any of you wherever I may find myself on this road we ride. With a new year ahead of us and a new model year coming, we can only hope it brings with it a bunch of new stuff to discuss. Save travels!

Gravel Road…King

The struggle is real. I can only imagine walking the hallowed halls of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company in 2019, the weight of a legacy built by Harley and Davidson brothers pressing down on you. With over 115 years of constructing this legendary icon and searching for the ways and means to continue this brand for another 115 years, must be stressful. A brand that has survived through literally generations is quite a feat, all-the-while forecasting the future wants and needs of their customers and trying to remain relevant in a ever changing landscape. It’s not easy living in the present and the pressure must be tremendous.

I have to hand it to The Motor Company. The last few years they have made a commitment to bring a plethora of new models to market and contrary to what we see about the LiveWire, not all of them are electric. The new Pan America and the Bronx are classic examples of a more forward thinking company. I, for one, have traded my off my Harley-Davidson Road King for a BMW GS. After logging several hundred-thousand miles on Harley’s tying to find myself, I’ve come to realize I may be hiding down some lonely gravel road or cow trail. And a Gravel Road King it was not.

I, for one, have traded my off my Harley-Davidson Road King for a BMW GS. After several hundred-thousand miles on Harley’s tying to find myself, I’ve come to realize I may be hiding down some lonely gravel road or cow trail. And a Gravel Road King it was not.

But these challenges aren’t exclusive to Harley-Davidson. This modern day dilemma finds a cell phone in every hand instead of a throttle. It’s easier to watch a few internet sensations on YouTube doing what we all should be doing – getting out and experiencing life the way it should be. I applaud Harley-Davidson for taking a leap into other segments, and the development of the Pan America and Bronx are a great start. Looking back, maybe the relationship between Buell and The MoCo came at the wrong time. And before you comment under your breath, the Buell Ulysses was a good motorcycle. And let’s not forget the Sportster XR1200. This is a classic example of Harley actually stepping up their game with a model and a market that wasn’t ready. With all the hoopla surrounding the Indian FTR1200, one would think the XR1200 would be a success on today’s showroom floors. We get excited about new models, but if customers don’t make the purchase, plugs get pulled. Another good bike lost to lack of sales.

Just as the Founding Fathers would never fully see the success of the motorcycles they built, they could truly see the effect their motorcycles had on riders of the day. Besides basic transportation, their motorcycles were a part of the social piece that Harley-Davidson is known for. Rides, races and gatherings brought those with this common bond together – and the sights, sounds and smells were the glue that kept it going. With all this social media we have now, I believe something is missing. Maybe it’s the social part.

their motorcycles were a part of the social piece that Harley-Davidson is known for. Rides, races and gatherings brought those with this common bond together – and the sights, sounds and smells were the glue that kept it going.

I consider myself an average guy. As a Harley-Davidson enthusiast maybe I’m part of the Motor Company’s problem. As I get older, I’m finding I still love all things motorcycle, but my interests are changing and my desire to see the same roads differently are high. Let’s throw in a random dirt road or trail in for good measure. My last three Harley’s were touring bikes and right now I don’t need another one. I need something that takes me back to when I first started riding and the joy I felt. A dirt bike? No. Because I still need to commute and have the ability to travel. When selling motorcycles over the years I’ve always said “any of these bikes will take you wherever you want to go, but is that how you want to get there?” And at this moment in my life, my Road King isn’t how I want to get there.

As I get older, I’m finding I still love all things motorcycle, but my interests are changing and my desire to see the same roads differently are high. Let’s throw in a random dirt track or trail in for good measure.

Had the Pan America’s release been a few years ago, I would have been riding one. I like it. I also like the direction Harley is going but with it comes the struggle of bringing it’s customers along for the ride. To build excitement for new and old riders alike can be difficult, but not impossible. It can be harder for a company like Harley as they are continuing their legacy. When rumors of the Rushmore Project came out for the 2014 model year, before the Twin-Cooling was introduced, I said in a previous blog post if they build a liquid-cooled bike the masses will buy it. I hope the same for the Pan America and the Bronx.