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.

Ride50at50 Part 1: Packing Light

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Sometimes you have to just jump right in and do it. When I think of planning a birthday party I usually think of finding a restaurant and having myself a nice meal with family and friends, opening a few humorous birthday cards or a gag gift or two. If I were to set some birthday goals, I would probably think of taking the day off and do something for myself. I know when I turned 50 years old there was little more than a reminder given to me that my father’s birthday was coming up in two days. Oh, and the 4th of July falls in between the two of ours. Who could forget that?

Somewhere within social media I stumbled upon Dave Berman and his life-long friends Adrian and Andy, who are planning a celebratory birthday trip to the United States from their homes in the United Kingdom to ride highway 50 in the U.S. for their 50th birthdays. An epic journey in another country riding Indian motorcycles picked from the fleet at Eaglerider Motorcycle and Tours in Washington D.C. sounds pretty good to me. Hell, even the plane ride to get here and back would be a pretty special birthday present, but they are taking it a step further. Air travel is fine, but the real meat and potatoes is hopping on motorcycles and immersing themselves into this landscape we call America. What better way to see this country than from the seat of an iconic brand and mingling with the locals every chance you get? I can’t think of any better way. And mingling is one of my favorite things to do.

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Now I’ve taken a week-long ride on my motorcycle before and I know the importance of packing light. Along with the daily necessities and toiletries you must also carry a wide range of gear to counter inclement weather should you run into it. I also prefer to save a small portion of storage for anything else you find along the way that you just can’t live without. We bikers are Master Packers.

We are just a few weeks away from the beginning of the 3 Amigo’s trip. I’m to meet up with this band of birthday brothers around the 8th of May in Kansas City to ride along to Council Grove Kansas where they hope to spend the night. After all, I’m somewhat of a local. The next day, with their permission, I will tag along for a few miles and re-acquaint myself with western Kansas. I know this trip will be a memorable one for you guys and I appreciate you letting me be a small part of it . Who am I kidding? Hold on tight, it’s going to be quite a ride.

Social Mecca

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Let’s face it, you’re addicted to your phone. Say it with me, “hello, my name is_____ and I’m addicted to my phone.” We get up every morning, check our phone and it’s battery charge, and it’s out the door to start our life as we know it. Social media sites are so much of who we are anymore that it almost gets in the way of having a normal conversation with someone. We text across the room instead of picking ourselves up off the chair in which we are perched upon to tell someone something they probably already know. We message instead of speak, we touch screen instead of type and we don’t look up and make eye-contact. We should have seen this coming with the invention of the TV remote as making our lives easier doesn’t necessarily make them better.

Now I’m not saying we should give up our phones. They have surely made our lives a little better with the convenience of it all. Where my mother would yell out the back door for me to come in the house, today you call your kids on their cell phone, or wait, just send them a text to come in. That’s providing they are even outside in the first place. Reference the comment above about the “chair in which we are perched upon.”

The whole thing about social media is the “social” part. We need to get out and bump into a few folks and introduce ourselves. But go ahead and connect with them after shaking hands and having a conversation. Look them in the eye and smile. It has always amazed me how much we can find in common with someone in a few minutes of talking, or even better, by listening. That’s right…listening. How many times have you read a text message only to find the meaning isn’t what you thought? If you can hear someone’s voice you know exactly what they mean. “How’s your day beautiful?” Or, “how’s your day, beautiful?” See what I mean? I personally prefer the first one, but in a group of bikers it may not have the same impact.

So let’s get social. Get out, shake a few hands and have a REAL conversation. Go where the people are and see first hand what they will be sharing with all of their friends. After all, it’s called “SOCIAL media.”