Who am I and why the hell should you care about reading my blog?

Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.
Showing posts with label Harley-Davidson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harley-Davidson. Show all posts

Saturday, May 4, 2024

MotoReview- Viking Bag’s Dagr Sissy Bar Bag

MotoReview- Viking Bags’ Dagr Sissy Bar Bag

Well, MotoReaders, as promised, I humbly submit to you, my review of the Viking Bags 22L Dagr sissy bar bag! 

Okay, first off- in the interest of FULL disclosure- I did not buy this bag, I do not work for Viking Bags, I am not related to anyone (that I know of) that works for Viking Bags and I do not own any stock in Viking Bags, nor will I benefit from a positive review of, or suffer from a negative review of, this bag (or any other items I review on my site). That said, let’s get to it, shall we?

Initial impression

 When I arrived home from work today, I was excited to see a decent sized brown box, waiting for me at my driveway. I anxiously picked it up and noticed that it had a little heft to it… again, a wave of pleasant surprise and satisfaction washed over me. Once inside, I opened the box to find a nice sized bag wrapped in a clear plastic bag that was tied. Had it been raining, I’m confident that the cardboard box’s contents would have been safe and dry inside. After plucking the bag out of the box and unwrapping it like an impatient child at Christmas, I removed the hefty, well made and very sturdy bag from it’s plastic cocoon. 

I, gratuitously, decided that the best place to take some photos of the bag was on my work bench, where I’ve been working on resurrecting the MotoWriter Dyna, which, if you haven’t heard (or, read about here on the site, yet… click the link here —>>) I crashed a few months back. Yes, I must also admit that the MotoWriter wall sign, that my good friend Nick over at The Wood Shop made for me, makes for a nice background detail… again, I know it’s gratuitous, but hey, I’m grown and I do what I want! 

Digging in

Hearing a distinct rattle when handling the bag, I feverishly began unzipping the compartments to see what goodies the bag contained. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the two side pockets are big. Not, “hold a pair of jeans” big, but definitely “keep your phone, GPS, keys, wallet, Snicker bars, and maybe even some miscellaneous H-D poker chips or challenge coins” big. The best part is, that there are two of them and they are equally large, not like some of those bags that have the random sized compartments that make no real sense. The main compartment held the culprits of the rattling sound- a rain cover, a shoulder strap and two (2) smaller straps for tying the bag to your bike in, probably, any way that you might want. 

In this photo, I’ve got them propped open with a marker (on one side) and a roll of painter’s tape (on the other side). The main compartment is big and has plenty of room for a couple of pairs of socks, underwear and maybe a t-shirt or two if you pack them tight enough (disclaimer- I wear a size large t-shirt, so I can make it work… if you’re bigger than that, it might get tricky for you). Viking also claims that the bag will hold “31 cans”… but I’ve yet to try that, as I’m more of a bourbon man. The “flap” (if you can even call it that) opens up and it has two detachable straps on either side to keep it from flopping open and dumping it’s contents. They are adjustable, so if you only want it to open a little bit, you can. If you want it to open all the way, adjust them out or simply unclip them. I, very loosely, refer to the flap as a “flap” because it doesn’t “flap” at all. There isn’t anything on this bag that is “flappy”, actually. The “flap” is very well made and semi-rigid to keep the contents of the bag safe, while helping to maintain the bag’s shape. On the inside, it has a mesh, zipper close, compartment that could be used for any small items you don’t want falling out of, or getting mixed up in, the main compartment. Did I mention the security? No? Well, I will. The main compartment can be closed and secured with a small padlock- think, “TSA approved.” It won’t keep anyone from stealing your bag, but it will prevent anyone from rooting through your bag and gawking at your weird under britches that have the hearts printed on them. 

Inside the main compartment is another zipper that runs along the entire inner wall. Snooping around and unzipping it, reveals the inner plastic “wall” that gives rigidity to the outside of the bag and maintains the overall shape. The plastic is thick, maybe 3/16” or just a tiny bit thinner and its made of a nice flexible ABS plastic that really looks like it can take a beating without shattering or cracking. The top of the bag has a sewn-in, and riveted, nylon strap handle that has a plastic “comfort strap” (that’s what I’m calling it… maybe the folks at Viking Bags can use that). The handle is well made and will, no doubt, be able to easily hold up to all of the weight that can be crammed into this bag- be it 31 cans of your favorite beverage, or all of those “heart” boxers that your aunt Susie gave you for your birthday.

The intelligent design didn’t stop at the back of the bag either. The strap to attach it to the sissy bar is wide and thick and will easily fit over most sissy bars (or back rests for you folks that are offended by the word “sissy”). It comes with something that, if I’m being honest, I’ve never seen before- two vertical, and removable, metal rods. The rods are used to adjust for the width of your bike’s sissy bar- a very cool feature and one that was very well planned and, from what I can tell so far, very well executed. There are D rings on the rear of the bag that can be used with the straps provided, to secure the bag to your bike, or, convert the bag into a backpack! Very cool! 

Overall Thoughts

My overall first impression of the Dagr bag is that it is very well made. It has what I like to call “smart engineering and design” all throughout. It’s obvious that whoever designed this bag, did so intentionally. The name, Dagr, is an old Norse word meaning, basically, “day” and that’s exactly what this bag is perfect for (although, I can see myself using it on overnight trips, too). 

Quality is top notch- the stitching is sturdy and the materials are very nice- a mix of nylon rip-stop and a rugged, rubber composite that blends very well into the design, making this bag not only functional, but attractive. The size is perfect for holding a variety of necessities on a road trip- sunglasses (and reading glasses for those of us who are getting a little older these days), sunscreen, gloves, snacks, and whatever else you want, or need, to bring along to make your trip a little better. 

While the MotoWriter Road King has big, cavernous saddlebags and a detachable trunk for my longer trips, I plan on using this bag on the MotoWriter Street Bob, once it’s put back together and ready for road trippin’ again, that is.

Durability, longevity and affordability 

I can’t, personally, speak on affordability, as I didn’t actually buy this bag, but I can tell you that, for the msrp of $69.99, and a current promotion (as of today) of $59.41, I think it’s a steal. This is a bag that you will keep from bike to bike until your significant other or one of your kids (or grandkids) decide to “appropriate” it for their own use. It looks good and is well made. 

As for the durability or the longevity of the bag, I obviously won’t be able to speak on this yet, either, as I just got this thing today. I will honestly be surprised if it doesn’t outlast some of my other gear (and maybe even one of my bikes), but I’ll do a proper follow-up review in 6 months, and another one at a year, to give you some updates on it, in case you’re still not convinced. 

Final thoughts

I’ll leave you with this to ponder- how much do you spend at the coffee shop every month? How much do you spend on fast food? How much do you give to your co-workers’ kids that are always selling cookies or doing some other kind of fund raisers? If you’re an average person, I’d be willing to bet that you could buy two of these bags a month, every month, for what you spend in coffee and fast food alone. So, why not take a chance and get a bag that will, absolutely, last longer than all those McBurgers and Starspressos. Go check out Viking Bags (by clicking the link at the top right of this page) or by clicking here and check out what they have to offer. 

Instead of spending a hundred bucks a month for some overpriced drinks or some, potentially cold, fries that will only give you joy, happiness or satisfaction for a few moments, take a break from the drive-thru line for a few weeks and buy yourself a bag that, I suspect, will give you years of service. Hell, what’s the worst that could happen? If you only use it for one year’s worth of road trips, it will still have given you more use than those deep fried fart sticks and that chalky ass, coffee flavored, sugar water. Make your coffee at home and brown bag your lunch for a month and get something that will actually bring you some joy- the Viking Bags Dagr sissy bar bag. (<<— shameless plug, but click the link and check it out for yourself!)

Now, I better get back to working on the MotoWriter Street Bob, so I can put this bag to good use before the next review!

Until next time, MotoReaders… ride safe and make good choices!

Monday, September 25, 2023

Updates coming soon!

Hey MotoReaders!

I’m super busy at the moment, but I wanted to drop a quick post to let you know that I’ve been working (literally) and getting some fresh new content for the ole website while doing so. In the next few weeks, I’ll have some new ride reviews on the new 121ci vvt CVO Road Glide, the new Lowrider ST and the Pan America. I’ll also throw in an update on the status of the MotoWriter Dyna and I might even talk about some other cool stuff that I’ve been doing lately. 

Drop a comment and let me know which review you’d like to see first, then check back soon!

Till then- ride safe and make good choices!

Saturday, September 2, 2023

I Crashed


I don't think this will buff out.

I crashed the MotoWriter Street Bob

Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- if you ride motorcycles, it’s not a matter of if, but when, you will have a mishap. I’ve had my share over the years, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had anything serious happen… until a few nights ago. I was riding a road that I’ve ridden, probably a few dozen times, and I failed to heed the warnings. You see, there is one particular curve that, while it’s not crazy, it is dangerous enough that the county road department installed a sign warning “dangerous curve ahead” on the approach. If you’ve watched any of my earlier videos, you likely saw the one where I went into this exact curve in the least sexy way possible. It always has gravel in the apex… always. On this fateful night, there was no exception. 

An evening ride on a known road

I would venture to guess that, statistically, casually known roads are more dangerous to us than those that are brand new, or well known, to us. We tend to take it easier on roads that we're unfamiliar with, and get more relaxed on roads that we know (or think we know) well. It's the in-between roads though, that seem to be the ones that really get us in trouble. Those backroads that we know well enough to be comfortable on, but we don't ride on enough to be able to anticipate every curve. 

While taking an evening ride on one of those roads- one that I’ve ridden multiple times in the past, but is not one of my "regular" rides- I approached the aforementioned "dangerous curve." I was looking for the tell-tale signs of the ever-present gravel swath, but there was none… until suddenly, there was. I was over halfway through the curve, with a fair, but not too aggressive lean on the Dyna, when all of a sudden, a relatively thin (maybe 18” wide) swath of gravel appeared directly in front of me. It was laid out in the road, perfectly matching the exact line that I was in. I knew that going into the gravel would surely put me into the asphalt and high side me into the oncoming lane (I’ve seen enough crashes like this to know how that would play out- and the outcome of those were all bad), so I tried my best to apply enough brakes to get off the line I was on, which was heading toward my certain demise. 

I was able to successfully apply enough brake to stand the Dyna up and miss the majority of the gravel, but unfortunately for me, in doing so, it put me going across the center line and into the oncoming lane. By the grace of God, there was no one coming, so with everything I had, I tried to keep the Dyna off the shoulder, but the stock, single disc front brake on the 2011 FXDB simply wasn’t slowing me down enough and I inadvertently pushed a little too much on my rear pedal. Big mistake. The rear tire started to lock and before I could release and reapply the rear brake, I ran out of room on the road surface and the back of the bike started to slide sideways. The scoot first went down on the high side (that's the right side for those that don't know), sliding into the grass shoulder. Once in the grass, it slid a few feet before catching and high-siding, ejecting me off a few feet from my downed machine. I had enough wits about me to tuck my head in anticipation of the impact, and I landed hard on my back with my helmet barely tapping the hard, dry, grass covered, red clay ground. 

Body and bike

I stayed down for a second doing a mental assessment: wiggle my toes- check; move my fingers- check- breathing clear, in and out- check. I slowly stood up, checking myself for injuries and was feeling pretty good about my condition, until I got upright and could feel a warm wetness flushing down my back. I reached back and felt it- yep, it was wet. When I pulled my hand back, I could see it was covered in blood. Evidently, when I landed, I slid across something sharp that was embedded in the dirt and grass, because, as I would learn later, my back had a gash that was about 6-8 inches long running across at an angle with all of the other superficial scratches from the rocks in the dirt. 

The MotoWriter Dyna didn’t get out quite so lucky; the bars were bent, the fairing and clutch perch destroyed and there was fresh oil on the low side fork tube. Aside from that, the tank had some scratches on the low side and the H-D logo was ripped off. After manipulating the clutch lever back in place, I was able to start it, though. It fired up and ran fine. A Good Samaritan saw the aftermath of my self-induced mess and offered to help. Being a stubborn-ass man, I initially refused, but after he insisted that I wasn’t putting him out, I reluctantly agreed and he left to go get his truck.

I love the South

As I was waiting for him to come back, I was able to get the bike picked up and moved a little further down the ditch (I was trying to get it back on the road, but couldn’t). I called my wife, then the local sheriff’s department, to report the crash. A few other folks came by and checked on me, but I told them that I had some help coming, so they went on their way. A few minutes later, my new friend, who for the sake of his anonymity, I will call Mr. L, came back with a truck and trailer. 

South Mississippians are the best people I’ve ever met. This guy, who only knew me from the second that he saw my dumb self standing in the ditch with my busted motorcycle, generously offered to help me. Not only that, but once he got there with his truck and trailer, he offered to let me take the whole rig, so I could get the bike back home. Being that my back was as bloody as a horror film crime scene though, I respectfully declined and told him that I would ride with my wife in our car so I didn’t stain his seats with my ripped up back. Initially, Mr. L. offered to bring my bike back to his place until I could come get it because one of the tires on his trailer was in bad shape, but once my wife and the deputy got there, he could see that the pain was starting to set in, and offered to risk the tire and bring it all the way to my house, so I could rest and heal without having to worry about going out again to get the bike. To recap- this man was on his way home from work when he saw some random stranger, crashed into a ditch on his motorcycle. He offered… no, he insisted, to help the stranger, then he offered to let this complete stranger take his truck and trailer without knowing if it would ever be returned. Can you imagine what our world would be like, if everyone was as kind, generous and trusting as Mr. L.? 

No good deed

They say that no good deed goes unpunished, and about a mile away from my house, that rang true for Mr. L. The damn tire on his trailer blew out and completely came off the rim. Mr. L. was undeterred, though. I got out of my wife’s car to see what we needed to do, and he just waved me on and said he was going to run it on the rim until we got there; and run it on the rim, he did. We pulled the whole sad looking contraption, consisting of a busted up Harley-Davidson strapped to a trailer with one tire, into the driveway and Mr. L. helped me unload the MotoWriter Dyna off the trailer. I offered to replace the wheels on his trailer, but he adamantly refused, telling me that he had two new tires for the trailer at home, but he just had not put them on yet. I’m not sure if he was fibbing or not, but I told him that he could leave the trailer at my house and drop the tires off later, and I would get it all fixed back up for him. After all, it was, literally, the very least I could do. He reluctantly agreed, would only allow me to give him a sports drink for all his trouble, and then, after some polite conversation, he headed back home to his family and I went inside to let Mrs. MotoWriter get me fixed up.

Stubborn ass man

I mentioned before that I am stubborn. Well, as you can imagine, that means I opted not to go spend my evening at an emergency room. It turned out that, while it was pretty long, fairly deep, splayed open sort of wide and full of grass, dirt and debris, it was still just a cut across my back. While my wife was gathering up all of the necessary supplies, I checked my own vitals: breathing- still clear and full; blood pressure- understandably high; heart rate- a little elevated, but good; blood oxygen- 100%; and after going pee, I saw that I wasn’t passing any blood. For my limited medical knowledge gained from being a father of two rambunctious sons- I determined that the likelihood of my having any significant internal injuries was somewhat low. 

Mrs. MotoWriter did a great job, even if she did almost pass out twice. She got it cleaned up, closed up and bandaged, thanks to the advice and guidance from my youngest son, who just happens to be an EMT. I took some ibuprofen to help quell the pain, since it felt like Mike Tyson kidney punched me with all of his strength, and then I went to bed. I actually slept pretty decent, considering the circumstances. The next morning, however, my plans of getting up and going to work were dashed when I tried getting out of bed. I felt okay, but I was moving like Frankenstein’s monster. Everything hurt, so I messaged the boss and went back to bed. I had been trying to catch up on my writing, but alas, the bike wasn’t the only thing broken (I’m blaming everything on the Blue Super Moon)… my home internet also went out. We cancelled our satellite TV service when we got the fiber optic internet, so no internet meant no TV… which meant that I was given plenty of time to write, but I just couldn't upload it, so this story will be a few days old by the first time you get to read it.

Cuts heal and chicks dig scars

As I’ve learned so many times in the past, cuts heal and chicks dig scars; what is dented, can be fixed, what is broken, can be replaced. The most important takeaway here is the lesson learned. 

I was on a road that, from my own experience, has a dangerous curve and the most dangerous part of that curve for a motorcyclist is the ever present gravel that sits patiently on the blacktop, waiting for it’s next two-wheeled victim. I knew it was there… because it’s always there. Out of the dozens of times I’ve ridden this road, I can only remember once, maybe twice, where the surface was clear. That is on me. As a certified motorcycle operator and motorcycle instructor, I know that when the rear brake starts to lock, I’m supposed to release to rolling friction until I regain control. In this particular situation, mid curve with inadequate braking ability and very little real estate to operate in, I was unfortunately doomed to my fate, because I simply ran out of room. The best I could hope to accomplish, with what I had to work with, was to mitigate the damage as best as possible, which I did. This crash could have been much, much worse. But, this crash could have also been avoided altogether.

I’m not as young as I used to be, so I know that I’m going to be feeling this one for a while, even after the cut heals and Tyson’s bruising goes away. I’m just thankful that I was able to use the training that I have to minimize the overall damage… to the bike, but mostly to me. Mrs. MotoWriter would never forgive me if I went for a ride and didn’t come back. I’m also thankful for good, truly good, samaritans like Mr. L. I’m grateful for his help and generosity and I’m proud to say that I know him- he’s a good man. People like Mr. L. really help restore a person's faith in humanity.

My biggest regret in this whole situation is that I failed to use my own experience to avoid this whole damn situation. I knew the dangers and ignored them. The best I can hope for going forward is, that I learn from this hard lesson and, maybe you can learn something from my mistake, too. 

Until next time, MotoReaders, please ride safe.

It's not as bad as it could be, but it's going to be down for repairs for a little while.

The bars, forks and my newly installed (and recently painted to match) fairing are all shot.

I'm alive, I'm in one piece and I'm in good spirits.
Thanks to the awesome folks at Go Fast Don't Die for such a great shirt, and thanks to all of my loyal MotoReaders for reading my stories.

Want your own collection of cool, Go Fast Don't Die apparel? Check them out by clicking here. Tell 'em that The MotoWriter sent ya!  

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Nobody Said It Would Be Easy...

 Nobody Said It Would Be Easy...

...and if they did, they lied. 

We've all met those people that seem to have it easy, all of the time. Those folks that try something for the first time and just seem to master it immediately; those people that always seem to be the ones that find a $20 bill while walking on the sidewalk or that always seem to catch all the green lights when driving through traffic. They never have to work as hard as others or suffer the same frustrations. I read something a while back from my friends over at Go Fast Don't Die and they said it like this- "comparison is the thief of joy." I read that a few times and just, let it sink in. 

Comparison is the thief of joy. 

Comparison truly is the thief of joy.

As human animals in this crazy jungle of our own creation, we are always looking at others and comparing. We compare our successes, we compare our houses, we compare our financial situations and on, and on, and on. 




Instincts, Built Right In

We can't help ourselves... it's instinctive. I won't get into the science of it, but basically, at the core of it, we are at the top of the evolutionary food chain and we know it, so we are always looking at those around us that pose the most competition to our dominance. Like I said... it's science. 

But what happens when you compare yourselves to someone else? If you're doing better than them, then you feel dominant... as if you're succeeding at life, more than them. You no longer see them as a threat; you feel dominant. But, what happens when you compare yourself to someone who is doing better than you? You, instinctively, see them as a threat. But a threat to what? We have evolved to the point where food is readily available for all of us. For the vast majority of the world's population, shelter is readily available. So, if your neighbor has a nicer car, or a bigger house... how in the hell is he a threat to you? 

Bottom line- he's not. 

Turns out, you are you're own worst enemy when you are constantly comparing yourself to others. So, what's the solution? If it's instinctive, then can't it be inferred that it's out of our control? Let me pose this question to you- if, it is instinctive and we can't control the instincts to compete... or compare... why can't we do it in a way that is actually constructive? Why can't we compete against ourselves? Is there some rule that we have to compare ourselves to our neighbor's success, or can we compare our own progress today against our own progress from yesterday, then strive for a better result tomorrow?

Comparison is the thief of joy... mainly because we are doing it wrong. We need to compare ourselves against ourselves. 

Let me ask you this- when you first straddled a motorcycle... as in... literally, the very first time... didn't you have to learn how to ride it? Each time you mounted up on that machine, didn't you get better and better with each subsequent ride? If you have had your job for a while, didn't you start in an entry-level position (or at least, something close to it)? If you just started your job, don't you hope to advance? Just like learning to walk required learning fundamental building blocks, so does each step you take in life. We've all heard the old adage of "you've got to learn to crawl before you walk... then after you learn to walk, you can learn to run." It's all about taking small steps in order to be able to make long strides, toward our own individual success.

Building Blocks

I'm not talking about the toys that kids have... but, rather, learning fundamental, foundational, skills that help you to build to your goals. Come to think of it, the concept is the same. When you buy your kid that Lego builder (go ahead and click the link... yes, it's a Harley), you open the box to find a bag filled with what seems like 1,000 tiny little square blocks. You have to start out with a clear plan, then figure out what goes where, and in what order, then build it, piece by piece, until you reach the goal. The goal in the case of the toy, is the chunky looking toy that resembles a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle; the goal in your life, could be, well... just about anything. Want a new job? Figure out a plan to get it. Do you need a specialized education or do you need to learn a specialized skill? Make a plan to learn it. Do you want to get a promotion? What is required for the position?  What skills, experience, education or knowledge do you need to meet the qualifications? 

This next part is key.

Once you establish a plan, work your ass off. Then, work your ass off some more. You have to earn it. You have to want it enough to be willing to make the sacrifices, learn the skills, gain the experience and, in the case of a new job or a promotion, you have to prove yourself to be the best candidate for the job. Very little things in life worth having, come easily. Even if it comes easily, you still have to work hard to keep it. How many people have won a lottery jackpot, only to find themselves broke a few years later? It's because they didn't make the sacrifices to keep their newfound wealth. They got rich quick (without having to earn it), then didn't limit their spending, invest their winnings or do anything at all to maintain their money. Ever see a really wealthy person squandering their money on frivolities? You may be able to point out the occasional professional athlete or musician... but, for the vast majority of those people who had to work, and work hard, for their wealth... you rarely see them piss it away on silly things like boats, luxury cars or enormous mansions (at least, not until they are so wealthy that they are making money faster than they can spend it). 

Remember this- wealth found is wealth lost, but wealth earned is wealth kept.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this- if you want something in life, you have to earn it. If it's worth having, it should come with some difficulty. After all, if you don't have to earn it, you're probably not going to appreciate it once you have it. The harder that you work to earn something, the more you will appreciate having it, because you'll know, first hand, how hard it was to get. 

So go out there and work, MotoReaders. Work hard, be successful and don't forget to...

Ride Safe and Make Good Choices.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

120th Anniversary Lineup… my thoughts


Harley-Davidson’s 120th Anniversary lineup… Boom or Bust?

Well MotoReaders… there it is, your “new” bikes for what could arguably be one of the most significant anniversaries in Harley-Davidson’s history. So, the question is, did they knock it out of the park, or did they strike out? If there are any H-D execs reading this (which I hope so, but sorta doubt) this next part is directed to you- if this is all you have in your trick bag, I’ll be honest- I’m sorely disappointed. 

The bikes

The paint is gorgeous, the bikes are boring. Sorry, but they are. You guys had a great opportunity to introduce some really cool machines, but it feels like you just phoned it in. The only “new” model is the Road Glide trike and, as a younger old guy, or an older young guy (depending on how you want to look at it), I’m still young enough to handle a two wheeler, but “established” enough to afford a bigger touring bike, so for me… another trike is just plain boring. I’ll keep my 2017 Road King Special (especially now that I have fixed all the things you guys fell short on with that one). You “brought back” the Breakout? Ugh. The only bike that has even garnered a second look from me is the Nightster Special, but that one isn’t even a new model for ‘23. To make matters worse- the “Special” still sports the 975cc mill for 2023. Why not put the 1250 RevMax engine from the Sportster S in the Nightster Special? What exactly is “special” about the Special, anyway? Black paint and a quarter fairing (that was on the previous year model)? Come on… we, your customers, deserve better.

Jochen, are you listening?

Jochen, buddy… listen to me for a minute, I know you want the best for the MoCo, so do I. That’s why I’m offering this advice for free- bring back a twin shock, big twin powered line- yes, I’m talking about the Dyna, for 2023. Do you want to get some loyal H-D customers back? Give them a ground-pounding, M-8 powered bruiser. Something loud, powerful and highly customizable. Something that is raw, fast, classic and true to the H-D spirit. The Softail line is great, but we all know that the LowRider, the Fat Bob and the Street Bob are supposed to be Dynas. They were born as Dynas and they died as Dynas in 2017. These new Softail versions are best described as "Dyna tribute" bikes, for no reason other that to just keep the names alive and we all know it. 

Do you want me to buy a new bike? Offer me an M-8 powered Wide Glide. A true, twin shock frame with mini-ape handlebars and a tall sissy bar. Build it with an old-school ducktail rear fender, and offer a sick, diamond stitched king and queen seat in the P&A catalog. Bring back the Super Glide and spin some variants off of that like Willie G did back in the day. THAT would be an exciting lineup. While we’re talking about "come back" bikes… let’s talk about the Breakout for a second. When you wanted to bring back a discontinued Softail model, your best idea was to bring back... the Breakout? Not the Deluxe? What? Really? There is so much you could do with the Deluxe in terms of trim and customization. While I’m at it… what idiot said it would be a good idea to kill off the Road King? Has it ever crossed your minds that, not everyone is into the blacked out Specials? Personally, I happen to love my FLHRXS, but I know that not everyone does. There is a significant amount of people in the H-D market that want the classic, chromed out, do-it-all machine that is the Road King. A bike that has Touring DNA mixed with cruiser styling at a, somewhat, reasonable price tag. Enough of that… y’all probably aren’t reading this anyway. If you want to hear more, have your people call my people. 

Am I being too critical?

What do you, my MotoReaders, think? Am I off base here? Am I being too harsh with the Milwaukee Crew? Look, I’m not trying to be an ass… it’s just frustrating to see wasted opportunities. I’m usually the first to admit that I’m no expert. Hell, I’m just some random guy that pays a few bucks a year for a web address so that I can share my thoughts with whoever is out there that might want to read them. I’m not making any money from my blog and I’m not making any money on my YouTube channel. Nobody is compensating me for mentioning their products or creating an occasional video. No, this blog and those videos on my YT channel are a labor of love and it’s from that love where this post is coming from. 

By the numbers

I have always been a huge fan of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. Even before I bought my first one in 2009, I always loved them. As a kid, I can remember sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car, looking out the window and seeing them running down the highways. Those loud, raucous machines usually had some bearded, leather clad dudes riding them and I remember thinking how cool the bikes looked, blazing down the asphalt. When I talk about missed opportunities, I’m talking about this company that has such a rich heritage emblazoned on so many of our memories, slowing killing itself off by not staying true to itself. Harley-Davidson was never intended to be a “luxury” brand. It was never intended to be a brand that only the rich could afford. H-D was a brand that anyone could afford. Blue collar guys could go to their local dealership and buy a brand new motorcycle. Jochen and his boys need to return to that ethos. I’m not saying they need to build cheap, junky bikes just to stay competitive in the market, far from it. I’m saying that $20 grand for a basic, cruiser motorcycle is a bit ridiculous. For example, check out these numbers:

120th Anniversary (2023) prices, versus the 110th Anniversary (2013) prices.
  • Nightster- $13,500 (Iron 883- $8,000)
  • Nightster Special- $15,000 (Forty Eight- $10,600)
  • Softail Street Bob- $16,600 (Dyna Street Bob-$13,000)
  • Fat Boy- $20,200 ($17,000)
  • Heritage Classic- $21,200 ($17,600)
  • Street Glide- $22,000 ($19,800)
  • Road King Special- $24,000 ($19,900 for a Road King Classic)
  • Ultra Limited- $29,800 ($24,200)
I won’t even list the obscene prices of the CVOs or the Trikes. Don’t get me wrong, I understand how inflation works and I also recognize that I chose a ten year gap to compare my prices, but let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment- the entry level Harley price increased by over $5,000 in only ten years! Want a more recent comparison? Fine, I can play that game, too. The Iron 883 in 2017 only had a price tag of $8,950 that’s less than a one thousand dollar increase. The 2017 Street Bob (the last year of the Dyna) only saw an increase of a paltry $850 bucks, for a MSRP of $13,850 and the Ultra Limited sat on the showroom floor for $27,000. Those are 2017 price tags and even then, they were astronomical for a lot of blue collar folks, but at least they were somewhat attainable with the right credit score and a bit of financial planning. 

You get what you pay for... or, do you?

Look, I’d probably be a little less critical of the prices if I hadn’t seen, first hand, questionable quality in my own $22k (2017 price) Road King Special. Parts falling off, rust on fasteners and mirror stems and so on. It might have been a different story if my bike was a yard bird (you know, a bike that is parked outside all the time), but it’s been garage kept since I rode it off the showroom floor. Yeah, I’ve ridden in rain on it, but that definitely isn’t a common occurrence and it gets washed and waxed regularly, so there’s really no explanation for those issues other than sub-par finishing or just piss-poor design. Only time will tell if the finishes and designs of the new  bikes hold up better than my 2017 has. For Jochen’s sake, I really hope they do, too because his idea of making Harley-Davidson a “luxury” brand might just be the death blow if they don’t. I’ll tell you something else, too- if the design team doesn’t come up with something fresh, and do it soon, then H-D might just be losing a few more customers to its competitors. The MoCo needs to remember that they are no longer the only kids on the block and they're also just barely, if at all, still the most popular. Now that the family from Springfield has come back and bought the house next door- those kids are starting to get more and more attention. Then there are the kids from the United Kingdom, those other kids from Germany and let’s not forget about the kids from Britain (the ones that moved to India)… and then there are all the kids from Japan that have been there for decades, building high quality, extremely dependable and very affordable machines. The toughest part for H-D here is, they used to have one thing that all the others didn’t- a high quality product that was attainable by the very people that designed, engineered and built them, right here in the good old U S of A. Over the years though, quality has gone down, while prices have gone up. I don't care what business you're in... that combination is always a recipe for disaster.

Final thoughts

It's still only the beginning of the year and Jochen has already teased that more new models are on the way for this 120th anniversary year. I'm hopeful that there will actually be something new, cool and fresh that I can get excited about because, honestly, I haven't stepped foot in an H-D dealership in quite a long time. That is a far cry from just a few years ago when I was able to come up with some reason or another to go see what was new on the showroom floor at least a few times a year. Hell, my local dealership knew me so well that they were trying to recruit me for their team because not only did I give them a lot of my business, I also brought them a lot of business through my referrals. While I'm disappointed on the 120th Anniversary's launch, I'm still hopeful that the MoCo can pull a few rabbits out of their hats and make me want to come in and take a test ride. After all, one really fun part of being a motorcycle enthusiast is the process of buying a new bike, and I still have enough room in my garage for one or two more. I'm not saying that I'm in the market for another new motorcycle, but if a real, twin shock, big twin Wide Glide was to make a come back, I might be inclined to run over to the dealership on my way to the bank. 

Ride safe and make good choices, MotoReaders! 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

New 2023 Harley-Davidson Lineup

New 2023 Harley-Davidson Lineup

What will the MoCo's 120th Anniversary year bring us, and what will it take away?

It's that time again, folks... Harley-Davidson has reached another year in business and, under the latest management team, it looks like we are in for some new models being added, and some classic favorites being taken away.

I'm not going to waste time by speculating on what may be introduced on January 18th, nor am I going to speculate on what we may gain or lose throughout this year. I will, however, look at what we currently know and I'll offer my thoughts on that. Let's get right to it...

The death of the Sportster

Now, I know that H-D has continued the Sportster lineage with the new water-cooled RevMax powered models, but we all know these new bikes are Sportys only in name- they share nothing with their predecessors. The Sportster as we know it, is dead for 2023. The EPA has finally won another round in their fight against the air-cooled machines that we love so dearly. While I don't hate the new water-cooled Nightster (will it make a comeback for 2023?), I personally think the new Sportster S is hideous. I'm sure it's fast and agile, but it looks like some hybrid compilation of German, Japanese and British designs, all mashed up in a single bike. The only thing "Harley-Davidson" about that bike is the name. The Nightster, on the other hand... while it shares the same DNA, at least looks like a Harley. The fake gas tank/air box is a turn off for me, though. Interestingly enough... in perusing the H-D website this morning, I didn't see it on the lineup. Did the MoCo nix the new Nightster already, or are they simply going to put some lipstick on the little pig and re-introduce it as a new model for '23 (with a higher price tag, no doubt)? I suppose we'll see in a week or so.

The Softail Lineup

It appears, from all I've read (which admittedly, isn't much) that the Softail lineup remains mostly the same. I wish they'd bring back the Deluxe, but at this point, it feels like H-D is going away from their tried and true classic designs in favor of the "power cruiser" designs that I thought we had finally started moving away from a few years ago. Bikes like the Honda VTX1800F, the Suzuki M109, the H-D V-Rod and the Kawasaki MeanStreak (just to name a few) were all terrible designs, in my opinion. With drag-style bars, forward controls, and high output engines cradled in cruiser-based frames...they were/are uncomfortable to ride and their engine performance was limited by their screwy frame geometry. While not a "power cruiser" by design, the venerable Wide Glide was put to pasture in 2017 when H-D foolishly killed off the Dyna line and, the closest thing they offered to the styling, was the... ugh... the Softail Breakout. What an awful bike it was. With a ridiculous riding position and a rear tire that made the bike look as if the designers were stuck in the early 2000's chopper trend, the bike was simply horrendous. Well, much to my dismay, it looks like H-D is going to be bringing that one back in '23. We're getting the new Softail that nobody wants... brilliant. Geesh!

The Touring Lineup

What can I say so far... it looks like the execs at H-D have finally lost their ever-lovin' minds. From what I've seen... they have removed their number one, absolute best, Touring bike from their 2023 lineup. The Road King is currently (as of this morning) no longer listed on the website and all the rumblings I've heard (again, admittedly... that's not much) is that the Road King has been discontinued. What the actual f**k!?! 

Has Harley-Davidson's executives inadvertently hired a corporate assassin with CEO Jochen Zeitz?? Who in Milwaukee has lost their fool minds? The Road King is the quintessential big twin Harley-Davidson! 

So let me re-cap so far... the Evo Sportster, the Sportster inspired RevMax Nightster and the Road King are all absent on the '23 lineup.  

Now, from the limited research I've done, it looks like H-D is going to offer a "new" bike in the Icons collection... with the model designation of "FLHFB"... which is the old designation for the Electra Glide Highway King of the golden, olden, days (think, mid 1960's) before the Road King (FLHR) was actually introduced. Now, for those MotoReaders that are unfamiliar with the Road King's history... let me give you a quick recap: 

The FLH line originated a long time ago in H-D history, and the "Glide" names were added with each new addition of a particular upgrade. For example, the first FLH had a hardtail frame, a springer front suspension and kick start. When H-D added hydraulic front suspension, the FLH earned the name, "Hydra Glide." The addition of a rear swingarm and rear suspension earned it the title, "Duo Glide." Once the engineers perfected the electric start, the FLH earned the name that we all know now, the "Electra Glide." The Electra Glide didn't actually get that iconic batwing fairing until 1969. Back then, the batwing fairing was, basically, just an outer fairing mounted to the forks. As these things tend to do, the batwing that we all know (and most people love) evolved over the next few decades until it became what it is today. Most of you may know all this already, but what you may not know, is that in 1989, H-D introduced the Electra Glide Sport... an FLH Electra Glide without a fairing (again). The bike was popular enough that it was offered for a few years before H-D's marketing team decided to rename it, you guessed it- The Road King, for the 1994 model year. 

The Road King has been an extremely popular machine since it's "official" birth in 1994 and has become a favorite of guys like me, who want a bike big enough to handle any road trip that we can throw at it, while still maintaining that cruiser DNA for riding down the Main Street on a Friday night. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the best Harley-Davidson motorcycles ever made. So, you may be asking why, if it's so great, is H-D apparently pulling it from the lineup? Easy... this is nothing more than a marketing scheme. Smoke and mirrors. Increase demand by decreasing availability. For '23, if someone wants a brand new "Road King"... they'll have to either get a Road King Special (the FLHRXS with a price tag of +/- $24k) or get the "new" ElectraGlide Highway King (the FLHFB) which, as an "Icon Collection" bike, will probably be a "limited edition" and have an MSRP of close to, or over, $30k. I happen to love my 2017 Road King Special, but I will be the first to admit that, compared to my other Road Kings (both of which were Classics-FLHRC), the machine is way overpriced. It's gorgeous, but corners were cut in the quality (see my long term review video here) and, in order for me to be able to ride it comfortably, I had to replace the poorly designed stock "mini-ape" handlebars. I finally have my bike all dialed in for my needs, so I won't be shopping for a new Road King anytime soon, but for someone looking to upgrade their current ride to all the glory that is the Road King... 2023 may not be their year to do it.

A new bike for the Riding Academy?

One more new bike being offered by H-D will be the Chinese-built X350RA. A small displacement, parallel twin motorcycle, that is being targeted for the overseas markets (and of course, the H-D Riding Academy). While many H-D purists may find this to be one of the most offensive things I've written on my little corner of the interweb, I will politely stay neutral about it... at least for now.

We all saw the shit-show that was the "Street" bikes that were built in India under the H-D moniker. The XG500 and XG750 were pure garbage. If you own one... let  me say that, I'm sorry. I'm not sorry if I've offended you, I'm sorry that you bought one. It's a Harley by name only. In the beginning, I heard some great things about the engines and I actually wrote a few slideshows for H-D Forums about folks modifying the bikes into some really cool customs, but as of recently, I've heard nothing but bad stories about them. Problems like, the brake systems having catastrophic failures and the transmissions randomly slipping between gears. I'm sure that these problems, along with the painfully dismal sales of these bikes, were the driving forces that ultimately led H-D to dump them (a smart move on H-D's part, to be sure). The Streets were (sort of) intended to be a stepping stone bike for new riders. Here in the U.S. of A., they were initially introduced as Riding Academy bikes. H-D recognized that their smallest bikes at the time, the 883 Sportsters, were still a bit too powerful, loud, heavy and torquey for a brand new rider, so they needed an underpowered, small and inexpensive bike to train new riders on. Enter the Street 500. A perfect-ish bike for the job. Too bad it was a piece of crap in terms of quality. So, here we are in 2023... the XG's are gone, but H-D is still running their Riding Academy classes and, as such, they still need a small displacement bike that won't be too intimidating for the faint of heart. 

Enter the new X350RA. A lot of folks are probably cringing at the mere thought of it being made in... gasp... China, but I'd venture to bet that most of you fine folks are reading this on your Chinese made computer or smart phone. I may be a little biased (or would it be... unbiased?) these days, since I've recently added a small-bore motorcycle to my garage with the purchase of an American made Janus Halcyon (read more about that here) which is powered by a Chinese built CG250 engine. Say what you will about the Chinese, but many of their products are top-quality. Sure, not everything is worth the materials they're made with, but many of their products are and the Janus' little single cylinder, 229cc powerplant starts up every time and it runs smoother than a sewing machine. The bike is an absolute delight to ride, too... but that's a story for a different day. Today, I'm talking about the partnership between Harley-Davidson and the Qianjiang Motorcycle Company. With H-D bringing these little bikes to their Riding Academy, you can bet that they will be on showroom floors before the end of the year. After all, new riders are, naturally, going to want to buy what they learned how to ride on. Before you get too offended by the MoCo's latest partnership with a foreign company, let me point out that H-D has been doing this for decades. Does the Italian company Aermacchi ring a bell? If you know any of your H-D history, you know that H-D bought approximately half of Aermacchi's stock in the 1960's and that Aermacchi produced several of their single cylinder (and a few two-cylinder), small-bore, motorcycles with Harley-Davidson badges, all the way through the 1970's before H-D was purchased by AMF (again, that's a story for another day).

I actually have high hopes for the Chinese built H-D X350s. Apparently, Qianjiang is a formidable company in the Asian motorcycle market, building a variety of high-quality, small bore motorcycles for their customer base. I suppose that only time will tell, though. Hopefully, the partnership with QJ won't find the Chinese company building the entire lineup of H-D bikes, though because that would be a sad day for American workers. I also suspect that H-D's marketing team will probably suggest a retail price of the X350 on par with Jochen's "premium brand" business model for H-D, and it will most likely be way overpriced. Just to give you an idea, QJ's website shows most of their bikes coming in around the $2,500- $3,000 range and I seriously doubt that the execs at H-D aer going to allow any bike with the famous Bar and Shield logo to be sold with such a humble price tag. After all, Jochen's plan for the MoCo is to, apparently, make H-D motorcycles unattainable for the working class people that have been riding them since 1903. 

My final thoughts

To wrap this up today, I'll just leave you with these thoughts to ponder. If H-D does offer something new and fresh for 2023, I really hope that they make some attempt to make it reliable and affordable. If the latter (affordability) doesn't fit into the current CEO's business model, I at least hope that the damn things are built with higher quality materials and workmanship than they have been for the past several years. I also hope that the MoCo starts thinking about their future existence in the current global motorcycle market, because some of the decisions coming out of Milwaukee these past few years have been questionable, at best. I get that Federal emissions standards are constricting much of what we have always known in the motorcycling world, but damn, there's no Federal guidelines that are making them build ugly, watered down versions, or worse- overpriced versions, of their previous machines. The decision to kill off the Dyna line may have been driven by emissions, or even by financial, restrictions... but the decision to re-use the Dyna names on Softails was just lazy marketing. Seriously... no one could have come up with a new name for the Softail Street Bob or the Low Rider? You also can't tell me that designing a new twin-shock frame for the Milwaukee 8 engine was such a crazy idea... not after they designed these new RevMax powered bikes (the Nightster, Sportster S and Pan America). 

Whatever we see come out of Milwaukee in the coming weeks and months, I really hope that it is good, because my most recent desire to buy a new bike has been satisfied by my most recent purchase out of Goshen, Indiana. Between my new Janus, my Road King Special and, of course, my Dyna Street Bob, I don't see myself going to the local H-D dealer for any reason other than to visit my son.

With that- Happy New Year everyone! May 2023 bring you new opportunities for happiness, prosperity and good health!

Ride safe and make good choices, MotoReaders!

Saturday, December 3, 2022


The Hellfighters

Hellfighters... what a cool name, right? But who, or rather what, is the Hellfighters Motorcycle Shop? Check out their website by clicking here. If you're not really in the mood to do any more clickin', keep reading and I'll give you the MotoWriter rundown.

So much more than a motorcycle shop

Hellfighters is a motorcycle shop in Laurel, MS (<click the link for more info), but it's not just a motorcycle shop, it's a swap meet, a gun store, a gift and home store, a restaurant, a chapel, a Rhino Jeeps dealer, and a Christian Ministry, all wrapped up in a huge repurposed industrial building that has been beautifully converted to house it all.

The Hellfighters shop is truly a sight to behold. The last time I was there was several years ago and it was pretty cool then, albeit, relatively small and pretty cramped up. But on this latest visit, just a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that the old building was vacant and the new building, which is situated right around the corner, was clearly open for business... ALL of the business. The new building is over 83,000 square feet of awesomeness. Upon walking in, I saw a massive inventory of used motorcycles, with cool movie props spread around for our viewing pleasure. My wife perused the home decor section for at least half an hour, and my son and I got lost in the rest of the place. Then, after seeing the main section, we saw the swap meet. Let me tell you about the swap meet... it was a huge room, filled with every motorcycle part you could possibly need. I won't get into too much detail about the rest of the place, because honestly, I don't think I could do it justice by mere words. You really do need to go check it out in person. 

So, why is this place so big? Why is it so popular? How does a Christian Ministry turn into a motorcycle destination, especially in a modern society that seems to reject, or at the least question, God's existence? The answer, is God.

The Mission

When so many people are afflicted with pain and consumed by addictions of every kind, the Hellfighters Ministry is right there, willing and able to help them find their way to salvation. They are not only spreading the word of God, but they are actively practicing His ways and trying to help save as many lost souls as they can. According to their website- 100% of the profit (that is every cent) goes to Mission at the Cross in Laurel, MS so that men suffering from addiction can find recovery, and Jesus, for free. Mission at the Cross was started by the founders of Hellfighters, Richard and Gina Headrick back in 1998, from a little ministry service that they called "the Bum Ministries." Read more detail about it by clicking here- it really is a neat story and really proves that God works in mysterious ways, and often, He works through the most unassuming people among us, people that we might not normally notice or if we do, we might try our best to avoid.

Location, location, location

They say that location is everything and I'll agree with that. Laurel is a pretty nice place and, it's even gained notoriety from the extremely popular HGTV show, Hometown, which follows Ben and Erin Napier as they renovate one place at a time and ultimately revitalize areas of small, otherwise forgotten little towns. They do great work and show their love of small town USA, again and again in their efforts. I'm not really big into watching television, but I have seen their work in Laurel, MS and in Wetumpka, AL and I'm pretty impressed with it. They've really helped to revitalize these little towns and the small, locally owned businesses there are thriving. As for the location of the Mission at the Cross and the Hellfighters Shop, Laurel is, once again, an ideal spot on the map. It's close enough to be accessible from several larger urban areas, where problems with homelessness and addiction seem to be the worst, but it's far enough away from them to help those in need focus on their recovery. It's also right off of I-59 (and you can't miss the signs). 

Go check 'em out

Make a point to go visit the good folks at Hellfighters USA. Go check out the good work they are doing and, even if you don't need anything, buy a little something from them anyway to help in their mission of helping those poor lost souls to find salvation and recovery. You never know who you might be giving a second chance to. They are open most days from 8am until 5 pm (the others, they're open until 6 pm), except of course on Sundays, when they close the doors to rest, and give thanks to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

One thing I always try to promote here in my little corner of the interweb, is the encouragement to live your life in a good and just way, to be a good person and to live in such a way that honors God and spreads good will. I think that's why I like the Hellfighters so much, because they aren't just writing about it, they have the means to do good and are actively helping people become better versions of themselves, and I think that's a really awesome thing to do.

Ride safe, make good choices and help your fellow man if you can and, if you can't, then try to help those that are already doing it.

MotoWriter side note:

By now, this should go without saying, but I'll say it again- I'm not paid by the Hellfighters, the Mission at the Cross or any other entity for my posts. I just like to review different things and places that I see and, being that I like to stay positive on my blog, I usually only write about the things and places that I really like or that really make a positive impact on me. 

I've often said that I'd be happy to get on a company's payroll, but for this one, I'll forego my previous sentiments. You see, The Hellfighters' mission is not only an honorable endeavor, but one that serves to improve our society, spread the gospel of our Lord and save lives. Even if they did offer to pay me for my humble words, I wouldn't accept their money- I would gladly donate my time and my words in service to their mission. 

-Thank you for your time and support, MotoReaders.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

6 Month Product Review- Adaptive Headlight and LED Turn Signals

Well MotoReaders, if you've been following my blog, you will have figured out a couple of things by now- 1, I like to give my honest opinions on new products, and 2, I like to review them after I've had some time to use them and put them through their paces. You'll also know that I'm not on anyone's payroll, nor do I get discounts for the products I'm reviewing, so there's absolutely no bias or influence for me to sell you on the products... if I like it and think it's a good product and worth the price, you'll know... but if not, I'm going to give it to you straight so you don't waste your hard-earned dough.

With that said, let's get to it!

My basic criteria

Today I share my 6 month review of the J.W. Speaker Adaptive LED Headlight and the Kuryakyn Tracer diffused LED turn signals that I installed on the MotoWriter Road King Special back in May of this year (see My Inner Cheapskate Lost!). 

In my previous post, I mentioned a few points that I'll touch on briefly here. 

1- Price and value. The number one thing I look at when buying or upgrading any product is the price and the value. When I say value, I mean, what am I going to get out of this product for the price I'm going to pay for it? Is it cheap enough to try it, then toss it if I don't like it, or is this going to be a significant investment for me? What is a significant investment for one person, may be quite a bit different for someone else, so I'll qualify that question with this- I'm a blue-collar working man with bills to pay. I don't have "family money" or a job that pays 6 figures, so a headlight that costs more than my motorcycle payment, is going to fall under that "significant investment" category.

2- Cool factor. Yes, this may seem like a very superficial point to consider, but it is an important point nonetheless. Why? Because it's a motorcycle and, while I want it to be functional, I also want it to look good while being functional. Let's be honest for a moment, if we are only concerned with functionality, then we probably wouldn't ride motorcycles in the first place. I can think of several different options for improving the lighting on my motorcycle that would be less expensive, but would look horrible in my opinion (which is all that matters when it comes to how my motorcycle looks). 

Bottom line- it's gotta look good, function well and do what I expect it to do for the price I paid for it. 

J.W. Speaker adaptive headlight (model 8790)

First, let's talk about the big one... the $550 headlight. I've known J.W. Speaker products for several years and I know who they are building products for (I'm looking at you, Harley-Davidson and Indian). There's no shame in it though. Rarely, especially these days, do major manufacturers make their own specialty products. For example, companies like Showa, Brembo, Mikuni, Keihin and Delphi have been supplying their parts to a wide array of major manufacturers because, simply put, they have their products dialed in so well (and patented so thoroughly) that it is more cost effective for companies like Yamaha, Harley-Davidson, Indian and so on, to simply buy their ready-made components and either re-brand them, or market them as a selling point (case in point, look at how many companies brag about using Brembo brakes).

So with the J.W. Speaker Adaptive headlight, the biggest question wasn't if the quality of the product was sufficient, but rather, was the functionality of the "adaptive" technology worth the price tag? Living in South Mississippi provides a very long riding season, but the trade-off is, there's not a whole lot of really curvy roads and there's even less mountain roads. So, in order to do a full, fair product review on a headlight that is supposed to illuminate your way through curves, I made a trip to the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, just for my loyal MotoReaders. 

The headlight functions surprisingly well. I do notice it more in left-hand turns and curves more than right hand turns, but it's not because it's not working properly, but rather, the fact that I'm on the right side of the road, so there's less road to be lit up. In right turns, it lights up the shoulder and ditch instead which is still good because now I can see those woodland critters on the edge of the road that are waiting for their chance to ambush an unprepared motorcyclist. The light functions exactly as promised and, as a matter of fact, has spoiled me so much that I don't even want to ride my Dyna at night because I've become so used to the extra light from the Road King's adaptive. It really is that nice. 

While the price tag is hefty, it is worth spending the extra money if you ride at night, especially on curvy back roads. If you are a daytime only rider or do most of your riding on long, straight stretches with little to no curves, then first of all, I'm sorry for you because that sounds awful, but my advice would be to save your money. If, however, you enjoy the peace and solidarity of riding under the stars on sweeping curves, then bust open that little ceramic pig and order yourself a new adaptive headlight from J.W. Speaker. 

Kuryakyn Tracer diffused LED turn signals (2904 & 2906)

The Road King Special, by its very name, is supposed to be "special." One of the biggest things I like about this bike is the styling- it's modern, yet maintains its heritage as a classic Harley-Davidson FLH. With that said, one of my biggest pet peeves is cutting corners and, in my opinion, Harley-Davidson got lazy and cut some corners on this bike. It just annoys me when something is so well executed... 90% of the way, then the last 10% is half-assed because no matter how great that 90% is, the only thing that will be talked about and remembered is the 10% that sucked. Changing an incandescent light bulb on a motorcycle that cost almost as much as an economy sedan, is a good example of that. It's not a deal-killer, but it sure is a stupid thing to have to do, when there are so many better alternatives already on the market. First of all, LED bulbs should be standard on all motorcycles, especially Harley-Davidsons. Why you ask? Because the execs at Harley-Davidson HQ are going all-in on the concept of the company being a "premium brand." So, if H-D is marketing their motorcycles as "premium" then why are they using the same incandescent light bulbs they have been using for the past 20+ years? LED bulb technology has dramatically changed the landscape of artificial and supplemental lighting in everything from street lights, to the lights in your home, to the lights on your vehicles, and everything in between. Several years back, I realized that the incandescents on the Road King Special were sub-standard for this slick, black, Cadillac of a motorcycle (oh yeah, that was a Quiet Riot reference... click the link to rock out, '1980's style!), so I replaced them long ago with some off-the shelf LED bulbs from the local auto parts store. 

While the replacement LEDs functioned well thanks to Harley-Davidson so thoughtfully using an, already load equalized, CAN bus electrical system on the bike (meaning, you don't need to install load equalizers due to the lower amp draw with LED bulbs on the newer Harley-Davidson models), they didn't look that good. I really like the look of the diffused LED tail lights on newer cars. My wife's car has them and they just look like they're from the future... they're one of the few things of the modern age that I do actually like. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw the Kuryakyn Tracer diffused LED lights available for my, modern classic, Road King Special. At over $100 a pair, they are considerably more expensive than the LED bulbs that I had already picked up, but these lights had the modern look I was after, so it didn't take nearly as much decision making on these. They are super bright, look amazing and, in my humble opinion, really match the sleek, modern aesthetic of my Road King Special. 

For what you get- a very well made, plug and play, aftermarket device that offers an immediate improvement over the stock lighting with a modern, updated, and just plain stylish appearance- all for around $250.That's not too bad for a full LED upgrade, in my opinion.

Final thoughts

So, in the case of this review, you may be wondering why it may seem to be a little more focused on the "pros" than the "cons" and my simple response is this- I pride myself on doing thorough research before I drop a wad of dough on something. In the case of upgrading the lighting on my 2017 Road King Special, it was a deliberate, albeit unnecessary, choice. To be more clear- the Special's stock lighting was sufficient in its stock form. The headlight was bright, the turn signals, signalled and the brake lights lit up sufficiently to satisfy the DOT standards. It was my decision to upgrade the lighting to better suit the style of the bike and improve it's functionality. Is the added expense of the upgrades worth the overall price tag of around $800? Well, that will depend greatly on two things- your budget and your desire. For me, and the kind of riding I do- long road trips and plenty of night time riding on two-lane backroads and the occasional curving mountain roads- it was absolutely worth the expense.

Stay safe MotoReaders and if you're going to get lit, get lit safely and make good choices.