Jumping to the Dark Side

A lot of people are Harley enthusiasts. They wouldn’t cross the street to spit on a Japanese bike. Whatever else you may think of the MoCo, they certainly inspire customer loyalty. I like ’em myself, which is why I bought one.

I’ve been thinking about getting a Road King, maybe next year, when I’ve paid down the sporty enough so that I won’t take a bath on the trade in. I was all set for it, expecting to ride my Sportster daily for the next 6 months, then trade her in for a Road King. I was looking forward to it. Even had a big pic of a Road King on my computer desktop.

Until I sat on one of these.

This is the Triumph Rocket III Classic Tourer. It weighs 40 pounds less than a Road King. It has 140 horsepower compared to the Road King’s 65. And I love the art deco styling way better.

It certainly looks like a beast, and, guess, if you punch it, it really is, with an 11-second quarter mile at 118 MPH, and a 0-60 speed of about 2 seconds.

Now, in the general scheme of things, I’m not all that interested in using that rocket-like performance. I’m just not a speed demon. But it certainly has all the horses you’d ever want, which would come in handy in passing situations, and riding two up won’t affect the performance at all.

The thing is, it’s really well balanced. I could pick it up off the kickstand in the showroom without even using my hands, and simply nudging it with my left leg. It’s heavy, but very well balanced. And I can still flat-foot it when it comes up. Oh, and it costs about $1400 less than a Road King.

And, there’s a few things that are starting to irritate me about the MoCo. If Triumph can produce a touring/monster bike like this for hundreds of dollars less, why can’t the MoCo? well, actually that answer’s easy. The MoCo doesn’t want to.

I was reading an article earlier this week about how Harley is taking a hit because sales are slumping. when asked why Harley wouldn’t consider some price cuts or incentives to help stimulate demand, the exec replied that the company wanted to be really careful about “protecting the brand”. That’s the kind of attitude–though I understand it–that can protect the brand right into Chapter 11.

Friday, I decided to get a bandanna or two to wear under my half helmet, and soak up the sweat, so my helmet doesn’t get all funky. Bandannas at the local dealer’s boutique: $15.99. Bandannas at Big 5 Sporting goods: $2.49. I bought four of them at Big 5.

There is, of course, an argument–a fantastically good one, in fact–for selling products at whatever price the market will bear. At least, until people stop paying all that extra money just to display the Bar and Shield.

And, frankly, I am bothered by the number of mechanical problems that Harley’s seem to have. For instance, my bike sprang an oil leak at 2400 miles. When I pay more than ten grand for a product, I’d at least like to go a few months before dropping it off for repairs. And when I look through the Harley forums, I sure do see a lot of people asking about problems on their relatively new bikes.

It seems to me that if you want to charge a premium price for the brand, it should be accompanied by premium quality.

So, next year, instead of a HOG, I might just end up being a Rat.