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.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for TechCentralStation.com. Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

3 thoughts on “Jumping to the Dark Side”

  1. Hi Dale, you have a very interesting blog about your 1200C. I browsed many of the postings, but read some in their entirety. I must tell you, your experiences run so close to parallel mine –it is uncanny. I could almost sign my name to your blog and there wouldn’t be a nickels worth of difference.

    Though there are a couple of differences. First, I’m a lot older than you, and I’d been away from riding since the early 80s. At that time I was riding a Honda 450. Also, I haven’t exactly had your mis-fortune to drop mine yet, but I think I’ve probably done a lot more practicing with slow speed exercises, than maybe you have. I still practice them. I have the same DVD “RLAP”, but I also have another one that is better. You can find snippets of this better DVD on YouTube. The instructor is a beautiful blonde lady.

    It was last November when I got my 2006 1200C, but it was August 2006 that I actually decided I wanted a Harley and started doing all kinds of research and investigation. I got a nice 2006 with only 1750 miles on it. Been having a ball riding it this past Spring and Summer.

    BTW, I’m a retired Programmer/Systems Analyst, and did internal software application for the Engineering department of a large company here in the Midwest.

    Have fun with whatever you decide to buy… even if you leave the Harley family.

    For me, the 1200 fits me just great, and has plenty of guts for the highway. Today I tried to ride in some very stiff wind, and I was really glad the bike weighed as much as it does, but still I was being thrown around some. I need more experience in the higher winds.

    Take care…. oh, I’m Trekster on the XL Forum.

  2. I practice the low-speed stuff, too. I bought a bunch of soccer cones so I could lay out test tracks, and practice slow-speed maneuvers.

  3. All bikes have their problems. The Rocket III is not without its own. Many owners are complaining about the engine shutting off suddenly, for no apparent reason. I’ve got an article about this on BNO.

    The high priced Harley is just a “supply and demand” issue. There’s been a lot of demand, and the MoCo has done pretty well with controlling supply. Take a look at what’s going on now, with demand dropping. You can deal down a brand new 2007 Ultra Classic for $18K, whereas a couple of years ago, you’d pay $22K for it.

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