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Old 04-15-2013, 01:50 PM   #1
Krazyjohnny OP
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Question Question from the other half

So the wife completed her motorcycle safety course this weekend. She had to do the classroom stuff at the local Harley shop and then did the "range" stuff elsewhere. Most of the instructors are all LEO types and they ride the HD stuff. She also said the stealership guy came in and gave them the sales pitch.

Her question to me was, "Why do people choose a Harley cruiser type bike over a lighter weight, more manueverable bike?" My answer was that different people feel more comfortable on them I guess. I am not an HD fan because they do not appeal to me.

Can anyone else add any insight as to what makes the HD popular besides being part of the "cool guy" crowd? How about what makes the Sport touring bike more popular? The latter being my favorite. If I were buying a large bike I would just buy a Gold Wing. I am not quite there yet, but know it may come someday.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:14 PM   #2
High Country Herb
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I'm not necessarily a Harley guy either, but can understand their appeal on a couple of levels:

1. Americans like to buy products made in the USA to support the "local" economy.
2. Harleys, especially the larger models, are said to be very comfortable on the open road.
3. Americans like the aesthetics of big loud machines. The same phenomenon also causes people to prefer 60s muscle cars over high strung sports cars, even if the imports are faster.

At the moment, Harley doesn't make a bike that fits my needs. Some day, when I have a garage big enough to fit one, that may change.

So did your wife ride the 500 Buell during her motorcycle safety course? My wife is about to take the class, and I think they will be riding 250 cc bikes of some sort. I am curious what she thought of the Buell.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:32 PM   #3
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It's changing slowly but surely.
I'm a sportbike guy, but I can see the sport tourer and dual sport bikes are on the rise.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krazyjohnny View Post
So the wife completed her motorcycle safety course this weekend. She had to do the classroom stuff at the local Harley shop and then did the "range" stuff elsewhere. Most of the instructors are all LEO types and they ride the HD stuff. She also said the stealership guy came in and gave them the sales pitch.

Her question to me was, "Why do people choose a Harley cruiser type bike over a lighter weight, more manueverable bike?" My answer was that different people feel more comfortable on them I guess. I am not an HD fan because they do not appeal to me.

Can anyone else add any insight as to what makes the HD popular besides being part of the "cool guy" crowd? How about what makes the Sport touring bike more popular? The latter being my favorite. If I were buying a large bike I would just buy a Gold Wing. I am not quite there yet, but know it may come someday.

Try riding some.

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Old 04-15-2013, 02:58 PM   #5
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Seat height.

Very low which makes new riders feel more comfortable and planted when they can flat foot both feet, especially so with female riders.

HD cruisers are heavy even Sportsters, but they all carry their weight down low so one does not need as much upper body strength to feel comfortable riding them and with both feet on the ground you feel more in control and less likley to drop it like a taller bike with higher cog, again a plus with female riders who generally have less upper body strength than males.

They are very easy to ride slowly, geared low with lots of tq so not alot of shifting and throttle action needed to easily cruise down the road or ride in heavy traffic.

I constaly hear that HDs or cruiser are terrible "first" or "newbie" bikes and I have personally ridden all sorts of bikes and feel that cruisers are the easiest most relaxed type of bike to ride.

Sort of like comparing a heavy beach cruiser bicycle to a tall and light mountain bike or road bike. Sure the mountain or road bike will perform better than the beach bike but on a flat smooth surface the beach bike is easier to ride for someone not proficient on 2 wheels.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:11 PM   #6
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My physical therapist!

When I was getting back into riding years ago, I asked my physical therapist what would be better for my back.

She replied that the recumbent position of a cruiser bike (which I was intending on getting) directs all of the road shock right up the spine. Think of all the old cruiser riders with back problems and kidney belts!

She then said that the more forward position of the sport touring style would actually work my back muscles and strengthen them!

After over a hundred thousand miles of pain free riding I am singing the praises of the sport touring bikes.

In fact, my ex took my advice and got himself a Ninja 650 for his commuter. He reports the same improvement in his back too!
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krazyjohnny View Post
So the wife completed her motorcycle safety course this weekend. She had to do the classroom stuff at the local Harley shop and then did the "range" stuff elsewhere. Most of the instructors are all LEO types and they ride the HD stuff. She also said the stealership guy came in and gave them the sales pitch.

Her question to me was, "Why do people choose a Harley cruiser type bike over a lighter weight, more manueverable bike?" My answer was that different people feel more comfortable on them I guess. I am not an HD fan because they do not appeal to me.

Can anyone else add any insight as to what makes the HD popular besides being part of the "cool guy" crowd? How about what makes the Sport touring bike more popular? The latter being my favorite. If I were buying a large bike I would just buy a Gold Wing. I am not quite there yet, but know it may come someday.
Part of it is the new rider doesn't know any better and the HD name has huge brand recognition as both a manufacturer and lifestyle provider. I say the latter for the way HD does encourage new riders to join with like minded folks for the social aspects and opportunities to meet and mingle with other riders in Harley Owners Groups. That is a good thing for the community - not a negative. Secondly, for reasons already well stated cruisers are easy bikes to manage for beginning or returning riders and until if or when their needs turn to higher performing machines cruisers will fit their needs just fine.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:39 PM   #8
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It seems most Americans see HD as an "upscale" brand, so some folks buy them as status symbols. Others buy them because they want entrance to the "club". They want to be accepted and included. And for some, it's either a Harley or nothing. A friend of mine had a really nice 1100 Suzuki back in the 80's. He decided he had to have a Harley and that anything Japanese a "rice grinder", so he drank the kool - aid and sold the Suzuki and saved his money for 6 years so he could finally buy a Soft tail.

I think Harley makes a good motorcycle, but I don't see them as being superior to other brands in anyway. I guess everyone has to decide for themselves if they like the emperor's new clothes.

Your wife is a smart lady. Lighter and more maneuverable is the way to go.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:39 PM   #9
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been looking for a bike for a female friend
even a 250 ninja is too tall for her. a Harley is really the only bike you can get that is low and has mid pegs.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
"Why do people choose a Harley cruiser type bike over a lighter weight, more manueverable bike?"
People do a lot of odd things when they take up a new hobby.

Why do people fill my gym the month of January and then quit like clockwork after spending cashola on swanky new gear?

Why do people show up to ADV events with a brand new KLR700X/GSA/PD and shiny new gear, proclaim that they used to race motocross and then proceed to biff every mudpuddle bigger than a cockroach?

I think it's human nature to try and find a tribe to which you can fit in, and then try to augment your lack of experience with stuff.

Sure, it's much more sensible to start on a better handling bike that's better on your body, stops better, etc. But, people are not buying mechanical function. They're buying social function. And each rider wants something different out of the deal.

And for a lot of Americans out there, buying a Harley is a life ambition. Well, buying a new one off the floor. Even if they don't know doodley squat about riding, they still understand the social mechanism that HD products are.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krazyjohnny View Post

Can anyone else add any insight as to what makes the HD popular besides being part of the "cool guy" crowd? How about what makes the Sport touring bike more popular? The latter being my favorite. If I were buying a large bike I would just buy a Gold Wing. I am not quite there yet, but know it may come someday.
Add me to the group that thinks there are better first bikes than a Harley. This is in no way a reflection on the motorcycle maker, but more of a reflection on what makes economic sense. Having worked with more new riders over the years than I can count, I can tell you from experience many new riders don't ride for very long. They have a bad scare, they drop a bike on themselves, or worse yet they crash. Still others find out they much prefer being on the back of their SO's bike rather than being in control and having to do all of the work. The first bike that makes the most economic sense is an inexpensive used bike. The owner isn't nearly as likely to be heartbroken if they drop it, and if they don't take to riding a used motorcycle makes for a less expensive experiment overall.

So why do most new riders gravitate to HD? For the same reason most riders in general gravitate to HD in this country. When's the last time you saw someone aspire to own a Suzuki Savage? Cruisers dominate motorcycling in the U.S., and Harley dominates the cruiser world. Harley also has the strongest manufacturer supported new rider program and the best marketing in motorcycling.

I happen to think Harley makes some fine motorcycles. I've owned several. I worked for the MoCo for about a decade. But when my SO started riding she spent a year on a Honda Rebel I picked up wrecked and rebuilt for her before I bought her a Harley. And later, she gravitated to a BMW F650 GS. BTW, a used F650 GS makes for a fine first motorcycle. If she wanted a new Harley I'd let her get one tomorrow. I'd like to have another one myself anyway. But my recommendation to anyone and everyone I know who takes up riding is to find a solid used motorcycle that "fits" them, meaning not too heavy, can reach the pavement, not too fast/powerful, etc., and spend a year on it before buying their aspirational bike - whatever that happens to be.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:19 PM   #12
High Country Herb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrecked'em View Post
been looking for a bike for a female friend
even a 250 ninja is too tall for her. a Harley is really the only bike you can get that is low and has mid pegs.
Honda Rebel 250. It was so small, my wife (almost 6 foot tall) could not comfortably sit on it. They are perfect for someone around 5 foot tall, and weigh about half as much as a Sportster.

If I were going to get an HD, it would be the V-Rod. It's sleek, sounds good, and looks like something ZZ Top might ride...
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:26 PM   #13
Krazyjohnny OP
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Great stuff in here for sure. She currently has a Yamaha TTR 250 that I have made street legal with all of the needed items here in Texas. I think she will start off on that and then maybe be between that and the 09' FZ-6 for a while. Maybe she will take over the FZ so I can get more serious about either a KTM SMT or Ducati Multistrada type of ride.

Gotta work the angle.
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Old 04-15-2013, 06:30 PM   #14
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My buddy practiced and took the test on my old tw200.

He was looking at 600 sport bikes but the guys at his work that don't even ride told him he was a pussy if he didn't get a liter bike.

He wound up at the Harley dealer and came home with a Street Bob.

So... I have no idea. He hasn't dropped it or crashed it but he'll only ride if the weather matches his optimum conditions.
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Old 04-15-2013, 06:35 PM   #15
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[QUOTE=High Country Herb;21192079]I'm not necessarily a Harley guy either, but can understand their appeal on a couple of levels:

1. Americans like to buy products made in the USA to support the "local" economy.
2. Harleys, especially the larger models, are said to be very comfortable on the open road.
3. Americans like the aesthetics of big loud machines. The same phenomenon also causes people to prefer 60s muscle cars over high strung sports cars, even if the imports are faster.

Nice, though Id like to add to this one as a Harley owner. Yes Buying American is a big part. I own a Buell also. At 52 a 170 mph bike would spell disaster for me, I wouldn't know what to do with it anymore. Big heavy bikes ride like big caddys. No hand numbing leaning forward on a sport bike and room to roam with floor boards and a big seat.
For the gals, seat height is a factor like in the 883 L, very sedate and easy to ride.
Personally the big loud thing is fading with age and its just not really cool anymore. The lifestyle is embarrassing, not all of us HD owners are pirate idiot riders.
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