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Author Topic: The stablehawg  (Read 685 times)

Offline BartusCompater

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The stablehawg
« on: December 09, 2015, 07:50:33 PM »
I have a confession to make. It is something that should only be read in secret, and something that–when I speak of it–I only speak of in hushed tones. Despite the fact that I love my Honda, I am now also the owner of a 1979 Harley Davidson Shovelhead FXS Lowrider. My father and I spent the good part of a year slowly chipping away at getting his old bike running. After spending about ten years in pieces, it is alive again… and it is good.







The place where I think everyone needs to start when trying to understand what in the hell makes Harley people tick, is with the engine. This thing is around 1350cc’s of pure, inefficient, beast mode. It nearly takes the displacement of the four cylinder CB750 and packs that into each of its two massive cylinders. This means that the motor feels and sounds like a big, thumping, gas-fed heart. The Nighthawk engine spools up, whirring high and low with the throttle, while the Lowrider hammers it’s way through RPMS at half the speed. The torque that’s created allows me to completely ignore what gear I’m in–it will tug itself uphill at slow speeds in high gear… while the Nighthawk relies on finesse, proper gearing, and a careful working of the clutch to get the most of the engine’s small, fast, mode of releasing energy.


When you try to kick start the Harley (and you should), there is a part of your brain that wonders if the compression might kick back and break your goddamn leg (it won’t). Then comes the moment of truth. That singular point in time when your own vigor brings something altogether powerful and new back to life.
At this point I’ve started the Harley quite a few times, and I still feel like a kid in a candy shop when I get to kick it over. It’s hard to understand when your only experience with Harleys is of them interrupting your peace and solitude as they scream down the road… but there truly is something about the sound of a Harley’s exhaust that has real beauty and emotional power. I’m convinced that there is some sort of physiological reaction that takes place when you’re on that seat, you turn that throttle, and you hear that exhaust, which is just absolutely infectious.




You may have heard that the reason no other motorcycles sound like Harleys is that Harleys are intentionally designed to run poorly. That the only way to create the “Harley” sound is to design an engine that is working against itself. You may have heard this…
…and it is completely, and utterly true. The thing about it though, is that this is a perfect illustration of what makes Harley Davidsons so appealing. From our high Honda throne it is incredibly difficult to understand a motorcycle that was not built to be a performance machine. It is bigger, heavier, slower, more expensive, and just plain stupider than any Japanese motorcycle. And that’s what makes Harleys so awesome. They aren’t about fulfilling Robert Pirsig’s idea of the “quality” (Quality ?) machine. They are about making an aesthetic statement. Everything from the heavy metal components, to the loud exhaust, to the poor engineering of the engine comes down to expressing character.


This isn’t to say that Hondas can’t have character or soul. Of course they can. They are motorcycles. On the other hand, I don’t think this is what they’re all about. My Nighthawk is a precision machine, engineered to be the best, most efficient two-wheeled vehicle possible for its price-point. The experience it provides is smooth and reliable. The Harley rattles your teeth out. It falls apart as you ride it (I almost lost my front brake and one of my exhaust pipes while riding last week). All the while, you draw stares (especially terrified and awe-inspired 4 year olds) and you feel like you are something more mysterious and powerful than you ever thought possible.
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Offline Aprilfool

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Re: The stablehawg
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2015, 09:48:09 PM »
Thanks for that writeup! I have to admit I didn't get it. I think I have some understanding now. I still didn't get it for me, but I can understand it. Rock on!

Offline det-drbuzzard

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Re: The stablehawg
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2015, 03:17:33 AM »
congrats you and your dad for getting the Harley road worthy

Offline Raven

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Re: The stablehawg
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2015, 05:01:13 AM »
I've ridden a V-Rod, a different kind of Harley. I still would never buy one but I do get it. I don't like it, but I get it.

 

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