Why I Ride A Slow, Uncomfortable, Unreliable, Noisy Motorcycle




If you ever saw my motorcycle you’d think I was a complete idiot. You would ask yourself why on earth would someone ride something with 17-inch ape hanger handlebars, a massive sissy bar that looks like a throwback from an early 1970s biker film bolted to a motorcycle that has the technical sophistication of a very large lawn mower?

Photo: Anne Watson

It’s also noisy. Very noisy. Under hard acceleration it sounds like a moose bellowing as if someone had just slammed its testicles in a car door.

I honestly didn’t want it to be like that. But when my bike left the Harley-Davidson factory its stock engine set-up meant it ran so lean that the heat from the air-cooled motor made it almost impossible to ride here in California when temperatures climb into the 80s.

So I changed out the stock pipes. But then I was told I needed a new air filter and a re-map of the engine. All of that didn’t make my motorcycle much faster but it did suddenly come alive. And it sort of cooled down.

Its exhaust can be truly obnoxious which is why I ride with a light hand on the throttle in built-up areas. When there’s nobody about and just me and an open road I revert to the moose bellowing. But after a while it can make even my head hurt and then I wonder about my sanity and why I ride this damned bike.

I have read and re-read the countless things I could do to make its V-twin 96-ci engine faster and perform better. But I’m not convinced. I look at my bike and I am not sure that it is either.

At idle it shakes like a carnival ride and if I look down for too long the vibrations make my vision go blurry and then my hands go numb.

I hate the fact every single bolt and fastening has to be glued in place to stop them falling out. Before each ride I always have to check it over so it doesn’t leave me standing at an intersection with nothing more than the handlebars, a seat and a pile of parts.

The ape hanger bars were an after thought. I’d seen some of the Mexican low rider motorcycles in my neighborhood with mean looking dudes using them on their bikes.

I’ll admit they look preposterous (not the Mexican dudes) and I have lost count of the number of people who ask me precisely why I have them. I can’t give them a satisfactory answer. I just like ape hangers.

I did have an idea once of how I wanted my bike to look. I thought a sort of 1950s bobber style with some classic retro parts. But it’s become a bit of a mish-mash and not quite how I envisaged it would turn out.

I paid good money for a special order 32-inch sissy bar for the back of my bike. Some people have said looks like I am riding a remote control motorcycle or others have asked if I ever receive radio wave interference through it. It serves absolutely no purpose, rattles like hell all the time and makes getting on or off the bike a contortionist’s act. But I like the way it looks.

In a moment of madness I once took the front fender off. But this resulted in the bike and my face being sand blasted from road grit. Even an artfully tied bandana between the forks when it rained meant all that happened was a jet of water was thrown off the tire and straight up my nose. In a matter of hours the fender went back on.

I also kept the stock solo seat too. But if I were honest it would be more comfortable sitting on a piece of cardboard. There’s no back support and I feel I can ride over cigarette butts and tell you if they’re filtered or unfiltered. But I like the feedback from the road that it gives me even if on long rides it kills my back.

There’s an ugly gash on my bike’s left peg where I thought I could easily squeeze between a parked car and a wall to ride down a back alley. And there’s a dent the size of a dime on the front of the gas tank, caused by a rock flung out of a truck tire on the freeway. I’ve left it as a reminder of what that would have done to my face if the rock had hit me.

The factory fit rear brake light, which some say looks like a limp chrome dick, works intermittently. The rudimentary fuel gauge that may well have come off a 1960’s child’s pedal car some times pops out of the tank when I least expect it.

And I constantly have to check the primary plug for leaks as I over torqued it once during an oil change and stripped the thread. The chopper-style headlight I bought for it and which replaced the perfectly serviceable original light, is about as useful as a candle in the wind. But in daylight and probably only to my eyes it looks good.

Of course there are far better bikes out there I could have bought. There are many that are faster and nicer looking that probably have more engineering sophistication in their front brake lever than my entire motorcycle.


But herein lies the problem. For everything that irritates me about my bike it always without fail makes me smile every single time I get on it.

I have ridden it through empty deserts, up mountains and across, around and through nine states covering more than 8,000 miles in the process. I have nearly been taken out by an 18-wheeler on a downhill mountain pass and I once ran over a rattlesnake with it in the Mojave Desert.

My bike has taken me though some astonishing U.S. backwater towns in 100 plus degree heat and then a few hours later up into the mountains and over snow covered roads.

And, just like legendary Western lawman Wyatt Earp, I too once rode into Tombstone, Arizona, on it.

It’s my motorcycle. It drives me nuts at times but it’s been through a lot with me and has now become a part of my life. And for that reason alone I will never, ever sell it.

  • josh

    Its sad when stockholm syndrome gets this bad.

  • yoooks

    Any bike is better than no bike.

    • grb

      your right -any bike is better then no bike- but this is not the case here, as he could have many other superior bikes for the same or less money. so the thing is:

      there are allot of other bikes that will make you smile every single time you get on them, not just harleys…
      and there are allot of other bikes that can take you through nine states and 8k miles, not just harleys…
      almost every bike can ride over a rattlesnake in the Mojave Desert, not just harleys…
      you can also ride on all this bike into Tombstone, Arizona, not just on a harleys…
      ANY motorcycle you ride through all that will become a part of your life, not just a harley…
      so WHY was it he rides such a slow, uncomfortable, unreliable, noisy, ugly, tacky motorcycle???

  • Mister Gone

    Bye the bye, not sure how much of a fan I am of this new comment system. Its been about 30min and my original comment still hasn’t materialized (which is a shame, its ever so witty, you guys don’t know what you’re missing). Are all the comments screen personally?

    • Mugget

      No, comments are posted immediately – you should see it pop right up after hitting the “post” button.

      Maybe there is a filter that blocks particularly vulgar comments, but then I wouldn’t know because my comments are always civil.

      • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

        some of them seem to take longer for some bizarre reason. I honestly don’t completely understand. I’ve even posted comments and had them not show up and I’ve gone to look for them in the “flagged for approval” queue and not seen them there either. by the next day they show up.
        Wes and I are the only mods and I can assure, we aren’t pulling people’s comments unless they’re EXTREMELY offensive. anything short of absolutely despicable and I’d rather shame you publicly.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler
  • Dennis Bratland

    Attention whore.

  • Kevin

    Love what you ride, ride what you love. After 15,000 miles on a brand new Multistrada, I gave it up for a used VFR800. I doubt anyone would consider the VFR superior to the Multi in any single way… except for me. The more I ride the VFR, the more I think it has got to be one of the most brilliant bikes ever conceived and built. The perfect balance of compact and stable, powerful and easy to use, comfortable and sporty–*for me and me alone*. Anyone else might think it underpowered, overweight and behind the times. But not *me,* and that’s all that really matters. See you on the road.

    • w0lfatncsu

      Agreed. I never thought much of the VFR800 until I decided to buy one as a project. Since getting it back on the road, I’ve become convinced that it is one of the absolute best bikes out there. And that V4 noise…

    • motoguru.

      I’d opt for the VFR over the Multi too, but I want nothing to do with valve adjustment on either… Been there, done that.

    • Ceol Mor

      A VFR is my daily commuter. I’m so tired of it. Perhaps if I had a 5th generation instead of the 6th generation I own – VTEC blows! How well do you think a Panigale will do for daily commuting?

      • Kevin

        I have a 2007. I dont mind VTEC, I’ve gotten accustomed to it.

        • Ceol Mor

          I purchased mine new in ’08 (with ABS) and average about 75 miles a day on it – I have A LOT of time in the saddle on this bike with commuting and touring combined. I generally agree with your remarks about the VFR, but get aggravated more and more by the VTEC engine. I guess I just want something new. That said, there really isn’t a better commuter bike.

          • Ceol Mor

            I guess I should add that I have become more aggravated with my VFR after selling my Ducati 916. I have no outlet now.

        • Afonso Mata

          I’ve never ridden a VTEC bike, but my car has a VTEC engine and i really love it. I can be both fuel efficient and responsible in the morning, and a complete highrevving hooligan in the afternoon. Two engines in one ;)
          The transition on the VFR’s engine is very “abrupt” ?

          • Kevin

            I agree with your take on VTEC–the engine character does change significantly from 8 to 16 valve, going from a fairly torquey nature to a more top-end rush. The VTEC transition is very much like a turbo boost sensation. I’d also say that the best way to make use of it is to avoid being at light throttle when you hit it–you kind of have to power through it. And that’s where it can be annoying–sometimes VTEC wants to kick in right where you want to cruise, and you have to either upshift and run at a lower engine speed, or power through it.

            • Piglet2010

              This must be a characteristic of the VTEC implementation on the VFR800i, as the change in camshaft profiles was seamless on my former 1994 Civic Si, as it is on my
              current 2005 Civic EX; the system is completely transparent.

              • vfr_mike

                That’s because the Honda motorcycle VTEC engines aren’t using that system.

                They are using what is known by Honda as HyperVTEC, a very early system that appeared first on a home market 400. It is just a solenoid that controls oil flow to the HLAs on the second set of valves in each cylinder. When it engages, the engine goes from running on 8 valves to running on 16 valves, hence the abruptness.

                Personally, I feel like it is just a gimic as the 90-01 VFRs has no need for such frippery. They made great power everywhere and were a breeze to do a valve adjustment on.

                • Brent

                  The hyperVtec was for no more than regulations… V4 is a terd and it was hurting on emissions down low so they fixed it with craptec

      • Kelly Black

        I ride a 1982 Honda V45 Magna. She’s beautiful, and to me sexier than any Newport babe. She’s never left me walking unless I did something stupid, and she never misses when the throttle gets yanked. Wouldn’t trade her, and in her condition I get offers to buy her almost daily. She’s my babe.

        • Paul H

          1985 650 Nighthawk here, same thing, but less horsepower. I have a V-strom for vacation trips, but the Nighthawk is my first love & local ride. Oh, and there’s a 1984 next to it in the garage, too, how did that happen ??

          • PB-in-AL

            Hear, hear!! 1991 Nighthawk 750 all stock. She was bought on a whim and is a fantastic around-towner. From time to time I consider adding stuff, new LED turn signals, different headlamp, add cafe faring, but I just keep her stock. I get comments on her all the time.

      • Justin Penney

        On the few occasions I’ve been on a VFR800 I didn’t mind VTEC at all. It was predictable and smooth, especially given it’s reputation.

        Much smoother transition that the car version (yes they are quite a bit different). If you look at the dyno chart of say a Prelude you see a big dip right when VTEC engages. The VFR dynos do not show that.

    • Brent

      Maybe pre tech vfr were great but 6th gen in my opinion are electronic nightmares and you have to be religious on oil changes just to keep the CCT happy. Anything under 3k rpms is a nightmare for it and to be honest it feels about as strong as an sv650… Which has a more upright position and weighs less than ninja 300s.. and some 250s.. If you have to ask me how I felt about my 06 VFR it would be pretty similar to how the author feels about his bike.

  • Justin Turner

    Whatever your editor is making, I’ll pay him half.

  • Mark D

    $13,000. 13. Thousand. Dollars. 13 thousands of dollars. 0_o

    • Will Mederski

      for 50. FIF-TY. year old technology.

      • Mark Vizcarra

        You bash about the brand yet seem to have never rode one. The motor is old tech but everything else that surrounds it isn’t. At least they offer test rides before you even buy. Like most, you wouldn’t understand until you have rode one

        • nataku83

          I’ve ridden a friend’s XLH1200 – I still don’t get it…

          • Mark Vizcarra

            You rode a sportser that why. I rode one too and thought what the heck is this???

    • Richard Gozinya

      It’s clearly worth it to some people. It was obviously worth it to Tim. There’s people who bought MV Agusta F4CCs, which ran $120k a pop. There’s people who buy Confederates. There’s people who buy those Boss Hoss bikes, which run over $40k. Is Tim really so crazy for spending $13k on a bike he loves?

      • Mark D

        In those cases though, you’re paying for rare and/or amazing technology. HD sells a ton of these bikes, and the tech is decided…well-worn. So what you’re paying for is the American labor premium, large dealer network, and Harley brand image (which isn’t a bad thing, but let’s just call it what it is). Its just hard to fathom that those three things bring the price of the HD to that of the (on paper) vastly superior Triumph Thunderbird.

        • Richard Gozinya

          Rare or amazing technology on any of those bikes I mentioned? Hardly. As for an American labor premium, unless you’re comparing that to the developing world, there is no American labor premium.

          The point though, is if people are willing to pay a particular price point for something, then that thing is worth the money to them. A Harley, like most motorcycles popular in America, is a luxury good. A good, if extreme comparison, would be an Aston Martin Vanquish vs a Mustang GT. Objectively, there’s really nothing you can do with the Vanquish that you can’t do with the ‘Stang. Aston Martin’s reliability is nowhere near as good as Ford’s, nor is their dealer network. Yet the Aston Martin still sells for a shitload more money than the Mustang. And people pay it.

          Value of luxury goods isn’t a rational thing, it’s an emotional one.

          • grb

            If you cant tell the difference between a Mustang vs an Aston, A Confederate vs a Harley, then no wonder you would have no problem paying extra for a Harley, there must be allot of people that cant tell the difference and thats why Harleys sell so well

          • Davidabl2

            Very few people pay that “shitload” more however.

  • Mr.Paynter

    It’s still one less car.

  • Mykola

    Did you consider an oil cooler? There’s a couple choices that are functional, inexpensive, everything’s-in-the-box bolt on installations.

    • Tim Watson

      That’s a great suggestion and one that i am going to look into this summer. Thanks.

  • Mugget

    I never heard someone complain so much about a bike they love.

  • Gurupurkha Khalsa

    This sure is one fairly unattractive looking motorcycle with limited performance capabilities. It seems like you went out of your way to construct something mediocre. Why don’t you love something worth loving?

    Also, why do American’s have a preoccupation with ugly chrome on their vehicles?

    • Davidabl2

      “Why don’t you love something worth loving?”

      The Harleys that really fit that category are by and large very much more expensive and/or

      less reliable.

      “Also, why do American’s have a preoccupation with ugly chrome on their vehicles?”

      If you are from India some of the bikes made in India have as much chrome, so presumably the buyers share the same preoccupation. I can’t explain it in either case.

      Both countries are the world’s leaders in high chrome, low tech motorcycles. For the record, I own one. Made in India. And will be de-chroming it.

  • webbiker

    Loved the writeup. Had a Harley once and I can relate.

  • akaaccount

    So you ride this heap because it’s apparently all you’ve ever ridden.

  • http://twitter.com/ericcherry Eric Cherry

    I bought a 2003 Harley Sportster without forward controls a few years ago. I wanted a basic inexpensive standard that I thought would be lower maintenance. I’m not into raw performance as I just commute to and from work. Figured it’d be a good thing, belt drive, no valve adjustments, dual discs. “Great, just oil, pads and the occasional primary chain tension adjustment”. Boy was I ever wrong, everything broke on it constantly. Speedometer would intermittently cut out, wires burned throughout the harness, went through three ignition modules, carburetor woes, etc. It was also the world’s coldest natured bike, it would take about 20 miles before it would get to full operating temperature. I could bitch about it for months on end, my old Honda Shadow I’ve had it for 5 years, put on 70,000 miles and the only thing I can think of to complain about it is that it was once purple (not any more). It’s not fancy, but it works every day.

    • Davidabl2

      This is a reminder that the newer ones are like the old ones..How many miles did it take to have all the ‘experiences” you had with that 2003? I believe that an old Ironhead might have yielded more

    • josh

      If you think you want a harley, you probably actually want a shadow. Its like if you want a vw camper, you actually want a subaru forester and a roof tent. The maintenance is just insane.

      • http://twitter.com/ericcherry Eric Cherry

        That is the perfect analogy! I do have to give my flawed Harley it’s due credit, it did make me a better driveway mechanic. It’s easier to learn more when more breaks and frequently.

    • enzomedici

      I think they have solved those issues. My 2012 Harley Nightster has been great. I have just over 15k miles and haven’t had a single issue except for a nail in a tire.

      • Eric

        I would hope that my problems were not typical and that I was in the minority. I would love to ‘like’ the brand but since I had so many problems with the bike, such bad service from the dealer, they lost this guy as a customer for the foreseeable future. It’s a shame, I’d prefer not to convert my dollars to Yen. But since my dollars are in finite supply and go further in Japan than Milwaukee. I’ve owned a Suzuki LS650, Honda Shadow 750 and a Kawasaki Versys. All of them over 50,000 miles and hadn’t had anything break. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I didn’t ever go over 1,000 miles on the Sportster before something broke and left me stranded. The Nightster is a cool looking bike and hope you to have continued good service from it.

  • Juan Manuel Handal

    much as I don’t like Harleys, I respect all motorcycle riders. In your case, sir, nice writing and may you ride many more miles.

  • EchoZero

    Yeah… I get it.

    I started on a Yamaha V-Star 650. Thing was more noise than speed – whack the throttle open at a light and it’d roar.. and go nowhere. Fender got broken in an accident and the replacement didn’t match the rest of the paint. Seat made my back hurt on long trips. Scraped the engine guard if I cornered hard. Regulator fried during a trip, leaving me stranded 300 miles from home. Stator fried shortly after, and the bike was in pieces all winter while I tried to fix it. Ended up picking up a Street Triple R and selling the V-Star to a friend.

    I’ve got no regrets about the upgrade – it’s quieter, smoother, a hell of a lot faster, and it actually lets me corner without dragging hard parts. Absolutely love that bike. Still, there are days I really miss having a cruiser around. Something about it was fun in a way that the Street Triple doesn’t quite get.

    Eh… I keep thinking that one of these days I’ll pick up an 883 or something and build myself a little bobber. Maybe one day.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      Excepting the reliablity issues (I didn’t have it long enough for any to surface), my V-Star 250 experience was much the same. I don’t know how Yamaha managed to make it sound as if it had twice as much motor (or more) as it did, but going WFO from just off idle almost made you forget that you were basically riding a toy bike. But between the debilitating vibes through the bars and overstrained engine on the highway, woefully inadequate cornering clearance, ridiculous feet-forward riding position, buckhorn bars and miserable seat, trading up for a Versys was essentially a no-brainer (although what a really wanted was… a Street Triple). BUT: I kind of miss being able to thrash the Yamaha basically all the time without breaking too many laws. Plus, with the rock-stable steering from that unnecessary large degree of rake and 80 mpg fuel economy, it made an outstanding runabout.

      Also, while not a Harley fan (I rather dislike them in all honesty, though I’d accept one if there weren’t any reasonable alternatives), anyone who professes to not understand them should at least give one a short ride. If taking off down the street doesn’t make you giggle a little, or at the very least crack a smile, you are either too far absorbed into the anti-H-D cult or have no soul.

      • Davidabl2

        Now a Versys is a very rational motorcycle (or as rational as motorcycles can get) But I think I’d rather have a chopped-up V-Star 650 for a little more of that “Harley Lite” experience you describe..Am getting it myself at the moment with one of the Kawasaki VN800′s

  • http://motocynic.wordpress.com/ Scott Otte

    Awesome read, very funny. Not sure why you still have that bike.

  • Davidabl2

    For the sake of clarity, Mr. Watson could you tell us what year & model H.-D. your ride is (as it’s clearly more of a “ride” than a mere motorcycle) To the non expert it’s not obvious. it’s just pretty clear that it ain’t the 2013 StreetBob as shown in the acccompanying ad.

    • Tim Watson

      Thanks for asking… it’s a 2010 Dyna Street Bob.

      • Davidabl2

        Somehow it puts in perspective to know if we’re talking Evo or TwinCam or what,
        though from what you’re saying the experience seems to not have changed much over time.
        And it goes without sayin’ that many BikeExif readers don’t know their late-model American iron as well as they do their imports & antiques. Myself included.

        • Piglet2010

          Same here – all the non-touring Big Twin H-D models just sort of blend into a generic H-D cruiser in my mind. Still not sure what really makes them different from each other.

  • Davidabl2

    “character” doesn’t necessarily tell you if it’s good or bad character..or both.

  • Will Mederski

    i’m sorry, i can’t help it:
    you “paid good money” for a bent piece of rod that sounds like it was badly installed?
    i’ve caught a handlebar in the gut one too many times in my off-road years to willingly install a 32″ spike on the back of my bike, not to mention those ape hangers.

    cute story, bro.

    • Maggio Slooter

      I thought sissy bars were to keep your ol’lady from falling off the pillon — I guess they are for fashion now.

      • Davidabl2

        Also serve as luggage racks. good for tents, sleeping bags, duffle bags

      • Piglet2010

        I thought sissy bars were a place to keep your helmet while riding?

        • Davidabl2

          See above. They are Devices with a number of uses both good and bad.
          Hopefully it’s your passenger helmet ;-)

          • Piglet2010

            In stateline areas where one state has a lid law and the other does not, I see a lot of riders having helmets attached to their bikes instead of on their heads while in the state without the law.

  • http://twitter.com/tuscanfoodie Tuscan Foodie

    I personally hate noisy motorcycles, and I think that riding something whose noise gives you a headache is pretty idiotic. But I respect anybody’s freedom: so if riding on a noisy thing that gives you a headache is your thing, go for it.

    • Piglet2010

      Ever hear the saying, “the freedom to extend your fist ends at my nose”? Same applies to operation of motorcycles on public roads. Would the “loud pipes” crowd support my “freedom” to mount a high-powered PA system on my truck and park outside their house while using it to express my political, religious, etc views? I think not.

      But if someone wants to run a motorcycle with a resonator exhaust designed to maximize noise on their private property far enough away to not disturb other people, I fully support their freedom to do so.

      • Davidabl2

        Whats really dumb about running drag pipes on V-Twins (dumb as opposed to assholic, which is a given) is that straight pipes actually cost midrange performance on V-Twins

  • John S

    When I got my Buell, I put a Supertrapp on it. More power after re jetting? Well I imagined there was. The only thing is I got headaches from the noise. I looked up the stock muffler and found that it was specifically designed for this engine carb and air filter, what a surprise. Put the stock muffler back on and it has been a pleasure to ride, it doesn’t sound like an crop duster but, no headaches. I do think I want it to sound like a mighty machine sometimes, but I am getting over that.
    Now, I don’t understand the ape hangers, what are they for?

  • grb

    there are allot of other bikes that will make you smile every single time you get on them, not just harleys…
    and there are allot of other bikes that can take you through nine states and 8k miles, not just harleys…
    almost every bike can ride over a rattlesnake in the Mojave Desert, not just harleys…
    you can also ride on all this bike into Tombstone, Arizona, not just harleys…
    ANY motorcycle you ride through all that will become a part of your life, not just a harley…
    so WHY was it you ride such a slow, uncomfortable, unreliable, noisy, ugly, tacky motorcycle???…

  • grb

    they keep erasing my comments, no bad word, no rude statements, just expressing a different point of view as the article, so why? maybe it was annoying to whoever moderates because it was the truth and someone wants to be right all the time?… hmmm, whats the point of having comments and people expressing themselves if your moderation is so personal and biased?

    • grb

      its actually ridiculous and childish that my comment was erased just because it was the truth and questioned this article, with no other possible reason… thats just not honest

      • Atg

        BTW. You are an example of “enthusiast” as opposed to “Biker”.you can also ride a bicycle across country, what’s your point? Its obvious the man rides this bike cause he loves it. That WAS your answer. But please, ask nagging, whining questions to the next 1%er you meet. Then post before and after pictures. I triple dog dare you.

        • grb

          “I triple dog dare you” hahahaha seriously? how tuff… you cant act all cocky through the internet, that just shows how fake you are. you dont know me and good for you you’ll never do, you honestly need to mature or one day someone will make you, in a second. just pissoff, wannabe

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler
      • grb

        Yes I had already read that Wes, and thats what Im saying, its absurd you don’t let people comment depending on what you like and what you dont (because obviously, the comments you removed were not offensive or had bad words, just a different point of view) and that renders all conversation, discussion and basically the comment section useless. Having you or whoever it is masking what you don’t want people to read destroys the honesty of your comment section, specially because the idea is to let the people do there own voting on the comments and deciding which comments are popular and which not, not you

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Well, maybe you need to go read it again.

          None of your comments have been removed. In fact, you’ll see them published below. Disqus uses a variety or parameters (swear words, links, ip addresses etc) to decide what should go into the moderation queue waiting for our approval. Sorry we can’t approve them all immediately, but we have to, like, do stuff other than comment moderation sometimes.

          TL;DR: stop the butt hurt.

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          Wes and I are the only mods. Now that the stories don’t all pop up in one feed, it takes way too long to check in on each comment section and we each check the “flagged for approval” bin about once a week.

          I can promise, both of us would much rather shame you publicly for saying something we disagree with than just remove your comment. I’ve had my own comments not show up (and even not been able to find them in the flagged bin).
          Come hang out for a week. I promise there is no conspiracy. There are only 2 of us full time and we have WAY too much to do to get this thing off the ground to worry about you saying something we don’t like. If you have a problem seeing a comment, you’d be far more effective to let us know and ask us to try and find it than accuse us of trying to hide any comments that don’t agree with us.

          • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

            Well, I check that “pending” multiple times a day. But I do ride bikes and have meetings etc etc etc.

            • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

              really? man, i gotta stop slacking….

          • grb

            I get it, and sorry guys for being a pain… You know, I’ve been faithful reader of HFL literally since your first publication (since you guys started I tried registering but my IP address in Playa del Carmen wouldn’t let me, never knew why, and thats why I could comment before).

            I still remember an article you had about a trip to Yucatan every time I see one of the crazy bikes from the natives down here. The scene has grown, and I even thought it would be interesting to make a picture, and that idea was inspired by your publication and was always accompanied with the thought of maybe sharing it with you.

            All Im saying is that yes I was frustrated (“but hurt”), but thats just proof that really I like what your doing and just wanted to participate, otherwise i wouldn’t have given a crap.

            Thanks and good luck guys

        • Atg

          I would love to see these haters of your personal choice say crap to a 1%er about why HE may ride something they don’t care for. To their face. Ride what you love. grb would not have the eggs to say squat to you or me to our faces.CFFC.

          • grb

            HAHAhaha you’re a bit OVER exited with all that fake “1%” poseur thing, calm down, why wouldn’t I be able to say/disagree with him to his face? or you? is your iQ so low you cant have a descent argument without getting frustrated? this is not about personal low iQ aggression/picking fights, its about intelligent/healthy/constructive/arguments, chill out, mature.

  • Ray

    You know what? One doesn’t have to choose sides. There are several logics that undergird our choices in motorbikes. I didn’t hear Mr. Watson dissing sport bikes. I have ridden thousands of road miles on both. Some riders wave at me when I’m on my H-D, some wave at me when I’m on my sport bike. I’m still the same person.

    H-Ds are vintage bikes, they’re extremely user serviceable, and they are comfortable to ride across the continent when they are set up for it. I’ve done it. Imagine that. One can coast on them in gear without engine brake back-lash. They’re laid back, one doesn’t have to concentrate on the machinery, one can lose one’s self in the landscape and roadside scene. One can observe everything else but the bike. They are about being in the landscape, not about paying attention to what gear you are in or what the rpm is, or what your riding line is on the road. And then there’s all the image stuff that determines how you see others seeing you. A different uniform, etc…

    The sport bike I ride, a Guzzi Sport, has a lot of things in common with the HD, and it’s also somewhat eotechnic on the sportbike spectrum. But it requires taut attention to what you are doing. It’s cramp-inducing under 85 mph. But it’s a thoroughbred or a fighter jet. Its about power and its management, working the ragged edge of control if one wants to get there. It’s athletic. One cannot let one’s attention wander. One misses the scenery and surroundings as one pays attention to the machine and the finer physics of traction management and control. And then there’s all the image stuff that determines how you see others seeing you. A different uniform, etc…

    People ride bikes for different reasons. It’s all OK. Distracted drivers are far more odious.

    • Davidabl2

      I think a way to understand the appeal of old school/vintage/”farm machine’ tech is to ask yourself that if you want to have a ’55 Chevy experience can you get it by driving a PT Cruiser.. or an Austin Mini-Cooper experience driving a BMW Mini.

    • Piglet2010

      If I want to ride something where I can observe everything else but the bike, I will get a maxi-scooter such as a Honda Silver Wing or Yamaha TMAX and enjoy near modern automotive levels of comfort, durability, smoothness, etc, and the convenience of locking storage, as well as the convenience of “twist-and-go” operation. Compared to a modern maxi-scoot, a H-D “Big Twin” has intrusive levels of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness, as the automotive folks would say), as well as foot shifters and rear brake and a clutch – all of which detract from the goal of the bike “disappearing” while it is being ridden. And the difference in ownership cost will pay for quite a few riding vacations.

      Hey, I think I may go to my Honda dealer tomorrow and reserve a Honda Forza 300i (since I do not need the extra power of a Silver Wing for one-up riding). :)

  • Robert Horn

    There’s a lot to be said for motorcycles that maintain your attention to the activity in progress.

  • sdyank

    Because he can and he wants to.

    • Kevin

      Hear, hear. For once this wasn’t about a rider saying why his bike/brand was better than everything else. This was just a personal statement of why a guy loves his bike. Nothing wrong with that.

      • grb

        Your right, its about why someone comes to love his bike, but the title said “why I ride this bike” and he never really explained, if he could’ve had any bike, why does he have such a terrible bike in the first place. What Im saying is you can wright the same things about basically any motorcycle, so the question is why does he ride a slow, uncomfortable, unreliable, noisy, ugly, tacky motorcycle???

        • sdyank

          ” so the question is, why does he ride a slow, uncomfortable, unreliable, noisy, ugly, tacky motorcycle?”

          I’ll bite again. It’s clear from the article that he loves this bike in good times and in bad. It’s also clear that he recognizes that his ride is an awful one but he loves it anyway.

          So maybe, just maybe, the point of the article is that sometimes you have a love for something that makes no practical sense but you love it anyway regardless and there is no definitive answer for “Why I ride a slow uncomfortable unreliable noisy motorcycle?”. It’s because he “just does” and because sometimes “the heart wants what the heart wants” and that’s it. There’s no other argument. You can’t argue what’s in a mans heart and soul . You either accept it or walk away.

          Which is why I posted my original post to you: “Because he can and he wants to”: Because thats the only rational answer to the hypothetical question he posed in the title.

          • grb

            he posed a question which was never really answered in his article. Yet if you really tried to answer that, you would find everyone has its own complicated reasons, but “the heart wants what the heart wants” is the best answer, you just summed it up there, no need to say anymore more

          • Davidabl2

            Think of why men love the women they do..there’s often a similarity.

            “the heart wants what the heart wants”

      • Piglet2010

        I appreciate the honesty of the article, rather than the all too typical “because rice burners suck” answer.

    • grb

      Thats just a “I ran out of answers” answer, the point is his title read “Why I Ride This Bike” and he never said or explained why he bought a noisy, uncomfortable, unreliable, slow, tacky motorcycle, he did explain why people come to love there bikes, any bike, but its still a puzzle why he went out of his way to buy such a ridiculous bike

      • Davidabl2

        ..Or perhaps why having bought it and having become bonded to it he doesn’t address some of those issues, at least to the extent that they are “addressable”
        Some of the aesthetic fixes are pretty simple and practical, as are some of the mechanical. There’s an aesthetic fix I’m becoming fond of that costs less than
        $10 per can. Black plastidip spray, a rubbery removable stuff i call chrome protectant.

  • Nemo Danneskjold

    Not that riding isn’t already an innate desire i have…as it’s certainly a prevailing undertone the buzzes throughout all of my days—but thanks anyways for re-reminding me. I swear, my ’76 CB750f ALWAYS had some ailment and more than once left me stranded. But, despite that pending threat—i can’t recall a time where i might’ve second guessed the ol’ girl. She could break up with me all she wanted…i wasn’t leaving her.

  • Tommy Erst

    Let me know if you guys need me to write “why I ride a boring ugly motorcycle that sounds like a sewing machine that will never get me laid.

    • Davidabl2

      Never breaks down either. That’s the answer,really,so who needs to ask?

  • David Blackburn

    Good post. It could have been easily written about my history with a particular Norton Commando (which I no longer have). However, unlike your experience, my ’07 Harley FXDLI has been absolutely solid. Sure it shakes but not like the Norton which was known to sometimes shake so much the front wheel would bounce off the pavement when waiting at a stop. But nothing would temper that big grin every time I rode it.


    Do some basic maintenance! Most of your rides problems can be cured by simple means and there is no excuse to ride such a time bomb———–fix or pay to fix! As to your moronic high rise handlebars—————stuff em! Being a time bombis not an attribute–sorry.

    • Davidabl2

      Hey, riding motorcycles isn’t rational in the first place.. But I guess irrationality, like beauty comes in varying degrees. And yes, mini-apes would be less irrational than full-on apes, as would a short sissy bar. If there were a passenger seat..so that said sissy bar could fulfill that purpose as well as being a strange non-aerodynamic luggage rack

    • Atg

      Say stuff em to a 1%er. Please take before and after pictures to post. Please. Seriously. I need a good laugh.

  • Jeff Jones

    That’s why I ride my KLR. It wasn’t what I intended to get, but it’s what I ended up with. Now, I can’t bear to get rid of it. So I ride it.

  • Secret69Squirrel

    Thanks to you and everyone else in CA that chose to run loud pipes we now have a law that makes it virtually impossible to change the exhaust on a new bike. Well done.

    • Atg

      You’re welcome!!!

  • Rowtag

    16 inch apes over here haha

  • William Connor

    This is why so many ride cruisers.

  • Matt Helps

    Awesome article. Very funny! cheers!

  • Atg

    Keep riding that sweet thing Tim. The haters are “enthusiasts” at best. You fall into the actual “Biker” category. You speak a language only about 1% understand. LOL. They would NEVER say crap to your face. Ride it hard.have a blast. FTW.

  • sykerocker

    Understand completely. Now that the garage is down to two motorcycles, one is my long hauler, a ’95 Triumph Trident clocking 115k with a three bag Givi setup. And the other is my basically stock (not the pipes, of course) ’86 Harley FXR. You ride what fits you, what makes you feel good, and what works. I’m definitely playing in two different arenas, and enjoying them both.

  • Erik Gloor


  • Kelly Be

    I really enjoyed the read and I like the look of the bike

  • Jagdeep JD Singh Bhatia

    Just love the way this piece has been written ….fair winds my friend

  • Shistang

    Really great article! I ride a 2012 Street Bob, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. The bike and I have definitely “bonded”.