I recognize that it’s unlikely everyone will be into this – I’ve decided to keep a weekly journal of my time with the Harley-Davidson Street Bob. If you don’t give a damn, I’ve done my best to give you a no-surprises headline, so you can skip future installments.
But it occurs to me that some people will be interested. Harleys have a certain hold on the imagination – in the United States, especially, but also in those places, like Britain, where the culture is heavily influenced by the United States. I personally see those latter places as the diviners for Harley-Davidson’s future direction; the company has a strong amount of goodwill in these places and may not carry as much of the ill will that certain American riders may feel.
It’s the common narrative, repeated in every Harley-related news item, that Harley is in trouble because the Baby Boomer demographic is the only demographic that cares about cruisers and it’s getting too old or just plain too dead to be able to sit astride a slowish, shuddering motorcycle. But I’m not entirely sure I buy that narrative. If it’s true, why are more and more people buying Indian bikes? Why is the Triumph Bonneville Bobber the fastest-selling model in that company’s 100+ -year history?
My point is, there’s nothing wrong with the bikes. That’s something I was thinking a lot this week: in and of itself, the Street Bob is a ridiculously fun motorcycle. Rip-your-head-off torque, fantastic sound. You could put any other badge on this bike and I’d still be inclined to wax poetic about it – maybe even more so.
READ MORE: 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob – First Ride
Riding along the quiet lanes of the Vale of Glamorgan this week, I found myself passing a group of people and thinking/feeling: “Do they see me? Do they see how cool I am on this Harley?”
Then I was hit with a kind of apologetic guilt to the 19-year-old version of me who hated Harley guys. I mean, I had some issues, y’all. I once threatened to run over the owner of a Road King with my pickup truck.
Twenty something years later, and I’m riding around, laughing uncontrollably in my helmet, and LOVING it. Yes, the Harley-Davidson of today is dramatically different than the Harley-Davidson of 1995 – it makes bikes that are actually deserving of praise – but still… Some part of me worried I was betraying another part of me.
Nonetheless, there I was, happily wearing my Harley-Davidson-branded Sully 3-in-1 jacket, wanting everyone to see me, and constantly checking myself out in shop windows. I just feel so cool when I ride the Street Bob. I can think of plenty of bikes I’ve enjoyed more from the standpoints of comfort, performance, and practicality, but I have never been on a motorcycle that makes me feel as cool as I do on the Street Bob – so much so that I almost don’t care about the other things.
Indeed, in the heat of summer – here in Wales, we’ve been having an abnormally lovely beginning to my favorite time of year – I don’t care at all about those things. Which is why I have committed myself to riding all the way to Prague on the Street Bob. I’ll be doing that the first week of July, making my way to the Czech Republic for Harley’s 115th anniversary celebrations. It’s a terrible idea, which means it will make for a great story. Which means, it is, in fact, a great idea.
I have worked out how and where to secure my Kriega bags. I’ve mentioned before my love for Kriega stuff. I’m like the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but rather than Windex my solution to all problems is Kriega gear. Riding 1,000 miles across Europe on a bike that is blatantly designed for short urban hops? Put a Kriega bag on it, you’ll be fine.
ANOTHER ROAD TRIP I’M CONSIDERING: BarbersRide is Far Cooler Than it Sounds
I have a US30 and two US20s. All three strap together, of course, giving me 70 liters of storage. That should probably be enough. I also have a US10 and am considering getting the accessory that will allow me to use that as a tank bag. The question I have, though, is whether it will work with the Street Bob. It may make more sense to just put the stuff I need to access quickly (waterproofs, bottle of water, travel documents, etc) in the R20 backpack I already have.
Meanwhile, I have learned that the Street Bob can reliably cover 160 miles on a tank (the Street Bob’s tank holds 13.2 liters of dino juice). At that point all the bars on the fuel gauge disappear and the bike’s range display says you’ve got 20ish something miles before you start walking. That’s fine by me. I struggle to stay in any saddle that long, so I’d likely be stopping anyway.