Why I traded the HD in on a T-Bird...[long]
I bought my first bike at 17, it was a Kawasaki 454 LTD. Fast-forward to age 40 and I find myself in the local HD dealership. A bunch of my friends have Harleys, and I figured "it was time". I bought a 2008 Dyna Super Glide and put 20K miles on it over the next three years.
I had many good times, Daytona twice a year for Bike Week and Biketoberfest, riding with my friends all over the state of Florida. It was a good, reliable bike I had no issues with at all. I enjoyed customizing it to suit my taste.
But, I did begin to notice something about the HD "brotherhood". It's a myth. Hang around HD guys long enough and you'll find out. The Softail guys think they're better then the Dyna guys. Everyone thinks Sportsters are girls bikes. The bagger guys think everyone should just buy a bagger and get it over with. Nobody accepts the V-Rod guys, which [incidentally] is the best bike HD makes.
Many weekends were spent cruising by/hanging out at the HD dealership. I'm a pretty astute guy [or like to think I am] and would pay attention. First off, HD service is generally poor. It's little things like charging you for 6 quarts of oil on a service when the bike only takes 4.5 quarts. The bike would be there forever on a warranty claim, no matter how small. No effort made to get things done in a timely fashion. Bike would come back dirty, and dripping residual oil they didn't bother to wipe off.
Parts? Please. Everyone loves to talk about the ready availability of HD parts. Another myth. Unless you want an oil filter or spark plugs, you'll have to order it. And pay up front. Oh, and don't expect a phone call when your parts arrive, you need to just keep calling and asking. [Yeah, they got here last week...] I realize not all HD experiences are the same, but by and large, this is quite accurate, and my point of view comes from several local stores.
So, at Biketoberfest last year, I started walking around to the other manufacturer's displays. Walking by the Triumphs, something caught my eye, and I went over to investigate. There it was, a Black Thunderbird. I was hooked, and started doing some research on it. I knew I'd be in a good position to do something in the fall of 2011, so I bided my time, and started dropping in on Triumph dealers.
On on of our weekend rides, I told my buddies I wanted to roll up to St. Petersburg, there was something I had to do there. They said "cool-let's go!" They were quite surprised when I pulled in to St. Pete Powersports [Victory, Kawasaki, Triumph]. "What are we doing here?" "I'm going to test ride a Thunderbird". They acted like I said I was going to shoot the Pope. I rode the bike, and decided I was going to buy one before I hit third gear. We left and headed up to Quaker Steak and Lube for lunch.
"OK, tell me what you were saying behind my back" I came right out with it when we sat down. "Uh, nothing, really. It's a nice bike and all, but it's not a HD. Are you really going to buy one?" "Yep." "But...but...what about your jacket and all your t-shirts? What are you gonna wear?"
These were their arguments. [Really?]I told them all that stuff means nothing to me. HD doesn't own me. I bought the bike three days later and have almost 1000 miles on it. Got the first service done. The people were friendly, the bike was done when they said it would be done and the price was $20 lower than what I was quoted. I was pleasantly surprised. Oh, and the Thunderbird clutch cover I ordered? It was there in three days, they called me when it arrived and installed it for free on the first service.
This doesn't mean I'll never own another HD. If HD builds the next bike I want to buy, I'll buy it. But, If Ducati, BMW, or Kawasaki build the next bike I want, I'll buy that.
So, here I am with a few less friends [yep], a new bike, and a better attitude towards motorcycling in general. Thanks for listening...