Why I traded the HD in on a T-Bird...[long] - Triumph Forum: Triumph Rat Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 09:13 AM Thread Starter
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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...
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 11:07 AM
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Great story Tallboy - very interesting. As I'm sure you've noticed in other threads here, comparing HDs to Thunderbirds seems to come naturally. I bet that's what Triumph had in mind when they launched the TB and it worked!
The comparison is natural and I believe that's what really annoys and worries HD devotees. They realize there's a real contender out here and it's bothersome. My TB is not perfect, but it's a great bike. HD works hard to defend the notion that their bikes ARE perfect - the gold standard, nothing better, rah-rah, bla-bla. Now they actually have to listen to comparisons and defend the differences.
There's a new hot chick in town and some of the older broads who wear too much make-up don't like it much!

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 11:19 AM
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Great story ! I applaud you for using your good judgment, not because you bought a Tbird but because you didn't fall into that HD trap, which by the way IMO happens only to the weak minded. To sit there and say the triumph is the better bike but buy a HD instead speaks volumes about a person's value system and individuality. I have 2 friends with harleys like that. They're good friends regardless, but i lose a little respect for them because of this. Both think the triumph is better, one even rode it and was blown away but said "I still like HD better". The other one is scared to ride it for fear he wouldn't have enough willpower to resist buying one and selling his harley.

But to be honest i'm sorta glad there's a lot of that HD mentality because if not you would see Tbirds around every corner and we would lose that uniqueness that is one of the really nice aspects of owning a triumph. I have always been a fan of bikes that are less popular but still great. In the 70's i was a huge fan and owner of several models of the suzuki 2 stroke triples. I rarely saw anyone else on them. Everyone who liked 2 strokes wanted a RD350/400 or kawi triple, but i had those too at one point and i swear the suzukis were much better and about the same as far as speed per cc. (the GT750 water cooled suz was fast as he|| and 3 times the bike the kawi 750 triple was)
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 11:20 AM
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My TB is not perfect, but it's a great bike.
What ?!!!!! Go sit in the corner.....NOW!!!
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 11:50 AM
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Great story. Thanks for sharing. I think in general that those that can get past brand loyalty, and buy a bike on the merits of the individual bike, and not the brand are happier with their purchase in general. After all it makes sense to buy the product that best meets your needs, not because it has a certain logo on it.

Have you let any of your buddies ride your Thunderbird? I'm really curious as to what their thoughts are, and if any of them will end up making the switch as well.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 12:19 PM
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What ?!!!!! Go sit in the corner.....NOW!!!
My, bad, you're right, I appologize, I knew I screwed up as soon as I said it - even heard Tilley in the garage let out a pathetic little honk as if she were crushed.

As soon as my "time-out" is over I'm going for a nice ride - citrus is rippening and I love riding through the groves.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 12:38 PM
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Good. You can toss the dunce cap now. Maybe send it to the our lawman buddy.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 02:28 PM
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Good. You can toss the dunce cap now. Maybe send it to the our lawman buddy.
But it fits you so perfectly Daz. Why screw up a good thing!

Tallboy, enduring the service and warranty problems are a major problem. Saw it first hand when newer patrol units had to go in for warranty issues and service. Units would be out of service for a week or so on minor issues and on major ones, could be as much as a month. We were always told it was parts availability.

When the city bought into the HD Fleet program, they bought into more than they actually understood. HD reduced the actual warranty duration on the units after delivery due to the miles that were put on the bikes.

Going in for tire replacement was a real issue. They would generally just tell the officers to come back in a day or so. We even caught one HD employee riding a unit to and from work for a week after a warranty service. Of course he claimed he was ensuring the repairs were correctly done. To say the least it was a mess.

They would charge the fuel to the city for service rides if they had to fill up. It was a mess. I agree with you also on the cleanliness issues, as many units returned would actually have oily finger prints and residue over most the bike. Pride in the service and brand seem to be sorely lacking. We made issue with it once and the chief was sent a letter from the dealership owner, apologizing but in the same breath stating, his mechanics weren't getting paid to clean our unit after services but he'd be happy to oblige if they city would pay for the service. Real community spirit there. Nothing every changed.

I could go on an on but it would serve no other purpose but to continue solidifying your previous comments. As for the personal culture, you're more qualified to make those determinations. I've only had to experience it's aftermath of criminal activity.

Last edited by VainCyrus; 10-16-2011 at 03:48 AM.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 03:57 PM
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My motto is 'Ride what makes you feel good not what makes your mates feel good'.

I had one of the first ballistic, unrestricted Suzuki Hayabusas when all around me said it was 'too ugly' - boy did I love riding that bike!
I bought a 999S Ducati superbike when all around me said 'it'll stop when it rains/the cam belts will break etc etc' - boy do I love riding this bike. Still have it
I bought a Triumph Thunderbird 1600, when all around me said 'but it's a cruiser for God's sake and not even a Harley!' - boy do I love riding this bike. Still have it.
I restored a '50s BSA Rocket Gold Star when all around me said 'it's a heap of old junk/they break down/are too slow etc etc' - boy do I love riding this bike. Still have it.

See the pattern?
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 05:13 PM
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But it fits you so perfectly Daz. Why screw up a good thing!
You said you were outa here in that last post....why screw up a good thing?
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