Downtown the other day I met a straw man who commented on my lack of a Harley. Straw man, such as in the guy who said, really does exist. He was a visitor, his Vietnam Vet hat screwed on over top of the tin-foil covering his pate to still those annoying voices. The hat was festooned with army, marine and navy service decorations, badges, qualification devices and so on. I suppose he could have been in all three branches but somehow… Anyway, he cast a disparaging gaze toward my blue BMW and asked why I didn’t have a Harley. I considered his question and answered, Good sense as much as anything. A bare modicum of taste might be another reason. That ended our discussion. The comment was appropriate. As I’ve referred to in past posts about my Harleys, (here’s a four part series on the Sportster), I’ve owned several of Milwaukee’s finest two-wheelers. Below is a photo of the most recent in the series.
It’s a 2001 FXDP, a police motorcycle that I bought in 2002 with 8 miles on the odo. Yes, 8, such as in eight miles. It already had most of the police poop removed. When I took this image, I had added windshield, saddlebags and front forks from an FXDX. I thought I had a stylish cruiser that could transport me to Tucson (100 miles) or Phoenix (220 miles) in comfort with a touch of panache. Ah, well. I had good intentions. I’ve filled a double-bottom dump-trailer with good intentions, all of which I plan on using to pave a four-lane thoroughfare that will terminate in hell.
The FXDP has it’s own special spot in the inner circle of hades. I reeeealllly wanted to like it. This was a motorcycle that looked like a motorcycle, not like a two-wheeled version of the bat-mobile. Sounded like a motorcycle, too. Potato-potato-potato it would rumble reassuringly. Made of metal. No plastic fenders, tank, and so on. Plus, the FXD provided that ineluctable entree to the brotherhood, as in Hey, bro, yuh know, dude…like…fuckin’ A. Gawddamn. I belonged to something. Finally. A group I could be proud of, unlike being a registered member of the Green Party or having become a vegetarian years ago. Proud, dude.
Unfortunately, I don’t get my identity from what I ride, who I fuck or what I eat. I have no identity. I’m a non-entity, but I prefer being anonymous and unidentifyable. That fits with riding a fifteen-year-old BMW or waving proudly from the open window of my VW Vanagon. Wie gehts, mein herr.
I might have lived with the identity crisis of dealing with membership in the Harley fraternity but this motorcycle combined poor performance with lousy handling. That’s a bit too much. I thought when I purchased the throaty monster that coupling an engine only slightly smaller that the one in my SUV with authority certification, that’s what cop bikes are called now, would mean plenty of grunt and good cornering. Even with the replacement FXDX front tubes (the DX is the sport FXD), new rear shocks and some engine tweaking, the bike was frighteningly slow and unwieldy. However, on the plus side, it was now noisy, too. Loud pipes save lives.
Say what, bro?
Yeah, even with ear plugs and my full-coverage helmet that clued other HD riders into the fact that my brotherly bona-fides weren’t in order, I couldn’t hear after a ride. That might have something to do with a few thousand hours of flying small airplanes, shooting guns and frequent masturbation between the age of 12 and about 58 but it’s not pleasant unless I’m sitting in front of a Republican Presidential debate.
The FXDP went through a few changes of livery, some more mods…then a drooling afficianado of big twin scooters fell in love with the bike. He rang my doorbell–bike was parked out front, insured, and ready for a thief–and asked what I would take for it. Three days later we met at the local motor vehicle office and the motorcycle became his. He asked me–cross where my heart should be–before he rode away, Do I need to mix oil with the gas? I didn’t have the heart to tell him that process would occur naturally as a result of blow-by from around the pistons.
I hope he enjoyed his purchase. Me…I bought a Buell. I live. I don’t learn. Read about the Buell here, in Part IV of the Sportster series.