August 21, 2008 at 3:07 am #1938NoobacycleParticipant
In my future, I see a motorcycle of the cruiser variety. However, I’ve talked to two veteran bikers recently and they mentioned that my first bike should be one of the Japanese bikes. I was basically told to avoid Harleys unless I didn’t mind being nickeled and dimed and tinkering with something all the time.
Are Japanese bikes that much more reliable than Harleys? If I purchased something like a V-star, Vulcan, etc. would I get constant flak by Harley riders for riding a Jap bike? I just know that many Harley riders are fiercely loyal to the brand and despise all other makes.
Just some questions for a veteran riders I have here.August 21, 2008 at 3:30 am #10863MunchParticipant
I know here in my locale its very dependent on where you are. Majority of the time though all the traditional lines of prejudice have gone to the way side. Most people here that are HD owners are Lawyers, Dr’s, etc. … so the usual die hard fanatics are slowly going to the wayside with age. I have a Vulcan …love it ….don’t really care what others think. Popular response though from all sorts is that its a beautiful bike and get welcomed to the riding community. Are you concerned about catching flack from a Chevy owner about owning a Ford? Then why worry about the bike? And yes I live in an area with deep traditions. You ride with the confidence , attitude, safety and respect….the Bike your on is nothing more then a ticket into a great community.
added: Only one division that runs deep here is sport bike and cruiser riders. Mainly due to the the “squids” that run through traffic at 100 mph and a seemingly monthly source of bike wrecks. Unfortunately they are the ever decreasing (natural selection) minority, the bad ones leave a bad taste in the mouths of the cruiser riders ( tendency here is that cruiser riders are more mature and responsible). However alot of us are blurring those lines too. Alot more mix groups are riding and waving together.August 21, 2008 at 3:53 am #10868BuddParticipant
You probably don’t want to call it a Jap bike. If you have to condense it from Japanese try J-bike. Jap is a derogatory term. Also don’t call them nip bikes. Japanese bikes or j-bikes. If you want to pay way too much for your first bike, get a Harley. If what other people think is important to you, get a Harley. IMO they are way over hyped and way overpriced.
“I am the best there is at what I do, and what I do ain’t nice.”-WolverineAugust 21, 2008 at 6:42 am #10872NoobacycleParticipant
I’ve got my MSF rider course coming this Saturday and I’m excited and looking forward to it. In the meantime I’ve been reading lots of motorcycle literature about riding and I’ve heard about the brand loyalty bit. Some people go to extremes when it comes to Harleys. I was just curous as if anyone has observed any problems with owning Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha bikes amongst a Harley crowd.
People giving me advice to stay away from Harleys either have Harleys or have previously owned them.
Anyways, thanks for answering my questions before.August 21, 2008 at 6:52 am #10874megaspazParticipant
Harley and BMW riders are assholes. Most of them don’t wave back to me on my sports bike. I’m really kidding on the asshole part, but not on the waving part…August 21, 2008 at 9:16 am #10876
Harleys are really nice looking bikes to me, but they are very expensivo. It does seem only doctors, lawyers, and anybody else who has money to throw away(like young single people with good jobs and no baby mommas…or daddys) can afford HDs. You can’t buy one under 883cc’s which don’t make them the safest bikes(according to this web site and others, definitely not a bike for newbs like me). It seems only people who are gung-ho about “buying American” seem to go nuts over Harleys. Would I get a Harley? Ask me again if I ever switch tax brackets.
-HE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINSAugust 21, 2008 at 1:24 pm #10881RidleytheRedParticipant
I’ve had pretty good responses so far from other riders. The only time I’ve not seen people wave was when they were at standstill or one of us was turning on a curve. in other words riding safely. Everyone I talk to likes my Yamaha so far.August 21, 2008 at 1:25 pm #10882canstaettParticipant
I haven’t had anyone rag on my S40 yet- and I get the wave from everyone from bad ass Harley to speedy Ninja riders all the time. Everyone I work with that rides just wants to know if I enjoy it and to give me advice. Of course they also know that I’m the only one in the office that rides in every day, in just about any weather. Once you add in the 150 mile round trip commute, I get nothing but respect from those who don’t even think about going out in the rain, let alone at 4 in the morning.August 21, 2008 at 5:44 pm #10887WeaponZeroParticipant
In order to answer your question I’m going to give you a brief history of the Harley-Davidson brand.
Up until the late 1950s there were essentially two brands of American motorcycles: Harley-Davidson and Indian. Indian’s quality and performance were far superior. However, they went bankrupt because they insisted on building their bikes with hand and foot controls swapped around so that people used to riding other bikes couldn’t get the hang of riding an Indian. That left Harley as the only surviving brand of American motorcycles, and their quality was very poor. At the time, all of their bikes were outfitted with a type of engine called the “panhead” that had a reputation for puking oil all over the road. Triumph, whose bikes were not much better, but offered superior performance, replaced Harley-Davidson as the “bad boy” bikes in the 60s as a result of this. Harley’s sales slumped and they virtually went bankrupt and the brand ended up being bought out by AMF (the bowling equipment manufacturer).
In the early 70s, while under the control of AMF, Harley finally came out with a new engine for their bikes since the introduction of the “panhead” decades earlier. This engine was called the “evolution” engine and was a major step up from the “panhead.” Build quality improved but there were still numerious reliability issues that were never resolved; most notably oil leaks and parts that would shake themselves off of the bike. During this time, Japanese motorcycles were skyrocketing in popularity because a motorcycle Honda came out with in 1969 (The CB750) completely changed the face of motorcycling. It handled better, was faster, and more reliable than anything that had come out before it without sacrificing comfort and practicality. The rest of the Japanese manufacturers followed Honda’s path and began coming out with their own bikes based off of the CB750 design that essentially blew Harley completely off the map. During this time period, Harley-Davidson and it’s “evolution” engine for all intents and purposes may not have existed. Near the end of the ’70s, Harley’s original owners bought it back from AMF using a government loan.
In the 1980s, Harley simply could not compete with the Japanese because, on top of their bikes being more more powerful, more reliable, cheaper, and more refined, they were starting to come out with cruiser-style bikes that were taking away what little market share Harley had left. The US government stepped in and imposed a huge tariff on all imported bikes 750cc and over. This tariff was referred to as the “save Harley tax”. Prices of larger displacement Japanese motorcycles during this time skyrocketed to higher than the prices of even full size Harleys due to the tariff, however many Japanese manufacturers found ways to beat it (sleeve the cylinders on their 750s and market them as 700s). Harley used this time to try to make their bikes more reliable, however, it wasn’t until years later that they made their first giant leap forward since the introduction of the “evolution” engine.
In 1999, Harley came out with an engine called the Twin Cam 88 that replaced the “evolution” engine in all of their bikes except for the sportster series, which are still powered by “evolution” engines. The Twin Cam 88 bikes are Harley’s first truly “reliable” engine (although they say that the variant of the evolution in sportsters has been relatively problem-free). It is on par with the Japanese competitors quality-wise, power-wise, and refinement-wise, but is by no means superior. You could say it still trails behind bikes like Yamaha’s Road Star simply because of the fact that you don’t get anything more by spending double the price on the Harley.
Summarized: Harleys pre-1999 are unreliable and overpriced save for the Sportster series, and newer Harleys are still overpriced compared to Japanese competitors because you’re not getting anything more for your money. If respect matters to you then understand that anyone who looks down on you for not being willing to pay more for just a name is an idiot who doesn’t deserve YOUR respect. Also, I do get waves from Harley riders who wear helmets on my Suzuki SV650. It seems like the guys who are in it because they want to be Henry Fonda in Easy Rider and don’t wear helmets and look like Willie Nelson are the only ones who will be giving you problems. Harleys redesign their engines/bikes once every 30 years or so because that’s how often they feel the need to do some R&D. Japanese bikes are redesigned every 3-4 years because of technological breakthroughs constantly being discovered. I choose not to give money to a company that does things that lazily.
People who are loyal to the Harley brand and scoff at others feel the need to make up for, with their own attitudes, the fact that Harley did nothing to try and win back the people when Triumph stole their thunder in the ’60s and the Japanese bikes did in the ’70s and ’80s. They did not come out with new models. They did not try to build better bikes. They did not come out with new engines or new leaps in technology. They did not offer sales promotions. It was only while under the ownership of AMF that they came out with the only technological leap forward between the ’50s and the introduction of the Twin Cam 88 engine in 1999. They simply rolled over and let whatever was going to walk all over them do it. In the ’80s when they were nearly brankrupt they did nothing aside from let the US government try to bail them out. No new engines, no new models, no new technology, nothing. Harley’s lineup has been virtually unchanged since before I was born.August 21, 2008 at 5:51 pm #10893fotobitsParticipant
My 2003 Suzuki SV1000 is lighter, cheaper, more reliable, handles better and stops quicker than anything Harley has ever produced. I used to live in Hollister, CA, and saw many broken Harleys during the annual biker invasion. They were everywhere.
I even did a social experiment one day and rode my Honda CB600F3 to Johnny’s Bar & Grill. Parked it right in front amongst all the Harleys. Not only did no one speak to me, no one even made eye contact. I rode home, switched bikes and returned within 10 minutes on my Triumph Sprint RS. That bike drew a crowd before I turned off the engine, with the Harley cruiser types wanting to sit on it, and commenting about how pretty it was. No one seemed to recognize my helmet and leathers from a few minutes earlier.
While riding my bikes over the years I have found that almost everyone waves, no matter the type of bike. The ribbing about Japanese bikes is good-natured. The important things is we’re all on two wheels. I just cannot see spending the money for a Harley and then needing a second bike for track days, which I wouldn’t be able to afford if I bought a Harley.
Oh yeah. Don’t forget the comment about broken Harleys above.August 21, 2008 at 5:59 pm #10894WeaponZeroParticipant
Harley owners seem to have a lot more respect for the Triumph brand name than other imports it seems like. Is it because Triumph’s story almost mirrors the Harley story and they feel a kinship? I know that back in the ’50s the Sportster was introduced specifically to fight the growing trend of sportier British made bikes. It was faster, lighter, and just all around sportier than any other bike Harley made at the time. It was a 1000cc v-twin that was chain driven, an oddity for Harley. And it was built specifically to go up against the Triumphs that were becoming the new “bad boy” bikes of the world.August 21, 2008 at 6:46 pm #10895BuddParticipant
It is likely due to the Triumph being used in “The Wild One.”
“I am the best there is at what I do, and what I do ain’t nice.”-WolverineAugust 21, 2008 at 7:00 pm #10896
…for the Education folks. Even more reason to go Japanese.August 22, 2008 at 12:45 am #10928AnonymousGuest
Spare us the Political Correctness.
This is America, he can call them whatever the hell he likes!August 22, 2008 at 2:29 am #10937
…..doesn’t necessarily mean you should!
-HE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINS.AuthorPostsViewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 35 total)
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