MCN Fleet: Life in the HOG lane

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Here I am after just a couple of weeks into riding the Harley-Davidson Street 750 and I’ve discussed it more with passers-by than I’ve chatted about other bikes in a whole year. Is this going to be how owning a Harley-Davidson is?

I’ve been welcomed by the Rutland Chapter of HOG, and cruised from the local dealership in a throng of 70 bikes to deliver Easter eggs to kids in Peterborough City Hospital. Chatting to just a few of the guys it’s obvious there’s more to owning a Harley than just riding – it’s a lifestyle choice, not just a motorcycle choice, so I think this is going to be a year of discovery.

There are always a few teething problems with a new bike and it was an interesting first weekend of ownership. I got kitted up for a ride and was dismayed to find the battery as flat as a pancake. At first I couldn’t work out why it would have died so spectacularly, but then realised what I’d done. The ignition barrel isn’t arranged in the order I’ve become used to – on/off/steering lock/parking light. The parking light is just one click round the barrel from ‘on’, so I’d been a complete donkey, left the parking light on and killed the battery. After much cursing I found the battery was pre-fitted with trickle charger attachments for a Harley-Davidson charger. The £153.61 price of the charger isn’t cheap, but once hooked up it took just a couple of hours to get enough juice to fire up the twin-cylinder engine and I’ll be able to leave it hooked up in the garage when necessary.

The dash is a tad too basic for my tastes. While the analogue speedo is clear and easy to read, the digital odometer and trip counter are less so. The lack of clock caught me out on my first long ride because I was having to guess what the time was – with it being a foggy day I couldn’t even use the sun to give me a clue.

I was heading out to Basingstoke on a 250-mile round trip to meet up with an observer from the Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists. I’ve decided after 12 years of riding that I’d like to pass the IAM test and have hooked up with Alie Ball – she’s part of the Thames Valley Advanced Motorcyclists, one of the largest groups in the country.

It was a great day of riding and I learnt a lot about the bike, not least of all the fact my backside could tolerate no more than about an hour and a half in the saddle. Luckily the fuel light came on after 110 miles and I pulled into the next services. I looked like John Wayne as I strutted across the forecourt. The riding position is totally different to what I’m used to, with all the weight going through my bum and my legs not taking any of the strain. I’ve got a trip to France planned so I need to sort something before that and I’m searching for ideas.

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