Sunday, March 17, 2013

An age old argument: Ducati vs Harley Davidson

You all know him as Big Steve and that he recently sold his Hypermotard and changed rides (quite dramatically I'd say) to a 'Street Bob' Harley. We've been arguing the pros and cons of the two iconic brand names. He's also been trying to convert me to the dark side.
I just don't get it. Big Steve has had a life long passion to be a Harley rider. For him the switch was obvious and made perfect sense given his commuting circumstance so he's back, but this time talking about his passion for Harley Davidson.

So Steve, we know how much you liked your Hyper, you tinkered with it and made it faster, louder, so why the switch to Harley?

Firstly I've always loved anything on two wheels and have never really associated with one particular motorcycle tribe. But I've had a love for Harley Davidson since I was a kid. I remember in year 8 woodwork class I made a black coffin-shaped sign with the bar and shield logo carved in & painted the whole thing black with the logo in blood-red. I gave it to my dad for father's day and it lived on the side door to our garage for as long as I can remember.

 In hind sight part of me wishes I bought a Harley back in 08 instead of my z1000 but I don't regret owning the zed, a GSXR1000 and finally the hyper, they all gave me the experience and confidence I have today. The more i looked into the option of a Hardly the more it made sense, big, comfy, simple and of the more recent models - reliable. I wanted a bike that I could happily do 1000,000km on, then rebuild it and do 100,000 more. I wanted a bike i could easily hop on and ride interstate. I also didn't want to do any chain maintenance

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Steve's Dyna



How many kays so far and tell us, why the Street Bob?

I think I'm nudging 24k on her now so that's 20k since September, one set of tyres and brake pads.Why did I choose the street bob? Its pretty simple really. I wanted something that;
  • Still handled well so no 21" front cookie cutters.
  • Had proper suspension so I could upgrade shocks, raise it, lower it. etc
  • Had to be a big twin (so no sportsters).
  • Had to have (or could be fitted with) forward controls for stretching out.
  • Had to have a decent fuel tank 5-6 Gallons
It's fair to say that pretty much none of Harleys currently lineup would suit me off the showroom floor. I would have to factor in a seat, bars & fwd controls as minimum upgrades to suit my 'petiteness'. That's aside from performance bits like pipes, air cleaner & a tuner. As a bonus the bob I bought came with all the right stuff fitted by the previous owner with 4,000km on the clock for less than a new one.


What does the Harley offer you that your previous rides didn't?

Well firstly I keep my license intact. My motivation for trading my gixxer when I bought the hyper was that i could have just as much fun at lower speeds but those speeds were still well above license losing territory. I lived 6 months with no license 80km from my place of work and don't want to go there ever again, for my sanity and my marriage.

 On the Harley I really enjoy every aspect of the ride, the urge to race is gone, I've even switched to an open face helmet and now relish in every aspect of the journey, from the changing smells of the landscapes I'm riding through to the temperature alterations and also the interactions like smiling at kids who wave as I ride past, or women who wink.


Sounds like you are living the dream. What about the reputation that being a Harley rider carries, and is it different to being a Ducati rider? Do you buy into that all?


I'll be the first to admit that when I rode faster bikes I cursed the occasional Harley rider when stuck behind them. There seems to be a stigma associated with several of the motorcycle makes & models but for me personally I ride 99% of my roads solo, I don't buy into much bollocks I just want to ride. You have tossers on all makes and models.


You've talked here previously about brand loyalty, how do you relate to the HD brand vs Ducati

I was never about wearing Ducati branded gear or the like but i will confess i went into the CBD Harley store last week to purchase an indicator globe. The globe was $2.40 but I also walked out with a $100 hoody. Yes yes guilty as charged.


So the brand really does speak to you then! I think if you are willing to wear branded gear, something has got you by the short and curlies. My thing is that I have never really had that feeling about Harleys. Like some sort of genetic response to an inbuilt predisposition from the unknown, I have never had that 'phwoaaar' to ride a Harley.


What do you think calls us to these polar opposite of brands?

Your bike choice is what fits you, not just physically but more so where you are in life. I was ready to slow down, i was ready for comfort and I was ready to start clocking up easy miles. The Harley does all this with plenty left in the tank. I never sought out Ducati, it was the service intervals on the hyper that caught my eye initially, a test ride revealed just how fun they were. But fun had its place for me, I would have liked to keep the Duc just for fun but at the end of the day I realised that even riding it one day a week to work was still a chore. I'd like to say I'll own a bike like the hyper again but I doubt it. At the moment my sights are firmly set on adding another Harley to the stable, something that I can take a pillion + gear away on longer trips. I enjoyed our GAR ride late last year immensely. That was my first real getaway in about 7 years so i was keen to make it last and enjoy it. That's what I want out of every ride really, no rush, take it all in and enjoy it. I see dudes on bikes splitting lanes at 100kph in the mornings and I ask myself "Why would you hurry to work??" for me I have no desire to hurry anywhere.


I like the little Forty-Eights and the XR1200, what other models do you think I should test out?

I can see you rocking out on a little sporty I say little but that's because I'm too tall for them and they have a smaller motor than my Dyna but they really aren't small by any measure and are a wicked scoot for anything from fast sweepers to cruising freeways to lane splitting in the urban jungle. But given I know how much you like your modern doo dads and tech wizardry (Just like me) I reckon a V-rod would suit you well. They are sort of the Anti-harley Harley. I was almost sold on the idea of one myself but opted for something a little more traditionally styled with a larger tank. They make plenty of horsepower, are easily upgraded, they handle & stop well (a harley with brembos - da fuq?), they turn heads they have 10,000km service intervals - what more could you want. Big Steve.

Well thanks for the chat mate, it's always interesting. If I had to summarise, Harley or Ducati, I'd have to say it's an irrelevant question and don't need to be compared directly - it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of your ride, as Steve notes, bike choice is a personal thing and brands even more so. For both of us I think it's more about simply riding motorcycles. Ones that fit and make us happy. I like big twins, motard and adventure style bikes; sitting bolt upright, arms out at a 45 degree angle to your forks and legs tucked back in just behind you. I could never ride a bagger with my legs out in front of me - it just doesn't appeal at all. Equally so I couldn't ride a Superbike every day.  I could see me scorching up the freeway one day on a XR 1200 but that isn't very traditional Harley now is it? Who cares. Live to ride.