Not Your Father’s Motorcycle

September 5, 2013

All Posts, News

A couple of recent and widely reported stories illustrate where Harley-Davidson is heading with its products – whether you like it or not.

For at least the last five years, since Keith Wandell became the Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Company, Harley has canned workers, cut pay for others, tried to tame its outlaw image and courted women to replace its old customer base of aging and increasingly impoverished blue collar men. The company has sought riders in India and China. There is an assembly plant in India now. And, Harley engines in the United States have gotten bigger and less efficient.

Sales are down but profits are up and the company continues to evolve. Witness Rushmore.


The blathering, August 21 press release that announced the Rushmore bikes – yeah, like the iconic mountain in South Dakota – claimed that Harley had redefined “American freedom machines.” The nearly incomprehensible release continued:

“Project RUSHMORE is a pure expression of our relationship with our customers and a shared passion for riding motorcycles,” said Mark-Hans Richer, Harley-Davidson Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “It’s resulted in some outstanding innovations, but from day one we’ve been focused on taking the total rider and passenger experience to the next level. We get there together, we come together – to quote the Beatles – through a process that uses not just formal feedback, but the kind of input we get from listening to customers out on the road, in the real world, and then blends that with our engineering and styling expertise. For years at Harley-Davidson we’ve been saying that we ride with you. Project RUSHMORE elevates that devotion to a higher level.”

What all that marketing noise seems to mean is that the American Harley market is going even farther up-scale. Another release explains that Rushmore is not actually a line of new bikes but rather “an initiative to bring a new level of sophistication to the brand’s biggest motorcycles.”

All the bikes have 103 cubic inch engines and an “expanded infotainment system” that includes “Bluetooth connectivity, GPS, navigation, phone, intercom and CB radio options.”

Harley is also rolling out a “Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam engine” which means the new power plant is liquid cooled rather than air cooled. The engine is now available in 103 and 110 cubic inch versions. The smaller of these water cooled engines is available now on the new Electra Glide Ultra Limited and Tri Glide Ultra. The big engine is standard on the CVO Ultra Limited.

Meanwhile In India

Harley also announced a new bike to be manufactured in India. The new Harley will have a 30 cubic inch, or 500 cubic centimeter, engine.

Matthew Levatich, Harley’s Chief Operating Officer, told the technology website gizmag that the new bike is “nimble, light weight, has a low seat height and supple throttle and braking. I’ve ridden it – it looks great, sounds great, it’s a Harley, and it’s priced right. We want to get it out as soon as we can, but it’s got to be right. New engines are complicated, and we’ve got to get everything right from a durability, reliability and confidence perspective. On the other hand, chassis and other things are a lot more straightforward.”

The tiniest Harley will be unveiled at a trade show in India in February. Harley expects to export the bike. Nobody has asked Harley management yet if the new bike will be exported to the United States.


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141 Responses to “Not Your Father’s Motorcycle”

  1. DesertH-D Says:

    Sherides – The dealers may or may not have records… One female owner makes it more likely, but generally speaking a bike of that age might have been through several shops, dealer or independent.

    The stealership guys are likely to feign complete ignorance about the cam chain tensioners… However this is an EXTREMELY well know issue. Don’t let them fool you. Just do a google for “Harley cam chain tensioner” or similar, and you’ll come across tons of info. BEST solution is a swap to Andrews or S&S gear drives.

    Bottom line: If the bike has not had the issue dealt with, at 30k miles it is ticking… And WILL “go off” some time. Probably soon.

  2. sherides Says:

    Snow/Desert H-D,

    At this point I have learned that the bike has 30,000 miles on it.
    One owner, a female. (which I suspected due to the seat, bags, pull back handlebars, and eagles all over the dang thing)

    It still has the stock exhaust and carb. (Strange but true)

    They couldn’t tell me anything about the cam chain tensioner springs.

    I am going to take a look at it this afternoon – with no intention of actually purchasing it today.

    Is it appropriate for me to ask them to replace the cam chain tensioner springs as a condition of purchase – or will they just laugh at me? (if they can’t or won’t proove that this has actually
    already been taken care of.

    I do know that this bike was purchased new from a different area dealership, would that dealership have maintenance records on file based on the Bike’s VIN #?

    Again, any input is very much appreciated.


  3. Snow Says:

    I agree with DesertH-D, the springs on the cam chain tensioner set up are unreliable. I’d have a mechanic at the stealership open it up for a look see as a provision of purchase, if they won’t do it walk away, better to know now than find out when you have lay out another 2k or so to get the motor up and running again. Some of those tensioners lasted 50k miles but others never made to 10k.
    Your looking at an older model bike so give it a good look over, bring a friend that knows something about Harley’s to help if it makes you more comfortable, as long as the bike looks like it’s been cared for you should be ok.
    Good luck, Snow.

  4. Panhead Says:

    @ Sherides
    No problem. I’d like to have a 51 too!
    You need to ‘give’ on the 63 Pan adventure. We won’t tell anybody.



  5. Phuquehed Says:

    Hot damn, I was just browsing Craigslist for the fuck of it and found that someone who was a good friend once just put an ’84 FXRS up for $5500. 7600 miles with an S&S carb. Fuck…I owe almost exactly that much left on my present bike. All this talk about having a *good* older HD and one pops up and I still can’t afford it. Anyone wanna buy a kidney for 6K? Used hard but tougher than shoe leather and able to clean 1+ cases of tallboys at a single drinking with ease.

  6. DesertH-D Says:

    Sherides – FXDL is a fine model. For the 99 model year, they are the early Twin Cam 88 motors. If there are over 5k miles, if it has not been done you will want to have the cam chain tensioners changed. Even better, go to a gear drive… Might be a bit noisier, but it makes it almost bulletproof if installed correctly. You can do drop-in .510 cams at the same time.

    It should have a CV on it, which is a fine carb if tuned correctly. You’ll want a free flowing air cleaner and some pipes. I prefer a Thunderheader, but that’s probably a regional preference. In any case, you might need to adjust the jetting after the pipes and cleaner go on. IF it hasn’t been done already! Not many have probably made it this far without the stage 1…

    You might want some personalization touches… Seat, shocks, etc.

    Other than the cam chain tensioner issue noted already, I’m not aware of anything unique to the 99 model year that should scare you off.

  7. sherides Says:

    Hi all,

    I am seeking opinions on the FXDL Dyna Low Rider. After much “Goldilocksing” around, I have settled on this model as the one I find most comfortable.

    I have located a BEAUTIFUL red 1999 FXDL that has custom bags and seat that has caught my eye and is after my heart.

    Before I go letting the looks of this bike take over my cognitive reasoning powers, is there anything I should know about this model year? Is it a safe thing to assume that a bike that is 14 years would have the “bugs” worked out or would the “issues” just be beginning.

    This bike is at a Stealership and I have never trusted Salespeople.

    Any input as to what I need to pay extra close attention to or ask about the bike would be very much appreciated.

    My Ol Man is Harley illiterate and will be of no help at all with this purchase. He’s not opposed to my purchasing a Harley –
    he just doesn’t know anything at all about them.

    I hope it’s ok that I posted this question here instead of the Saloon. I am still having issues with posting over on that thread.

    Sorry about the mix up on the year of your bike…. I once had an adventure on a ’63 Panhead. (the details of which can’t be revealed as several laws were broken that night)


  8. YYZ Skinhead Says:


    Wonder what any of the Confederate HDs would be worth nowadays? One of the commentors said they were an AMF gimmick to capitalize on Jimmy Carter’s election. If I had one (since I couldn’t get away with riding it around here) I would probably lug it around to all the shows and swaps, museum exhibit-style. “Get your pic taken with an authentic Confederate HD!”

    YYZ Skinhead

  9. Panhead Says:

    @ swampy
    Thanks. I know that some of the brothers may have picked up on “the change” as you call it. Chapter “patched over.” My patch was part of the deal. Got a great boss! We are in a better place now and we brought something to the table too. It was a win-win.

    Respects to you and yours,


  10. swampy Says:

    YYZ, Yes, produced for only 2 or 3 years. I knew a guy that had one; it was fast…..when it would run. Also knew someone that had one of the Confederate Super Glides.

  11. Dante Says:

    Excelsior, eh?

    My father used to frequently mention the high grade excelsior that resided between my ears.

    All I know is XLCH is pronounced “Fuck, my knee hurts!”

  12. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    Has anyone recently seen one of these:

    1977 cafe racer. It took reading the article to realize that “XLCR” is pronounced “Excelsior”.

    YYZ Skinhead

  13. swampy Says:

    Panhead, congratulations on your new patch. However, I must admit that the “change” had left me confused. Respect to you and yours, swampy

  14. Jim666 Says:

    No shit Warthog I had a cat tell me the same shit one time,,

  15. Panhead Says:

    @ JMacK
    Thanks man. Yeah, pretty stoked. Left the chapter doin the “Patch in” at 11:30, got home at 4:30 am, took a shower and went to work. Was not tired at all. Best ride ever!

    Respect to you too,


  16. JMacK Says:


    Envious of the pride you must be feeling right now. Congratulations.


  17. swampy Says:

    Inconsistent acronyms between these comments:
    The New, Improved, Dialogical Saloon, Wine and Cigar Bar:
    June 14, 2013 at 3:27 am
    August 15, 2013 at 7:03 am
    August 21, 2013 at 5:00 pm (….Location, location, location.)

    Vs. these:

    Not Your Father’s Motorcycle:
    September 9, 2013 at 3:39 pm
    September 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm

  18. Panhead Says:

    @ Freeman…. Thanks man.
    @ YYZ skinhead….Thank you. Been reading your posts for awhile now. Keep it up.
    @ PigPen…. Nice to be able to go into the clubhouse and sit down! Drink a beer.



  19. Freeman Says:

    Good going PROSPECT! kidding good for ya man!

  20. YYZ Skinhead Says:


    Congrats on your new patch!

    YYZ Skinhead

  21. PigPen Says:

    I just noticed you typed this…

    “somebody yelled PROSPECT the other night. I spun around and they all started laughing! Hard to break the habit.”

    The habit broke with us real quick, cause everytime we fell for that, we owed whoever caught us a beer.

  22. Panhead Says:


    Thank you Sister. Took me awhile. Mine is a 63. Think Tiger said he had a 51. I appreciate all of you.


  23. Paladin Says:


    That’s similar to the difference between a Fairy Tail and a Sea Story. The one starts out with “Once upon a time… The other, “This ain’t no shit…

    Long may You Ride (to those that deserve to),


  24. sherides Says:

    Congratulations Panhead !!

    I’ve been wondering when this time would come for you…
    I am jealous of your ’51 Panhead.


  25. WARTHOG Says:

    Phuquehed says:

    “Hah hah…seeing what I just wrote above makes me think I should’ve started it like ‘This one time, on a PGR mission…” (like ‘This one time, at band camp…’).”

    Don’t know why for sure, but it reminded me of a guy I met on the road many moons ago. He had a license plate that had NSTIW on it. I asked what that was about and he said every good biker story always starts with :No Shit, There I Was…




  26. Panhead Says:

    @ Hick….Thanks man.
    @ rollinnorth….You all before me set the standard. We owe the brothers that came before.
    @ WARTHOG….Ha ha. Sure is shiny!
    @ PigPen….Thanks man. Means a lot hearing these words from y’all.
    @ Snow….Thanks. My Ol Man told me to “shove on.” “Bend people to your will.”

    If I missed anybody it’s not intentional. I appreciate the kind words and encouragement!

    “Let’s Roll”

  27. SMFtwstdHICK Says:

    Congrats Panhead!!!

  28. rollinnorth Says:

    Congratulations, Panhead. Good to hear of someone running the old iron and getting a patch the old way.


  29. WARTHOG Says:


    Way to go, man! Now get out there and get it dirty.




  30. PigPen Says:

    Hey Panhead, congrats man. glad to hear you got you patch.

  31. Snow Says:

    Congrats, hard work pays off sometimes.
    Respect, Snow.

  32. Panhead Says:

    Thanks all.

    @Phuquehed…”you’re on.”
    @DesertH-D… That’s what my Boss said.
    @Jim666… somebody yelled PROSPECT the other night. I spun around and they all started laughing! Hard to break the habit.
    @One Eye…….!!
    @ Tiger… Thanks man. Love my Pan. I have upgraded for the long runs though. Not sure upgraded is the right word but have increased my comfort level. Ride a rigid Pan across country and you will understand what “pissin blood” means.
    @ Reb….Thanks for all you do.

    Respects to all,


  33. Phuquehed Says:

    @Panhead – Right fucking on man! If I ever meet ya in this life or the next, the first six-pack’s on me!

  34. DesertH-D Says:

    Congrats Panhead! Remember, the journey’s not over, it’s only just begun… :-)

  35. blacksmith Says:

    I’m guilty.
    Bought a 13 Road Glide because I always liked the look of them and I found out HD was discontinuing them in 14 and have only siad they are “redesigning” them but haven’t said when they will bring them back (if ever)
    I also do all the work on my bikes, and had the RG torn apart the day after I brought her home to change cams, headers, cores and reprogram the computer. The last one still irks me, as my 01 Wide Glide has a carb
    I just got back from a solo 13 day run up the coast to Canada, back down thru Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada. 5470 miles and nary a problem.
    I love that bike.

  36. Tooj Says:

    I couldn’t read all of it guys, so I’m already out of context. I read the article. When I first bought a bike, the grey were telling me “don’t buy that AMF bullshit” and the world kept turning and the models and changes kept coming. I forget what exactly IS the latest HD protocol? This stuff all depends upon who you ask, but I’m glad somebody like Rebel at least puts it out there plain.

  37. Jim666 Says:

    @ Panhead Congratz.

  38. One Eye Says:

    Right on, Panhead!

  39. tiger Says:

    Congratulations Panhead! There ain’t nothing like a Pan. 51FL Tiger

  40. Panhead Says:

    Thanks Reb
    Keep fightin the good fight.

    Much respect to you,


  41. Rebel Says:

    Dear Panhead,



  42. sled tramp Says:

    Spirit Lake Iowa huh,weird….,guess I’m buying Polaris next time,my family STARTED Spirit Lake Iowa.Might be supporting a cuz 2 centurys later….

  43. Phuquehed Says:

    @Base – heh heh…I’ve had groups of people (for instance 5 or 6 +/-) sittin’ around watching a movie and once the movie was Monty Python Search for the Holy Grail and out of the blue at least four of the people started laughing and shouting “There’s John!” when they saw (it was their first time seeing this movie…I told ’em they led sheltered lives later) the black knight not letting King Arthur cross the little ditch. The mother fuckers wouldn’t stop laughing their asses off through that whole damned scene. Took me a good while to figure out that it was a Good Thing, like what you’re sying (yeah, I’m not the swooftest SoB around).

    Hell, during PGR missions I’ve made cage drivers move and/or stop because they endangered one of the other riders. I got a bad temper when it comes to seeing a friend put in danger and I start cussing the driver and flipping the finger and trying to kick the side of their vehicle and getting in front of them and forcing them to pull over or slow down. I simply get foaming at the mouth pissed off and can’t help it.

    Hah hah…seeing what I just wrote above makes me think I should’ve started it like ‘This one time, on a PGR mission…” (like ‘This one time, at band camp…’).

  44. Panhead (yeah I do-63 FLH) Says:

    Pan – formerly Prospect.

    2 years hangaround. 6 months official hangaround. 179 days prospecting. Fucking glad it’s over, but ya’know, I enjoyed most of it. And I learned a hell of a lot. Still, the patch feels real nice and I earned it! Learned a lot in this room too. Thanks. I’ll continue to lurk and bash buttweiser whenever the mutt shows up.

    L&R to you all

    IC Nation

  45. Freeman Says:

    Guess i have to repost now after the bitchin and all, felt what i said at that time, anyways, everyone keep a firewall up, thats how they get 60 000 or + comp to overload a server of a site.

    Cause some a to z made it so my post got eaten, i post again, like i said this aint no cure for cancer…

    Victory does it for me, best machine for my daily commute, (wich is about 120 km daily that would make about 60/65 miles) i rode it, the handling is awesome, im in heavy traffic alot of times, i will own a hd again no doubt, but it wont be coming from the dealer,i can score a 2013 victory crossroads 8 ball for 15, 000, i tried it and havent tried anything hd come close for the price, indians are cool too, just out of my price range.

    i will leave the new hd to the rich yuppie baby boomers, where i live there is alot of bikes, i see those fuckers pass in front of the house riding at 15 miles an hour wearing nothing but a fuckin speedo working on their tan, with cheeezy tunes blowing out full blast on the speakers from the sound system they install on those things nowadays.

    Heard next years models comes with a cup holder, rack for the walker, and for a small fee you get training wheels, shit i almost forgot about the by-products, buy a new bike get 50% off, on everything except the chaps,guess chaps are to good of a seller to drop the price (who the fuck would want to wear those anyways?gimme kevlar jeans!), man they did not only forget where they come from, they forgot who got em where they are, and forgot who we are.

    My lil grain of salt into the mixt, whatever you ride have fun with it, if im lucky i got about a month and a half/2 months before being knee deep in white shit!

  46. Snow Says:

    I believe it is the whole social media thing, when people find out I don’t “do” facebook or anything like it I get some of the oddest looks. No one wants to be out of touch these days, to just get on the bike and ride. Hell with all the crap that comes on bikes these days you might as well just take the car.
    Respect sent to, well you know who you are, Snow.

  47. Uesque Says:

    Every year I look to see if HD has anything that I’ll like better than my FXRS-Sp. I haven’t found one yet. The few that came close are all gone.

    I’m not sure why a motorcycle needs infotainment. I ride in part to get away from the info and the riding itself is the tainment.

  48. Base Says:


    It made sense to me.
    I have known people with injuries and ailments that plant their asses in a chair and barley move.

    I suspect you are the complete opposite. Probably closer to this old saying:

    “If you pulled his arms off in a fight he would still try to kick you to death!”

    In no way is that a bad trait to posses.


  49. Phuquehed Says:

    @Base – Heh, always nice to hear a memory of an old bud pops up from seeing or hearing something out of the blue. With old friends, true friends, you never want to forget.

    I get similar sentiments about being a ‘tough old fart’ when I’m on PGR missions. Hell, gotten that from the *kin* of the deceased. The usual guys standing the flag line with me are always watching out for me and trying to make me go sit down after so many minutes…whether I want to or not. Those are my friends like you were to your bud. You’re appreciated more than you know even if dummies like me are too gruff to say it as often as we should. (hopefully that all made sense)

  50. Base Says:


    Like the story about the bike. Would have loved to have seen it, even better if I could have made something to put on it for ya.

    Condolences on the loss of your friends may they rest in peace.

    Hope your well and catching up.

    You & Phuquehed stirred this memory.

    In 80’s road with a solid kat by the name of Jasper, Jas ,was rat bike rider, mid 50’s Pan kicker in a hard tail frame.

    We were on the move headed to Hot Springs for a week end of goofing off. But left a little late because of a flat on another bike. 5 of us running balls out & we were not white lining per say but we moved through 2 & four lanes in tight pack.

    During one of those moments Jas clipped a car. The driver of the car did the old nose out thing. He said he didn’t see us but one bike had already past him & Jas said they made eye contact in the cars side mirror, anyway while my self and another took care of our injured friend our other two buddies explained to our new friend why you don’t nose out on bikes or any one for that matter. I felt like they took it a little to far with the atomic wedgey. But hey he almost killed our friend.

    Jas could not move his leg at all and it would not support his weight, said he had no feeling,couldn’t wiggle foot, toes anything. All motor skill was gone. He wasn’t in any real pain he said it felt like his leg was asleep.

    I was behind him when he did it, saw the entire thing my thought was,
    Asleep my ass, your leg got knocked the fuck out!

    Being the medics and gear heads we were & mostly still are,we duct taped his foot to his floor board and made sure one of us road on his right when he stopped using his front drum. We also picked up some ice at a truck stop and taped that around his knee which by this time had swollen up some and he was starting to feel some pain.

    By the time we found a hospital he had started putting weight on his leg but still had no motor function and his knee was starting to hurt pretty bad. The rest of us thought our week was going to end, well for a couple of us. We never got that far as to deciding who was going for a truck.

    Well after they gave him a couple shots and some pills the head nurse a cool lady hooked him up with a script of about 20 pain killers.

    Tough old bastard road the rest of the way with his foot taped to his floor board And a bag of ice taped to his knee. He eventually regained his motor skills several hours later but man did he ever fuck up his knee and walked with a gimp for the rest of his life.

    There is a lot more to that story but it’s been a long day.

    He was a hell of a man, and we had some wild times together, he’s gone And I miss him.

    Thanks Jim666 & Phuquehed for jarring that one loose, Good way to end a day.

    Stay true folks.


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