I went to my local Harley Dealership this weekend to look at bikes...
Before you start throwing stones - let me explain
They were hosting a demo days & I wanted to go see what all the hype was about for the new 2018 lineup they just released. Free food, drinks and motorcycle rides - Hard to pass up.
I have a Highball. So, I wanted to test out the direct competition now that Victory is no longer making bikes.
Plus, all these new Harley's have new Milwaukee 8 - 107ci motors. Which finally welcome Harley into the modern age of motorcycle engines, and are getting a lot of good reviews from all subsections of the bike world.
Hey - it has two wheels. Why not? Lets ride!
First bike up:
2018 Street Bob - 107ci Milwaukee 8 (Stock)
I seriously thought this was the direct competitor to the Highball. It's the "bobber" of the Harley lineup. Has the mini-ape handle bars, and is stripped down to the basics. And to be honest - I was the most interested in testing this bike because I thought it would give the highball a run for its money.
I am 6'3", 210 lbs and athletic. I could barely fit on this bike. I had no idea it was this small feeling. I literally felt like a gorilla on a little circus clown bike!
Being totally objective - It sucked. Seriously. I was having a hard time even enjoying the short demo ride around town. Usually on any motorcycle ride, no matter what the bike, I would be smiling just tooling around on a scooter.
But , this was rough. I felt like there was nothing really that impressive to write home about with the motor ( maybe it's just because i'm used to the Highball), and the ergonomics of this bike are terrible - for me at least. I guess if you are like 5'8" and under and weigh under 170 lbs - maybe you'd have better luck.
It that is the case - the highball wins in every single matchup against this bike.
My legs were so cramped that when I had my leg/foot up on the peg and I went to switch gears, I couldn't even get my food to bend high enough to get my foot on top of shifter to shift down!
Even with the mini apes, My elbows hit my knees on turns.
And the mirrors are so close to the grips on the handlebars, that almost every time I went to pull the clutch in - my knuckles hit he mirrors and moved them.
But, even performance wise - the stock highball would wreck a stock street bob. Just about the only thing the bob might do better that the Highball with is cornering. It has pretty thin width tires, and is a pretty small statured bike, so by nature, it could be easier to carve up corner with. Didn't really get to test that out a lot though.
I told all this to the Dealer when I got back, and he kinda laughed and said a lot of people say that. He then told me I would buy new handlebars and have them installed for around 1000 bucks and then do the forward controls for around 800.
2018 Fat Bob - 114 CI (This is the upgraded motor)
This bike is a weird mix of a sport bike and a Harley and something someone built in Mad Max.
If you haven't seen one - look it up. It's wild.
I kinda like that Harley just went for a new style. It's definitely different!
it fit me way better. I still felt like I was too big for it. But as I am learning - Unless you get on a touring bike from Harley, they are actually pretty small bikes in comparison.
It had more forward controls. But I had the same problem with hitting the mirrors.
And the seat - Heavenly. It was the stock seat, but few like it was a very expensive aftermarket item. It was a gell seat with a high back for lower back support and positioning. it was probably the nicest seat I have ever ridden on a bike in this size category. And this was a stock seat.
The 114 motor was a blast - especially on a stripped down bike. It was smooth. It handled well and easily, too. It's brakes were great - Definitely better that the Vics. And the ergonomics were acceptable. But, I have to say, It felt familiar. Like my highball did.
I was expecting with the big motor and stripped down bike that I would go " wow - this thing pulls way harder than my Highball" ... but, it kinda felt just like my highball.
Which I guess is a weird round-about compliment to Harley - it's an awesome bike, just like my highball !
Now, to be completely fair, My highball isn't stock. This FatBob was. I guess when you pump up that FatBob with some aftermarkets and a good tune, it will probably edge out the highball/gunner. But not by much.
But, with the 114 ci motor, the FatBob will run you over 21,000 dollars ... so theres that too.
All around though, Harley took a big jump forward with this bike. It's a blast to ride. Go try one one out.
Kudos Harley - for stepping outside the box a little bit.
2018 Road King Special - 107 CI (stock)
I guess this bike would be better compared to the Hard Ball, but I wanted to try out a different class of bike without jumping into the Touring bikes. The Fatboy and the Breakout were booked, so I stuck with Harley's next newest remodel - The Road King.
Very pretty bike.
Seriously, this is a good, looking and feeling bike.
All I can say is that this bike is oddly smooth. It has the harley rumble and shake when you are just idleing, but as soon as you get on the throttle, it's like glass. I didn't even feel like I was on a motorcycle. It almost flew like the acceleration feel of a sport touring bike. It's hard to explain, but I can at least understand what all the Hype is over this bike. It was hard to notice almost anything else about this bike on the ride because i was so blown away by how smooth it felt.
Other than it's smoothness, though, in retrospect I didn''t feel like there was anything else that outstanding about it.
Was it powerful - Yes. But not like the FatBob. Plus, it's way heavier than the FatBob with a smaller motor.
Was it smooth - Yes.
Was it cool looking - Yes.
Was it really expensive - Yes.
Did I see 1,000 other road kings on the road yesterday - Yes.
So, was it a good bike. Yes. Lots of fun to drive and It definitely is evident that Harley is making some big strides forward.
So, they closed up shop and I went to head home.
Hopped on my highball, which fits me like a glove and looks like no other bike on the road - And got on it hard out of the parking lot down the road.
All I could think was - "man..this bike is awesome!" and "why the heck would Polaris stop making these things!"
All in all - fun afternoon.