Bear with me, I’m just trying to figure out if I’ve gone mad. I’ve been riding motorcycles for as long as I’ve been driving - even longer if you consider dirt bikes. In the last 12 years I’ve owned 5 bikes, however thinking back they’ve all been Japanese built bikes made between 1976 and 1982. All but one were parallel twins, with the outlier being an inline 4.
I’ve had my current bike - a 1978 kawasaki kz750 twin - for 4 or 5 years now, and it’s served me well. Originally designed to compete with the Triumph 750 in an era where 4 cylinders were becoming standard it features torque and ease of maintenance over outright speed. I bought it off a Harley guy who modified it as a winter project, and over the last few years I’ve kept some of what he did (steel brake lines, seat and fenders) and made my own changes (paint, exhaust, lights, and lots of wiring changes). It’s been a pretty reliable and strong running bike, one I’m still using almost daily to get to work. I’ve got more changes I’d like to make (flat seat, different rear fender) and some more maintenance to do, but nothing that should preclude me from running this bike well into the future.
Here’s the thing - while I love driving something old that I feel comfortable modifying, and the novelty of kick starting doesn’t bother me, and I enjoy the unique deep BURRRRR of the exhaust - I’m starting to grow discontent. Fuel injection over carbs, modern maintenance intervals, more power, and a 2 up seat to allow riding with my wife have all begun calling my name. This morning that calling took on a “shoutier” tone.
Killing time at work I found myself with craigslist open, staring a a Harley. Why a Harley you ask? I honestly have no idea. I’ve never paid more than a passing glance at one. I’ve always been the guy to point out how much more efficient, fast, light, comfortable and probably better for any task the bikes are from most Japanese, German, or even British makes. I laugh at wanna be SOA types with their leather and bad boy posturing, and I’m also still 10 years or so away from any “mid life crisis” territory.
Not only that, but I was just telling someone on Saturday that I “pretty much hate chrome on anything that isn’t from the ‘50s”. Somehow, despite all of this, I have a browser tab open and a 2006 Dyna Super Glide “35th anniversary edition” is staring me in the face. Something about the proportions just click for me. White paint and chrome everywhere, yet before I realize what’s happening I find myself daydreaming about polishing that chrome. Somehow time spent cleaning still seems better than greasy nights adjusting valves or dealing with stuck floats, or so I tell myself. I was a Cycle World reader when this bike came out, and I think I have a vague recollection of Peter Egan doing the review as he did for the original 1971 model. He could have said the bike was a total turd for all I remember, but the memory got me looking up specs. Fuel injection, 6 speeds, seating for 2 and nearly twice the torque as my current bike. Hmm.... sure it’s not going to handle great but then it’s not like my rag-tag piece of aging iron is fast or great handling either, right?
Suddenly I’m feeling the siren song of the V Twin pulling at my brain, and it’s all at once exciting and confusing (seriously who makes model numbers like FXDOIWER35OIJGLEKNOINW anyways??). So there we have it - kind readers of OPPO, if you’ve made it this far, anyone have any opinions or advice? I’ve honestly never ridden a Harley so everything I know is hearsay at this point. And yes, I know there are plenty of probably better rides that also have EFI and more power, etc.... but I’ve owned plenty of metric rides and part of me just wants to experience something different. At the same time, what is different for me is downright common for the rest of everybody in the US. I told you it’s complicated!