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by Genghis


I LOVE IT: The universal throttle evokes outlaw style

Certain components of a motorcycle evoke thoughts of the Outlaw 74. This is highly subjective in nature, depending on the associations that bikers have, that trigger this perception. For some in the biker subculture, rigid frames and suicide clutches represent this epitome. For others, maybe it's six foot tall sissy bars. Sexy, low-slung four-speed Electra Glide swingarm frames, short FLH length wide glide forks, traditional glide risers and the universal throttle do it for me. Nothing says "Outlaw 74" more than seeing a throttle cable swaying in the air, at the mercy of the vibration of the bike and wind currents. It represents freedom, baby! It also represents the direct and simple appproach to caruretor actuation. Occam's Razor, man! Do the simple thing first!

With the exception of the stock Harley throttle that came with my '68 XLCH when I bought her new, with its cable routed through the right handlebar, I've never had any other type of throttle for the past 40 years than the universal throttle. I couldn't ditch the stock two piece handlebars with H-D throttle from the Sporty fast enough when I opted for an S & S Super B carb in the Tillotson carb's place. On went drag bars (the same drag bars that I have on my 74 now, 40 years later) with a universal throttle controlling the gas. Man, what class the universal throttle has always shown, but it's outlaw charm is more than that. Simple is better, less is more.

Simplicity is righteous in its power.

On a tangential note, sometimes an apparently pared-down chopper is so overladend with complexity, that it is actually more complicated than, and far less simple than a stock Harley-Davidson. An example of this is the rigid panhead on the current issue of Cycle Source. It has so many flashy parts and such a complex look, that it looks like a chopper version of a garbage wagon. Man, it just tries too hard. Full of geegaws and gadgets, it looks absolutely Ruben Goldbergesque. Every part has been customized, and if it's overdone like this, than the whole effect is one of extreme busyness. Too busy. The only real difference between this chop and an 800 pound garbage barge, is the weight. This chop might as well have forty lights on it, because the visual effect is glaringly the same. This bike to me, looks like a transvestite wearing his sister's clothes. It sure looks gay, man. Straightforwardness rules, man. Simplicity is beautiful in its power.

What has always set the universal throttle apart from high tech, high end throttles, is it's simplicity, and unpretentiousness. Why hide a throttle cable by routing itn through the handlebars? The throttle cable should be visibly flappin' in the wind as you wind out at 80 miles per hour on the highway, just as God meant it to be. The universal throttle has always been favored by the street biker because of its meager cost, and straightforward means to an end. It's simple, elegant and no-bullcrap. In short, it's righteous in its simplicity.

Occam's Razor cuts to the quick.

Like any ultrasharp blade, it strips fat and extraneous tissue from the bone, and along with it, any ostentation and pretension. Talk about being unpretentious: Nothing is more honest than a universal throttle in serving a righteous street biker who couldn't give a crap about status symbolism in a high end throttle. The universal throttle's grip is good 'ole rubber, just like in the old days. It comes with a matching grip for the left side of the bars for that total outlaw handlebar look. I'd like to know the name of the genius who thought of metal grips. Lessee, metal is cold and has no grip. Rubber's tacky and does have "grip." That's why handlebar grips are tacky, because we use our hands on 'em. We don't want our hands slipping off grips, do we? Adding layers of nonsensical complexity to a bike for complexity's sake, is just that: Nonsensical. Simple is better, there's that Occam's Razor again. It cuts to the quick and cuts through the bullcrap, right to bare bone. Ask yourself this: Would you use metal tires, or rubber tires?

What about the honest and unpretentious price of the universal throttle? There is a philosophical issue, here. Check it out, man: They still go for about twelve bucks. That $11.99 gets ya the throttle and matching left grip. Nobody can ever accuse the biker who runs a universal throttle on his Harley, of being any kind of Biker Lite rich elitist. Nosiree. Only true bikers use universal throttles with real rubber grips---rubbies would never put up with 'em. Universal throttles with ordinary rubber grips would offend their exclusivity sensibilities. They're just not stylish enough for their supercilious tastes. We'll leave the Big Bucks Billet Grips to the Biker Lites who want to impress their Brando-Come-Lately buddies. These guys must think that Occam's Razor is the precursor for their next bikini wax.

I just put a new universal throttle on my '71 Harley Mabel, because the rubber on the old grips were staring to deteriorate after years of faithful and tacky service. No problem. I think that I can afford the $11.99 I spent on 'em. I know, I'm just flaunting my affluence using my shovel as a clotheshorse. For my trouble and money, I got that righteous outlaw handlebar look. Man, this is the way that handlebars on a Harley 74 should look. Simple, cool and unpretentious. A bike is as unpretentious as her owner. An owner who is more interested in splashy paintjobs and fat rear tires, is anything but unpretentious. That type of Harley rider definitely wouldn't be interested in a twelve buck universal throttle, with it's honest in-the-wind throttle cable, and unpretentious rubber grip. Not showy enough, man---and far too functional. Screw 'em. Occam's Razor Rules. Cut the crap, man. Later.