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"THE HARLEY IN MY GARAGE"
When I was in the market for my FXRP, I had been jumping from used cheap beater bike to bike, the medical bills were killing me and I was bound and determined to not allow my family to suffer because I needed a nice bike..riding anything makes me happy, I go into a different mind set when I ride and I like it; it is kinda like a marathon runners adrenlin rush, worries melt away and I focus squarely on surviving the ride and enjoying the setting. I once helped a friend move his junk from one storage unit to another, he had a 50cc scooter in the shed and I rode it ten miles at barely thirty miles an hour thru city traffic and laughed my ass off. I can enjoy anything on two wheels.
I bought my FXRP in 2009 when the economy tanked and brought used Harleys into a more affordable bracket...and while my hours at the mill was cut down to 32 hour weeks, (we literally worked on weekends only when electric was cheaper to run the furnaces, 480 volts)...but even at 32 hour weeks I was making more than I was at the body shop years before. My poor co-workers who had been making good steel mill money for many years were selling off boats, custom built guns, Diesel trucks and motorcycles and I was starting a side business and buying a Harley.)
I wanted a bike I could haul my lunch box on, ( a mid size cooler that I carry 12 hours worth of snacks/two meals and my tools/safety locks, metalurgy notebooks and extra safety gear,) and my gym bag,(we have a gym at work that we get paid to go to,) ...My kids were getting older and I figured the wife could start getting away to go for rides with me so comfortable touring was a factor plus my oldest son is at the age to go on adventure rides with me. I was looking at used Evo Electra Glides, (I almost flew to Jackson Hole and rode one home,) they were in my price range and hell those batwing fairings are FN cool! (yeah I must be getting old...I drink scalding hot coffee in the summer and wear those dark wap around old people shades....besides I have had two cancer scares so I guess I am in that I am allowed to grow old ungracefully.)
But then I thought about the gravel road that is safer to ride on during deer season, the tar and chipped main road full of pot holes and well did I mention deer? I am literally surrounded by hunting farms where people live one month a year, but spend the eleven maintaining deer plots and baiting the damn things to my commuter route, I was having doubts about a "nice full dresser." (think coming down a wooded mountain into a spring fed creek bottom where the deer drink, this is my route to work...I see no less than thirty-forty deer the first four miles to work..and I still managed to hit one,)
Kurt always buys Dressers, and then complains about not riding them except when he is going on a long ride, not just up the street to the store, but I always wind up using his hard bags when we go on rides to carry my rain gear, and tools, (on in the case of Englishman a whole spare wiring harness.) Hard bags were definately a must have. (Kurt did just buy a new Stripped down Dresser, no radio or tour pack and he loves it, he says the new frames make a huge difference with manuvering it in his super steep driveway/garage)
My brother had bought a FI Sportster, and I painted it for him and rode it for a few weeks, I couldn't believe what a great bike it was, great power and handling...comfortable ergos...but there was that whole computer thing...and thinking about the pile of old PC's on my garage shelves...and the lack of ability to put a kicker on it...and the passenger area left a little to be desired. My 13 year old is a skinny kid, but growing taller weekly...(he comes from two tall parents...his legs will be all over the place on a Sportster.)
Tom Rose never let up, (it will change your life he would proclaim about FXR's) just get a FXR and be done he would preach from the stack of broken kicker mainshafts. But for the most part you couldn't turn on the news in 2009 without some econonomist standing on the ledge talking about how bad things were and I had lived a whole working career worrying about if the bottom would always fall out, I didn't want to screw up and by a bike and then something crazy happen like socialized healthcare or higher taxes for the working class...I had a list of bikes, and that list kept me from making up my mind...one of my co-worker's sister had a Dyna Glide who was getting reposessed that could be had cheap, and used Nightsters everywhere. It was my wife who said that I should listen to Tom and just get a good FXR and sell it if I didn't like it.
"like it?"...like had nothing to do with this purchase, I was buying the last bike I would own, I had finally gotten a job with a future at a company that treated me like an asset and they were working hard to keep us employed. I could afford a nice bike and not cancel the kids birthdays and X-mas; this was a reward for taking sixteen required Math test and having the guts to quit the job I had had since I was eighteen. This was about a bike I would love. It had to be perfect. Sarah just rolled her eyes, she said, " you will have the thing painted within a week, scratched, dented and a bungee strap and vise grips stored on it along with your favorite flannel shirt."...yeah I guess she was right.
I had the whole plan in my head.
My buddy Mike has a mid-seventies Moto Guzzi Ambassador he rides year round, in the winter he has a military canvas fairing he puts on it. It wasn't that I wanted his fairing, but I wanted a bike that I wouldn't mind being able to strap a canvas fairing on it if I had the perogative...
I knew my bike would not be a Quaker State bike night queen, I knew my saddlebags would have that 60 weight grunge covered vise grips in them and bungee cords. I am a far better tourer than I was when I was younger, and my bike would represent that, not in fancy gear but places to strap my oilskin to.
And it had to be a Harley. I work in an American Steel mill, a manufacturer, and living in a culture of people who think skilled physical labor should be exported; that we all should be work in cubicles and eat at TGIF's on friday nights. When I ride home from nightshift at 5:30AM, I wanted to remind the neighbor that the motorcyclist they hear commuting is an...the American made motorcycle. Besides the rest of my life is a long time, I know I can get parts or adapt parts for a Harley. Since I had really dropped off the face of the planet with the new job and huge family, I didn't run into as many Harley riding assholes, (yeah you know who I am talking about, so being aligned with mechanical asswipes didn't affect my judgement; and while the thought of getting something different did entertain my thought if only to listen to Pete piss and moan, my sights were set solely on a Harley.) But to be honest Pete had loaned me a copy of "Well made in America" and I was determined to get a Post-Buy-out Harley, just not a Softail...though I did find a lot of them cheap. and I have seen a few that look nice with Batwings and Shovelhead era hardbags. And I have been getting great FXR adventure shots from Tom Rose for 16 years, I knew it was up to my riding style.
So the wife was pressuring me to buy a bike quick before I added something else to the list, (I sold my junkyard Vortec 350 powered S-10 and sent her to Rome for her 40th birthday...she really wanted me to be happy too,) she literally put me on Craigslist and Ebay every night.
..and while I did like the early eighties Shovelhead FLH with the open belt and running boards I looked at in Louisville, the crackhead couldn't find the title...The cast wheels looked great on it!
Then I saw the ugly chromed out FXRP in Cleveland...I had been looking at a lot of FXR's...they were either really expensive because they had been left bone stock or cheap because they had been bastardized to hell and back with really bad nineties paint jobs and chin fairings...not that couldn't be fixed, but I didn't want to throw a bunch of money at fixing someone elses mistakes. And the bike in Cleveland was priced really right. The wife and I dropped the kids off at the Mil's and hit the road. She asked if we should take the truck in case I didn't trust to ride it home...I told her I wasn't buying something didn't trust, but inside I knew I can get anything home, even if it means calling Kurt...beside I can't imagine trying to load a Harley in the bed of our Dually.
And there it was at an old Harley dealer on the outskirts of Cleveland who knew that selling bikes cheap during hard economic times was better than not selling bikes at all. (they even gave me one of their high end T-shirts..so I got the kids T-shirts.)
It was ugly, two toned paint, forward controls, Live to ride emblems everywhere, it had been lowered front and rear and had peeling chrome everywhere, but it run good and had that P on the end of the FXR. It had potential. I saw my bike under the ugly and had hardly gotten it home before it was being blacked out and a path set. I got a stack of receipts from two different owners in the two years since I was to find out that another Cleveland Harley dealer who had bought a truck load of muddy Katrina survivers police bikes from Shreveport and chromed them out with warranty recalled chrome pieces. The guy who had owned my FXRP last was 5' 4" and said the FXRP wasn't comfortable with the extra length forward controls that even my long legs could hardly reach. Ya think? He said he didn't like owning an old Harley anyway..Old? It's an Evo dude...they still make them...what..wait? They don't? ......well I did tell him I rode the FXRP from Cleveland to Southern Indiana at 80-90mph without even as much as a sputter.
I didn't even think for a second after I hit the deer and was staring at the deer guts and hair covering the FXRP that I was going to give it up...I didn't even think for a second of letting the insurance company keep it, (no matter that I could step up to a later model Dresser..as it turned out my Dually needed ball joints and new tires,) ...(though running over the downed trees and I beam on the interstate last spring did crack the front lower leg...I should fix that.)
Roadside Marty supplied me with a FXRP fairing (and I installed a month before I hot the deer) and floorboards. Tom Rose had a pair of FXRP hard bags (with keys!) that he and Joel had used on their FXR's when they toured...Oh and the XLH bars off of Toms War Pig set atop of a set of six inch chrome risers...
It needs a new seat, a set of louder pipes, (my civility toward my neighbor has ended, so when I leave at 3:30AM and leave my bike idle while I put the barge rope back up over my driveway to keep the horses in, I am not really worrying if I disturb her sleep,)...My right front fork leg is cracked and leaking...and I need to rewire the guages and spot lights...add a phone charger and a lock box on the dash for my phone and work badge, a set of quick release luggage racks,(homemade of course) and a set of those water proof huge yellow saddle bags from Aerostich to throw over a Happy Trails top box...damn that list grew since last week, but wtf I have the rest of my life.