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GOING THE DISTANCE
"GO RIGID OR GO SWINGARM"
Photo by Genghis
RIGHTEOUS REAR END: It works too!.
"HALFWAY-TO-HELL" AT THE SEEDY X-BAR:
"Go rigid or go swingarm! Anything else is just compromising for no good reason. Swingarms are evolutionary as are the powerplants used in them. I like rigid; the look and heritage, etc., but I've never quite understood why the swingarm has to sometimes be 'disguised.' The swingarm was a real frame improvement from a functional and comfort level. So why have there been so many attempts to dampen (pun intended) the frame's effetiveness? Digger fenders, solid struts and of course Softails. The motorcycle community has seemed to be apologists for swingarm Harleys....Why compromise a design that works for cheap looks? "
"19PANHEAD50" AT THE SEEDY X-BAR:
"Only my opinion , but the H-D rigid frame and the 4-speed swingarm frame are things of beauty and to screw around with them is to f**k around with perfection."
EXCERPT FROM THE KIDSHEALTH.ORG WEBSITE REGARDING PEER PRESSURE:
".....'Come on! ALL of us are cutting math. Who wants to go take that quiz? We're going to take a walk and get lunch instead. Let's go!' says the coolest kid in your class. Do you do what you know is right and go to math class, quiz and all? Or do you give in and go with them?
As you grow older, you'll be faced with some challenging decisions. Some don't have a clear right or wrong answer — like should you play soccer or field hockey? Other decisions involve serious moral questions, like whether to cut class, try cigarettes, or lie to your parents.
Making decisions on your own is hard enough, but when other people get involved and try to pressure you one way or another it can be even harder. People who are your age, like your classmates, are called peers. When they try to influence how you act, to get you to do something, it's called peer pressure. It's something everyone has to deal with — even adults. Let's talk about how to handle it.
Peers influence your life, even if you don't realize it, just by spending time with you....Sometimes peers influence each other in negative ways. For example, a few kids in school might try to get you to cut class with them, your soccer friend might try to convince you to be mean to another player and never pass her the ball, or a kid in the neighborhood might want you to shoplift with him.
Why Do People Give in to Peer Pressure? Some kids give in to peer pressure because they want to be liked, to fit in, or because they worry that other kids might make fun of them if they don't go along with the group....The idea that "everyone's doing it" can influence some kids to leave their better judgment, or their common sense, behind....."
Peer pressure. It's a killer, man. It kills independent thought. It clouds and in some cases, completely blocks one's perception of the beauty that is smack dab in front of one's face. If such beauty that is inherent in both the original equipment manufacture Harley rigid and swingarm frames, bit detractors of either frame in the proverbial asses, these mentally clouded detractors could never appreciate the obvious beauty that is there. Such is the insidious power of peer pressure, that it can hide truth and distort vision. Listen up, peer pressured!
In the sage words of Mickey from the "Rocky" flicks, "....dese tings are tings 'o beauty...."
I can picture myself riding a swingarm Harley. Actually, I do ride a swingarm Harley. I can picture myself riding a panhead rigid, although I discovered something about myself a few years back when writing for Iron Horse magazine: I am incapable of owning another motorcycle besides my faithful steed, Mabel, my '71 shovelhead. My loyal personality simply would prohibit dividing my loyalty that is entirely devoted to Mabel. She would not suffer competition gladly. I found that I could own a car concurrently with my Harley, but another Harley besides the Mabes? Unthinkable! We each are at the mercy of our idiosyncratic ways, and my basic nature as a biker, is to perceive my bike as a Living Thing, and to love her as a living entity. This means a completely monogamous relationship with my Harley. Anything less than that total devotion to my shovel, would translate into a diluted enthusiasm. That will not stand.
But if I owned a panhad rigid with an OEM Harley frame in an alternative universe where my shovel did not exist, I could picture myself riding her and being happy with her. I could be happy with her rigid frame because it would be period correct and consistent with her motor, and therefore this motorcycle would be in her natural state. What I could not picture or stomach, is the idea of taking my beautiful '71 swingarm Harley ("..dis ting is a ting 'o beauty..."), and hacking up her frame to make it a hybrid rigid. This would be like a quarterback forcing the ball into triple coverage, it is futile and unnatural, and would no doubt result in a biker's turnover. Turnovers lose games. Turning a Harley swingarm chassis into a Rigid Retrowannabe, would change the "basic nature" of the motorcycle, and would represent the type of peer pressured-induced impulse, that is alluded to by Halfway-To Hell at The Seedy X-Bar.
What is this "natural state" I refer to? It is how the motorcycle was born, how she arrived fully formed from The Firm's warm womb. It is these characteristics that The Firm imbued in her, that make her what she is, and give her the authentic Flavor of Harley that makes her unique, and different from her Harley Sisters from different eras. This has nothing to do with stripping-down Harleys to make 'em lighter, faster and more appealing both functionally and cosmetically . Removing saddlebgas, windshields and sundry other inessential parts do not change the basic nature of a Harley.
This winnowing of parts from the bike, enhances the bike's "basic nature." What I'm rappin' about is transforming the essence of the bike, by force-feeding her a back-end from another era. This is hybridization at it's worst. Hybrids should be restricted to mousy, little gas/electric powered compact cars, not righteous Harleys. A righetous Harley should be able to keep her personality intact, safe from the invasive intentions of the severely peer-pressured. A motorcycle's essence, her personality is definitely defined by her rear suspension ,or lack of such.
Hacking up a righteous four-speed swingarm Harley frame to do an back-end implantation, is analogous to taking your wife to a surgeon, having that surgeon remove her lower body from the waist down, and grafting someone else's half-body onto her upper body. This is Frankensteinish, and radical compared to merely stripping-down a Harley.
Grafting a rigid rear-end onto a swingarm Harley frame, alters the basic nature of the bike.
The owner who does this, likely does so from peer pressure, the very thing that parents and kids' websites, warn us against! Giving in to peer pressure's fer kids, man!
Peer pressure has to be the culprit, since making a swingarm bike into a rigid, makes the bike worse, not functionally better. HTH calls this an attempt at "cheap looks," and I can't disagree with his characterization. Even in an unlikely scenario where a biker would try to turn an OEM rigid frame into a swingarm, which would improve the bike functionally, it would still be deplorable because this would change the Firm-Given personality of the motorcycle. The essence of a Harley-Davidson should be cherished and preserved.
Think of what a marvelous invention the swingarm is, and how bikers ignorantly throw this away by changing their serviceable swingarms, into Rigid Retro Wannabes. All in the name of bending to peer pressure, and status symbolism. The motivation is to gain approval of one's peers. Yeah man, that and $2.25 will get ya on an NYC subway.
. Luckily for me, I've always had enough loner in me, to not care about external opinions. I'm like Frank Sinatra--I do it My Way.
Falling into the peer pressure trap that HTH referred to at The Seedy X-Bar is inexcusable, a sign of weakness. Bikers ain't supposed to be weak, man.
Bikers are supposed to be rugged individuallsts, inpervious to weather vane watching. This may not be a realistic expectation for a whole demographic group, but it is something to aspire to. Ya gotta follow principles.
I would no more change a swingarm into a rigid, than attempt to graft a swingarm onto a 1950 Harley rigid. Such a rigid/swingarm hybrid, would destroy what that panhead is, because it would change her basic nature.
Imagine taking a pristine Harley wishbone rigid, and hacking her up in some lame attempt to graft a swingarm on her ass. The very thought is a travesty. If bikers would never consider doing this, why would bikers do something as equally unthinkable as changing a pristine Harley swingarm, into something she's not? A '57 rigid panhead is a thing of beauty. A '58 panhead Duo Glide is just as much, a thing of beauty. 19Panhead50 and I are in lockstep with these sentiments, which bears repetition:
"Only my opinion, but the H-D rigid frame and the 4-speed frame are things of beauty and to screw around with them is to f**k around with perfection."
Harley-Davidsons as they were conceived of in the womb of The Firm, should live out their existences as they were meant to be. Whether they were rigids or swingarms, leave 'em be, man. They are beautiful just the way they are. As HTH (Halfway-To Hell) says, Go Rigid or Go Swingarm.. Later.