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Photo by Genghis

NOT GENE KELLY: I had as clear a view from under my goggles when I rode today, as the man under this tarp did.

I started out relatively dry. That's always the way it is. Every time I ride my ever-lovin' Harley 74, Mabel, in a moderate rain, I begin the ride by thinking, "This ain't so bad, man, it's not exactly a downpour." Famous last words. Sure, it begins like that, a medium rainfall tickles your face like it did with me this morning, but then a funny thing happens when ya hit the highway, as it happened to me. Those tickling little raindrops become 9mm rounds fired from a Beretta. In this case, the Beretta is the 21 inch tire of my bike. Because I ride without a front fender (doesn't it seem to you that front fenders should be strictly verboten on all righteous Harley-Davidsons?), a line of slipstreamed water forms along the centerline of my body. This water spins off of the 21 inch Avon tire, as the tire rotates in a counterclockwise fashion, bisecting the air in front of me as I ride. The faster I ride, the faster and more insistent this line of inundation strikes my bod.

This line of water describes a perfect arc that distributes rain water starting at the top of my head, all the way down to my crotch. So naturally, the wettest portion of my body is a patch of soaking wetness six inches wide, from forehead ( I wear a helmet, which keeps the crown on my head dry) to my balls. The point where my balls meet Mabel's Le Pera "Cherokee" seat, forms a recessed cup that holds water to ensure that my testicles stay wet, what with the constant supply of water at highway speed. I make mention of the Le Pera seat, because it is the cause of my being wet this morning. Another problem that arises from riding in the rain, is that the water that finds its way behind my goggles, fogs up the interior of the goggles. This takes the situation from mere discomfort, to a new level of danger. I had to rip the goggles down and hold it down with my chin, just I could see where I was going. Don't get me wrong, man. I'm always happy to ride my bike. It's always fun, always rewarding. It's just that I hadn't planned on riding today. But, why was Mabel's seat the cause of my getting soaked today? Let me start from the beginning.

Photo by Genghis

MABEL'S LE PERA "CHEROKEE" SEAT: I've had it for 25 years.

In the late 1980s, I bought a beautiful seat for Mabel, which I love. This was Le Pera's "Ckerokee" model. This seat is like an old friend, and like many of the peripheral parts of my motorcycle, I've formed a firm attachment to it. I wouldn't want any other type of seat under, and behind (this latter is the key to what makes the Cherokee great) my ass. It's given me everything I want in a motorcycle seat, comfy butt padding and a nice backstop that prevents me from sliding back. That's the annoying thing about solo seats, that a seat like the Cherokee heads off at the pass: It keeps the rider from sliding back, keeps the rider in one stable riding position. The importance of this cannot be overestimated, if you want to enjoy riding. This seat does all this while maintaining a nice contour with Mabel's frame. Its's a good-lookin' seat, period.

After a quarter of a century of putting up with my ass, this seat has started to fall apart at the seams. Literally. It has seen better days, man. I had a couple of options with regard to keeping a Cherokee seat on my bike. Option number one was to have it custom re-covered. This option seemed like an expensive alternative to simply buying the same seat from Le Pera. Good news man, I found out that Le Pera stiil made this very same seat! That was option number two. It made sense. Buying a new Cherokee seat from Le Pera would be cheaper, and it would give me a brand new Cherokee seat with uncompromised components, particularly uncompressed and deteriorated foam. It was a no-brainer.

I ordered my new Cherokee seat directly from Le Pera at the end of April. The folks at Le Pera promised me that I'd have my new Cherokee seat by the end of May, and they made good on their promise. It arrived this week. I tell ya, it's gorgeous. It's like looking at reincarnated version of the old seat. The only problem is, the rear mounting tab of the new seat is off by about 1/4 of an inch. The insert nut that's fixed to the fender by a weld, is just a touch too far forward of the front of the slot in the mounting tab. This wouldn't be a problem is there was enough room for me to widen the slot with a drill, but the front of the slot ends just at where the seat ends. I think what I have to do is to have Andrew Rosa relocate the insert nut on the fender, and re-welding it into position.

That's why I took a ride in the rain today. Because I felt frustrated at being able to mount Mabel's new seat today. Man, I had to have some kind of satisfaction, so I took my bike out for some Highway Therapy. Ain't no therapy like highway therapy on the bike. I'm was planning to take Mabel out to Rosa's Cycles later on in the year anyway (I wrote of this in an earlier article) to have Andrew do some powderdoating on some parts, so I'll ask him to help me with the relocation of the insert nut, then. Until then, Mabel's runnin' like the proverbial top. There's nothing like a well-running Harley with a head of steam, and the way she sounds! I don't have to tell you about that.

One of the main attractions in owning and riding a healthy Harley-Davidson, is the way she sounds. This might seem a trivial issue to non-bikers, but this phenomenon is very real, and very profound to hardcore bikers. It's almost as if a Harley engine has talismanic powers, and those powers are expressed in the cadence of the motor. You can't tell me that you don't know, deep down, what I'm talking about if you're a true biker. The sound is heavenly, demonic, supernatural and the most natural sound you've ever heard, all at the same time. It is the sound that keeps us coming back, ride after ride, year after year, decade after decade. We keep coming back to her, despite the hardships with her, the rewards are too great to ignore. It's the sound, man. When that magnificent Shovelhead motor in Mabel speaks, she speaks with authority, possible the greatest authority on Earth. It is the Siren Sound of the Harley-Davidson. Hey man, she sounds no less enchanting in the rain. That sound you hear....that's Her singing in the rain. Later.