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Lewis and Clark; The Expedition Returned 2017

I’m a H.O.G. member, but not the type of person who displays an undying passion for the patches and pins or for that matter in attending a lot of H.O.G. events.  Sure, I’ve participated in the occasional H.O.G. rally, got the t-shirt and then headed home. Riding is primarily a solo activity for me and it’s more about riding in the wind, not the rally destination.  
 
Although there was this one time in Hawaii where it was all about the food.  The Aloha State Chapter #44 (Maui H.O.G.) were in the middle of a rally.  I wasn’t riding a motorcycle on the islands, but they were most gracious and let me enjoy some excellent pulled pork at their Luau!  We also had the opportunity to meet Cristine Sommer-Simmons, the book author of ‘Patrick Wants To Ride‘ fame.

But I’ve digressed.

Lewis and Clark Expedition Swag

A riding buddy and I decided to register and took a couple weeks last month to ride along with the H.O.G. Lewis and Clark; The Expedition Returns posse.  There were 182 register bikes for the tour which basically followed most of the same Lewis and Clark routes from Seaside, Oregon to St. Charles, Missouri.  They deviated a bit on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains which only added to the adventure.

 

Before I jump in and provide some insights about the ride, I want to say that H.O.G. is a class act.  Yes, there was a pricey registration fee, but the swag and goody bag we received for the expedition was detailed, high quality and exceeded my expectations.  The hotel registration process via the H.O.G. web site worked well and we had no issues in any location.  Big shout-out to Harley-Davidson, Team MKE, Paul Raap (H.O.G. Regional Mgr), Paul Blotske (H.O.G. Contractor) and the H.O.G. planners for making it simple and a great experience!

Lewis and Clark Expedition and Routes

 

Now keep in mind this wasn’t a “group ride” where 182 bikes departed simultaneous every day with a ride captain.  We were free to forge our own path (with some solid guidance) and ride with who we wanted and at our own pace.  H.O.G. provided a travelogue with approximate mileage and points of interest along the way for each day’s schedule.  In some cases they included passes for the various parks and/or sight seeing destinations.  This process worked well.

Ride Details:

Day 1, (Tuesday, July 11) — Had us traveling to the Oregon coast to visit the Fort Clatsop National Historic Park  where the Corps of Discovery wintered from 1805 to Spring 1806.  After 18 months of exploring the West, the Corps of Discovery built an encampment near the mouth of the Columbia River. They wintered at Fort Clatsop into 1806 before leaving the Pacific Ocean to return to Missouri and the route we were going to follow.

That evening Mike Durbin and Paradise Harley-Davidson (Tigard, OR) sponsored the gathering for dinner.


Highway 14 looking west at Mt. Hood

Day 2, — We were traveling east and heading to Lewiston, ID.  Along the route we could visit the Rock Fort Campsite which is a natural fortification located on the shore of the Columbia River, and where the Corps of Discovery set up camp on their journey home.  There is the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, the Sacajawea State Park Interpretive Center, and the Lewis and Clark Trail State Park

That evening we were at Hell’s Canyon Harley-Davidson for dinner. 

 
Unsolicited Comments About Portland Traffic:  It was common practice to ask other H.O.G. members where they came from, how far they rode etc., and when we mentioned being from Portland, people were compelled to tell us about their bad experiences riding around in Portland/metro traffic.  The H.O.G. HQ hotel for this event was the Jantzen Beach Red Lion and folks would drone on about the congestion, freeway crashes and the lengthy delays which were awful in the record Portland heat.  About all I could say was “True that, and apologize for the apocalyptic congestion.”  Then I’d add something about those new spiffy ODOT RealTime signs — you know, the big electronic signs that relay the obvious?!

Day 3, — Took us to Great Falls, MT.  There were multiple stops suggested to riders.  The first was the Nez Perce National Historical Park.  The 
New Perce were critical to the success of the Expedition by providing food and supplies. 

It was hot riding so, we left Lewiston early morning and as a result the park wasn’t open and we toured the exterior.  Lewis and Clark actually split up at what is called today Travelers’ Rest State Park.  Lewis went to the north.  On the north route, you could see the Lewis and Clark Pass, Museum of the Plains Indian, and Camp Disappointment   Clark went to the south, where you could see the Lost Trail PassCamp fortunate Overlook  the three forks of the Missouri River at the Missouri Headwaters State Park, and the Gates of the Mountains.

Highway 12 heading toward Lolo Pass

We were on Highway 12 headed over Lolo Pass for much of the morning. You’ve undoubtedly seen the photos of the sign that says “Curves next 99 miles…”  Yeah, that one and it’s named one of the best motorcycle roads in the country with lots of sweeping curves and several tight ones.  The elevation at the top is 5,233 feet in the northern Rocky Mountains and the temperatures were quite nice.  Road conditions in some areas were a bit dicey and unfortunately a female member of the H.O.G. group veered up against the guardrail and crashed.  She survived with a number of broken bones, but as I understand it, spent multiple days in the hospital. As we rode by the crash, her motorcycle freakishly went 75 yards up highway 12 and across both lanes of traffic and was sitting upright on the left side of the road, as if someone just parked it there on the kick stand.  Very strange.

That evening the group all got together for dinner at Big Sky Harley-Davidson.


Day 4, — (Friday, July 14,) — Took us to Billings, MT where we spent a couple of days.  There were a couple of stops planned.  The first was t
he Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center in Great Falls.  We also made sure to take time to see the Great Falls of the Missouri including Rainbow Falls before leaving the area.  

Great Falls, MT is actually situated on the northern Lewis return route, and Billings, MT is on Clark’s southern route.

Rainbow Falls

We took the more scenic route on Highway 89 south through the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest and then picked up Highway 12 east to Highway 3 south into Billings, MT.

That evening we had dinner at Beartooth Harley-Davidson, but to be candid we were getting a bit tired of the pork sliders or burgers and salad.


Day 5, — Was a “down day” from our ride schedule to allow riding in the Billings, MT., area.  Some jumped back on for full 400+ mile experience and rode to Livingston, MT., on I-90 then headed south on Highway 89 into Yellowstone National Park to see ‘Old Faithful.’  

Twin Lakes, along the Beartooth Highway

We decided to half that mileage and rode up Highway 212 to Red Lodge Montana and then over Beartooth Pass into Wyoming.  In Red Lodge, the annual Beartooth Rally was in full swing with a few thousand motorcyclists enjoying the area so, going over Beartooth Pass was slow riding, but we did enjoy the switchback curves.

It’s a great ride with some incredible vistas, but not for the faint of heart.

That evening we enjoyed a nice steak and ignored the gathering at Beartooth Harley-Davidson!


Day 6, — Had us traveling to Bismarck, ND., and it began early to avoid the sweltering heat. 

Across the NoDak Plains

We’d been riding in heat advisory’s across Montana for a few days and now the humidity was increasing!  One stop as we departed Billings was to tour Pompeys Pillar National Monument.  Pompeys Pillar was named by Clark and he and other members of the Corps of Discovery chiseled their names into the rock itself.  I believe this is the ONLY physical evidence that the Lewis and Clark Trail actually existed and took place. 

We rode on to Bismarck, ND.  There were additional stops along the way that included the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan.  I lived in Bismarck back in the day so, we ignored the extra miles and the point where Sacajawea and Toussaint Charbonneau joined the Corps. 

We enjoyed dinner at a local pub/restaurant while listening to some old Peter Frampton music on the jukebox! 


Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

Day 7, — (Monday, July 17,) — The H.O.G. group headed west across the Missouri River from Bismarck and then we all rode south down Highway 1806 to Pierre, SD.  About 15 miles south of Bismarck we stopped at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park & On-A-Slant Village and toured the area which provided a great example of Native American encampments Lewis and Clark would have encountered on their journey.

Missouri River riding south on Highway 1806

We rode along Highway 1806 south down the Missouri River pretty much to the North Dakota – South Dakota border while watching out for farm equipment on the roads.

From there, we had a couple of routes to follow into Pierre, SD., though most of the Missouri River between Bismarck and Pierre is covered by the Lake Oahe Reservoir and the road follows the east side of the lake all the way into Pierre.

Pierre, SD., City Park

We had dinner at Peterson Motors Harley-Davidson in Pierre, but actually moved over to a city park on the river and tried Bison Burgers for the first time!


Day 8, — (Tuesday, July 18,) — Due to other commitments we departed the Lewis and Clark H.O.G. group on this day and started our return trip back to Oregon.  We intended to spend a couple of days in Boise, ID., to take in the Pacific Northwest H.O.G. rally and meet up with some other riders there.  The next couple of days were about laying down some miles and we avoided the wandering of site seeing.  We rode from 
Pierre, SD to Rapid City, SD on I-90, and skirted the Black Hills National Forest.

We traveled along Highway 18 and then took a wrong turn at Lingle, SD and ended up a few miles from the  Nebraska border before having to backtrack, riding through Fort Laramie on Highway 26 and then on to I-25 and Casper, WY., where we overnighted.


Day 9, — Had us traveling to Idaho Falls, ID., and we departed early to avoid the afternoon heat.  We were riding toward the Grand Teton National Park and Jackson when about 30 miles west of Dubois, WY, we encountered a fatal head-on car accident. 

The Road Glide and Grand Teton’s

We arrived at the scene at 12:30pm and the road had been closed since 9:30am.  We had to endure a 3+ hour wait which put us behind and more importantly it put us riding in the hottest part of the day. 

The 50 miles from Jackson, WY to the border town of Alpine, WY was like walking a marathon with all the backed up traffic. 

We finally made it to Idaho Falls, ID on US26 by early evening.  

Day 10, — We continued our travel west to Boise, ID on the two-lane US 20/26.

There are views of high desert, Atomic labs and of course Craters of the Moon Monument with it’s vast ocean of lava flows and scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush.We stopped for some site seeing, but didn’t explore any trails.

We arrived in Boise, ID before 3pm and met up with some other riders who arrived from Portland.

Day 13, — (Sunday, July 23,) — After a couple days of enjoying the local rides and taking in the city life along with parts of the Pacific Northwest H.O.G. Rally (While at the rally in Meridian, ID., I had a chance to test ride a new 2017 CVO Street Glide with the new M-8 engine. I will do a post on that experience soon) we returned to Portland, OR via the most direct route on I-84.

We finally arrived back in Portland that evening after touring over 3,500 miles with a number of new stories from the adventure in retracing the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  In addition, we got to hang with a number of great H.O.G. members!

We could relate to Meriwether Lewis who wrote in September 1806:

Today Captain Clark will pen a letter to Governor Harrison and I shall pen one to President Jefferson informing them officially of our safe return and providing the details of our expedition. My hope, and that of Captain Clark, is that our work over the last two and a half years will accomplish this administration’s goals to expand the Republic westward and inspire future generations into even further exploration and adventure. — Meriwether Lewis 

Updated August 15, 2017:  Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left from St. Louis, Missouri with the Corps of Discovery and headed west in an effort to explore and document the new lands bought by the Louisiana Purchase.  To read more about Lewis and Clark, visit the National Geographic site dedicated to their journey or read their report of the expedition, originally published in 1814.  There are a number of period correct maps HERE.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Corner Saloon

Corner Saloon

As the nation pauses today to remember the lives lost 13 years ago…

I’m reminded of how many times I have ask or answered the question, “Where were you on September 11?

The typical answer is geographical. Meaning, where you were physically attributes to your Sept. 11 comprehension or experience, of course, but try reflecting on where you were mentally and the emotions you felt in the aftermath.

On that awful day like most, I was angry and confused and to be candid some helplessness did seep in.

Thirteen years later my resolve has waned a bit and it’s getting harder to remember a time when we haven’t been at war or gearing up for “counter-insurgency.”  Sure there is ample room for debate on how and why America got to where it is today, but on this day I’m feeling sadness about the thousands of people who died on Sept. 11 and the thousands more since. I’m sad for the families who lost so much, and the Americans who have perished.

Corner Saloon Field

Corner Saloon Field

Yesterday the good folks at Paradise H-D and the Corner Saloon put their talented marketing minds together and along with a bunch of motorcycle enthusiasts we joined together at “Taco Wednesday” to remember the 9/11 anniversary and honor those who choose to serve our great country.

Thank you for your service!

Photos taken by author.

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CCA-Joyride13You open your mailbox one morning and there inside is a letter from a charity asking for your support. You read it and either toss the material or are inspired to donate, writing out a modest check and popping it in the mail. You feel good knowing that you sacrificed something to support a cause you think is important.

But the problem we’re confronting is so much material imploring us to listen it’s a challenge to separate the signal from the noise.  

“Noise” means… useless information.  “Signal” means… truth.

Once upon on a time information was scarce.  You had to hunt for it, nobody pointed a fire hose at your face, which is what logging onto the internet is like today.  It’s a tsunami of information and with your time limited where do you place your attention?  As consumers we’re inundated with noise.  To the point we ignore almost everything that’s incoming and we only pay attention to our trusted filters who are most often friends.

I only have time for incredible and so do you. 

ParadiseHD-Joyride13Which is why I’m raising awareness about the Children’s Cancer Association (CCA).  

How many charity rides do you participate in a year?  If you are like most motorcyclists you probably support a couple a year.  It’s not always about the ride; it’s about giving back to your community and helping the incredible non-profit organizations with their cause.

That’s what the 4th annual CCA Joyride is all about.  Paradise H-D is a key sponsor of the event to raise funds for The Alexandra Ellis Caring Cabin™. The Caring Cabin provides children and teens facing cancer and terminal illnesses who are in treatment in Oregon, along with their families, an extraordinary place to retreat, relax and create once-in-a-lifetime memories.  The Caring Cabin is the only retreat home of its kind in the western U.S. and is on 24 wooded acres near Pacific City.

I hope you’ll consider joining the charity ride on Saturday, June 22nd.   A new route (HERE) is planned this year that winds through Portland and SW Washington, making stops along the way at some favorite locations. At kick-off, riders will receive a JoyRide Passport that will guide them to each location and where they will learn more about CCA along the way.  Each stop will feature beverages, giveaways, and opportunities to interact with CCA volunteers or families.  Riders who visit all of the stops will be entered into a drawing for a Grand Prize.  You can register HERE or if unable to attend the ride you can sponsor a rider HERE.

There will be an award’s ceremony at the Corner Saloon which is the final stop of the CCA Joyride.

Photo courtesy of Paradise H-D and CCA Joyride.

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At Rose City Thunder - 2003

Rose City Thunder – 2003

There were angry and vocal protests to Mayor Vera Katz.  Two appeals were filed seeking a venue change prior to the event.  There were appeals to the city Noise Review Board.  Police were a little edgy.

I’m talking about the Rose City Thunder.

It’s coming up on the 10th Anniversary of the most legendary and controversial motorcycle event in the city’s history.  Portlandia was one of only four cities in the U.S. chosen for the “Ride Home” tour.  And it all happened in the lazy dog days of summer in 2003 in the South Park blocks.  In celebration of Harley’s 100th Anniversary, the motor company and local dealer, Destination (now Paradise) H-D in Tigard sponsored the event with the purpose to send riders off in colorful fashion to the “Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Ride Home“.

After more than two months of controversy, a unanimous City Council vote along with assists from Harley supporters and the downtown business establishment,  the kickoff party for Harley-Davidson’s 100th anniversary was a go on Friday, August 15, 2003.  There were loud exhausts, public address systems, and rows of the famous “honey buckets” (portable toilets).  Organizers estimated 15,000 visitors, plus 2,000 motorcycles attended pumping an estimated $1.5 million into Portland’s economy.

To be sure, there were inconveniences to downtown residents by streets that were closed, as well as the beer gardens, food, merchandise vendors, live music, motorcycles, and the associated crowds and, teeth-chattering rumble of the hogs’.  The South Park Blocks area residents were not impressed and could give two shakes of a unicorn’s tail that the involved bikers were well behaved and left a lot of their money in the city.

None the less, streets were filled with Milwaukee iron, chaps, bandanas, tattoos and ‘If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand’ t-shirts.  Even the Oregon Lottery got involved with a Harley-Davidson Scratch-It campaign and where a Madras man won a motorcycle.

The Portland event was a lead up to the great trek back to Wisconsin and as it turns out the atmosphere in the Park Blocks on that weekend were surprisingly mellow.  Participants were low-key, drank their refreshments and moved about the event in an orderly fashion.

The so called “incensed residents” returned to their usual way of life when the last Harley departed downtown, but continued to grit their teeth and fight another day on the great Fluoride debate of 2013!

Photo taken by the author.

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Darrin Sprechar

Driving a motorcycle in the northwest is an exciting experience. The views, the freedom a motorcycle gives you, the expression of individuality that comes from going down the road on two wheels vs. four, are all attractions that thousands of Oregon motorcyclists experience most every day.

Unfortunately, there’s a darker side to driving a motorcycle. Accidents involving motorcycles are more dangerous to the rider than those involving people in automobiles.

That was the situation last week when Paradise Harley-Davidson (PHD) employee, Darrin Sprechar (43) was involved in an accident on Oregon 217 and sustained serious injuries.  Darrin was transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital and Health Center after he rear-ended a vehicle on the highway between Southwest Walker and Canyon roads. The crash occurred in the southbound lanes at about 2:35 p.m.

Although Darrin was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, he 
suffered a traumatic head injury and remains hospitalized and in the ICU.  According to Beaverton Police (Yazzolino) the helmet wasn’t one approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
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So, let’s reframe the debate — many of us know Darrin from the PHD Service Department — He’s really a nice guy, has a great sense of humor and is 3-dimensional, just like a real person!  Right now he remains in the ICU and it’s unknown when his condition will improve — so is it really time to debate DOT merits?! Really? I’ve read the posts on the forums and press pages.

Instead I suggest it’s time for a good deed.  One that will help bring some happiness to this family during the hazy shade of winter.  The Sunset HOG Chapter is sponsoring a collection for Darrin to help with medical expenses.  You can bring a donation to the next chapter meeting or mail a donation to PO Box 2078, Beaverton, OR 97075.  Or if you prefer you can make a donation HERE however, be advised that 100% of your donation will not go directly to the Sprechar family after the site takes it’s hefty percent of overhead.

We all hope and pray that Darrin’s injury will quickly heal. If you visit this link the family is keeping Darrin’s status updated daily.  For those of you who do contribute,  I’m sure that Darrin and his family would like to personally thank you for your support.
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Picture courtesy of Caringbridge and Sprechar family.
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2011 CVO Ultra Classic Electric Glide

I’m talking about the Harley-Davidson CVO (Custom Vehicles Operation) division and their customers.

CVO versions take an existing Harley motorcycle, then add a host of additional parts, usually cosmetic but some are mechanical, including the 1,803cc (110 cubic inch) version of the stock Harley motor.  The bikes they design and build are by any definition “mass-produced,” so they’re not true “custom’s” in the purest sense of the word.  But, based on rider demand the CVO division makes specialized versions on a few Harley models each year.  The people who purchase these want to customize their motorcycles but don’t have the time or skills.

But they do have money!

I was out yesterday at lunch and did a local H-D dealer “drive-by” when I noticed they had two 2011 CVO Touring bikes on the show floor:

  1. CVO Street Glide (MSRP: $33,880 (includes shipping costs)) – Asking Price was $36,400
  2. CVO Ultra Classic Electric Glide (MSRP: $36,880 (includes shipping costs)) – Asking Price was $40,300

2011 CVO Street Glide

Whoa!  A $40K Harley-Davidson.  That’s a first.  And neither had the optional 200 Watt “Boom! Audio Bagger” package which would have pushed the asking price even higher.  The CVO models always sell out and I’m sure 2011 will be no different because H-D deliberately under produces to maintain a perception of exclusivity.

So what’s my point?  I think purchasing the CVO takes all the fun away from doing your own customization.  The research, planning, procuring and incremental accessory installations are what provides motorcyclists winter projects and if you purchase a CVO your relegated to just washing it, right?

For example a comparable bike to #2 above is the Electra Glide Ultra Limited which includes the Power Package (103cu in plus ABS/Security) with an asking price of $27,200K (MSRP: $25,280 (includes shipping costs)).  With very similar paint schemes (minus flames) it looks like the dealer is asking about a $13,000 premium for the CVO version.  Sure it has the 110 cu in and several other accessories, but the price difference gives a person a lot of room for upgrades and chrome that you specifically want vs. what the motor company decides you need.  H-D doesn’t care either way as long as you just buy a new 2011 model.

I’m thinking the dealer is wishing for a lot here with their additional mark up during these financial times.  It will be interesting to see how long the CVOs stay on the showfloor as $40K buys a lot these days.

Photo courtesy of H-D and Telegraph.co.uk/ Double Red.

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Many of us have experienced EDT and not known it!

Mix that with better, cheaper, faster… a common corporate mantra these days, and you have a catchphrase that leaves out a significant element.  Better, cheaper and faster for whom?  Long term business success means the “whom” must ultimately be your customers yet isn’t it odd how often the existing customers are forgotten in the rush of daily business.  Sales and marketing are about bringing potential new customers into the dealers.  Operations are working to be efficient and fill orders.  Service is busy putting out fires.  Meanwhile existing customers are walking unnoticed and uncared for out the side door.  Customer retention at H-D exceeds the motorcycle industry average, but people will stop patronizing when they feel like their business doesn’t matter to the company.

And that’s my point.  Repeat-purchase loyalty or the erosion (the proportionate fall in repeat-purchase loyalty) at the local dealership.

Even if the Harley dealer does everything right – transforms into a lifestyle destination, offers up camaraderie beyond the parking lot, mixing with customers, first-name greetings, pancakes and music on the weekends, working hard at providing a friendly, at-home atmosphere, low-pressure sales – is there any doubt that a key determining factor for a repeat customer at that dealer during this economic environment be anything other than price, Price, PRICE?  How much more are you willing to pay for the dealer experience?  I would suggest none.  Personal relationships do matter, but over paying to maintain that business relationship is obsolete.

For example below is a repeat-purchase story from a riding buddy (edited for space and used with permission) who just put a new 2010 Street Glide in his garage:

“This purchase was one of the simplest things I’ve done. I called the Sales Manager (Moshonda) at Albany Harley-Davidson (AMC) and asked her for a price. I was really expecting to hear MSRP or maybe $500 discount on a $20.5K price. When she told me $18,519, I said “I’ll take it”. We did some of the transaction over the phone and I went down a couple days later and picked it up. I put down 2/3 cash and financed a third. They made that easy with a good interest rate. They didn’t even try hard to up-sell me on the extended warranty. Simply asked, I said no and we signed.

Went down yesterday and rode it home. Weather cooperated and it was nice having cruise control and 6th gear. The radio is awesome! Candidly I did struggle on not talking to Paradise H-D where I’ve previously purchased.  Bottom line, I sincerely doubt they could or would have even tried to get down to the AMC price. Granted I didn’t give them the chance, but I’d bet Paradise H-D was $1500 over MSRP to start off and now we’re talking about a $4k difference to spend time haggling over. Ultimately I felt that if I challenged Paradise H-D to get down to this price and if we couldn’t and I had to walk there would always be this friction when I went into the dealer.  Frankly I don’t need the stress.  It’s unreal that I paid almost the same amount for my Road King 10 years ago as I did on this new Street Glide.  Clearly it’s a good time to deal!

AMC is definitely a small town laid back feel. No pressure.  I’m fairly certain the knowledge base at Paradise H-D is better. AMC sales didn’t strike me as deep experts. Remember these are the folks who didn’t think the Oregon bikes had catalytic converters.  Yet, it’s a good store and I liked how they promote themselves to “the working man”.  As you’ve said on your blog, Harley may be pricing themselves out of the market with those CVO’s. When you can draw a price correlation between a motorcycle and a Lexus, well then the issue speaks for itself. At the end of the day, it is just a motorcycle.

The other advantage at AMC for me is they seem to have perpetual sales on accessories.  I don’t think it will cost me an arm and a leg to do the  customization I want. I had a little sticker shock on the quote for Vance & Hines pipes, which looks to be all you can get for the 2010 right now at $1475. Too high, but it included a number of items (fuel tuning/dyno etc.) in addition to the pipes themselves.

Looking forward to summer!”

I’m not advocating one dealer vs. another.   But, the economy is changing the way riders interact with dealerships.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

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