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What's It All About?
Do you really need to question the significance of a Harley-Davidson?
These bikes are as intertwined into popular American culture as Bruce Springsteen, Jack Daniels, Coca-Cola, the right to bear arms and the right to supersize your meal.
The company considers 1903 to be its year of founding, though the Harley-Davidson enterprise could be considered to have started in 1901 when William S. Harley, age 21, drew up plans for a small engine that displaced 7.07 cubic inches (116cc) and had four-inch flywheels.
The engine was designed for use in a regular pedal-bicycle frame.
In 1906 factory premises were sought and the Harley legend began.
What's not so well appreciated is that from the late Sixties to the turn of the Eighties, Harleys were deeply unfashionable, representing all that was sluggish and complacent about American manufacturing industry.
Harley's management wised up to the retro appeal of the bikes and started producing sharper products. Although there are now many imitators, for some people the genuine article is well worth paying the premium for.
What Do They Cost?
Possibly not as much as you might expect. In fact, it's possible to ride out of a dealership on a brand new 883cc Harley for just over five grand. That will buy you a Sportster 883 and £7,495 will net you a Sportster 1200 Roadster but its worth bearing in mind that despite this huge engine, you'll still have only a modest power output at your disposal.
An FLSTCI Heritage Softail Classic is probably more your image of what a typical Harley Davidson looks like and these will run to over £13,000 with the FLSTFI Fat Boy priced at similar levels.
If you want to meld classic Harley design cues with a more modern philosophy, one of the V-Rod models is worth a look.
How Do They Handle?
It's tough to give a run-down on the range as a whole. Suffice to say the Sportsters will handle better than you'd expect, the Dynas and Street Rods are OK but the bigger bikes don't relish being tipped over too enthusiastically.
All Harleys have gobs of torque and a very charismatic exhaust note. If you're in the market for one, it's worth being realistic and accepting that you're buying the bike for how it makes you feel rather than how quickly it goes up the road or around a corner.
These bikes aren't for everyone and smaller riders can find the weight intimidating, but every biker needs to at least try a Harley Davidson at some point.
With the meanest depreciation figures of any new bikes, Harleys aren't the ridiculous indulgence you might think.
Yes, some may think you're having a midlife crisis but, heck, you've earned it.
So many modern bikes are long on talent and short on character. Buy a Hog and you'll wonder how you managed before.