As I was sitting on my porch last night I could hear, in the distance, the sound of motorcycles driving on the nearby highway. The throaty roar of the exhaust pipes made me think that the bikes were Harley Davidson. It made me think of my Harley Davidson and the many Harleys that I owned my life. With all the different Brands and styles of motorcycles I had to ask why Harley Davidson. I did not start off riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle. As soon as I had a driving license my wonderful dad bought me a Vespa scooter. The scooter’s engine was not working when it was purchased. My dad worked long and hard to get the scooter to run. I felt the rush of freedom and excitement when riding the scooter. Then a company called Honda came out with the Honda 50. I worked summer jobs and after school to buy my new black Honda 50. As I got older I kept increasing the size of the engine and the style of riding, to include on road and off road. Eventually, I progressed into large bikes and big engines. During that time I lived in Los Angeles and would ride my motorcycles to work, some 45 miles one way. I ended up with a new BMW motorcycle, a 900 CC sport model. I drove it for many years to work, enjoying the shaft driven, quiet and opposing head engine. I took it on long drives just to enjoy the feeling of freedom and excitement and the California Mountains.
After moving and living closer to another city I usually drove a car to work and slowly got away from riding a motorcycle. Although from time to time I would test ride all the different models and makes of what is called a cruiser bike. I rode all domestic and foreign brands. During this time Honda bikes began growing in size and I looked at an interstate Honda and all the comfort and quiet they contained.
Then one day my wife came home from the market and out of nowhere stated “you need of a Harley”. I looked at her in amazement and said “why”. She stated that while driving back from the store a group of Harley Davidson motorcycles passed by her and when they drove under the overpass and she heard the roar of the engines she knew I needed a Harley Davidson. I started smiling and it’s at this time my brother in-law walked up to my wife and I and ask, “what is going on”? I repeated to him what my wife just said. Well, since my brother in-law already had a Harley Davidson, he thought was a good idea and he offered to go to the dealership with us.
So we got into our car and drove down to the Harley Davidson dealership. As we entered the building I ran across a friend that I work with who was there to buy some items for his Harley Davidson. When I told him why we were there he got excited and said he thought it was a good idea and asked if I he could help me select the bike. Now we are a group of four and when the sales manager arrived my brother in-law and my friend both, knew him well. I told him why we were there and I was a little doubtful about buying a motorcycle. He smiled and said, let me get this straight, your wife wants you buy a Harley Davidson your brother in-law want you to buy a Harley Davidson and your friend is here to help you buy a Harley Davidson. And you are not sure if you want to buy a Harley Davidson. The sales manager said he usually hears the complete opposite. The wife, family and friends advise you against buying Harley Davidson. I smiled and quit questioning my good fortune and began the process of selecting my new ultra classic Harley Davidson motorcycle. I bought it fully loaded and without protest. My wife, my brother in law and my friends bless the purchase and off I drove on my new Harley Davidson that day.
Of course when you buy a new Harley Davidson you change out the exhaust pipes for a louder deeper sound (expensive) and then you start looking at all that bling that you can put on the bike. It seems that the HD in Harley Davidson stands for, hundred dollars. As time went on and I bought riding gear and additional accessories, I had collected a lot of Harley Davidson products over the years.
As my wife and I’m would go on vacation or on a cruise I would find a Harley Davidson store at every port, in every city and in every country. We usually bought Harley Davidson shirts with the location we were at on the shirt. Eventually, I owned over 100 Harley Davidson T shirts. I bought jackets, hats, coffee mugs, banners and signs, anything with a Harley Davidson name on.
Along with a new bike I found myself fitting in with the culture of the Harley Davidson family. I was a middle aged man with my hair starting to turn gray and my stomach was starting to grow. I would tell people; where else can an old man with a beer belly to feel like he is cool. While riding on the roads of this country I found thousands of guys just like me. Riding a Harley Davidson with either a rider on the back riding solo. Of course most the destinations of my rides were to a place to eat. Usually it was a hamburger joint that accommodated outdoor eating. At each one of these locations there was a variety of motorcycles and there seem to be more people my age than not, at the location. Sometimes, I would ride my Harley Davidson to work dressed and my suit and tie and of course a helmet. Many times people would ask me, why I bought a Harley Davidson. I like the Harley because it is big, loud and obnoxious. I want people to see me and hear me coming down the road and hopefully not turn into my path or hit me. I would ride with my radio loud and my pipes even louder. Eventually, like most riders, I joined a group, not a gang, of fellow writers and showed off my colors proudly when riding. But I found I did not like riding with a group and all the rules that go with it. So I rode solo, no colors, no group riding rules, Just me, my Harley and the road.
I will say that while riding in a group of the Harley Davidson you feel the power of the presence of the Harley. And so that is why I think all law enforcement and military should ride a Harley Davidson. There is nothing more impressive than the arrival of a group of police officers riding a Harley Davidson. I’ve seen them used in situations such as a riot. They immediately gain the respect and the attention of the crowd who usually moves out of their way. While the Harley Davidson has been used as a police motorcycle for many years, I’ve noticed some city police riding BMWs and a Honda. Their presence is not nearly as dynamic as when Harley Davidson It is like driving a small Honda Prius with” Police” on the side of it. It is official but does not bring the respect of a full size car.
So, why a Harley Davidson? This American icon has survived for over 100 years. From its start as a motorized bicycle through the ownership of AMF (which almost killed the Harley) to today’s Harley Davidson, it has survived and grown. Todays Harley owner is less likely to be a thug in an outlaw motorcycle gang, but rather a middle or upper class working man or woman who can afford the expense of owning a Harley Davidson. These new riders continue to dress in a fashion be used by riders of both outlaw gangs and motorcycle clubs. They wear leather vest sporting a gang or club colors. Some wear helmets, some wear dew rags, and all wear a smile. When a group of riders pull into a location it is hard to tell the good guys and the bad guys at first. But then as the rider dismounts their bike, you will recognize the difference. It seems that all bikers have tattoos and especially when on the Harley Davidson they want people to see their tattoos. Many times while at the eating location I would recognize people I know as businessmen and women, moms and dads, grandma’s and granddad’s. Harley Davidson has swept up several generations of riders. I’m one of those and a truly enjoying the feel of riding Harley Davidson on the roads of America and probably anywhere else. Why Harley Davidson, because it fits me and I hope future generations of motorcycle riders will continue to enjoy Harley Davidson.