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FasterSon 15th September 2017 22:39

Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
18 Attachment(s)
'Sweetheart, do you think we could... you know... over it?', I was pointing at my bike when my daughter came calling and searching for me. And suddenly I ended my sentence with 'and that's how you link your Aadhar card number.' My wife laughed and went inside. My daughter could not care less, she had her barbie's head in one hand and body in the other - A true crisis.

The next morning, as I sat on the bike, I let out a shout of horror, rather a squeal. Just like they show in that advertisement that shows a boy screaming when he discovers a pimple on his face. The deflated tyre deflated my bubble of joy. Shock, disbelief, anger, a blank phase, damage assessment and a call to 'Puncture Gopi' in my phonebook, followed in the same order. It was still 8ish in the morning and I knew how Gopi would deal his cards, 'Saar, belag beligge nimde first bonige! Naku kasu sersikodi, He He He!' (Literally - Saar, morn morning yours only first opening sale. 4 money add give, He He He!)

He pumped in some air and it seemed to hold and I rode it till his shop. He searched for a few minutes, but did not find the puncture. Finally, he found and diagnosed a case of loose air valvitis and said glue would be a a temporary cure! I was in a super hurry and said 'Ok Gopi' and rode on! All worries forgotten, facial muscles relaxed except for a tentative smile and my senses heightened, I rode.

At the coffee shop break, an unassuming villager with a toothpick stuck at the side of his mouth, probably on his break day, asked me 'Yesht kotri? Idella illi innu bandilla, Bangaloror irbeku?' (How much and probably Bangalorean?)

Well, to answer that let me start from the start!

I had decided I will be a biker for my life. But, I am a doctor and arriving on a bike usually does not give my patients, waiting, all the confidence needed to go under my knife. But, you have to listen to your heart when it is stubborn. It's a medical condition!

I have always been a biker inside. I was in boarding schools till I was 18 and hence, missed the 'steal an uncle's bike and get reprimanded more so for the smile on your face' phase. Out in the 'open world', in my government college hostel, we were satisfied easily and did not need superbikes back in the 90s. The new found freedom had opened up my horizons and I was busy as a bee! Asking parents was not an option to my hothead! I was a passionate introvert and showing off was not cool to me. The 'girls scene' was still a couple of years away.

I just did not miss a bike inside our all-providing campus. But, once I became a senior I wanted a bike for the practicality and it was my flamboyant military cousin brother who bought me a bike - a red RX100 at that! My life changed. Painted it different shades of red every year. I would just hop onto it as an extension to my walking up to it and be gone in seconds. It was quite literally a part of me. Wherever I went, I took it. Even to my room door driving through the corridors of my hostel. I was destined to be a biker for life!

Fast forward to midlife:
Doctors stay young longer in early life because we stay connected to a college till our 30s. Then, we slowly zoom in to specialise in some 1 cm part of the body! But, I was happy staying young and bikes are a part of that process. Now, I had an R15 since 2009 and my SX4 was used only to chauffeur my family.

The R15 was an impulsive, but my best buy till date. My mechanical instincts are very limited. It was like friendship, a connection - the way I felt with my RX100. I stopped taking public transport. I rode it everywhere, be it local coffee shop meet up routine or when going to my native or to write entrance exams. I drove over the mountains to Coimbatore to meet friends for a smoke. I took it across the border to Kerala to visit my girlfriend then, and again when I had to visit her as my wife and then as the mother of my child. Heck, we went on a road trip honeymoon! It never broke down on me even once! I had no mechanical inclinations. If I felt it's sick I took it to its doctor. That's all.

More recently, me and my wife on her Suzuki Swish were just play riding, overtaking each other. I went past her once quickly and real smooth. She was impressed by our good old 'Gowri's' prowess, how slick and smooth it rode still after all these years! Since there was talk about me wanting another bike, she exclaimed, much in Neil Jericho's style, "Waittaa minatt pplayah! You mean to ditch this bike? How mean!" I eyed my R15 and petting it said 'Awww'. Naaa, nevah! I pacified the missus, but I need a change. You guys have no idea what an awkward movement that was and how I struggled to explain, justifying what I meant! stupid:

Alone and dusted? Naa, nevah
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Something bigger:
Once I became a consultant and found an initial job in a city 100 km from home with a highway in between, the biker in me rejoiced. I did a round trip every 2 days on my R15. It's a lovely bike on the winding ghat section roads, but not all that comfortable on a windy highway. And imagine the doctor about to operate on your father's eye coming jolly on an R15!

My hunt for a worthy highway ride began. I went straight to the Enfield showroom! What lovely posters! Something about a big bike sitting shiny indoors gets me all turned on! It's probably some medical condition! I am a sucker for the retro thing, thanks to the memories of my first love, my RX100. I have a yezdi classic with a Roadking engine, Mysore registered, with Jawa badges and hippy themed stickers, for the love of it! That is a story for another day though. There was the rugged and newly launched Himalayan at the centre, a sweet-looking Continental GT in the corner and a cool monster-looking Classic behind another partial partition. It was a divine orgy! The GT looked my type of bike!

A young intern looking sales boy was more than nice to me on a busy day and told me I can test drive all, except the Himalayan. He eyed my R15 and was eager to take a booking. I asked for the Thunderbird first, but I was still eyeballing GT shamelessly with a naughty smile! A more senior sales person, busy with other cases taking delivery (full on family affair), was still eyeing my proceedings, told me to feel free and ride the bike to my liking. I started the bike, but did not feel the thump.

My father-in-law owned a '69 bullet 500. The thump and that torque, which gives you the feeling of being 'carried away' was phenomenal on it. This was in Kerala and I was wearing a lungi - folded up and tied. So it was the full on experience, on winding, twisty, but narrow roads.

On opening the throttle, like a horse at gallop, the ground under flies backwards. You come to terms in gripping and position yourself although you would not have moved out from your seat. Give a little more throttle and the process repeats! The rumble in the groin (love the way the word sounds) and the power seeming to come from somewhere just a little south, makes that experience so very intoxicating!

The R15, in the curves, gives a different joy - an impulsive primal kind. Much like how a baby enjoys being tossed around a bit! But, on these torquey machines it is a different kinda joy - a more cardinal type, much like an affair you can't be too vocal about! The first moves are unexpected and give a rush. The subsequent moves are deliberate! There is a heart-thumping joy of being able to control a seemingly rowdy metal bull.

I remember my father-in-law sitting on his small stool and his hands busy meddling deep inside the belly of the beast! Whenever I took it out for a spin, I thought to myself that he is a smart man to keep the bike running this good! It was this bike upon which, he dropped me to the local bus stop after I went to his house to ask for his daughter's hand! It was a part of him and they were very much alike - with niggles, but refusing to give up. May he rest in peace.

This could have been my father-in-law
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But, the TB500 definitely was not that beast. The power was seeming linear, building up in the mid range till the vibrations set in before reaching 100 km/h. The volume of the bike moving at that speed gave a nice feel and momentum, but torque was missing big time. It seemed a gear short after my R15. I think the sales guy made out the excitement level quite accurately on my face. Immediately, he offered the GT.

When I sat astride the GT, he was more excited, probably because of the smile on my face. The GT felt a lot more solid and well built. Its balance was good. I remember I blushed a bit when I first looked at it. It was gorgeous - all manly blushes though!

Once, while on a mundane family purpose drive through the city, I had seen the GT parked. I got all jittery and tingly, put the emergency brakes and dragged my wife into a bike review on the road. We were on our way hunting some home product, if you married guys understand where I am getting to with this! My wife had that look on her face which said, "You got to be kidding me fellah! Is this all that you learnt from what all I have taught you after marriage?" My eyes replied, "Don't deny me this please. It's been too long without a new toy! P.S. We are going shopping and you better keep me in a good mood!"

She agreed with a gracious smile. Something she does and I know what will be going through her head - "I am gonna catalogue this and keep it in the frequently used file, to be used for her own good in some argument or reasoning in the very near and as well as the very far future!" Her comment was that the tank looked like the apple piece she has cut and kept in the fridge!
My reply look said '----!' Yes blank. How in the world do you frame a reply to that? Women!

The GT was lot peppier and handled curves well, but felt underpowered as well with vibrations well before 100 km/h. I felt it was half-baked. I secretly told it that "it's not over!" I really would love to own a better version of it sometime. I came back with a good-looking brochure, excited after riding the REs, but was left wanting.

The posters in the RE showroom intrigued me much! Cafe racers, the black and white pictures, naked bikes and dudes belting them out made me think. I imagined their life. I pictured myself in black and white, hair cropped well and riding hard.

I started reading up on the history of biking, the early scene, the legacies. I was getting more excited about riding bigger engines. I started imagining what the world is riding and why is it riding, apart from reaching from point A to B.

Pictures of some smart smart modified bikes took a lot of my surfing time. Wife by my side, I was spending more time surfing ownership threads and was ogling at mean metal, at night. My wife grew suspicious and when she found out all I was interested on the net was big bikes, she told me to go buy one! She assured me that I deserve one since I work hard and I missed my more adventurous days. She said that money will come and that I should enjoy the day while it lasts. Women after marriage make a lot of sense in their arguments and reasoning. The doctor's order was exactly what the patient wanted!

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The Ninja was a childhood dream and seemed a good choice, but how long would I be happy with a sport bike again? I was thinking about my pillion comfort as well, since I was eager to involve my family in riding, sometime in the future.

Triumph seemed a bit costly at the time! And servicing would be a problem. Harley was, as usual, a childhood dream and it seemed like I was going to own one! I was talking to one of my more knowledgeable friends about how I like the build of my Yamaha, how it humms along even after many years of battering and how its headlight, when put off, dimmed out making a awesome curved, cat-eye shape on the wall in front. He said then that the RE was not my type and what I had to look for was a Harley.

I came across the Harley showroom in Coimbatore and it became a routine to stop and look. The girls in the showroom would be developing complexes! Smart girls that they are, probably are now experiencing what the not so smart ones around them would have been experiencing all their lives with guys preferring the metal beauties over them! If with family too, I used to stop over and my mother-in-law was so impressed with the bikes that she said other bikes would look ordinary to her from then on!

My wife's cousin has a Harley - an Iron 883. It's photoshopped grained image from a low angle is his DP. It looked muscular. I did not know much about the model - the pros and cons. From then on, suddenly I started seeing Harley pictures wherever I looked! On magazine covers, on the road here and there, a beautiful breakout model picture on a random notebook cover, etc.

It was then I came across Dkaile Sir's review on his Superlow. Was surprised how involved it got him. Read the whole thread at one go! Everybody seemed to say HOG was the thing to be involved with if you have a Harley. But that did not interest me much. I used my bikes / cars to arrive at where I had to go, instead of public transport. I rarely go on public transport ever since I have owned a vehicle. So does a Harley fit in?

As there are moods, there are different landscapes, different routes to take and different reasons to ride a bike. How could I find that one bike, which fitted my complicated self with multiple needs? So, I decided to uncomplicate and find a bike for the highway travel now. For my scrambling needs I will look out for another bike, somewhere else, sometime else.

Wore my jeans and went for a test ride. To be honest, I felt like being in a debut match! That sensation in the stomach, excited about something new! After a while, I felt what was a frequent feeling during my younger years. Those years filled with 'first' experiences!

To my horror, they said the Superlow was discontinued and Custom 1200 was available instead. I had ruled out the Street 750... well my mother-in-law had ruled out the 750! Test drove the 48 and felt just at home. The salesgirl rode an Iron 883 guiding me and that was a sight! Just that I was not yet comfortable with the 1,200cc engine's jerky throttle and bit of an uncomfortable riding position. But, I was happy that I could control this metal beast. I made up my mind to find a used Superlow instead.

After some searching found out that there are pre-owned ones and ones which are pre-worshipped! There was this performance upgraded Superlow and with a long list of comfort mods in Bangalore. The owner seemed straightforward enough and he wanted to go for a adventure tourer - a BMW at that, since his circle demanded such. I googled and found that what he wanted was upwards of Rs. 20L, but that was last year. He asked for a advance and I had made up my mind. I went to check it out few days later. As he brought it out of his apartment parking through a tunnel, the sound echoed and reverberated. It was a shiny, dedicated cruiser with 'American' written all over it. I have plans to desify it with a flat seat, straight bars and all.

Meet my NightFury! :)
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I touched it all around. Did the classic clutch press, tap the tyres and move the handle thing! No idea what I had to exactly check. It was shiny and muscular and how! I had its service and warranty claim records and it was clean. I had no previous experience with a big engine, apart from the memories of my small test ride with the Harley chick. I rode it around his apartment and picked it up a couple of days later paying full.

He was very gracious and explained a bit to me about the bike, gave me a helmet, an awesome black leather jacket with an HD logo, a pair of leather gloves, knee and elbow protectors, bungee rope and the manual.

I rode it to my brother's place in Electronic City, scraped it good on a couple of humps and parked it. It had to be ridden to Coimbatore the next morning! I did not sleep that night, sprang up the next day and got dressed - jacket and elbow & knee protectors and all and ran out. The car guy that my brother is, way less excited, slowly followed me down to the parking! I sat on the bike and lifted up the side stand. "Patak", it fell back. Shock, blank, disaster management! I had knocked the side stand spring off when I scraped its bottom! Undeterred, I tied with a thread, started the bike and went on my way merrily!

The first ride:
I had found my father-in-law's Bullet's torque and more! He would have been proud! The balance was just awesome, it was flickable to quite an extent. The upgraded front fork had good feel and felt very planted. The rear though was a bit unsure on hard braking. Edges of potholes unnerved the balance, the flat wide front tyres were at fault there.

But this machine was made for highways and that is where I was taking it. The sound from SS pipes was mesmerising! Overtaking was easy since it is a Stage 1 upgraded model, albeit a bit slowly. And I could take it up to 1800cc, if I wish.

A red indian chieftain?
Attachment 1679240

SS pipes with a open mouth thumps it out!
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I covered the 255 km to erode in about 3 hours in the morning on the Bangalore-Coimbatore highway with one break. Well, I had to sit on the bike and untie the shoe lace I had tied the jiffy stand with and then tie it again when I left. This sure looked odd to the onlookers, but I pulled it off with such new-found confidence - like the model who broke her heels and then removed them both and carried in her hands elegantly smiling. Went to work by 10 am and rode it home to Coimbatore - another 100 km in the evening orange shades on the horizon. The same route I took so often looked charming and seemed like it was leading somewhere else. I was going home, was not to be mistaken for a ride to freedom. But it sure felt relaxed like heck. The view was better owing to the seating and easy cruising nature of the engine. Once I reached home I announced my arrival by revving in my front yard. I got a scolding for showing off from my wife and smiling welcome from my mother-in-law.

The rumble scared my kid at first. Defying her common sense that heavy objects are stable and difficult to move, the bike rolled on swiftly without much fuss. She used to clutch me tight to avoid the angry engine getting her. Now she is fine and is good friends with the big friendly giant.

My wife too reacted the same way. Then started giggling still clutching onto my shoulders tight. Hmm "rumble?" She did not put it in words, but I know that feeling fairly well. She ain't no rider, rather a practical girl who prefers the car. But, even she got that feel. She said she felt wanting to get out of the town, past the traffic, into free space and feel the air. Freedom from the mundane! That's exactly what this bike does.

My house owner uncle said, he gets scared looking at the machinery. There is always a audience when I take my bike out and leave from hospital. The sons and daughters of people I operate upon seem happy now.

Now for the technicals:
This is where my wife will stop reading the copy of this post I sent to her email.

Is it a bike for all occasions? NO
Do I need another bike to fulfill my biking needs? YES
Does it make me happy when I am on it and make me feel like I should hang on to it all my life? Heck YES!

It is a 2012 model that had run 14K km till October 2016. The rear tyre was new and the Motobatt 12V battery was newish.

The list of mods done on it :
1. S and S pipes exhaust.
2. Screaming Eagle air filter.
3. Fuelpak.
4. The cables are upgraded to performance grade. I got no details on that though.
5. Front forks are upgraded with Racetech springs.
6. Mini ape handle bars. But, I keep them tilted back quite a bit to suit my height.
7. Handlegrips, foot pegs are wider with rubber grippings. There are rear footpegs.
8. Seat is a Saddlemen double seat.
9. Customised backrest, which I can fold up and adjust for the rider's back when without a pillion. Gives excellent lower back support.
10. Fog lights.
11. Engine guard.
12. Automatic remote lock.
13. Big potbelly-shaped windscreen. Provides excellent protection till certain speeds, then have to duck a bit. Pillion is pounded though.
14. Shiny bits like engraved engine chrome covers, engraved bolt covers.
15. BoomBox in a box. Have not put it on yet.
16. Fuel gauge.
15. Owner was gracious enough to give me a Harley full helmet with scala Bluetooth headphone with FM, black leather jacket with awesome embroidered HD patch, half finger leather gloves, Alpine elbow and knee protectors. I should say all are of excellent quality.

My usage is mostly on highway as of now. Ridden it 11K km in as many months. It serves my purpose very well. I go to work 100 km away from home. I travel 2-3 times a week. I do use other bikes too. I drop my daughter to school taking the least busy exit from the city onto the bypass and then I open the throttle, only to bring it in at my workplace. There are 2 toll booths and no other city cuts the highway. The roads in the state of Tamil Nadu are fine - a notch or two better than the surrounding states. I reach my destination in 1 hour 15 minutes, from door to door.

It plods on very well. This part of Tamil Nadu is very windy. There is a separate windy season here from June to October. Windy season? I never knew! Understandably, it does well in the wind. The stock tyres' grip on wet roads is decent. The flat tyre displaces water out in a very flat trajectory! I don't know if that is of significance to the ride, just something of a new observation to me! It's a 100 km ride I do on the same road and there is not much else to do when driding!

I do not go on roads with slow traffic and many traffic lights. Changing gears becomes a frequent affair and it's no fun without its engines in rhythm. Much like a big West Indian, it's at its best when belting out a number in rhythm, not stringing together a stop 'n' go bhajan. Slow, but constantly moving traffic - okay. Stop and go traffic - not okay. I intend to keep it reserved for the highway.

Fuel indicator fitted, manual view on the backside
Attachment 1679179

The BoomBox
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The cleaning crew. Star is the microfibre cloth though
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Handling:
For short city rides with moderate traffic, the handling is just amazing for such a heavy bike. And I am telling this after owning an R15 and a Yezdi Roadking alongside. Of course, the respect for Harley from fellow road users helps. Should be cautious on road edges though.

Acceleration:
It is just about right. 0-100 comes up in 6-7 seconds. It seems most comfortable between 95 and 115 km/h. Overtaking is easy although a tad slow. It gets stressed at high speed and beyond a certain speed I felt my sofa-seated ducking position unnerving.

Sound:
The SS pipes makes a sweet sweet note (I feel it's better than the "nasal'' SE or the VH, which I felt is ok at mid rpm). Rumbling and thumping at low rpm, much like a refined Bullet and the added deep angry punch in the already magestic thump when you push to overtake, is just phenomenally appealing - a turn on! The change in sound has "overtaking" written all over it! You know it's going past, the driver in front knows something is going to speed past him and khaka putting coffee on the roadside shop knows something is overtaking something!

Beyond 100 km/h, the thump accelerates to a smooth throaty sportbike-like note. Blissful! But, there is a way to build up to that rhythm. It's not achieved by just revving it up, but more like a smooth build up.

The paintwork
The finish is extraordinary. Chromes have a mirror finish. When washed, it looks like a crisply uniformed Brigadier with a very proud feel.

Mirror finish in black - sunlight makes it shine
Attachment 1679182

The gear change is precise and loud. I like it that way. Finding neutral is sometimes tricky - only when at a standstill. No big deal.

Cons and some Remedies (do correct me if I am wrong till the time I can actually get my hands on some of these
Bottoms out invariably with a hefty pillion.
GC: It is the prima dona, my ideas are :

a. Tyre profile change to 120/90 from 120/70 x 18. That's a rise by 24 mm. Have sourced a Dunlop K177 or D404 in that size in J.P. Cycle. Checked with them, they will ship it. They cost (approximately) Rs. 21K and Rs. 14K respectively.
How will it ride? I guess it will take some balancing initially, but I also feel it will handle bad roads a bit better, now that the tyre is less flat.

b. Reduce front sag by adding fork spacers - dustom99 had put up pictures of it. Showroom here says they are not able to get the exact fitting recently, but is supposed to come. Cost - Rs.15K. Will increase GC by 15 mm.

c. Alternatively, can go for a complete overhaul of the fork with monotubes. They are supposed to be top-of-the-line. Said to reduce sag and nose diving, improved front feel. Users vow by its handling superiority and gravel-handling capacity. My Racetech spring upgrade already gives a good feel, an improvement is welcome.

d.Shift the side stand to somewhere else and gain 5 mm. Will have a skid plate scraping first, than having my side stand fall off.

e.Rear shocks - I am planning on 13.2 inch Hagon nitro shocks. (Rs. 45K) The stock 11 inch is too low, but does an OK job without a pillion. But, it has that spring back type of action which makes you jump off the seat when riding out of a depression at speeds. Cheaper Hagons supposedly do not go well with Harley although were used earlier. They are supposed to be way better than progressive 412 (Rs. 35K). Progressive 444 - rebound controlling variant is costly (Rs. 60K). Top-of-the-line Piggybacks (Rs. 85K).

I rode my cousin's Iron with 'Legends' top-of-the-line shocks and they are phenomenal (Rs. 80k). Ohlins are ridiculously overpriced and eBay is not recommended by many. A very cheap Hagon is worth a try as interim measure till something solid is found.

Turning and Tilting:
Make no mistake, it is really sweet to handle. The turning radius is ever so slightly larger. But at 100 km/h plus, because of the fact that it holds the straight line so well, it takes some effort to turn. The flat front tyre does not make the turning easy either. Also, once set in the curve, it does hold its line well.

It's as much important to tilt / bank the bike as it is to turn the handlebar. This is so very important at higher speeds especially! If you relax and decrease the banking and try only more handlebar turning, the bike sort of lifts up from its banking and the turning radius keeps increasing.

I don't know how to explain this. Turning the handlebar too much toward the direction of the bike's bending reduces effective tilt. Hence, the bike gets lifted up from its banking and suddenly the turning radius increases. It is unlike a sportbike manoeuvre and takes a bit adjusting to in the initial period. This is probably what's explained in countersteering and is very much applicable to this bike - only at higher speeds though. May be something about momentum, vectors and stuff. Tilting is limited a bit by how low the bike is.

Similarly, at low speed or at standstill, since the bike profile is low, knee joint locking to bear the weight is not as effective. This heavy bike bears its weight on the already bent leg and it requires a Herculean effort to lift the bike beyond a certain tilt.

Heating:
It is negligible on the highway. In the city, it is there after 15 minutes, but I am not bothered by it because I don't plan to ride it in Bangalore. It's a machine for the highway, a sofa on wheels and I plan to keep it that way.

Braking:
Not bad at all. The front brake is excellent. That is supposed to be the primary brake. The rear brake locks up on fairly hard braking (definitely on panic braking). But, a proper combination works really, really well. We have to start braking from the front first and add along inputs of rear braking. If it fish tails, no big deal. Do not bother much. Stay responsive. It is still pretty much under control. Use the front a little more and it stops well. ABS would have been a boon. I have no idea if it can be retro fitted well. I find engine braking just as helpful, but I use it cautiously in higher gears fearing that I may harm the insides. The brake pads looks like they need changing during every service.

Vibrations:
The engine has a rhythm to be throttled up. The right gearing and tactful throttling makes the bike accelerate excitingly and the vibrations are mostly the rumble! Believe me, that is a good sensation under the groin! On long rides, the same sensible combination of gearing and throttle use helps staying in the sweet spot. It ain't that difficult, it's all in my auto pilot now! Padded grips help a lot.

After all it's a power house, moving all that mass and belting it out - it is nice to feel that power. It does not seem to break down or slow down. That is what I mostly appreciate about my Harley - till now! Do I wish it vibrated little less? Of course yes, but I ain't complaining.

Gearing:
Without half clutching constantly -
1st gear - till 10 km/h
2nd gear - till 35 km/h
3rd gear - 30 to 65 km/h
4th gear - 50 to 100 km/h
5th gear - 60 km/h above

There is a need to keep it in the proper gear all the time. And the narrow gear width does not help in slower traffic. Lower gears needed a wider range for smoother rides without almost constant half clutching in prolonged city traffic.

Remedy?
According to my theoretical research, the stock front sprocket is a 29-tooth steel wheel. A change to 31 teeth will spread the lower gears wider and hence the time spent in lower gears can increase. This should reduce half clutching in city rides, although it may mean a little more frequent changes on highway rides. But it's worth the trouble looking at the possible ease offered in city rides.
I have sourced one from eBay. Cost - Rs. 20-25K + additional labour. Awaiting an experienced mechanic with knowhow.

My competitor! A exchange may be on cards
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With brother Nandi
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Metal mayhem!
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With 'Gowri' sister
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Mishaps:
1. The rear tyre once lost pressure quite fast. There were no punctures, but the valve was a little mobile. Fixed it with glue and it has been holding up for the last 8K km. Maintain proper tyre pressure for good results.

2. While backing up, with a turned handlebar on a steep incline at a parking, I could not hold it up and had to settle it down! Do not do that! But nothing happened, I am fine with such things. It's after all a bike. It took one for the team!

3. The jiffy stand spring, as I said, came off and I got it fixed by a local mechanic. Alas, he fixed it too straight and it came off the next time I parked and it fell off! Did not make much sound while falling! But, the clutch lever broke and the replacement cost me Rs. 2,300. I said sorry that I was not there when it needed me most. All is fine now!

4. One of the front forks leaked oil minimally. Tried cleaning the dust on the inside of the seal with a thin plastic visiting card. Although it reduced, it did not stop fully. So got the seals and fork oil changed for 5K plus.

5. Left the key in "accessory on" position and drained the battery out once. Looked up how to take out the battery on YouTube. (Keep the key in on position, open the side case and take out the fuse first to avoid alarm going off even with dead battery). Got the battery charged for Rs. 100.

6. Although the headlight is not working in dipped position now, it works just fine in the high beam position!

Upgrades:
Camshaft upgrade - Very routinely advocated in the U.S. - almost as routinely at the first service by some! Said to increase torque and distribute it a little better in the lower and mid range. Choice of cam duration and such for the Sportster is not suitable with the ones available even in the U.S market. May involve head modification and info with Harley Coimbatore is totally lacking. So pending issue. Upgrade to 1200 or to even 1800 - will definitely consider in future once I can trust and source a skilled person.

I want to put a skid plate on the underbelly. Maybe a centre stand - for special occasions (if GC permits).

I will get a horse shoe or a door handle or something like that fixed to the forward-shifted front footpeg, to keep my foot in different positions! The footboard seems too cruiser-cliched.

Planning to custom-build a flat, old Yamaha type seat and chopping the rear fender, having a flat handle with a good reach is something I want to do with this bike finally. Desifying it!

After all, everything is interchangeable and involving. To get some grease on your hands as they say, but I have not seen any grease anywhere yet!

My technical knowledge is very limited. Any suggestions, corrections or comments, however random are very welcome.

GTO 29th September 2017 09:47

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Big Bikes Section. Thanks for sharing!

batterylow 29th September 2017 12:53

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
That was an entertaining read doctor. clap:

Would be nice to catch up with you and your fine machine the next time you are in Coimbatore.

Wishing you millions of miles of "Potato-potato" bliss. :thumbs up

ghodlur 29th September 2017 13:41

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
What an honest review doc:thumbs up. HD ge haardika shubaashaya gaalu saaar.

I generally don't read bike ownership threads but this one got me glued. Some of your statements were too honest like Puncture Gopi, you did not have clue what to check in the bike, you MIL ticked off the other model etc. The bike looks every bit sparkling after the detailing.

Few noob questions: 1) When the was the last servicing done 2) What is the approx maintenance expenses of the Harley's (asking coz one of my building mate was planning to get a new one) 3)How much did the mods cost you.
Happy riding and drive safely. Enjoy the mile crunching in the coming days.

mh09ad5578 29th September 2017 19:45

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
Beautifully written mate! Yep the Superlow is a beautifully charming companion. I use mine as a daily driver too ,though it'll put a smile on your face on the open roads. Dkaile sirs thread is awesome, I plan to keep my maintenance posts there. Subscribed-keep the posts coming. Loving them!

FasterSon 29th September 2017 22:30

Quote:

Originally Posted by batterylow (Post 4278289)
That was an entertaining read doctor.

Would be nice to catch up with you and your fine machine the next time you are in Coimbatore.

Wishing you millions of miles of "Potato-potato" bliss.

Thank you, sure. Fine machine is the right word I was searching for!

Quote:

Originally Posted by ghodlur (Post 4278314)
What an honest review doc:thumbs up. HD ge haardika shubaashaya gaalu saaar.

I generally don't read bike ownership threads but this one got me glued. Some of your statements were too honest like Puncture Gopi, you did not have clue what to check in the bike, you MIL ticked off the other model etc. The bike looks every bit sparkling after the detailing.

Few noob questions: 1) When the was the last servicing done 2) What is the approx maintenance expenses of the Harley's (asking coz one of my building mate was planning to get a new one) 3)How much did the mods cost you.

Happy riding and drive safely. Enjoy the mile crunching in the coming days.

Thank you saar / adbidde anntamma! Whichever you prefer ghodlur! Happy you enjoyed, I did as much penning down and going down the memory lane.

I wil try to answer your queries -

1. Service interval is 8k. I got it at 14k and was serviced. I got it done at 20k because I was x bit paranoid. Now it is at 25k, I am again after 2k more. Along with GC and shock modifications.

2. I had heard that services costs about 8k and it cost there about. Need to change both brake pads for 5-6k Rs at every service too for our road and riding conditions.
Front tyre is good for 15k, the back for about 12-13k. Both cost 19-20k including their labor and taxes.
Battery costs 9k and is good for 12-13k. (It charges only after 2k rpm when riding, that is about 50-60 kmph. So battery depends on at what pace you ride. You can get a battery tender to increase life)
Yearly insurance 12-13k.

Previous owner did not have any replacements. I had a leaking front fork seal. Replacing it along with fork oil change cost 5-6k.
Due to side stand problem, it once fell at parking and clutch lever broke. Cost me 3k.

So I did some math only for you (Pauli miss is the only other I have done math for!), in the first 40k including petrol it costs 11-12rs per km! This is for 883cc. For 1200 you should add a rupee or two extra.

3. Modifications-
I did not do the modifications, but I have a fair idea. This is for 883 mind you.

a. Free flow exhausts, air filter, performance cables and fuel pak for fuel injection mapping increases power by 15%. And the increase shows and gives you the superbike feel. Costs 1.5L.

b. Good grade touring double seat, foldable dual purpose backrest, mini ape bars, big windshield, engine guard. Costs 1L.

c. Forward shifting of the foot controls, footrests (pillion does not get a footrest when you buy the bike new!), handle grip change, shiny bits like engine cover, bolt covers, Harley helmet, gloves, jacket. Upwards of 50k.

d. The stock shock absorbers definitely need a change and the ride, handling changes very drastically with stage 1 performance upgrade as mentioned and the shocks upgrade.

But if I may add, Your friend should not set out to buy a 'harley'. It should be the purpose which should dictate.

Quote:

Originally Posted by mh09ad5578 (Post 4278507)
Beautifully written mate! Yep the Superlow is a beautifully charming companion. I use mine as a daily driver too ,though it'll put a smile on your face on the open roads. Dkaile sirs thread is awesome, I plan to keep my maintenance posts there. Subscribed-keep the posts coming. Loving them!

Thank you fellow super fel'low'! (PJ : Perhaps a Joke?!) :)
I have come realise that urge for open road. Like pellet left out of a sling, irresistible!
Have you done anything for GC sir?
I think the Harley is made for daily grind. Rather daily grind fits a bike like the Harley. Have you had any issues as yet?

mh09ad5578 1st October 2017 09:22

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by FasterSon (Post 4278586)
Have you done anything for GC sir?
Have you had any issues as yet?

My bike had the nightster springs and shocks ,still it used to scrape all the humps even while riding solo (I'm 95 kilos might be the reason 😂)my problem was somewhat solved when I upgraded the front tyre to pirelli sport demon 130/60 r18 tyre. (This is actually the RE continental gt s rear one) now I scrape only the everest kind of humps or if in riding pillion.
I live in a small town no traffic issues but the roads are pathetic.(better suited for adv' s)my front right seals have way recently.a replacement is needed but I'll have to plan the 400 km s ride and the day needed to do it. I rode it 8k kms in town last year. Though riding pleasure is muted but the attention makes up for it! I rode it 25k odd kms this past year.loving it.
Ps -mine is a pre worshiped bike too!

ghodlur 1st October 2017 11:16

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by FasterSon (Post 4278586)
But if I may add, Your friend should not set out to buy a 'Harley'. It should be the purpose which should dictate.

Thanks for the servicing info, will pass on.
You rightly said purpose should dictate the purchase. My friends sole purpose is to be a part of HOG. He is driving an Avenger now so feels the next big upgrade should be a HD. His next goal as of now is do a Leh Ladakh on a HD. He also is looking for a pre worshipped one rather than a new one. So have already forwarded the thread link to him. Maybe this will force him to seek a BHP membership.

All the best for the ride.

FasterSon 2nd October 2017 01:21

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by mh09ad5578 (Post 4279013)
My bike had the nightster springs and shocks ,still it used to scrape all the humps even while riding solo (I'm 95 kilos might be the reason 😂)my problem was somewhat solved when I upgraded the front tyre to pirelli sport demon 130/60 r18 tyre. (This is actually the RE continental gt s rear tyre)!

Nice to hear from someone committed to biking way of life! Cheers mate.
The nightster front springs are wound differently but I don think it reduces the sag significantly. And just longer length effect in the back shock will not rise the bike that much. The way to go would be to either add spacers above the springs or to go for a complete replacement of fork components with a monotubes set. It wil decrease the sag supposedly and also reduce the nose diving in front braking which is mostly why the bike dips down. Yes sir, 95kgs would aid the gravity in this dubious deed! But you are exactly the type of person they are making this bike in the US. Monotube is also supposed to better gravel roads handling. I am going the monotubes way. I wil update after Deepavali.

For back I am trying out Hagon's from U.K. Will try out and see.

Is not 130/60's height comes to 78mm? Stock 120/70's height comes to 84mm! I am going to try 120/90 from Dunlop. Again after Deepavali, with whatever money I am left with, after running around with my debit card in my cheeks, after completing my roles as a chaperone, travel agent, coolie, magic carpet and a long incense stick!

Back tyre?! Nice!

The seal has probably some dust stuck on the inside, could try cleaning it with a stiff plastic card swipe. If not successful it needs intervention I researched., I got it changed to avoid getting scratch over the fork tubes. A deep scratch may lead to leaks even with a fresh seal and may lead to a fork tube change which would cost mad!

Quote:

Originally Posted by ghodlur (Post 4279056)
Thanks for the servicing info, will pass on.
You rightly said purpose should dictate the purchase. My friends sole purpose is to be a part of HOG. He is driving an Avenger now so feels the next big upgrade should be a HD. His next goal as of now is do a Leh Ladakh on a HD.

Yes it would be a logical upgrade for him. But Leh?!
By the looks of it, You would do him a favour to tell him to rent a HD for a day or even a week before he decides to grow a beard for the Harley!
You can mention to google that I recommended sir, and it will show you faster search results for rental services! :) (yeh namduki chaachandu batijage illa, uski packad mane doctru baijange helliddu saar, anta heli!)

mh09ad5578 3rd October 2017 09:54

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by FasterSon (Post 4279280)
Back tyre?! Nice!
The seal has probably some dust stuck on the inside, could try cleaning it with a stiff plastic card swipe. If not successful it needs intervention I researched.,Yes it would be a logical upgrade for him. But Leh?!
By the looks of it, You would do him a favour to tell him to rent a HD for a day

You seem to have done a ton of research! Sorry the tyre is a 130/70 R18. It has definitely increased the gc, braking, road grip and handling of the bike. It looks great too. Only downside is it picks up all the loose dirt and throughs it up on the air which flows back into my face. So helmet visor is always super dirty!
I tried opening the top metal cap to clean the fork seal but couldn't as much as I tried. Couldn't reach the seal with the plastic card to clean. So will go and replace it.
I'm not from the typical financial bracket of a harley,but love the brand and it's bikes so do a lot of 'jugad'to save cash where I can. So the rear tyre. I flipped the direction of the threads.also like Running maruti spark plugs, sourced brake pads from the US directly and installed by my car mech at my fng.also cables and tyres too. I'll read up and try to save cash wherever possible. I'm not technically inclined but try to research and do what others have done.
I do sourced the harley sportster service manual. It's amazing and a must if you want to know more about the bike and maintain it. Also youtube videos epecially dellboys garage.I've the pdf files too I'll share if you want it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ghodlur (Post 4279056)
My friends sole purpose is to be a part of HOG.

yep there's no other motorcycle brand with the club like the hog and their events and rides. That's the best part of a harley, it's not just a bike but a new lifestyle. Pricy but cool.
Your friend will never buy a harley if he rents it:uncontrol .it needs time to love it's ride and can feel crude and overwhelming to a newbie.
And leh on a harley can be done but won't be ideal. It's like they do in punjab use Toyota fortuners to plough the fields. Can be done but ideally shouldn't be.

FasterSon 3rd October 2017 20:24

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by mh09ad5578 (Post 4279769)
130/70 R18. It has definitely increased the gc, braking, road grip and handling of the bike. It looks great too. Only downside is it picks up all the loose dirt and throughs it up on the air which flows back into my face. So helmet visor is always super dirty!

I'm not from the typical financial bracket of a harley,but love the brand and it's bikes so do a lot of 'jugad'to save cash where I can.

I do sourced the harley sportster service manual. It's amazing and a must if you want to know more about the bike and maintain it. Also youtube videos epecially dellboys garage.I've the pdf files too I'll share if you want it.

Your friend will never buy a harley if he rents it:uncontrol .it needs time to love it's ride and can feel crude and overwhelming to a newbie.

I am very happy getting to know about your biking ways! Very much my thoughts about the Harley way. It should be a individualised relation with the owner. There is a joy in finding these alternative ways to get going on a bike! The yesteryear 2 stroke marvels provided that to a lot of Indian motorheads. Harley provides that to the bearded Harley babas in the US. I really wish that situation on Indian soil. The showroom managers try to keep it so uptight here!
I would give a fee to watch the expression on the manager guy's face here when I take a sourced, half used brake pad when I take it in for servicing!
His classic comment would be 'Ssir, why don't you go for a dyna, street bob sir? It is so much a bike!'
'No Girish, I will take a new brake pad please! What bank you said are giving loan in your showroom?'

Thank you very much for sharing. Much respect. Please keep it coming. clap:

About the thread flipped rear tyre, Can you please post a pic of the tyre treads and profile as oriented in your bike now? I came across this idea, but could source only a continental company tyre here and did not further my thinking in that direction. My thinking was that it would affect the roll of the bike, meaning the easy forward roll on initial movement and also when entering a curve. Especially at higher cruising speeds. It's great to know that they give good handling feel though. Throws up a bit of dust?! That is a wicked cool info! Ha ha.

Your nightster springs and shocks including, the tyres have done a good job with GC problems for you then. Good to know. I will go for your tyre combo if I can get that spacer fixed in my front fork tubes. If not, I wil go the 120/90 way. I want to take my wife out on drives to take away that smiley look which says 'Awww my sweet mad husband!'

And what about the Maruti spark plug? When was that?

Please mail me the service manual if you do not mind. Am I allowed to send out email address here? It is krystalclear.666@gmail.com

It is very true that Harley takes some getting used to. To go past that initial preconceived notions, like going past a girl's makeup! There is this self discovery of a different face to yourselves too! But specifically to Leh, would that not be a little bit of a stretch? But then I hear that people have done that journey with Scooty pep as well!! Abnormal is described in only terms of a perceived normalcy. It is normalcy which is difficult to describe!

dkaile 3rd October 2017 22:05

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
Many Congratulations on a fine bike. Don't be too hassled or in a hurry to do your mods. Take your time with the bike for a few months. I got used to and loved the lower GC and even did many long trips without issues. It corners brilliantly when at it's stock low suspension setup. Ride safe and enjoy the bike for years.

Cheers...

mh09ad5578 3rd October 2017 23:03

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
2 Attachment(s)
Hi have sent you the manuals please check.

The Spark plugs details have been listed here in dkaile sirs thread http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/superb...ml#post4218584

The front tyre pics. Sorry no closeups. I'll add later on. Have done 8k kms on them. They costed 6k.Even the rear I'm using a metz 150/60R17 costing 6k(the last one did 21k km)not bad but the grip is not as good as a metz scorcher one. Just about manageable.

FasterSon 5th October 2017 00:04

Re: Ownership review : My preowned Harley-Davidson SuperLow
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dkaile (Post 4280320)
Many Congratulations on a fine bike. Don't be too hassled or in a hurry to do your mods. Take your time with the bike for a few months. I got used to and loved the lower GC and even did many long trips without issues. It corners brilliantly when at it's stock low suspension setup. Ride safe and enjoy the bike for years.

Cheers...

Nice to hear from you! Yes I remember reading your Valentine's Day drive with your better half and finding GC adequate. Then incidentally the next posts are about you reverting to single seat! Just on lighter note sir. I enjoyed every bit of your thread on superlow.
I have no issues riding alone. Barring some of the medium to large humps, including the one across my gate!! But with pillion, GC is seriously compromised, especially for us accustomed to Indian standard bikes. May be my driving is not gracious as well.
Here are some of my observations on the GC:

a. It's mainly the front nose dive which is causing issues on humps. May be it's got to do with my spring rate in the forks. It's bit too soft. The handling is still great. Not much nose dive in front braking. But under its own weight it is soft. I have also read about some heavy weight fork oil to decrease the nose dive. The mechanics here are not forthcoming with suggestions on this.

b. The back shock's travel is way too less and it bottoms out with slightly aggressive driving with a pillion. Need a longer shock not just to rise the bike but to avoid shocks bottoming out. Putting back shocks in 5th position did not help much, more so when alone, the 5th position is too jumpy for my 65kgs. Because I am not giving it enough counter weight for the tensely wound 5th position. I never bottom the back when driving alone. So I should probably keep it in its appropriate position to at least avoid the springing rebound action.

I am enjoying the quality this bike brings on my table sir. Just that, I have seen how comfortable even iron883 can become with good shocks and fuelpak tuning. Hence the excitement.

Cheers.

Quote:

Originally Posted by mh09ad5578 (Post 4280362)
Hi have sent you the manuals please check.

The Spark plugs details have been listed here in dkaile sirs thread [url="http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/superbikes-imports/141465-harley-davidson-superlow-xl883l-comprehensive-review.html#post4218584"]http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/superbikes-imports/141465-harley-davidson-superlow-xl883l-comprehensive-review.html#post4218584

The front tyre pics. Sorry no closeups. I'll add later on. Have done 8k kms on them. They costed 6k.Even the rear I'm using a metz 150/60R17 costing 6k(the last one did 21k km)not bad but the grip is not as good as a metz scorcher one. Just about manageable.

Thank you so so very much! Your story is inspiring me. I will check it out in the weekend. I think this marks the start of a different journey for me. Although I get very less 'me time' amidst my family.

Nice looking ride sir! Treads reversed, should grip well. I Would love to get a test drive to see if I could feel the roll of the bike in slow / fast situations. But the profile seems great for handling and cornering. Thank you for sharing.

dkaile 5th October 2017 07:28

Yes, I did ride mostly solo and that is where this bike shines. Good luck with the mods.

Cheers...


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