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|21st November 2009, 19:03||#1|
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Harley Davidson Boot Camp Experience : Mumbai
Last week Harley Davidson India organized an event to give a few lucky invitees a look and taste of their bikes. Manson and I were quick to make the most of this opportunity.
The "Boot Camp" was a 3-hour long event where we'd get a chance to learn some more about Harley Davidson as a company, get an up-close tour of the bikes on display, talk to the HD India team -- and ofcourse, get a quick spin on one of the Harleys they had on offer!
Upon reaching, the guests greeted by a row of Harleys lined up for the ride
A little further inside were 6 bikes showcased neatly in a circle. Covering each of the 5 Harley bike “families”.
The 5 model families (ie same chassis/frames) from the Harley stable are :
- Sportster...and there are 4 engines used for the 5 families. The Dyna and Touring family share the same engine.
You might notice a 6th category on the Harley website "CVO", which stands for Custom Vehicle Operations and are limited-run, highly customized bikes based on existing models from the other families.
All together the Harley Range has about 30+ bikes offered. John McEnaney (Service Operations Rep, S. E. Asia) walked us through the range and gave us a short description of each family :
Lets start with the Sportster
Next up was the Dyna
The Softail – now this is starting to look more like the HD i know...
VRSC – stand for : V-Twin Racing Street Custom
We got the chance to ask Anoop Prakash (MD – Harley Davidson India) a few questions. A summary of that info below :
- Prices will be announced at the Auto-Expo 2010 in Delhi
Next up : We’ll look at each bike in a little more detail.
Last edited by Rehaan : 21st November 2009 at 19:07.
|21st November 2009, 19:20||#2|
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thanked: 21,895 Times
All current Harleys are belt drive. The belts are made using Carbon Fiber and the claim is that they are “virtually indestructible”.
The key doesn’t always have to be in the bike. It can be used to turn the bike ON or OFF and then be removed, leaving the ignition and accessories operations to the turn of the switch shown above – without the constant need for a key.
The HDs have unique indicator controls. The left indicator is activated by a button on the left handlebar and the right on the other handlebar.
All the HDs have a one-down, rest up gearshift pattern.
The stands on all the bikes looked really cheap and almost as if they were a homemade add-on.
As far as i can tell, only the Sportster and the VRSC have 5-speed gearboxes, all others have 6-speeds.
On some bikes, helical cut top gears reduce transmission sound and a reverse gear is available too!
Brake pedal setup as seen on the Ultra Classic Electra Glide. Probably great comfort for the highways, but could take some getting used to in traffic.
Even the pillion rider gets a huge footrest.
The pillion even gets volume control for the CD player (as well as mode control on the other side of their seat)
The Ultra Classic has adjustable rear air-suspension, which can be tweaked according to the load you are carrying. (Has to be done manually with a pump)
If you want to be old-school you can use the functional buckle on the saddle bag, but if you’re in a hurry you can use the snappy clips.
These are the Michelins on the Dyna. Check out the custom “Harley Davidson” branding on the sidewall.
Some of the engines (eg. on the Sportster) are not balanced, and therefore vibrate quite noticeably at idle. To help cushion the rider from the vibrations, the engines are attached to the frame using large rubber mounts.
The VRSC family are the only bikes with a water cooled engine. Shown is the radiator + shroud on the Night Rod Special.
The dials and controls are nothing fancy. (Fuel guage can be seen through the small window in the left).
“Hexavalent chrome” is used everywhere, which is supposed to last a lifetime. Wonder how it will do in Indian conditions.
A picture of the iconic Fatboy that was also present for the riding part of the event.
You might be wondering what all the talk about vibrations is about. Well, it’s a “characteristic” of the Harleys. They have a fairly unique single-pin crank (also known as a common crank pin). This means the connecting rods for both the pistons are connected to just one crank pin, making it a “true” V-Twin engine, unlike most other designs. The result is more vibrations at idle, but its also hugely responsible for the Trademarked Harley Davidson V-Twin sound.
Dual Pin Crank _________vs_______ Single Pin Crank
(Pic source: v twin engine)
Keep in mind that what you see above is all the bikes in fairly stock form.
Customization is a HUGE deal when it comes to Harleys. When you purchase a Harley, a designated “Chrome Consultant” walks you through all the possible customizations for your bike, so you leave the showroom with something unique and tailored to your specific needs.
They say that if you go to a HOG (Harley Owners Group) meet, no two bikes will be the same. Infact, the parts and accessories catalog contains more than 5,000 items – and these are not just things like stickers and keychains, but items like seats, tanks, backrests, pedals, wheels, etc.
Next up : The riding experience
Last edited by Rehaan : 21st November 2009 at 19:30.
|21st November 2009, 19:58||#3|
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thanked: 21,895 Times
The Hands-on Experience
Finally, the part we had been waiting for – the ride!
Here's a quick video to give you a feel of the bike & ride :
The event managers had mapped out a fairly short course, designed especially to give us a feel of riding the bikes in real-life Indian conditions. In other words, there was a fair deal of traffic involved!
Before that, Sanjay Tripathi (Director of Marketing), sat us down and gave us a quick safety briefing.
Helmets and jackets were then provided to everyone. Manson, being a 954 owner chose to ride the XR1200 as a comparison, and given the expected traffic, I played it safe with the Sportster 883 Low. Here are both the bikes parked together :
Personally, the visuals of the 883 didn’t scream “HARLEY DAVIDSON” to me, and I’m not sure how impressed the image-conscious Indian buyer would be with this model either. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average person on the street saw me and thought I was riding a really shiny Bajaj Avenger! (Though I must admit that at a red light, a curious lorry driver asked me if the bike had 2-cylinders.)
Given that the Sportster has a fairly conventional riding position, it was comfortable, and the special low seat on this model made placing my feet flat on the ground easy. Didn’t want to risk dropping this thing!
Fire her up and the trademark Harley sound emerged (described as potato potato potato <MP3 sample from HD site>). To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the sound at idle, and even when revving. It just did not match up to what I was expecting and had heard in the past. Even when other larger bikes started up around me it was nothing like the thunder I was expecting. John mentioned that the exhaust note was silenced in order to meet European norms of 91dB – but could be (and almost always is) eventually modified by the owner for a louder and custom tailored sound.
Sitting there above the unbalanced 883cc motor idling away, it was clear that the rubber mounts were working very hard to isolate the rest of the bike from shaking back and forth. Though a noticeable amount of vibrations still got through they smoothen out as soon as you revv the motor a little.
The clutch and brake levers were easily usable, even for people with smaller hands – though I did notice that none of the bikes seemed to have adjustable levers for people with smaller/larger spans. Perhaps the accessory catalog takes care of this need too.
I revv her up the slightest bit, release the clutch and the toque pulls the bike into motion. We are all driving in convoy with strict instructions not to overtake or change the order. As we turn out onto the main road I realize I like the solo turn-indicator buttons on each handlebar – they almost encourage you to use them.
Ouch! What was that sound? I think the bike just scraped the bottom as I exited the compound due to the slight level change. (You can see this in the video). Though to be fair, this specific model is called the “Low” for a reason.
On the street, the convoy of “dressed up” bikers sure did get a lot of attention, with other bikers on the street yelling things and revving up their own 150ccs of displacement. There was average Mumbai afternoon traffic, and I tried to fall behind in the convoy and zoom ahead to catch up to the XR1200 ahead of me a couple of times to get a better taste of the acceleration and sound. For 800+cc the bike was very maneuverable and manageable, even at rolling speeds.
As far as the heat from the engine goes – being an air cooled engine in traffic is one thing, but in addition to that, the metal protrusion from the motor on the right side being very close to my leg made the heat quite noticeable in a fairly short time.
After a quick round in the neighborhood, we return to the parking lot and park the bikes back in a neat line. Anoop Prakash gives the gang a closing talk, along with a short Harley video for “inspiration”. “How many of you can say you have ridden a Harley?” he asks. Everyone raises their hands. The end of a memorable day.
The token group shot :
(Photo credit : Harley Davidson India)
In short, most of the bikes are not the epitome of technology or new-age engineering and far from "stylish" in the modern sense of the word – but they do have character and an absolutely unbeatable iconic status. When you buy a Harley, you aren’t just buying a motorcycle, but rather an experience and perhaps a lifestyle too. Lets wish them the best and see how they do here in India.
Last edited by Rehaan : 1st November 2011 at 16:46.
|21st November 2009, 20:15||#4|
Join Date: Oct 2004
Thanked: 1,821 Times
The Boot Camp Experience – Mumbai, November 2009.
Its been a couple of years now since Harley Davidson surprised us all by announcing their arrival in India. Honestly I wasn’t ever thrilled about it though as I think of myself as the metric rider. But HD is a luxury marque, and I was quite glad that atleast someone had woken up to the high end Indian rider.
Coming back to the present, a lot has been said and heard about the mango for Harley deal that our government was all excited about, what happened to all that only the netas know, and probably the top brass of HD.
But ever since the ‘mangoes’ deal, HD has always been upto something to try and understand the Indian motorcycle market. Last week I got a chance to attend the Harley Davidson Boot Camp, a casual event where the guys at HD would familiarize their guests with the ‘Harley Davidson’ experience. Initially I had mixed feelings, wasn’t sure if I was really excited as such due to what I have always read about the HD bikes. I wasn’t very familiar with the HD lineup either, so a little reading from the bunch of threads and the perspective had changed.
The plan was to go with a very fresh approach, try and keep what I had always read behind me and personally figure out what the whole Harley euphoria, or in some cases allergy is all about.
Due to work commitments I reached the venue, Olive Mahalakshmi just in time to catch up with the second group of visitors. Just as I got there I saw John (recognized him thanks to the ride report posted by Nandish) briefing a bunch of guys about the motorcycles on display.
I had already missed the Sportster 883. A second look, and I didn’t think I had missed too much. If I ever paid the price that HD plans to price it at in India, it would only be for the HD plate on the tank, for the heritage and being part of the cult at the cheapest price possible. I have always thought of a HD to be chrome, bling and big, this one was not even a fraction close.
The group was then at the mighty Ultra Classic Electric Glide. John was briefing the group about the brembo brakes and the bullet proof mile muncher of a motor.
This motorcycle comes with a lot of bells and whistles including ABS, Cruise Control, Air adjustable rear shocks and the super rear seat for the perfect apple shaped rear, and looked like a Harley Davidson version of the Goldwing.
The large fairing piece is a blessing for the ‘single day man hundred miles’ rider, and it absolutely kills the windblast and the rider need not tug behind the fairing unlike most newer sportbikes.
Now this is far from being anything remotely rideable for a city commute, and is best left for the long country range rides simply owing to the sheer weight of this motorcycle besides the other typical Harley traits that I will touch later in the post.
The Ultra Classic Glide I doubt would be the only motorcycle in any rider’s garage, infact even from a Harley owner’s perspective this looks like it would make only a second Harley in the garage, but surprisingly the Ultra Classic is the highest selling Harley in a crowded city like Jakarta.
Would I buy one of these? Not really. If I had all the fancy motorcycles in the world besides this one, I would at best just consider it.
It just does not have the panache of a Harley. Period.
Soon enough we moved to a beautiful motorcycle, pretty much the motorcycle you’d see when you would imagine a fancy Harley. The Road King.
Now this is the Harley I always thought of seeing whenever I heard that name. Just perfect, and I would almost not change a thing about this bike. This one did not have the detachable windscreen that it comes with as standard equipment, which to me made it look just how a typical Harley should be. Big, bling, oodles of character, lots of power, imposing looking thing that I would spend many Sundays waxing in the Sun.
The Road King is technically identical to the Ultra Classic minus the bells and whistles, but yet holding back the nice wheels, the brembos, just look at the motor, looks sweet eh!
The Road King just feels so typically HD, so much character, need I say that picture does not do any justice to the beauty that this motorcycle is in person. That’s mother of an 1573 CC motor is just perfectly mated to this motorcycle rendering its name the ‘Road King’ ever so apt.
If I ever considered buying a HD, this would be it. I would need to probably work around the long rear brake and gear lever, but this would mostly be the Harley you’d see me ride. For sure!
A few more minutes and we moved to the veteran favourite, the soft tail. The same motorcycle that one would read DKG break into a song on the Harley threads. Honestly this motorcycle is poetry on two wheels. The black paintjob, low seating, the shining chrome, the saddlebags, triple headlamp, typical Harley from the mid 1950s probably, probably an updated version. A motorcycle that makes HD hold its head up high.
Notice the absence of a regular shock on this one. John leaned this one over to over 140 degrees to show off two piston shaped shocks that held the rear of this bike.
John himself seemed to love this one from the few they had for us there, his personal favourite if I remember correctly. The Soft Tail has been a part of the HD portfolio since really long, and HD has apparently always been working on it and improvising and upgrading the bike with new tech periodically.
John had this baby cranked up for a while, revving through the change displaying the vibration free engine block. Quite honestly I did not understand what the big deal was anyways. All modern day motorcycles are reasonably vibration free at the block, so its not like HD was setting standard of sorts anyways.
Simultaneously John gave the group a demo on how the removable rear seat cowling and the detachable windscreen worked.
Some more time and one of the guys with us could have probably ridden out atop the Soft Tail for good, just reminding us how much lovable this motorcycle really is, atleast from the looks of it.
The only downside was the faint exhaust, something you would not really want when you rode around town a Harley, I’m guessing a Screaming Eagles would feel at home on this one.
Some more time spent and soon we approached the crowd favourite, and the largest selling Harley Davidson motorcycle around the globe, the Street Bob.
In John’s words, the no-nonsense bike. If it’s not needed, it’s not on the Street Bob. This one apparently brings out the best riding characteristics from the typical Harley rider. The next best thing to be ridden hard after the Sportster from the Harley range, with looks to match the harley way of things. No wonder this motorcycle makes for 31% of Harley Davidson’s worldwide sales.
This one really comes by as the typically bare rider’s motorcycle, no really fin your face but yet a great ride to arrive in style.
Notice the raw cut on the exhaust pipe on this one, makes for a superb deep rumble. John pointed out to the thick forks on this bike, but honestly I could not figure any reasonable difference in size when I looked up the couple of others around a little later.
Harley offers this one in an all chrome custom scheme, and by my reckoning that would look like a baby Road King then.
Now to the last motorcycle for the briefing stint, the much worshipped Night Rod. And, the one we had was the special, in the stealth black colour scheme.
The Night Rod is a beautiful motorcycle, the flow lines on this bike are probably the cleanest I have seen on a motorcycle, the stealth paint job making it even more beautiful.
I looked up some more pictures on the web for the chrome V-rod, and I can’t wait to see that one in person.
It seems Porsche worked alongside the tech team of Harley to develop this motorcycle, and I must say they have done a fine job out of the frame design.
This is the only motorcycle from the Harley range which runs a water cooled motor which puts out an impressive 125 bhp and all of this comes at much lower revs compared to an out an out Jap sportbike, so one can probably imagine the sort of rush this one’s going to be if you whacked open the throttle.
I remember asking John what the advantages of the flow design frame were, but I weirdly enough cannot remember the same. Perhaps someone else can fill in the blanks.
The Night Rod looks hawwwt, beautiful and all that. But just does not come along and feel like he typical Harley flesh and blood.
The Harleys were chrome icons in their own right, and the Japanese four back aped Harley to make some suave looking cruisers, the Valkyrie, Rune, Midnight Warrior, Boulevard, etc
The Night Rod to me looks more like an aped Japanese cruiser than a real Harley. It is a very beautiful motorcycle, but it IMO does not feel like from the Harley family. Probably red wheel stripes, or the missing chrome, the lack of conventional design, dunno, but it surely did not strike any Harley chords.
The Harley riders even have a peculiar name to the riding posture atop the Night Rod, can’t remember that either. Probably something that happens a couple of minutes before your first Harley ride
Last edited by Rehaan : 21st November 2009 at 20:19.
|21st November 2009, 20:20||#5|
Join Date: Oct 2004
Thanked: 1,821 Times
A while later we were shown a fantastic video showing off the spirit and the heritage of the Harley Davidson brand, after which the last bunch of riders were to get their mugs on for the first time on Harley Davidson.
Contrary to my earlier comment about the Sportster 883, I decided to take the XR 1200 for a spin. Reasons being Rehaan had already had a brief stint with the other of the more comfortable bikes, the sheer size of the other two motorcycles and the loose gravel on the initial part of the route just did not inspire me enough to pick another option.
The ride was way too short to have any serious riding impressions whatsoever besides the oodles of torque available so low down on the tachometer. The vibrations from that motor were plenty and personified for the inline four man that I am. The handlebar did not instill any form of confidence in that short ride as I’m not used to the high handle bars either. The ride was way too short to make me even feel half way at home atop the XR, and sadly the above is the max is what I could gather in my very first riding stint on a HD.
A few highlights that I gathered through the Boot Camp
Couple the above with excellent marketing abilities, and we have the cult that Harley Davidson is today from what it was back in 1903.
The Harley Davidson brand probably accounts for more sales percentage than the Harley Davidson motorcycles by themselves. This is exactly what the persona of Harley Davidson is all about.
Would this make a difference to my buying objective? Heck no! The day I have enough excess money, I would most probably have a go what Mr. Anoop Prakash calls the ‘Harley Davidson Experience’
Last edited by manson : 21st November 2009 at 20:22.
|22nd November 2009, 12:49||#8|
Join Date: Oct 2009
@Rehaan N Manson
Great job guys. the bikes are just out of the world of course!
they'll be a great topping on the busy indian roads.
Especially with the flooding of low cost cars/bikes we are loosing out on quality stuff
|22nd November 2009, 13:13||#9|
Join Date: Jan 2008
Thanked: 16 Times
fantastic coverage of the event rehann and manson.
HD is taking their foray i the market pretty seriously.
love the sound of the night rod
|22nd November 2009, 22:57||#10|
Join Date: Nov 2009
Thanked: 4 Times
I got a glimpse of the Harley convoy when I was at BKC today for the Autocar Show.
At the BKC signal I was right next to the Harley Street Bob. I lowered my window and asked the guy to rev it.He revved the Harley with a smile.
The sound is still echoing in my ears.
|23rd November 2009, 11:43||#11|
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Thanked: 39 Times
The main purpose a V-Twin is to breathe more, the way HD comes out from factory with all stock isnt that great...
If you really wanna HD to sound/feel like one, then you need to change your Air Filter to a Big Sucker or SE heavy breather and remap your fuel system for the changed air/fuel mixture.
My stock Dyna from the factory was 64HP and 77lbs TQ, I did the upgrade what we call as stage I (stage I = go for a bigger Air filter,change your exhaust and remap your fuel system...this is the cheapest way to gain more power)
AFter I did the stage I my bike has 77HP and 92lbsTQ and sounds like a real HD...
Will post the link of my bike on youtube and you guys would know what I'm talking about
Last edited by shrini78 : 23rd November 2009 at 11:44.
|23rd November 2009, 11:54||#12|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Mumbai, India
Thanked: 142 Times
Fantastic write up Rehaan and manson. Though I'm not much of a bike guy, I've learnt quite a bit about them over the last few years thanks to my brother and other bikers. Harley is regarded as a cult name when it comes to motorcyling and there are those swear by these bikes and go ga ga over them just as I do for the Prancing Horse. I'm personally not very fond of them as I am of the Japanese machines. Still more players in the desi market are always welcome
Pics are really eye candy though.
|23rd November 2009, 12:40||#13|
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thanked: 21,895 Times
Thanks guys. It was a fun event, and i guess it shows how Harley is approaching this from a more "biking experience" way than most other bike manufacturers.
Another interesting snippit is that Harley Davidson makes more from its merchandising apparel (jackets, keychains etc) than its motorcycles! (Though i can't find the exact numbers or even solid proof of this at the moment.)
I wonder how successful the mechandise sales in India will be...
|23rd November 2009, 12:41||#14|
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: New Delhi
Thanked: 0 Times
Thank you for a brilliant report guys...very well written and detailed pics.
I think the low quality on Harleys has been trabsferred to their event kit also...shocking to see the typo 'Electric" on Ultra Classic Electra Glide
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