I wrote a post before to say that I sold my 2008 Harley-Davidson Road King. I was not riding it much last year while my husband was going through a hell of a journey with cancer. I did not want to have the risk of injuring myself while I was caring for him so intently, living our marriage vows every day.
I also suffer from a chronic intestinal disease that is damn fatiguing, especially as I get older. That big super-heavy bike exhausted me when I rode it for more than a few hours.
…my husband told me in the week of Christmas 2020 — the last week we had meaningful conversations — that he wanted me to get a new bike after he died. He knew even then that he wasn’t going to make it (I remained in optimistic denial.)
I also know that riding a motorcycle presents a sense of peace, comfort, and free spirit like no other activity I have done (except skydiving, but that’s another story.)
When a check for a refund of a premium overpayment that my husband had made to an insurance company appeared in my mailbox on Monday, I took that as a sign from my husband to buy him a back seat on a new bike.
It was always our funny thing to laugh about — for my previous two Harleys, my husband chipped in on the purchase. He said that he was buying the back seat, which is where he sat, close to me, on tens of thousands of “two-up” road miles on my 1994 Dyna Low Rider.
Wednesday of this week, my shift as a medic ended at noon. I called my friend, a motorcycle police officer and exceptionally skilled motorcycle instructor. We arranged to meet at a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership. The weather was super-fantastic — time to test ride some bikes!
I asked my friend to observe me test ride three models. I was (and remain) concerned about my riding position, comfort, ease of mount/dismount, and how the bike actually felt on the road (and how I looked while riding it — nervous? yes. Comfortable? It varied.)
After test-riding three different models of 2021 bikes, my friend and I agreed that the 2021 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim was best-suited for me. It has a lower seat height, which is very important considering I’m not as tall as the average man. It can be adjusted to have an upright riding position, which is what my lower back needs and I prefer. Finally, it has a Milwaukee-Eight 107cu engine (1,753cc), which is the same size engine as the Harley I rented while riding in Utah in 2017 and is not as large as other new Harley models. I don’t need a super-large engine for the kind of riding I do.
This new bike overall is 150 pounds lighter than my Road King, which is incredibly important to me for ease of handling, especially while parking.
The only hitch was that this dealership only had 2021 Softail Slim bikes in “vivid black.” I wanted an alternate 2021 color — what’s called “billiard red.” The color would be similar to my Road King. The dealer did some work to find one in that color at another dealership in Ohio.
My buddy helped me negotiate a good deal. On agreement to buy it, the dealer made arrangements to have the model in the color I wanted shipped to his location.
Then I went parts shopping. I already knew that I would have to change the bars. It comes stock with what’s called “Hollywood bars” which I hated. The bars were too wide apart and made me hunch over to reach. That would cause back pain quickly. I worked with the parts guy to find alternate bars that would provide a higher rise and longer reach so that my body would be more upright when I rode.
I also bought a windscreen. I got spoiled with having one on my Road King, and it is (in my opinion), essential to break the wind so I don’t get “beaten up” at road speed.
Other comforts included a driver’s back rest and a more comfortable seat that included a passenger seat with sissy bar. The stock bike comes with a single seat. But remember — my husband always bought the back seat. It was truly meant to be (and another “sign” from my husband) — the value of the insurance refund check was exactly the cost of the upgraded seat with passenger pillion, foot pegs, and sissy bar.
I put down a hefty deposit. Soon, I will complete the deal when the bike is delivered and I inspect it. The new parts I want will be ordered and installed. That is when I will take delivery. This will take about two weeks.
Just about the time the new bike is completed and delivered, our weather in these parts will finally be Spring and I’ll be on the road again. Me — Booted Harleydude — will ride again.
Life is short: live to ride and ride to live.
Photo below is a manufacturer-provided image of a 2021 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim. When I get my new bike, of course, images will be posted here of “Booted Harleydude Rides Again!”