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Demo Ride


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Rode the RT to Hot Springs yesterday for the annual v-twin Bikefest. Usual fare but the HD and Indian haulers were there for demo rides. I saw a total of 3 BMWs including mine.  I rode the Indian FTR1200S Carbon and the H-D Pan American Special. Of course all the bikes were top of the line with all options and add ons installed. Local bikers were recruited to lead the rides along a pre determined route. They were obviously of the 45-degree persuasion and I’ve never seen more hand signals thrown out in my entire life. Right turn, left turn, possum in the road, beer joint that way, tattoo parlor to the right, leather and t-shirts for sale, strip joint ahead 2 miles, Hooters next exit etc etc. The ride was a mixture of freeway and city streets but the leaders just short shifted and putted along in typical fashion. The HD rep told us during the pre ride meeting that there would be a place to “hard accelerate” during the ride but I never saw it. 

The Indian FTR S was a hoot and very quick and nimble. It would be a fun bike to have in the stable just because. Sounded very good with the Akrapovic pipe too. With the FXCHLBGQ Super Road Dyna Fat Glide Springer Wide Bob leading the procession it was hard to tell what this machine was really capable of though. I would love to have a couple of hours on it to myself. 

The Pan American was not Harleyish at all. Having never ridden a GS and standing in at 5’10” it looked tall and heavy to me. The adaptive ride height system took

care of that and I could flatfoot the bike at stops. I had no idea what the suspension settings were set to but at 200 lbs. I noticed the preload was set for a very lithe person as it lowered considerably when I sat on it before start up. OK, maybe I could drop a few lbs. The rules dictated we start the ride in rain mode and gradually work up to sport mode. F that. I put it in sport as soon as we took off. The handlebar switches are a complete nightmare. Whoever designed this layout had to be a first year engineering intern for Boeing or Airbus. Same goes for the TFT (I think) display. There was more info on that display than you can imagine or care to see but a lot of the font was so small I couldn’t begin to read it. I do have old man eyes but the sunglasses I wear have 2.5 magnification on the bottom of the lenses. This works great on all of my bikes but it didn’t help in this case. There may be a way to enlarge the font though. Bike fired right up, I was the first ride of the day and the 60 degree motor was fairly vibration free at idle. Taking off I noticed a lot of driveline lash and it took a while to learn the bike and shift smoothly. By the end of the ride I had it sorted out. I could short shift with the best of them. Nice tranny once you get accustomed to it. It shifts as good as any Japanese bike I’ve ridden. I did notice the bike was very comfortable for my short arms and the stock seat was NOT designed nor built by BMW! Getting on the freeway at a short shifting 50mph the motor has plenty of grunt and since no passing was allowed that was the extent of that. The windshield did its job and is adjustable and looked to be in the low position. Good wide handlebars for leverage in the bush. This would be a fun scoot to have if I could have all the bikes I wanted. I did notice lots of heat when I parked the bike. We did finish the ride in construction laden downtown city streets to be fair though. 

it did shock me that all bikes we met along the way waved at us. I figure the reason they don’t wave to BMWs is maybe their arms are already too tired from all the required hand signals.

The HD rep was disappointed that I only rode one Harley. I wanted to tell him I didn’t get a chance to sew all my patches on my leather vest yet and with my Arai full face I felt out of place. No skid lid for me. 



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