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ElectraGlide - Albuquerque to Taos and back


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My wife, Kathleen, and I were vacationing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This seemed to be a good opportunity to rent a touring bike and take her for a ride. The goal was to show Kath how comfortable and enjoyable motorcycle riding can be. She has pretty bad rheumatoid arthritis, and getting her on the very tall back of the R1150RT is not practical. She has ridden on my scooter, but with no backrest, and besides, I have replaced the rear seat with luggage.


In preparation for the trip, I advertised in the classifieds for the loan of a riding jacket for Kathleen and and an Autocom. TN_R11_Girl came through with a First Gear jacket, randy supplied an Autocom base unit, and E30TECH provided the headsets. That is several hundred dollars worth of gear that these generous people loaned to a complete stranger. This forum is pretty amazing, isn't it?


At 9:00 am on Thursday, May 10, we collected the 2007 Electra Glide Classic at Thunderbird HD in Albuquerque. It was a glorious morning. The rental lady showed me how the luggage worked and made sure I could ride around the parking lot without falling over. Then I rode around the block, loaded Kathleen, and headed out.


As near as I can tell, the only paved routes into Albuquerque are Interstate slab. We went east on I-40 to Highway 14 "The Turquoise Trail" where we turned north to Santa Fe.


I developed a dislike for the big Harley pretty quickly. I had to learn yet another variety of turn signal switches. The turn indicators on the dashboard are tiny. I could not find the brake pedal. The connector for the heel pedal of the heel-toe shifter kept my foot in a position that prevented me from comfortably hugging the fuel tank with my left knee. The air cleaner cover kept me from comfortable hugging the tank with my right knee. After a while, I did get fairly comfortable with my knees in the breeze. My flapping jeans made me miss fairing lowers. The seat is wide, but the padding is so soft that the width does not help, so my butt got sore much faster than I would have expected.


And then there are the brakes and handling. With a passenger, you have to be thinking way ahead at all times. The brakes are weak. The bike is heavy. The handling is ponderous.


Now, I am not a fast rider. In the US, I tend to stay near the speed limit. The Glide seemed happy there, so, while I was not thrilled with the bike, I was not afraid of it. The brakes and handling are not so poor as to be dangerous at those speeds.


Another issue with the Harley is peculiar to me and Kathleen. Because I have to help her climb onto the pillion, I have to lift the bike off its side-stand with her weight too. These bikes lean waaaaay to the left on their stands. If Kathleen leans to the right it is not so hard to raise the bike, but it still is not easy. And since she can't get off by herself, I am worried about putting the bike on its stand if the surface is not level and very hard.


Anyway, here we are in Madrid. It had been a coal mining centre until 1950. In the 70s, artists moved into the ghost town. Part of the recent movie Wild Hogs was filmed there too.






About this time, the Autocom speaker at my left ear was causing me pain. No matter where I put it, I could never quite get comfortable, but I found a spot where it was tolerable. Also, I never got to a point where I was sure that all the wires and pieces were in the right places and not interfering with my movement. If it were my own gear, that would have been easily fixed.


There is a scenic route between Santa Fe and Taos called the High Road. Northbound, we took the regular route, and found it spectacular in its own right. From Taos we rode the "Enchanted Circle" around ski resorts. The highest point was 9820 ft - pilots need to carry oxygen if they fly any higher. We got into a bit of rain up there.


Here is Kathleen between showers:




And the obligatory self-portrait:


self_portrait_east of_taos_2.jpg


Heading back towards Taos we got into a switchback-intensive stretch of road. It was raining, I had a cager on my tail, and there were no pull-offs. This was the one part of my trip that I did not enjoy. Good weather, no passenger and either of my own bikes and it would have been the best part. As it was, it was just hard work.


The weather cleared up as we took the High Road home back to Santa Fe, through Truchas where Robert Redford made "The Milagro Beanfield War." Lovely.


We got back to Santa Fe with 325 miles on the trip odometer and sore butts. The next day was a 60 mile ride back to the HD dealer. Cost including insurance and taxes was abut $200. Returning the bike was simple. Then we sent the jacket and intercom back from a UPS store, and that part of our vacation was over.




After I got used to the Electra Glide, I stopped hating it. Kathleen liked it and started talking about how to afford one. But her hip was bothering her, so we know that we should stay closer to 200 miles per day.


The intercom was a wonderful accessory. If you carry a passenger and haven't tried one, you should.


After we got home, we sat on a Goldwing, and became convinced that the Honda GL1800 would be a better choice than any Harley because of the centre stand, better saddles and many other factors. But it costs 150% as much as a basic Honda car. You can rent Goldwings for about $1000 a week, so perhaps we will try that. Then I would not have to sell the RT.


It was a good ride. Beautiful scenery. We both learned a lot. My lust for a Harley has disappeared, but it has been replaced with a lust for a Goldwing.

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I love riding Harley's for all the negatives you just posted! They just have a character that I like..... and chicks dig them.


Your wife seems to be having a good time.

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Paul Mihalka

Ron, I applaud your efforts to make riding with your partner comfortable for both of you. I would suggest to have a very close look at a 2005 or newer K1200LT. It's electric center stand would come in very handy in your situation. It might also be sporty enough for you to give up the RT.

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Harleys have always had that one real advantage. Low to the ground making the mounting process obvious and easy. Passengers really like that. There are only a few good ways to get on and off a BMW and there really is an education process before one gets comfortable. Fear of falling and looking foolish is a real disincentive when asked if you want to go for a ride. Now for the bad side, once comfortable as a passenger, the belief is that maybe driving would be much more fun. The average female can comfortably put both feet down on virtually every harley made. Ther are even models low enough for women of the five foot persuasion to ride, right now at the dealer.


How long will all of the other vendors cede that market to Harley??


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Ron, I understand. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball. As long as your wife was comfy and happy I can see having to put up with such a thing. As I always say.


ISYHTRAH lmao.gif

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TEWKS wrote: I don't know guys, looks like a proud poppa to me.
Well, Pat, on vacation, with my wife, an a motorcycle, in beautiful weather, gorgeous country ..... who wouldn't look happy?


Paul Mihalka wote: I would suggest to have a very close look at a 2005 or newer K1200LT. It's electric center stand would come in very handy in your situation.
Ooooh. I was not aware. I went to bmwlt.com and learned that the centrestand will lift two people and the bike. Change of plan!
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As mentioned in PM's ... more than happy to have lent you the jacket. Glad it worked out for Kathleen. Sorry the riding was so much work for you, but glad to hear the two-up trips may become a regular deal!


Thanks for posting up and sharing the pics wave.gif

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