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renting a Harley - what would I need to adjust to?


NoHeat

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I might rent a bike instead of a car to get from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and beyond in August. So far the only rental outlet I've found is the Albuquerque Harley dealer. That dealer has a very nicely-organized rental program with a dedicated rental desk and employee. Mostly they rent their larger 2007 bikes with hard saddlebags, like the Road King and Road Glide.

 

Since I've never ridden a Harley, I'm guessing the first mile or two will be an adjustment, and I'm wondering what to expect.

 

Sitting on a Road King in a dealer, the first thing I noticed was that instead of a footpeg with a single shift lever, there's a big floorboard with a lever in the back as well as one in the front. So how do you shift it?

 

Anyway, shifting would obviously be different. What else should I expect to be different?

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russell_bynum

You can shift it the same.

 

Or, to upshift, you can press down with your heel on the rear shift pedal.

 

Downshifts are the same as a conventional bike.

 

Expect lots of vibration at idle, but very smooth once you get on the gas.

 

It would be a good idea to get to a deserted parking lot or empty street and see what the brakes feel like and how the bike responds to steering inputs. (That should go without saying...any time you get on an unfamiliar bike.)

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You can shift it normally with the front lever and forget about the heel portion. The biggest difference is the first time you pull away ... you'll find it a little strange putting your feet out in front of you ...

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russell_bynum
The biggest difference is the first time you pull away ... you'll find it a little strange putting your feet out in front of you ...

 

Right. Good point. Same thing happens the first time you ride a sportbike and discover that the footpegs are about where the passenger pegs on your RT are. smile.gif

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Aside from what's already been said, the torque curve is very flat. It will feel like the engine tops out quickly and you're short shifting. I don't know how you usually ride, but the harley is good at cruising so you'll do best if you adopt that attitude. And test the brakes in the parking lot so you know what they feel like before you need them.

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I might rent a bike instead of a car to get from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and beyond in August. So far the only rental outlet I've found is the Albuquerque Harley dealer. That dealer has a very nicely-organized rental program with a dedicated rental desk and employee. Mostly they rent their larger 2007 bikes with hard saddlebags, like the Road King and Road Glide.

 

Since I've never ridden a Harley, I'm guessing the first mile or two will be an adjustment, and I'm wondering what to expect.

 

Sitting on a Road King in a dealer, the first thing I noticed was that instead of a footpeg with a single shift lever, there's a big floorboard with a lever in the back as well as one in the front. So how do you shift it?

 

Anyway, shifting would obviously be different. What else should I expect to be different?

 

John, heel down to up shift & toe down to down shift,,real easy & you will like that part.. Both the Road King & Electra Glide will be slower to respond to the bars & the foot boards will ground out fairly easily (boards hitting ground not a problem but hard contact of the iron brackets beneath the floor boards is a BIG problem (roll it over easily to begin with)..

 

Brakes will be a problem as the rear Brake on the Harley dressers likes to lock up easily & once locked up should remain locked until road speed slows down (or you risk a high side flip).. Try to leave your heel on the floor board while rear braking as that won’t transfer as much leg weight to the foot pedal (just be careful for a while as the brakes are not linked or ABS modulated)..

 

To turn that beast more easily at low speeds just drag the rear brake & slip the clutch (you can’t hurt the clutch as it runs in cooling oil)..

 

For just cruising you will really like that Harley but it will wander & wallow in the fast curves (that bike will actually do way more than you think as far as cornering goes)..

 

The turn signals are self canceling so if you put them on too early they will cancel well before you get to your turn (just be aware & watch for that)..

 

The basic Harley dresser is a well balanced bike so will putt along at a very slow pace (like at stop lights & such) it is easy to ride & not top heavy but they get heavy in a hurry if you let them lean over very far (easy to do as they feel so well balanced)..

 

If you get an Electra Glide it will want to wander & gyrate as you pass trucks or in cross winds.. Just let it wander a little as it won’t go very far.. The worst thing you can do is tense up & try to heavy arm it (they will really move around then).. Remember it wants to stand up & go straight way more then you do so it won’t wobble out of control (might feel like it at times though) !!

 

Great bike so by all means rent one I think you will come away with a greater appreciation of the antique Harley..

 

Twisty

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John,

 

The two things on my Harley that are most different from my BMW are the lack of good brakes and the shallow lean angle. I really enjoy both bikes, and I hope you enjoy your first ride.

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Just wait till you go around your first corner and scrape the living hell out of the pegs.... lmao.gif

 

See if you can grind the floorboards down to footpegs grin.gif

 

Get ready for total weirdness with having your feet out in front.......it completely freaks me out. I know I can ride just fine, but I feel like my balance is way off.

 

I have ridden a few Harleys......2 sporters, a low rider, and one fat boy. All great bikes in their own little niche, but I think if I was going to go with a HD, I would beyond a shadow of a doubt have to get (or in your case rent) a road king. I love the low, flat look to the back of those bikes. One of my friends has one in a really pretty metallic blue.......it makes me drool.

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I would say keep aware of the pull on on take off. Clutch action and low end grunt are far different from my KGT and my wife's Softtail. I'm always suprised when I move her bike, or take it up to gas it up on how little throttle I need to get 'er moving when the clutch is out. Parade mode!

 

Otherwise, rent the Roadglide and let me know. I've ridden Road Kings but not the Glide's and if I would put another Harley in the stable, it would be a Glide!

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I won't repeat what I wrote here, I would recommend that you read it. The big difference is the lousy braking. I was more negative than I would have been if I had been riding one-up or if my passenger was more agile.

 

I rented from Thunderbird HD in Albuquerque, and would do so again.

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Anyway, shifting would obviously be different. What else should I expect to be different?

 

Hmmm....You'll probly have to get used to standing around a lot more instead of riding...and you might want to spring for some leathers, the old roadcrafter just doesn't look right out in front of a bar.....

 

lmao.giflmao.giflmao.gif

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I don't know if the big twins are the same, but the Buell needs/likes to warm up for a short bit before taking off in the morning. I fire it up, then put the helmet/gloves on at least. Where for the BMW this is considered bad.

 

Also the Buell (which shares the H-D Sportster EFI) hates any throttle when starting. It will possibly foul a plug. Where my BMW's needed a wee wee twist of the gas (or the fast idle lever) when starting when it was cold. If you're in that habit on the BMW, DON'T on the H-D.

 

Again, based in my experiences more with the Buell, so take with salt.

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Hey, just a thought from a current HD Road King driver who is thinking about switching to an RT: My RK starts very easily without any gas or worry. Just a touch of the starter and he's rumblin' like a grouchy old dragon, waiting to take flight. And once you give it the gas, everything smooths out so nice and easy. I must say that I don't care for the "clunk" when I shift up or down, but that is a normal noise for the transmission. The newer 07's have been experiencing some higher operating temperatures because of the recently re-engineered fuel systems in an attempt by HD to reach better EPA standards, so I would be careful about sitting around a lot.

 

Enjoy the ride, it is really laid back and relaxed.

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Well according to the HD commercials you might want to pack a large bottle of viagra or a stick to beat the women back..... dopeslap.gif

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Go for the Road Glide with frame mounted fairing.

 

Ask them to take the heel shifter off--only a set screw holds it on and it gets in the way big time. Downright dangerous if you are not used to it.

 

Forget about that shifter preload stuff you use on the Beemer. The Harley will shift if you look at it hard.

 

Practice brakeing like everybody said. That back wheel locks up with almost no effort.

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Ask them to take the heel shifter off--only a set screw holds it on and it gets in the way big time. Downright dangerous if you are not used to it.
Plus, removing the heel shifter gives you more options for foot placement. Not sure if the rental company would do that for you, though.
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fourteenfour

don't run out of gas is my warning.

 

I rented a HD down in Daytona the other year and I managed to do that twice ... (don't rely on gauges)

 

also, don't put much faith in the brakes, drive a lot more sedately.

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MrHondamatic

Get used to not hearing air escape when you use the rear brake. I know it looks like a brake pedal on a big truck, and feels like a brake pedal on a big truck, but it's still a motorcycle.

 

Seriously though, the low speed balance on my old Electra Glide was far better than the beemer. There is a reason police drill teams use these things.

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Just remember a few things -

 

Do NOT use the front brake, you will flip over the handlebars.

 

Watch out for burning your right leg as you paddle around at slow speed. Those pipes are not just loud, they are HOT!

 

Put your wallet on a chain so it does not shake out of your pocket. The HD shop has a large selection of wallets that come so equipped. You can trade in your old, full wallet for a new empty one.

 

If you keep it in third gear or under and give it plenty of gas, a stock HD can get out of its own way. No tach, no redline, no worries. There must be a rev limiter, somewhere. I think it's chrome.

 

Seriously, you may enjoy it and its not bad for a change. I take an occasional ride on one (most often a client's bike with a few $K worth of Screamin' Eagle thrown at it), and have had good luck renting from Thunderbird. Lots of good roads between ABQ and Santa Fe!

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Intresting reading all of the above posts. The clear impression is exactly what I wrote in a few words in my deleated post, re. brakes, handling and power. Oh well.

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Mostly they rent their larger 2007 bikes with hard saddlebags, like the Road King and Road Glide.
On the off chance that you end up renting a 2006 (or older) model, be advised that there is no clutch interlock switch. If you thumb the starter and the bike's in gear, it will kick forward - and gawd help you if you're not actually sitting on the bike when this happens.

 

Don't ask me how I know... dopeslap.gif

 

(HD finally addressed this with the '07 models.)

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wrestleantares
Get used to not hearing air escape when you use the rear brake. I know it looks like a brake pedal on a big truck, and feels like a brake pedal on a big truck, but it's still a motorcycle.

 

Seriously though, the low speed balance on my old Electra Glide was far better than the beemer. There is a reason police drill teams use these things.

 

Because that's the bike under contract with their department.

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Rent a Road King, or an EG if you want tunes along the way. The EG will be more top-heavy because of the Tour Pak permanently attached, but you should find it easy to get used to. It isn't a racer, and if you'll keep it within its design niche you will probably enjoy the ride more than you might think.

 

The brakes are fine, just not as sensitive as those on a BMW, requiring more lever effort. Punch the front brakes and it will stop without ado, but as has been suggested the rear can lock up with over-zealous application.

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I recently rented a 2007 Electriglide in Hawai'i on a trip. I'd ridden Sportsters before, but not one dressed like the EG.

 

Can't say much more than the others before me - watch the brakes, test the clutch grab as you leave the dealership (mine grabbed much sooner than I expected), and get used to the weight by riding in empty parking lots for a while (especially if you're going to be riding 2-up). I refused to let my wife on the back until I felt fairly confident for slow-speed maneuvering.

 

The shake at idle was mesmerizing! I was in total disbelief, and wagered every nut and bolt had Red Loctite on it to make it/them stay there! eek.gif

 

5th gear made a horrible noise in the tranny while riding, and the back brake kept squealing/sticking when applied. I had to gently tap the brake lever to get it to release to kill the squeak!

 

I too almost ran it out of gas! (Um, Honey? Does that look like a town way up ahead??) dopeslap.gif

 

WyreNut

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Things not mentioned.

Craving for cheap ciggaretts.

Loose or missing teeth.

The urge to extend your foot while making slow turns.

Huge breasted women with tatoos on old wrinkly skin.

Unkown children wanting to call you Daddy .

Worst of all having to watch all the build a bike shows on TV.

Hope that helps tongue.gif

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  • 1 month later...

Just got back from renting the Harley in Albuquerque.

 

The tips I got in this thread were perfect. Thanks, everyone.

 

I had a good experience renting from Thunderbird Harley in Albuquerque. They've got long hours, their service was very nice, and the bike was in great condition and totally reliable. They offered to lend me bungie cords and to store a suitcase. There were no surprises, except for a very welcome offer for a free ride back to the airport. Cost was about $430 total for two days, including optional loss-damage waiver insurance and tax.

 

I thought Thunderbird was my only choice to rent, but afterwards I learned there is a rental outfit in Santa Fe that has several brands, including BMW.

 

Overall I thought the '07 Street Glide I rented looked very nice, with perfect fit and finish. It was plenty of bike for riding through the beautiful Jemez mountains, with lots of elevation change and hairpin turns, but my RT would have been better for that kind of riding. It's perfect for riding around town and parking lots, and avoiding speeding tickets.

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Hi John:

 

The only thing I might add, being I also have a Harley is that you might find it a bit fat to turn. Hand position is rather high. Took me forever to figure out turning the beast. Push in the direction your turning, regular counter, but you might also want/need to pull or lift with the off hand. It's helps getting my FLSTC to lean.

 

All motorcycles are fun, just BMW's are more fun than others...

 

Hope to hear how it goes.

 

Best,

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The seating position is going to be different, lower and more reclined. Also the torque will come in a lot sooner so you'll need less gas to get it going. It also won't handle as well as a newer BMW, and you'll have less lean angle, so go into the corners slower at least initially. cool.gif

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