View Full Version : Any Harley Pilots?

Bill Greenwood
06-13-2013, 11:57 AM
I need a little advice if there is anyone experienced on riding a really big road motorcycle like a Harley.

My Son, who is 30 going on 15, has bought a discount rental deal on a full size Harley and decided that he is going to go riding on the mountain highways in traffic.
I am really worried about him.

The good news is that he is a very skilled motorcycle rider, but only the mid size bikes. He road raced for 4 years on a Yamaha 600 and had a lot of success. He was very fast for a privateer and won a number of races. But he also crashed and knocked himself out a couple of times, not even counting all the more minor injuries and road rash, and he has used up several helmets and sets of leathers. He does not have my "take is safe and easy" safe pilot personality; he would make a good combat pilot. His bike would top 150 mph and in one race in Utah the next class up was clocked at 187 mph on the straight.

He also rode an enduro 600 bike from Colorado all the way to the tip of South America where he survived being hit by a truck.
I am proud of him, but wish he had an "off " switch sometimes.

So, does anyone have any particular tips on riding one of the big ones?

I forgot to mention that before getting into motorcycles he was a downhill ski racer, going up to 80 mph.

Zack Baughman
06-13-2013, 01:24 PM
Hi Bill,

Since these forums are really all about aviation, I'm not going to comment on riding motorcycles, other than to suggest posting your question here www.motorcycle.com/forum/ or here www.hdforums.com.



Bill Greenwood
06-13-2013, 02:58 PM
Zack, you are right, it is not much about aviation, I just need the help. Well somebody wrote on here about trying to put a Harley engine in a plane, and Charles is an EAA member and has been many times to Oshkosh with me and has soloed a glider.

06-13-2013, 03:45 PM
Since he sounds so experienced at riding, most likely any problems he will have will be with the excess weight with low speed handling, so he will really hurt the bike more than himself (except for his pride) when he drops it.... oops, sorry, EAA forum. (hope this helps). Glenn

06-13-2013, 03:59 PM
Since he sounds so experienced at riding, most likely any problems he will have will be with the excess weight with low speed handling...
Or the lack of high speed handling. You can't drive a truck like a sports car.

06-13-2013, 09:05 PM
Hi Bill,

Has he taken the MSF course? Even with his road racing experience, it's very important.

BTW, This is my 40th year of riding streetbikes, so it is possible to survive it.

Joe Delene
06-14-2013, 04:45 AM
It sounds like he has plenty of bike experience, much more than most. It would not really be the handling of the bike he would need to worry about, more so the defensive attitude of operating a bike with various hazards present. I've been a casual biker for 35 yrs. Driving a motorcycle & operating an airplane both involve managing risks.

One needs to be uber defensive driving a motorcycle. You could try to line up some safety course to raise awareness. My Son took one, I also drive with him to build upon it.

07-25-2013, 04:24 PM
I ride a Harley Ultra and it's just a matter of getting used to the heavy bike. It's different than the
small ones. I started years ago on dirt bikes and just worked my way up. He should be fine.

Bill Greenwood
08-12-2013, 12:29 PM
Guys, thanks for your advice.
After some delays, he did it and safely. Normally when Charles takes up a new sport, he goes hard into it, and sort of like Tim Taylor on the tv show TOOL TIME, often the next stop is the emergency room. He seems to think he is invincible and doesn't have the cautious nature when it comes to risk taking like I do. I learned early on at about age 10 that jumping a motor scooter was fun, that is until I came down once with the front wheel a little crooked and found out that I was a lot softer than the pavement.
Anyway, Charles and his girlfriend, who reminds me of Kate Hudson, did a two day ride this past weekend west of Denver and Colo Springs and had no problems.
The bike was a big Harley Streetglide, I think 103 cubic inch engine, with full windshield and saddle bags and passenger back rest. It was way different from what he was used to, which was an all out full road racer with fairings and all, a Yamaha 600.
He thought the Harley was pretty sluggish. His race bike weighed about 365 lbs and had 110 hp or so. This road bike weighs at least twice as much with perhaps only 70 or 80 hp.
He said the throttle was like an on/off switch for noise, it was either off or noisy. He had some trouble with the brakes as they seemed to be sort of grabby. Maybe he was not used to using the rear brake that much since the race bikes go into the corners so hard and do almost all of their last second braking with the front brake, and they get used to modulating the brakes. He didn't really have much trouble with basic handling, didn't drop it at low speed, but he said it didn't feel stable when leaned over more than about 25 degrees, it was if the frame or tires were flexing in the corners. I think he was so used to being able to lean that Yamaha over until his knee was dragging and it also had the best Michelin race tires. The Harley probably had tires designed for comfort and ride, maybe even grip in the rain when cruising.
Anyway, like trying another type of plane, it was a fun experience for him, and now I can even breathe again. I said a lot of prayers.
Some of you may know Charles from the years that we brought him to Oshkosh. He has good memories from there, and I hope to bring him next year.