On our Wednesday, July 19, 2007, morning walk, Maria asked me when I was finally going to get my Harley. She reminded me that I had purchased the Rebel on the way to a Houston Rose Society Board of Directors meeting, which was the next day. I told her I was still studying the problem. I was thinking of renting another Low Rider, if Eagle Riders had one. And I hadn't yet figured out how to break in the engine on a new bike. And what about a heat shield for the muffler? And did I want to spring for chromed lower forks? And, what about the very color of the bike? Vivid black versus red pearl/black pearl. There were lots of things I hadn't resolved yet.
But, for whatever reason, the seed took this time. Wednesday, July 19, 2007, was National Ride to Work Day, and I rode the Rebel to the office. The ever-present rain moved in around three, and I left work early to beat it home. Which I almost did.
Thursday morning the streets were still wet, and I had a law seminar at eight. So we took Sarah for her morning walk, and I took the Rebel for a two mile post office run.
When I got to work, I called Eagle Riders to see if they had a second Low Rider. They did not. That sealed the deal. I told Cynthia I was leaving early, and headed for Stubbs Harley Davidson. It was 3:30 p.m.
When I got to Stubbs, I immediately walked to where they keep the Dyna Low Riders. I spied a black one, and hopped on. It felt very comfortable, even though I was in a business suit.
Jason Ball walked up, asking if he could help me. I had met Jason about a month before, and we had talked Low Riders. He had impressed me, and I kept his card. In answer to his question, I told him I wanted to buy a Low Rider. "This one," I said, pointing to the black machine I had just been sitting on.
I could see his eyes light up. Nothing like a sale you don't even have to work for. (In fact, he had made the sale by his respectful treatment of me the month before.) "But," I said, "I want the standard wheels, with tubeless tires, not the spokes." I have had a couple of flats on the Rebel, and I was positive I wanted tubeless tires. At least they are repairable on the road. Jason said he was pretty sure they could swap the spokes out with a deep cobalt pearl Low Rider that sported the standard wheels (and tires). They would have to do the swap because that was the last black Low Rider they had.
We went to his desk and he started punching number into his computer. When he finished, he swiveled the screen around for me to see. I can't remember what the exact figures was, but it was some number in the eighteen thousands. I took a business card out of my shirt pocket and slid it toward him. The card was from Philip at Cowboy Harley Davidson in Beaumont. I had been in there a week earlier, and got a quote. They also had started in the eighteen thousands, but they had lowered their price to $17,387 by the next day. I showed Jason the number. I told him that Stubbs had had all my business so far, and that I wanted to say with them, but $17,387 was the price they had to match.
Jason stared at the card, did some more figuring, and said, "If we can come within $200 of that, will you do the deal with us?" I replied, "I will if you come within $100." He said he would take the offer back to management. He headed off, and I remained seated, looking at the August issue of The Skunk Dots. The newspaper bills itself as "Texas' ORIGINAL Biker News." It had interesting pictures of the distaff half at a recent HOG rally. It must have been really hot that day, because kindly (male) bikers were helping the young lasses cool off with pitchers of water. They guys must have been suffering from heat stroke, because they seemed to be spilling the water all over the ladies in several of the pictures. But I digress.
Jason returned and told me we had a deal. I was now the proud owner of a 2007 Vivid Black Dyna Low Rider, with the standard tubeless tires, a H-D security system, and one extra key and security fob. The walkout price was $17,487.75.
He handed me one of the keys, the owner's manual, and some other papers. He said he had to go back to the main sales office, and that I should go over to the clothing section, where the young ladies would fix me up with more "welcome" goodies.
After ascertaining my shirt size, the clerks presented me with my very own pewter Freedom Bell in a red velvet bag. They asked me if I knew the legend of the bells. I said that I did, having seen such bells at various motorcycle rallies. The story goes that evil road spirits live on your bike. These little gremlins are always causing trouble. You put the bell on your bike, and the spirits are attracted to the bell. They get trapped in the hollow of the bell, and the constant ringing drives them insane. They drop off the bike, onto the road. The proof that this happens is present in roads everywhere. What else could cause all those pot holes, other than the impact of the gremlins. Both ladies strongly urged me to hang the bell on my own bike as soon as possible. I was noncommittal, but I graciously accepted the velvet bag they offered.
One of the clerks headed off in search of a proper t-shirt, while I chatted with the other one. We exchanged stories about bikes. She allowed as how she rode a crotch rocket, and only had 600 miles on it--because she didn't like to ride alone. Before I could respond to that fact, the other clerk walked up with a very nice tan t-shirt with the Stubbs name on the front and back, along with the Harley bar and shield. I was also presented with a Harley Davidson pen and a black key bob, in the shape of Texas, again with the Stubbs name on it.
Presently, Jason returned, in the company of Ed Walker, the Finance Manager. Ed handed me a piece of paper, with four numbers on it. One figure was $1299, to extend the warrant to four years (from the standard two years). $499 was to add four years of tire coverage to that extended warranty. The third figure was another $1299, for all maintenance for the first 10,000 miles (at 1,000, 2,500, 5,000, 7,500 and 10,000 miles). The figure included changing to synthetic oil after the initial break-in period.
John Huval, who helped guide me through the process of getting my Harley, had already discussed the three options. Thus, I ws not caught off guard. I decided to spend the extra (but unbudgeted) $3000 and get all three.
A fourth number had also been on the page. It was for $1149 for a LoJack system. I want LoJack. I have it on my PT Cruiser. But I was reluctant to spend the extra money on top of the $3,000 I had already spent.
Ed told me he could get me a good rate on a loan, but I wanted to pay cash for this Harley. So I passed on the LoJack. I asked if they could put it in later, and Ed said they could. He said it took about 2-1/2 hours to install. I'm sure I will get it soon.
During all of this, Jason had started the ball rolling on the insurance for the Harley. I needed a state inspection, and, to do that I would have to have proof of insurance. I had the policy on the Rebel with Progressive. When I purchased it in May of 2005, Stubbs had gotten me a much better quote than I had been able to find on my own. So, Pat Cooper in the Stubbs insurance office went to work to see what they could do on insuring my new Harley.
While he researched the issue, I went with Ed to yet another office to sign all the paperwork. A half a dozen signatures later, and I was all done. As I handed Ed the last paper, he put all my copies into a folder and, reaching out his hand, said, "Welcome to the Family." I said thanks, and was very pleased to join what Paul Garson, in
Born to Be Wild: A History of the American Biker and Bikes, 1947 - 2002, called the world's largest and most active mutual admiration society.
I reconnected with Jason, and he got Pat Cooper back on the line so we could finalize the insurance. After opting to keep the same levels of coverage as I had on the Rebel, I endured the sticker shock of my new insurance rate. The Rebel costs me $271 per year. The Harley added a thousand dollars to that. Yikes. There is a lot of psychic satisfication to being a Harley guy, but the price of admission is not cheap!
By the time everything was settled, it was 6:00 pm. Two and a half hours to own a Harley!
I called Maria, to tell her the good news. Then I called Cynthia. Both were excited. Or maybe it was just relief that this process was finally over. My call to my parents went to voice mail, which was probably just as well, since Mom is not all that thrilled that I spend so much time on two wheels in Houston's traffic.
I called John and told him the good news. He was happy for me, and I could hear Nadine's delight in the background as she realized that, almost three years after taking the Rider's Edge course from Stubbs, I had final taken the plunge and bought my Harley.
I left voice mails for Ron and Nancy, the headed to the HRS Board of Directors meeting, just as I had two years earlier when I got my Honda Rebel (also from Stubbs).
I showed everyone at the meeting my new Harley key, and began counting the hours until I could pick up the bike.
Which brings us to Friday, July 20th. At around 4:30 a.m., a monsoon hit with full force. It rained hard all morning. We got over two inches in about four hours. No ride on the Rebel during that storm. The odometer stayed at 27,128. Nor did Sarah get her walk.
Jason had told me to check with him after lunch to make sure the wheel swap had taken place. Maria could not take me to Stubbs until after work, so I resisted calling until about two. When I got through to Jason, he had good news. The bike was ready to pick up. I told him I would see him around six. Stubbs was open until seven.
I headed home early for the third time this week. I needed to rearrange some boxes in the garage so it would accommodate the new bike. When I finished moving the boxes, I suited up, fed the dog, and was ready. I had already read the owner's manual cover to cover. I sat down and continued reading in Brock Yate's Outlaw Machine until Sarah announced that Maria was home. I grabbed my jacket and helmet, and all three of us headed for Stubbs. It was 6:00 p.m.
Traffic was typical for a Friday afternoon, Which meant it was 6:30 by the time we arrived at the dealership. When I walked in, one of the other salemen said hello and told me he had already let Jason know I was there. I hadn't even had time to let this salesman know I was there to pick up my Harley. I must have had that "new Harley buyer" look.
Jason said hello, and went for the bike. He wheeled it out onto the parking lot, and turned me over to Quang Nguyen, the Service Manager. He goes by "Q." Q is the one who gives the new bike orientation. We went over how the security system works, how to check the oil, how to start the bike and several other things.
He told me that the first fifty miles were critical, and that I should shift to second at 15 mph, third at 25, fourth at 35 and fifth at 45. He reminded me to let the engine warm up before stressing it, and to be sure and not skip the 1000 mile check up.
With that, I let Maria take a few pictures of me on my new bike, then I fired the Low Rider up, and headed for the house, with Maria and Sarah following in the Jeep. When I had purchased the bike on Thursday, it had eight miles on the odometer. When I headed home, it had eleven miles on it. By the time I reached home, the odometer read twenty-one miles.
Nothing exciting happened on the way home. The bike performed flawlessly, and the streets stayed dry. After a few miles, I ran the tach all the way to the redline a couple of times, but only for a second. Otherwise, I followed Q's (and John's) recommendations, and kept the speed and rpm's varied, but under 4,000 rpm's. Before I knew it, I was in the driveway, my first trip completed.
Maria raised the garage door, and I duck walked the Low Rider into the garage. It is a lot harder to duck walk a 672 pound Harley than it is a light weight Honda Rebel. When we got the bikes side-by-side, it was obvious how much larger the Harley was than the Honda.
As I was about to close the garage door, I spied Sharon dropping off her kids at a neighbor's house. I walked to her car and asked her to come take a look at something. As she walked up the driveway, she exclaimed, "Oh, you got a new bike!" As she got closer she added, "Oh, and its a Harley." After suitable admiration (of the bike), Sharon headed home, and Maria and I headed for Berryhill's to celebrate my entry into the brotherhood of Harley.
See you on the road. And don't forget to think.
All statements of speeds on various streets are simple estimates, and solely for novelity purposes. Actual speeds vary, but are always lower. I'm sure that legal speed limits are never exceeded, anything in this blog to the contrary nowithstanding.