Not sure how I made it this far, but next month I’ll be celebrating my 50th birthday. The party will be at a local biker bar and promises to be a rowdy affair.
I’ve already bought myself a present.
Some of you may recall last August I smoked a deer on my 2011 Road King and basically destroyed a perfectly good motorcycle. Luckily, I walked away.
Following the crash I picked up a 2001 Super Glide to get me through the fall. This spring I sold that bike and bought a brand new 2017 Street Glide Special.
Brand new, actually, isn’t entirely accurate. While kicking tires at Harley-Davidson Winnipeg, David Gray, the owner of the dealership, showed me his demo bike and within a few minutes I’d convinced him to sell it to me. With only 2,080 kilometres on the clock and already fitted with Screamin’ Eagle parts including Street Cannon performance mufflers, a Heavy Breather air cleaner and a Pro Street tuner, this bad boy is decked out perfectly for me. The only things I’ve since added are 10-inch LA Choppers handlebars and Avon Air grips, installed by my buddy Darcy Epp at Prairie Iron Motorworks.
2017 is the first year for Harley’s new Milwaukee-Eight engine. Mine is equipped with the 107 cubic-inch version. Some of the other touring bikes as well as CVO models and a few Softail bikes have the Milwaukee-Eight 114 cubic-inch engine.
According to Harley, the 107 cubic-inch Milwaukee-Eight engine produces 10 per cent more torque than the engine it replaced. In addition to increased displacement, the Milwaukee-Eight features a higher compression ratio and four-valve cylinder heads with 50 per cent more intake and exhaust flow capacity. The valve train requires no adjustment as the design of the rocker arms enables valve lash to be set at the factory for life. Dual spark plugs for each cylinder contribute to more-efficient combustion. A single chain-driven camshaft is lighter, mechanically less complex and creates less friction and noise.
What all this translates into on the street is an obvious reduction in vibration and an even more obvious improvement in power. I’ve ridden my new Street Glide more than 12,000 clicks this summer and can now confidently report this is the most refined Harley-Davidson I’ve ever owned.
I was expecting the improved power, handling and brakes, but what I wasn’t expecting is how much I’d like the infotainment system. With Apple Music streaming from my iPhone I literally have the entire history of music at my fingertips. The navigation system also works without a hitch and even displays elevation, which is comical considering the highest above sea level I’ve been to here on the prairies is about 55 metres.
This summer Manitoba was blessed with amazing weather and I’ve been able to ride my bike pretty much daily. Although I never made any out of province trips, I did manage to ride out to Grand Beach on Lake Winnipeg and have ridden all around Winnipeg and the surrounding towns with my fellow Thursday Night Riders (TNR).
The camaraderie I’ve shared with these guys is tough to explain, but the word brotherhood seems to sum it up nicely. On some nights there are as many as 50 of us out riding together. Meat is barbecued and rubber is burned. The motorcycles we ride may have been what brought us all together, but it’s the brotherhood that keeps us there. If you have the opportunity and the desire to join a riding or motorcycle club I’d highly suggest you give it a try. The fun never stops and it’s great to get out and ride with other like-minded folks.
As I approach my 50th birthday I can’t help but feel that life is getting better and better every day. Sure, my back aches after a long day of riding, but it’s nothing a hot tub and a cold beer can’t cure. I’m married to an amazing woman, I have loving family and friends, good health and a shiny black Harley-Davidson. When folks ask me how I’m doing my reply never changes: I’m living the dream!