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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2012 Harley Davidson Superlow - Ride Impressions

Well to start with the review, I’m not sure if I should call this a ride review or not, because the norms of ride review dictates that I should get more on the technical side of things (that’s what has been my style of reviews at least) and try to understand why the motorcycle in question behaves as it does in certain specific ways, why it moves in a specific way, why it handles in a specific way, so and so forth. The norms of a ride review dictates that I should let the readers know what are the pros and cons of the motorcycle, what I liked and what I didn’t like so much, why a prospective customer should go for this motorcycle and use dictionary terms of explaining in the most ethical way as to how much fun it was to bond with the motorcycle while I rode it and keep on blabbering for countless words.

But then, let’s take a step back and think, why do we ride motorcycles after all – just to commute and be the example of following rules and living a righteous life, or just to get bragging rights how well I can handle a track day with a super expensive motorcycle, wearing super expensive leathers and posing for photos, or just to stunt around making gang signs and show off how cool I am in certain ways, or just to preach the world how I used to ride my motorcycle back in my days and how I became the self proclaimed legend that I think I am!! A small step was taken at Milwaukee, USA more than 100 years ago, to prove that the act of riding a motorcycle is just as simple as just Riding it – nothing more, nothing less. That small step is today a legend in its truest sense, a Cult, a Belief, more than just mere passion – The Harley Davidson and therefore what follows are impressions that are flashing through my thought process when I rode the Harley Davidson SuperLow and then after that.

Today it would be just un-fair if I stick to my regular style of review, because riding a Harley Davidson is to brake the shackles of norms, regulations, beliefs, the things that don’t let me to be myself – Riding a Harley Davidson is the act of being Me.

The Motorcycle

Well, the 2012 Harley Davidson SuperLow is a very simple design, a chassis, a V-Twin Engine, a gas tank, a seat, a steering, pair of wheels and the brakes and lights and an awful lot of chrome, so much so that it doesn’t miss you being around it. If you are around the motorcycle, the motorcycle would show you in itself and that’s why the chrome is there – a simple but a very profound thought.

Go through ignition sequence, thumb the starter. Here you would be expecting that I would be saying that – “Thumb the starter and the SuperLow would come to life with its enchanting reverberating thump…..” Well, that’s the amazing part here – because in reality, you thumb the starter, and the Harley Davidson comes to life!! It comes to life as legend should be, resurrecting from dead, making its presence felt and hypnotising all around with its first statement. The idling engine note mutes everything around, just everything, including any nagging wife, because her jaws are already dropped, eyes popped out and heart burnt down to charcoal as her man in on his knees right in front of her, but with his back towards her, because her man is no more her’s, his soul has been captured by the legend of the Harley Davidson.

You don’t have to ride the motorcycle to be mesmerised by it. Idling, or a traffic halt, is the base minimum criteria here. Just rev a little while the motorcycle is stationary, and sound would teleport you to the seventh heaven while the mortals around you would be go berserk in envy.

The SuperLow is the most affordable motorcycle in Harley’s stable as of today, but while it’s low on cost, it’s no way low on the feel. The SuperLow is a true Harley right to its every nut and bolt. Truly speaking, for me the real understanding of riding the Harley came, when I came back to the norms of riding the other motorcycle (my motorcycle). It was then I realised why people who ride a Harley, ride a Harley, I realized why in 2008 I saw most of the people sans proper riding gear (even a helmet) at the Milwaukee Harley Davidson festival, I realized why in US most of people who ride a Harley look different than other, they ride different than other, in short they look so like themselves, being themselves, not caring to follow the norms, and that’s exactly, what I realized I was feeling while I was riding the SuperLow through the busy and broken roads, while I was riding at a lazy 80 kmph at 3rd, or while I was hustling through at 120 kmph at 4th. Riding the SuperLow, is not about riding a motorcycle, it’s about how you feel while you are riding a Harley.

The Ride

I have a Sport Bike mentality to say the least. I like sharp handling, I like ballistic throttle response, I like sharp braking, a busy and involving ride so to speak. At the same time, I must admit that this indulgence leaves me with a feeling of a lot of work done at the end of every ride. After every ride, I evaluate and re-evaluate myself, to understand, what I did right and where I need to improve more. It’s a continuous and non-stop process, a process which takes up a lot of your thought process, and let me tell you, this process is tiring, because you are constantly talking to yourself, judging yourself brutally, as brutally as possible, to the point that you just stop appreciating yourself and you become a test subject of yourself, where you are constantly experimenting with yourself to create a superior species. And then, once in a while you sit down, thinking of giving a break to your leathers, a break to this constant evolutionary process. That’s when you start hearing that reverberating thump, coming from a distance, growing constantly on you, as if it has captivated your soul. That’s a Harley Davison in a nutshell, and the SuperLow, with it's 68 hp @ 4400 rpms of peak output and 67 NM @ 4100 rpms of peak torque comes to you as that ticket to solitude.

The stiff suspension, the minimalistic and simple console, the gear shifts – true metallic gear shifts I would say, the chromed handlebar, the chromed engine bits, everything is just so non-dramatic, as if like a Hollywood super star coming out in the public without the usual publicity gimmicks, makeup and stardom and yet having that above normal aura and attitude around him, which is capable of making jaws drop in a single glance. Moving around in the traffic or on open roads doesn't make much of a difference as the rider is just above all this. Even though at low speeds, the weight shows itself, but with time, that weight becomes a companion you don’t mind at all.

Riding at the usual pace or flicking the throttle to give the rattling metal butts around a standing ovation of your middle finger, while you disappear into a thumping ecstasy, the SuperLow is pretty well mannered to the obvious eyes, but then again, aren't we riding a Harley to take a break from mannerisms?? Underneath that obvious mannerism, is a grin filled badassery which has already started to develop, leaving behind its long dormant embryonic state. The only thing to worry about here is that SuperLow actually lives it’s name and roads here make you realize that bit by kissing it’s underneath every now and then.

All in all, the Ride of the SuperLow is nothing or even close to what we are used to in our day to day life. No matter how much I try to explain, I won’t be able to too, because I’m still confused, amused and amazed.

Final Verdict

Well, I’m no one to promote a Harley Davidson, or say that you just go and just buy a SuperLow off the shelf. Just go and have a look at one, feel the chrome, crank the engine and try to, I mean really try to, listen to the differentiating thump, and while doing all that, if you get a funny and strong feeling of confusion, thinking if you were living as yourself or a slave of norms – then the Harley calling you, and you would know what to do next.

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  1. One of the best texts I have read in a long time and arguably your best text ever.
    And you have done some great photography... making full of use of the FF sensor! :)

    1. Thanks Ken Da for the appreciation, it's amazing to have them from you!! :)

  2. Great..!!
    This too deserves a standing ovation.. :)

  3. Lots of information and class photography :)


Item Reviewed: 2012 Harley Davidson Superlow - Ride Impressions Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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