Motorcycle Rider Basics

Goldwing, BMW or Harley?

IMG_1004I rode my Harley Wide Glide up to the electronics store last Saturday and when I pulled in to park, there was a guy just parking his Goldwing. I started up a conversation with, “Nice bike, I've been thinking about getting one of those myself.” And as with most motorcycle owners, that was all it took to find out everything I ever wanted to know about a Goldwing.

I told him that his Goldwing looked like a brand-new motorcycle and it did. In fact it looked like it just rolled off the showroom floor. He liked hearing that and I could tell he was very proud of his bike. He went through and showed me all of the features and accessories. He said me that control panel button that opens up the knee vents that directed engine heat onto your lower legs when it was cold outside, same with the foot vents. It had a built-in radio with CD and MP3 and player hook up. He had driver to passenger intercom, automatic windshield adjustment, and the list goes on. The only feature I had on my Harley that I could point out to the Goldwing rider was my WindVest (windshield) which I explained kept the bugs out of my teeth. I did point out that I had removed the baffles from my screaming Eagle exhaust pipes and replaced them with a fender washer which meant that they were almost straight pipes. I told him that I loved the sound. He did not seem to share my enthusiasm for loud pipes. 

He also had a very distinctive “my bike is better than your bike” attitude which I find is not that unusual amongst Goldwing and BMW riders. Oh well, that's cool, I tend to look down on motor scooter riders, smile.

And I do have to give it to him that the Goldwing is a terrific road bike. I am going to guess that you can do two or three hundred miles and still feel pretty good. After 100 miles on my wide glide I am ready to take a break.

We finished talking and he went into the store and I stepped off my Harley and stood there and looked at the two bikes standing next to each other. The Goldwing look like a monster next to my Harley. It was taller, it was longer and is probably wider. My Harley, which I have lowered 1 inch, really looked like a hard-core street bike. And you know what, I like a hard-core street bike.

As I rode back home I was thinking about this Goldwing and I realized that I had a feature on my Harley that he did not have. The feature that I'm talking about is built-in to all Harleys. It is the feature that allows you to remain focused on your ride. When you get on a Harley and fire it up, that potato-potato-potato sound just fills your soul and then when you kick it into gear and take off there is no doubt that you are riding a motorcycle. City streets or highway you remain focused 100% of the time because that Harley doesn't let you forget that you are riding. So someday I may buy a Goldwing, I doubt if I'll ever buy a BMW, and I know for sure that I'll always have my Harley.


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  1. you can have your harley, with its sound but a goldwing in terms of seat of your pants power will blow a harley away, even without any noise….most harleys cant back up the sound of the pipes with any power….my friend had a screaming eagle harley which is their fastest bike and a goldwing also but admits the goldwing is much faster….

  2. When I bought my first new car, I was in my twenties and there were some very nice cars available. Turbochargers were available stock from the dealer along with wide low profile tires. Right off the dealer’s lot I had to learn to back off the throttle quick because the car would literally throw the occupants back into the seats. I’m not talking about a German supercar. The insurance was reasonable even for a young man.

    Over the years I learned that fast cars and fast food have a lot in common. There is just a lot more to enjoy in the world than hamburgers and fries. And you don’t have to have the most food on your plate to enjoy it. Overeating only results in stomach aches.

    So when I bought my Harley, I could appreciate many of the features that were not listed on the website. I appreciated having a local dealer that was happy only selling Harleys and accessories for them. I appreciated owning a bike that holds it’s value even after the first year. I appreciated that it felt as good to ride as it looked, and even when it’s dirty it still looks great. I appreciated dealing with a company older than me. If I want an idea how my bike will hold up over 30 years I only need to go back 30 years and look at many of their bikes which are still on the road today.

    My Harley has plenty of power to accelerate onto the interstate, but once out there I only need to go as fast as the traffic. And I’m just fine with that. I know that I can spend up for a limited edition CVO Harley with every unique feature the best minds can conceive of. But for a fraction of that I can still buy a comfortable Harley that is an excellent value for my dollars. I really cannot find that everywhere, hardly anywhere.

    Thanks for the chance to share this.

  3. The smartest thing to do is find a well priced Harley then buy a used Goldwing for an even lower price and have the best of both worlds. Since the wings need very little maintenance and go to 400,000 miles no problem, I would use that for long distance driving and comfortable touring and save the Harley for making a little noise around town and short trips. At Least that’s what I do and it’s nice to always have a spare bike around, or 2 or 3…

  4. To Mike -from Jan 14th, 2014.
    I’ve read your comments and it quickly made the most sense this 81 year old somewhat experienced rider has ever read.
    My first ride was on a buddy’s bike in 1955, first bike I owned was 1972. My last Harley was loved & ridden about 30 years ago. I loved it as only a rider who thrilled with the movement, the sound of the wind , and the special Harley look – could love a bike. That 1000 cc Sportster was followed by a 750cc new BMW,
    I didn’t ride for several years then until after my dear wife died and I needed the passion of riding to save my sanity.
    I got back to riding in a 1100 Yamaha & joined a great biker club. we road every week end and I road single most of each week. Several members of the club had Goldwings & during the year went on many day-out of town trips. Wanting to start taking those longer trips, I then bought in 2007 a new Honda Goldwing when I reached the age of 72. On that Wing, with a riding buddy who had often experienced lengthy trips on his Goldwing, I did travel across the country from Connecticut to Chicago and onto Route 66 which we followed all the way to San Diego. Returning through Las Vegas and through the Viirgin Gorge in Utah and eastward back to Conn. we rode 7000 miles on that trip. I have to add, there was never a backache or discomfort even after riding one day 735 miles. In 2008, we rode from Hartford , Conn. up to Nova Scotia – across to Quebec city – and south through Vermont back to Connecticut. A short 3500 mile trip. The machines obeyed our every desire with never a whimper.

    A cruiser motorcycle is meant for trips like this. This is what they were designed to deliver. And without doubt, the Honda Goldwing is perfect for this task.

    Having said that, there is no substitute for the thrill of man handling a beautiful Harley down any street in America.

    As ”Mike’ advised in his comment; ” The smartest thing to do is find a well priced Harley then buy a used Goldwing for an even lower price and have the best of both worlds. ”

    i agree.
    Frank Gott

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