Shiny Things and the Smell of Rubber

It’s the time of year that my two lovely Harley Davidson motorcycles have their annual service. Normally, as part of the service plan I have, they get collected by the Plymouth Harley dealership and delivered back all serviced and nicely clean. That happened with Harls a few weeks back, but unfortunately not for Hettie, I’ve had to ride her to the dealership….!

Now this isn’t really an issue, I love riding my bikes even if just lately i haven’t had much time to do so, unfortunately though, this morning dawned a bit damp and soggy…oh well, suck it up and get on with it Dookes! Regular blogonaughts will know that I’m certainly not a fair weather rider, just that given the choice I’d rather avoid the wet stuff especially when the ambient temperatures are a bit on the low side. Tyres can take an age to warm up this time of year and the added fun of mud, low sun, slippery roads and this morning a liberal coating of diesel oil on a particularly tight corner made for an “interesting” 45 miles from Dookes H.Q. to Plymouth.

So here I am relaxing in the showroom of Plymouth Harley Davidson, surrounded by lots of shiny things and with the smell of rubber from new tyres, whilst Hettie gets the best attention of a Harley Davidson Technician.

I’m also sitting here in a state of shock.

Shock induced by how expensive a new Harley is these days!

There are currently 67 bikes here in the showroom and if I apply a, probably low, average price of £20,000 i calculate that I am surrounded by £1.4million worth of Harley Davidsons!

I’m not sure if that is cool….or scary!!!

Over the last few months I had been contemplating just becoming a “One Bike” rider, possibly parting with Hettie, but I’ve been wavering. This morning has firmly buried that idea, Hettie stays!!! A new Hettie, in basic form would cost me in excess of £24,300 on the road; if I then add on all the little bells and whistles that i’ve put on her it would push the new price to over £25,000!!

Hettie….this girl’s going nowhere!!!

That’s £7000 more than I paid for her!!!!…….Ho hum, it’s only money!!!

Now I must relax and breath deeply, I love the smell of a motorcycle dealership showroom!!

Catch you soon,

PS I really need to check Hettie’s agreed insured value….

Making Hettie Mine.

Hi Gang, sorry I’ve been off air again, but I’m back now and raring to go!

Regular Blogonaughts will probably realise that in many things I tend to be a bit of a stayer, once I find something that I like, I stick with it. Things like a comfy pair of shoes or a favourite pullover will last me for years and I’m just the same with motorcycles too.

My beloved Harls and I have been together for a long time now and over the many years we have evolved in each others company. I’ve added little things to make our ride experiences more refined and more comfortable for me and easier for her too.


It’s funny, but for some reasonI never really fully “clicked” with Big Blue, perhaps in the back of my mind I knew that she wouldn’t be around with me for long. On the other hand I’m getting along just fine with Hettie, my lovely Heritage Classic, who joined us at Dookes H.Q. in April 2018; in other words nearly two years gone by, where did that go!

The decision to part with Blue and buy Hettie wasn’t hard after I’d test ridden some of the new Harley Davidson Softail range just before their general release, they were stunningly good. It also didn’t take me very long to realise that I was onto a winner once I took delivery of Hettie either! She is one fantastic motorcycle.


If you had told me a few years ago that I would purchase a “Heritage” Harley I would have just shook my head and walked away. The old Heritage Softail was to my eye the very typical stereotype caricature of what lots of Non-Harley riders think of when you mention the marque, all chrome and tassels! Definitely, not me. Then along came the new Softails and things were different and to my eye, different in a very good way. Although it’s fair to say that the bikes retain a certain classic period look, it’s understated and functional, but more than that, they are just sublime to ride.

At least Hettie would be, if I ever manage to get out on her!

Once I took delivery of her I quickly racked up 500miles and gave her an oil change. Now I know that Harley Davidson’s have their first service at 1000miles, but I’m an engineer of the old school…. oil is cheap, engines aren’t!

Since that 500mile oil change things slowed up quite a lot, life stuff got in the way, but now I’m starting to play catch up with Hettie, we’ve managed about 2000miles since then; that’s 2000 smile-filled miles, I’m really loving this bike!

As she looses that “new machine stiffness” I have begun to appreciate just how nice these new Softails are. Although Hettie “only” has the 107cubic inch engine, that’s 1745cc in metric, it’s more than ample for the job in hand and the way the power smoothly feeds in when asked for is lovely, there’s no bad habits with this engine.

As I get to know Hettie, I’ve begun to notice what’s missing and to make the little improvements that will make her my motorcycle.

Some things are very small and simple. I like to know the time when I’m riding and although the multifunction display will show me that, I like a real clock, so there’s an analogue clock on the right hand side of her handlebars now. With a matching air temperature gauge on the left.

On the engine bars I now have a pair of what Harley calls “Soft Lowers.” These are simple slip on wind protectors that keep the weather off my lower legs very nicely, yep, I’m getting older and liking my comforts! I have a pair of “highway peg” footrests that I may just mount on those engine bars in due course.

I’ve fitted a sport luggage rack to the sissy bar, it’s reasonably small, but just big enough to take a Givi tank-bag mounting ring like I’ve fitted to Harls. The Givi “Tanklock” system is really designed for adventure bikes and features a docking ring that is screwed around the tank filler, various different size bags can then be simply locked onto the ring as the user wishes. This system is not designed for Harley Davidson’s, but I figured out a way of attaching one of the rings to Harls’ rack and I have found the ability to have a quick release small bag to be invaluable. I’m now going to do the same with Hettie, there’s no point in having engineering skills if you don’t use them! I’ll show you that in a future post.

The latest shiny things to go on have been a pair of Screaming Eagle Street Cannon slip-on exhaust mufflers. These are the first part of what Harley Davidson call a Stage One tuning package and although they give the bike a nice low bass exhaust note, they are not noticeably louder and best of all they are street legal! We followed that with a “Stage One Tuning” engine re-map and a new air cleaner to help her breath easier.

Next up I looked at more luggage options. The original equipment panniers are ok, but Leather Pro make some lovely bags that are stylish, slightly bigger that the OE ones and have a better lock arrangement than Harley’s design, which frankly gets in the way. The Leather Pro’s have been fitted, along with a pair of luggage protector bars.

Finally, for now anyway, I’ve splashed out on a Garmin Zumo 595 Sat Nav and Touratech mount. Yes, shock horror a SatNav!!! Actually I’ve had one on Harles for a couple of years now, they can be very useful dodging the traffic!

I’m now having a think about what else is needed…as opposed to what I’d like to add!

For now, that’s enough to be going on with, other than just enjoying this wonderful addition to my riding life.

“If you start it up
Kick on the starter
Give it all you got”

Catch you soon.


It’s Just a Date on The Calendar!

I’m going to get straight down to it…I hate New Year!

It’s just a date on the calendar.
For example, when was the last time anyone wished you “Happy 28th March” ???

I know, lots of things have happened on the 28th March:

In 1801 the Treaty of Florence ended the war between France and the Kingdom of Naples. – Interesting.
In 1802 the second ever asteroid was discovered, it was named 2 Pallas. – Cool.
In 1910 the first seaplane took off from water. – Also Cool.
In 1942 British Commandos raided St Nazaire and disabled the Normandy Dry Dock. – Legendary.

….but my point is New Year is just another date on the Gregorian calendar and really has no special significance. You can choose any one of the other 365 and find significant things in history, yet for the most part we just ignore them.

Around the world tomorrow, on each local stroke of Midnight things go silly; bells ring, fireworks are let off and people jump into fountains! Then for the next month or so we have to put up with cheery “Happy New Year” from everyone we speak to whether we know them or not!

I even got wished “HNY” today, a full 38 hours before midnight on the 31st/1st!!!

I guess if it makes you happy, go for it.

Me? I’ll be tucked up in bed and asleep, dreaming of Harley days to come….which leads me on to today.

As a bid to take my mind off the impending date change I got the two girls out of the workshop. Hettie needed a wash and polish.


Harls just needed checking over and telling how much I love her!


Once Hettie was beautified, I started them both up and let them warm through before tucking them up safely in the workshop again.

Yes OK, there is a New Year coming and yes I’m looking forward to it, if only to get out and do some Harley miles again!

Catch you soon

Oh yes, I nearly forgot…..Happy New Year!


Remembering Teresa, Ellen and John who rode on ahead in 2019.


As I get older, I have realised that fewer things impress me.

Sure I have likes, but impress? Nah, not much!

So when the 2018 Harley Davidson models were released in late ’17 I liked them. Then back in January this year, I had the opportunity to test ride two of the brand new motorcycles. You can read about that test session here.

Following my report on the test, I found myself wondering how the other seven models in the 2018 Softail line compared from a riding point of view. I particularly had my eye on the new “Heritage Classic.”

It’s funny, but I’d always viewed the “Softail Heritage” as a bit of a caricature of a stereotypical Harley…dripping chrome, leather tassels, polished studs, white wall tyres and as big as a supertanker….yeck! Not my thing at all.

2015 Softail Heritage, all whitewall and chrome.
Photo: Harley Davidson

The new “Classic” though was different, very different, gone were most of the fripperies, instead here was a machine that really looked the business, was 30kg lighter and had a more powerful engine.

Yes there was a serious nod to the Heritage of Harley Davidson, but it was subtle and to my eye quite pleasing, but what did the thing ride like?

Waiting outside Plymouth Harley Davidson.

Fast forward to the last Sunday in March and I found myself outside Plymouth Harley Davidson looking around a new Heritage Classic 107.

With a squeeze of the starter switch the engine roared into life and throbbed away like only a V-twin engine can do. I checked around the bike as it warmed up and the engine management dropped the revs back to around 900rpm at idle. The familiar Harley “Potato-Potato” exhaust was not quite the same, partly tuned out by modern noise regulations and also affected by the eight valve engine, it still sounded nice and “grunty” though!

Two factory equipped panniers offer ample storage for day rides, as well as more adventurous stuff like I get up to

I swung my leg over the bike and settled in the seat. Oh this felt comfortable and very familiar, so like my beloved “Harls.”

The suspension on the new Softail’s is much easier to adjust than on the old twin-cam models, so I had checked that I was correctly factory set for a solo rider of my weight; that’s 86kg if you are interested! The suspension has a single mono-shock located under the riders seat and adjustment is simply made by screwing the pre-load in or out.

Under the seat, the spring like thing is the mono-shock. Pre-load adjuster to the right by the Datatag sticker.

Selecting first gear I eased the clutch out and we were away. Now bear in mind that this was a new bike, brand new, so there would be no crazy stuff.

Right from the off was smooth, so very smooth. Yes the engine was tight and the gearbox a bit stiff, though in a thoroughly understandable brand new way.

I chose a route that gave me a good mix of highway, urban and country riding. With a new engine it’s very important not to over-rev it and at the same time also not hold it at the same speed for too long; variety is the spice of engine life too you know!

OK Dookes, so what was it like?

Well, nice seems to understate it a bit…that’s like saying that Turner’s painting “The Fighting Temeraire” is a pretty picture of a couple of boats.

The Fighting Temeraire.

No, this bike wasn’t just nice; it was bloody gorgeous.

The ample and somewhat “Retro” touring screen gave good protection from the wind, even at 70mph. Handling was superb, miles better than the Fat-Bob and also a step up from the Sport Glide. I took it easy on the twisty bits as new tyres are not renowned for exemplary grip, but I could feel how crisply the new chassis turned into bends and how “planted” the bike felt on the road. I really made me feel very confident.

The brakes are fitted with ABS, but are not linked, come on H-D you can do better than that you link them on the Touring models! I thought initially that I would have liked to have two disks on the front wheel, but the four-pot Brembo calipers really do stop this baby quite well.

Even though I was keeping the revs below 3000 and not “lugging” the engine, there was power to spare; once this baby was run in it was going to be a beauty!

I paused to grab some photos and ponder what I had written previously about Harley Davidson and their apparent lack of innovative leaps forward.

Maybe the whole point is that sometimes you just don’t need to make big grandiose flourishes in one go? If however, you roll a few together subtly over a couple of years you may just have a quiet revolution. By putting the Milwaukee Eight engine in a totally new frame and making a few tweaks here and there I can honestly say that I believe Harley Davidson really have produced something really special and are onto a winner.

To say I was impressed is a bit of an understatement.

Yeah, the old geezer was impressed!

In fact I was so impressed, that I am now the proud owner of a gorgeous new Heritage Classic in metallic Olive Green and Black!!!!

“I bought a new machine and then they say it takes your breath away…”

Catch you soon.


With special thanks to all at Plymouth Harley Davidson for continuing to indulge Hogrider Dookes with support, encouragement and above all excellent customer service!
(Usual disclaimer applies)