I’m a lifelong Harley fan but I’m under no illusion they’re not overpriced, under-performing bikes compared to what else is out there. But to me they look bloody cool and let’s be honest the reason we all ride bikes is some ratio of going fast and/or looking cool.
I also really enjoy their unchanged simplicity (like the E61 machines!), the service manual for one of mine covers 40 years of the same model 😂. To think a lot of the Knucklehead engines still on the road are nearly 100 years old as well and going strong.
There’s a great scene in the documentary 6Over where a guy had ridden across America on a rigid-frame Knucklehead and a guy at a petrol station in California mocked him for his ‘bar-hopper’, and asked where he’d ridden from. When he said ‘New York’ the guy was quite surprised.
I think their horrendous reliability in the AMF years and shows like Sons of Anarchy give them an awful name and reputation. Like @Amberale said, there’s a lot of attitudes out there that don’t exactly give them a great image.
I’ve got a few friends who rode Harleys to Sardinia. Did London to the ferry in Genoa (850 miles) in one day on bikes of varying ages. Petrol cans strapped to the back etc.. It’s a labour of love but doing that kind of mileage on 60 year old Shovelheads and Panheads in rigid frames takes a fair bit of dedication!
Not comfortable or even remotely practical, but if I want comfortable and practical I’ll go in the car!