By Marissa Baecker
When planning to ride to Hana on a recent trip to Maui, HI, I learned that the ride, although only 50 miles long, would take three hours as we tackled 600 hairpin turns, one lane only sections, over 50 bridges with little road maintenance all for the pure enjoyment of earning our bumper sticker “I survived the Road to Hana.”
There are bike/scooter options on Maui but the newest bikes available to rent are 2013 Harley-Davidson’s and as I looked at the line-up of bikes, chrome glistening in the morning sun, the stylish, two-toned beauty with the studded seat, soft saddlebags, front and rear fenders plus windscreen caught my eye and the 2013 Harley-Davidson Softail Classic would be my ride
Being that this year is the 110th Anniversary of Harley-Davidson, the Heritage Softail comes in a two-tone anniversary edition of vintage bronze and vintage black and styled with anniversary bronze emblems throughout the bike. You can also choose candy orange/beer bottle (my ride) or midnight pearl/brilliant silver pearl plus three solid colour options (white hot pear, big blue pearl or vivid black). Expect price differences between the solid, two-tone and anniversary styling.
The anniversary edition adds to the styling with 16×3 chrome aluminum profiled lace rims boasting those beefy Dunlop Harley-Davidson series white wall tires while the remaining colours offer a choice between chrome aluminum profile laced or steel laced rims with chrome hub covers (my ride) paired with beefy Dunlop Harley-Davidson series black walls.
I parked my backside on the solo portion of the leather studded, two-up, two-piece seat, placed my feet up on the floor boards, and wrapped my wimpy grip on the classic mini-ape bars and thought this may be the most comfortable I have been on a cruiser in quite some time. Seat height of 25.5 inches makes this model appealing to all riders.
Test riding the 2013 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, on one of North America’s most renowned twisted roads, ranks pretty high on my list of bad ideas but I was pleasantly surprised that this 752 lb beast was up for the challenge.
Cruisers are notoriously heavy machines and when it comes to Harley-Davidson, the weight of the bike is probably one of the most disliked specifications for the non-Harley rider but for the loyal followers of the brand, all that chrome and metal gives the rider a sense of strength and confidence. It is tough not to see a Harley on the road and that added rumble of the pipes practically guarantees that you will be heard as well as seen (even if it is a bit irritating).
Riding ocean side down the highway, the retro speedometer housed on the five gallon tank boasted bold single digits and had me thinking RPM until I clued in and remembered that the digital display offered this information along with fuel consumption, remaining fuel, odometer and other information.
The air-cooled Twin Cam 103 cubic inch engine (1690cc) is mirrored after the legacy of Harley traditional Flathead, Knucklehead, Panhead, Shovelhead 88 and 96 engines. Harley-Davidson is proud of ‘pushing design and technology forward’ without compromising the ‘proud heritage that comes from a century’s worth of commitment to life on two wheels.’
Navigating the gears comes with that distinct clunk sound so don’t expect the butter smooth shifting of a race bike. Heel/toe shifters border the left floorboard and a brake pedal highlights the right. Torque and compression through the gears is consistent which is useful when you are testing your hand, eye, foot coordination throughout hairpin after hairpin with a lean angle of around 25 degrees.
All in all, if you are looking at a classic Harley-Davidson with curb appeal, this is a great model. MSRP in Canada starts at $19,989 for solid black.