Running Down a Dream.
"It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin'
The trees went by, me and Del were singin'
Little runaway, I was flyin'"
Tom Petty’s 1988 Classic was today’s playlist ‘eargasm’. If I could dance and ride at the same time I would have.
Tom popped up while I was rockin’ the Heritage Classic around the delightfully named hamlet of ‘Woongoobla’.
It's situated in the coastal corridor of cane fields and prawn farms that lie East of the M1, between the upper reaches of the Gold Coast and the Southern Bay-side Suburbs of Brisbane - and it’s actually not bad riding country. It is coastal-plains-flatland, but there are some good corners to be found and some nicely empty back roads running through the cane. The posted speed limits aren’t stupid-slow either.
The late morning temperature was already well into the 30’s by the time I wheeled the Heritage onto the M1 near Loganholme with light winds and clear skies prevailing.
I’m still quite surprised by just how comfortable the new model is. For those that don’t know me, I’m 6’5” or 195cm in the new money and big. I can get by with a stocker, but normally I need a Harley ‘Extended reach’ saddle on a Road King or Street Glide for optimum comfort.
Even on older model Heritage Softails I was pushed a little closer to the handlebars than I’d ideally like by the big bolster that separates the rider and pillion accommodation. All easily fixed with a visit to the accessory catalogue of course, but so far, on two reasonably decent rides, I’ve been perfectly comfy on the new model throughout. No need to change it at all.
The legroom is really good too. I could stretch out ‘tres’ comfortably on the big footboards on the way home and the mini ape handlebars work to complement it all very well. Lounge chair comfort. My daughter’s first comment after watching me pull into her driveway for a quick visit this morning was “That looks really comfortable”.
The point is it will work for us big units, conversely, shorter inseams will have no trouble flat footing it with its 680mm saddle height and they should be even more luxuriated.
The only thing I’d change to suit the taller gent is get a slightly taller – or shorter - windscreen. The buffeting at helmet level isn’t too bad, tolerable, but shifting the dirty air up or down a few inches would make the ride and ergos absolutely ideal. Normal height riders should fit nicely in the bubble. I’ll remove the screen entirely for the next ride – it only takes seconds – on or off. It's a very comfortable bike.
I headed up some back roads through the mangroves out to Rocky Point - getting ‘close' (well ... sort of) to Adventure bike-type riding conditions and the Heritage was as sure footed on the busted up tarmac as it was on the sweepers - and had a few quick ‘blats’ up the dirt cane roads for good measure.
I used to be able to bottom out the suspenders on a 103cube without trying too hard – even after going through the rigmarole of beefing up the preload.
On the new one Harley says it has used “sophisticated suspension technology … racing-style cartridge forks and high performance mono-shock rear for dynamic cornering capability”.
I’m saying, “The suspension is very good and matched with the new chassis and torque and power of the 114 engine, this is a tight handling pleasure to chuck round.”
It’s still a foot-boards cruiser-tourer though. The lean angles are a Heritage’s: 27.3 and 28.5 degrees. If you ride it anywhere near its handling capability on a typical roundabout the foot-boards will hit the deck. It’s a Heritage. But the sweetest-riding one I’ve yet encountered.
I zigzagged back through the cane, headed out to Jacob’s Well for a photo stop, did a bit more back road-ing and a highway jaunt back to Stapylton - with a quick stop at the Gem Hotel.
I stopped at the Pub for a Coke on a hot day, but mostly because there were already three Heritage Softails parked in the shade by the side door. Two of them were travelling together and two of us were there by happenstance. After a quick chat and Q&A session I was back on the M1, cruise-control dialled in and seriously digging some torquey-smooth sweetness.
Lovin’ this bike.
“Goin' wherever it leads
I'm runnin' down a dream”