Riding with Harley Davidson

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    drivetimeWhen it comes to gauging the street cred of something that carries a legendary nameplate like Harley-Davidson, it’s better if all the commentary be left to those who have a deep passion for the brand.
    Sure, we’re all allowed to our own opinion, but let’s face it, unless you ride (and I don’t) weighing in on Harleys is like flipping through a doctor’s manual and then trying to give advice on heart surgery.
    The minute you start talking somebody’s going to catch on that you’re a fish out of water.
    So, to get a better idea of what the nameplate Harley-Davidson really represents and if Ford’s F-150 lives up to the name, we visited Detroit’s Inner City Cycle.
    Mention the name to any Harley owner in the “D” and you’ll know why. Since opening in 1987, the shop has earned the rep as the go to spot for unique custom work on the motorcycles.
    Angelo Matthews, the owner of Inner City Cycle, has four Harleys and has been riding motorcycles since he was 13.  He bought hisfirst Harley-Davidson in 1997 and has been hooked ever since.
    “It has its own mystique,” explained Matthews, whose collection includes a Harley Softail, Ultra Classic, Sportster and Street Glide.  “A guy can buy a Mercedes-Benz, but the Harley is like the Bentley of motorcycles.
    “When a guy puts that Harley-Davidson shirt and jacket on and brushes his teeth with that Harley Davidson toothbrush it does something. If they had Harley toothpaste they would use that. It’s a whole different aura.  Harleys appeal to people from seven years old to seventy.”                   
    A fellow Harley rider  who goes by the name of “City,” who works at Inner City Cycle, owns three Harley Davidsons including a custom Sportster, an Electric Glide Standard and a Shovelhead.  
    “I love that they’re durable, the ride it gives you, the look and comfort,” said “City.”
    Matthews’ significant other, Yohana Bost , also rides a Harley Davidson.  “I love the sound of the exhaust and the ride,” said Bost who has owned her Sportster 1200 for six years. “It’s just real smooth.”
    If it’s anything like driving the Ford Harley-Davidson F-150, I can only imagine.  Powered by a 411-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, at times, it easy to forget you’re even driving a full size pick-up considering how smooth the truck rides.   
    The truck’s maximum trailer towing capability is 7,500 pounds.  And though Matthews admits his a little bias when it comes to the appeal of the Harley-Davidson F-150 considering he owns five Ford trucks including a customized 1965 model, he says he can’t imagine any other automaker more fitting to carry the badge.
     “When Harley-Davidson and Ford teamed up for that F-150, it was a hell of a combination,” said Matthews.  “I can’t see that brand on a GM.”
    Key features on the 2011 Harley-Davidson F-150 include black leather upholstery (standard), seats with the Harley-Davidson cloisonné badges, as is the center armrest, which states the truck’s VIN and production number.
    The Harley truck, priced around $50,000, is also available with a number of convenient features including a navigation system, a 4.2-inch LCD within the instrument cluster, ambient lighting, heated rear seats, and remote start.  
    “It’s a nice truck and that Harley-Davidson Badge just sets it off,” said Bost.  
    “City” agreed.  “It definitely holds up to the brand,” he said looking over the F-150. “They just need to bring the price down a little bit.”
    The refreshed 2012 Harley F-150 offers distinctive new design enhancements with snakeskin leather interior accents (I’d imagine Harley fans love that) and a new bodyside graphic.  Also new for 2012 are 22-inch machined-aluminum wheels with painted accents and unique center cap as well as the choice of a new White Platinum Tri-Coat paint color.
    Matthews, however, specializes in upping the ante on the nameplate even more by turning Harley-Davidson bikes into one-of-a-kind pieces of rolling art.  It’s a passion that consumes most of the native Detroiter’s days in his fabrication shop where he does everything from custom wheels and motors to stretched frames.  
    “I like the idea that you can take a Harley and you can do whatever you want to it as far as custom work,” said Matthews, explaining the appeal of customizing Harleys.  “You can’t do that with any other bike.”
    Depending on the level of fabrication, the shop’s handy work can cost anywhere from $200 to $25,000.  Matthews keeps most of his Harleys stock.
    “I like to be on the road,” he explained. “You can’t drive those customs on the road long.”
    Marcus Amick is an automotive lifestyle writer and analyst. He can be contacted at Marcus@WheelSide.com.


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