Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

[NEWS] Matt Prior: ticking all the US road trip cliche boxes

Matt Prior: ticking all the US road trip cliche boxes

99 Matt Prior US Harley road trip lead

Our man swaps four wheels for two and explores the West Coast

It takes me a good few miles to get used to the Harley-Davidson Street Glide. I squeak nervily into San Francisco traffic and try not to think too hard about its 375kg weight – or what would happen if I drop it.

I have a few days with a long way to go to drive some cars, and I had wondered: what’s the status of the all-American road trip? Can you head out onto the open road, wind in your armpits, into a country in love with the automobile and just drive easy and free for mile after mile? Or, better still (sorry, but at times it is), ride?

The good people of Harley-Davidson said I could test one of their bikes, which they rent out through the Eaglerider chain of bike-hire shops. At £180 a day, I won’t pretend it’s cheap, but they don’t polish the chrome like this at the Global car rental desk.

If you’re on a work trip and your office will pay for a hire car but lets you upgrade to top up the difference, which is what I had planned to do, it could work nicely.

Plus there’s room for laptops and clothes and work kit on a ‘bagger’ like this – bikes so named after their trademark saddle bags. There are two boxes here, which swallow a week’s kit more easily than I expected.

That’s one reason why you will find this bike under the ‘grand American touring’ section of Harley’s website. Others are the 1868cc – not a typo – V-twin engine, mated to a six-speed gearbox, sizeable top fairing, incredibly soft seat, big foot pegs and a stereo.

It makes 93bhp at a lazy 5250rpm and an endearing throb all of the time. It’s basically unstallable.

Some of my mates rib me about its size and showiness. Okay, I’m not sure how much I’d enjoy it in London, but I’m not in London.

Its sat-nav gives me several route options: direct or scenic and twisty, and here’s the beauty of a US road trip: big distances fall aside easily and the miles shown on signs to faraway towns drop as quickly as the kilometres seem to back in continental Europe.

I head south towards Los Angeles. It’s a good six hours-plus if I choose the direct route. Instead, I opt for the scenic version, California State Route 1 – the coast road – until time gets tight and I divert onto a more direct freeway. And then it happens. A mate said I wouldn’t hear the radio very well, but I try it and it’s astonishing – like it’s piped into my helmet. ‘The Hippo’ 104.3FM (I don’t know...) comes on and plays Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama. A Ford Mustang rumbles past me to my left. The California evening sunshine to my right warms my back. And uncontrollably, I laugh.

It cruises for 250 miles between £25 fill-ups (Americans are aghast at the price of their of fuel), and over the next three days, interspersed with driving a Range Rover, a BMW-based Smit Oletha and a Gunther Werks 993-generation Porsche 911 (stories to come), I ride 1102 miles, culminating in crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, even though it’s a bit out of the way, because, well, I just want to.

I come back thinking I’d quite like a Harley. Perhaps not this one, not where I live, but there’s something big-hearted about the engine and the relaxed style. And next time I’m in the US, I’ll get the company to hire some spudder and I’ll top up the difference.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)