Harley Davidson, Triumph or None of the Above?

Almost one year ago, I wrote a hub titled Last Ride about selling my last motorcycle. I had taken a logical look at my age, my responsibilities and my waning interest in bikes and decided I was done. So why did I find myself one day last week at the closest Triumph dealership with my leg thrown over a new Triumph Thunderbird?

Well, just look at it!

It all started innocently enough a couple of months ago with my casual flirtation with a Harley-Davidson Nightster on eBay. I was drawn to the blacked out motor, de chromed look and bad boy attitude. Then I realized for a couple of thousand more I could get a Tbird. Conflicted, I went to the local Harley place, sat on the Nightster and even fired up a used one. Sweet.

A few days later I walked into the Triumph dealership in Charlotte, NC. The salesman asked me if he could help me and I told him I wanted the bathroom and to see a Thunderbird. I rode the elevator to the second floor to the bathroom. They have a framed picture of Steve McQueen from The Great Escape on the wall there so I knew I was in the right place.

Then I spotted the Pacific Blue and Fusion White striped Thunderbird from the landing above the showroom floor. Had there been a pole I would have slid down it to get my hands on that puppy! (There wasn't so I used the elevator.) This is a big bike but sitting on it in the showroom it didn't feel heavy or cumbersome. The guys offered me a test ride and I declined but did collect a brochure.

I headed down the interstate to the Harley place. Strangely enough I found that the Nightster had shrank. Must have gotten washed in hot water! Compared to the Thunderbird, it felt like a dirt bike - maybe even a moped. The Harley is a 1200 cc v-twin and the Triumph is only 400 cc's bigger but the Thunderbird is just so much ..... more. If I buy another bike it's the one I want.

All the above brings me face to face with the real question here. It's not which bike to get, it's do I get one at all? I remember well some of the last rides I took on the Triumph Speedmaster. My wife would ask me when I got home if I enjoyed it and I always answered honestly that I did. But I never rode out of the driveway without thinking about getting hurt. I'm still thinking about that. The days of showing my behind on a motorcycle have been gone for decades, but that is no guarantee that I won't make a mistake or won't be able to avoid someone else's.

A wise lady told me the other day that we don't really face our own mortality until both our parents are gone. My father died telling my Mom that he knew he could have done more for her. My Mom would have liked to have done a few more things before she passed away, I'm sure. I don't want to look back one day and think "I should have gotten another bike while I was only sixty."

But I don't want to be riding along one day and get smashed by a Joe Dirt clone who is texting his girlfriend while speeding through the neighborhood in a cement mixer either!

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Comments 13 comments

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

resspenser - I know the feeling and really appreciate this hub. I rode most of my young life, the only time I was without a ride was when the kids were young and I couldn't afford the insurance and still buy groceries. I will be 74 in January, and I still ride a little Honda 250. I know that is not a real bike, but it is good enough to let me remember what it used to be like. My advice is if you want it, get it. Great hub, and it brought back many a great memory of days gone by.

resspenser profile image

resspenser 5 years ago from South Carolina Author

Not a thing wrong with a 250 Honda! "Third gear, lean right..." LOL Thanks for reading and if you can do it.......

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

This may sound weird, but when I sneak out onto the highway with the Honda, I am back in my 20's instead of my 70's for at least a little while. Some things just become a part of you and won't ever go away.

resspenser profile image

resspenser 5 years ago from South Carolina Author

Not weird at all. Be careful out there.

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

I have never even ridden a motor bike, had a couple of motor scooters in my youth when i was a baby faced mod. My SX 200 went 55 miles an hour. Fast enough for me. My wife had a 900cc ducati before i met her and came of at speed. Broken fingers and collar bones from that. I'm turning 60 next Jan, but still fly around an indoor soccer pitch. So if i'm still crazy you can be too. Defensive driving is the key. It's no guarantee of course, but you are a long time dead so i'd say go for it. (carefully) Cheers

resspenser profile image

resspenser 5 years ago from South Carolina Author


Thanks for the advice and for reading my hub!

Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

That last paragraph is the bomb. Go for it resspenser, lady fortune seems to be on your side.

resspenser profile image

resspenser 5 years ago from South Carolina Author

Thanks, Alastar. Probably will.

Ghost32 5 years ago

My wife's ex owns a Triumph he put together himself (from a basket case). Told him one day if I outlive him, he can leave that scoot to me ANY time. Couldn't tell you the model, but the look of it is at least somewhat related to the T-bird in the photo (except for color).

I can also relate to "selling one's last motorcycle". In our case, it was an 883 Hugger, way too short-coupled for my long legs to stretch out much on the highway pegs, but not bad. Only ever took it on one real road trip, 300 miles from my then-home in Montana to Spokane, visited relatives and one of my exes for a couple of days, and rode back.

Sold it when Pam (my wife, #7!) finally got too stiffed up with her various disabilities to straddle the back seat any more. For a 30-year back seat Harley B****, that hurt--and while I'd formerly loved riding solo, knowing she couldn't...kind of took the joy out for me, too.

But we had some fun our first full year together on the ride I had at that time, a Suzuki 1400 Intruder. Stock except for the usual engine guard and a set of 36" handlebars.

One fine day in Rapid City, SD, we were to follow a guy riding a new 1200 Sporty with a Screaming Eagle kit on it over to his place. He'd had a Suzuki just like mine and had a tall backrest Pam needed. $20.

On the way, side by side at a light, he suddenly (without warning) cracked the throttle when the signal turned green. Middle of town.

What the hey, I was only 53 at the time (and had only been riding since my early forties). Away we went.

86mph through one sweeping right turn, jump-chattering the shaft drive all the way through. Really ticked him off he couldn't shake us, though of course he wouldn't admit it.

The backrest was great.

Voted up and Addictive.

resspenser profile image

resspenser 5 years ago from South Carolina Author


You look like a biker! I guess if you ever get the fever it stays with you. I have owned a 1200 cc Sportster and I loved that bike. If I could find it now I'd buy it back even if I never rode it! Thanks for reading my hubs!

Ghost32 5 years ago

Interestingly enough, even though I was 42 when I bought my first scoot (a monster 200cc Kawasaki that got 72 mpg on the streets of San Diego), I'd had DREAMS of riding full sized bikes hardcore, flat-out across mountain terrain like some Biker Demon from Hell itself.

At an age when I'd never even straddled a bike!

So...chicken or the egg...does the bike come first, or does the inner insanity come first...why does the biker cross the road? LOL!

You're welcome on the Hub-reading. They're worth it!

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

My cousin has her dad's '58 Harley. She has ridden it all over the country. So did he.

resspenser profile image

resspenser 5 years ago from South Carolina Author

Thanks for reading, Becky. My first bike was a 55 HD, but it wouldn't go very far without breaking down!

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