HARLEY PULLS IT UP A PEG OR TWO
There is something deeply satisfying about swinging a Harley through a series of mountain bends with that big V-twin echoing off mildly baffled sheep.
On a sunny morning, it makes you feel fully alive, living in the moment and engaged with all your senses while trailing the back brake into a downhill corner to keep the bike stable, and carving the curve with the footboard scraping gently as you look for the apex.
Then, as the road opens up beyond, twisting the happiness handle, lifting the bike up and powering towards the horizon, your ears filled with that syncopated symphony which is probably the most evocative of all engine notes.
It’s particularly satisfying since mountain twisties are hardly traditional Harley territory, and if you’d tried this lark on a Harley 10 or 20 years ago you’d have ended up soaring through the air at the first corner and draped over the aforementioned sheep.
As Bern Enright, Harley’s amiable and erudite principal engineer, put it at lunch: “Hey, there were more corners this morning than in the whole of Wisconsin.”
The handling of the Heritage Classic is even more surprising because it looks, as the name implies, like it’s been designed in the 1950s down to the simple single speedo atop the tank.
But beneath that old-school facade lurks state of the art tech wrapped around a chassis which is a third more rigid than the previous model.
It’s also lighter, as is the new swingarm, resulting in a 17kg weight loss for the whole bike.
Combined with the stiffer chassis, this makes handling a sinuous joy, particularly with a lean angle of over 28 degrees before the boards touch down, which is high by Harley standards.
It also makes acceleration 10% faster than the outgoing model and improves braking, although some of the, er, sportier riders on the launch felt it could do with a second disc up front on a bike weighing a rather hefty 330kg.
However, I suspect that’s because they’re sports bike riders who use the back brake so little they’ve sold them on ebay.
In fact, the only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s available in brown. The chaps at Harley may call it Red Iron Denim, but they don’t fool me; brown it is.
And and the only things in the world that look better in brown are brogue shoes and pints of beer. Harley-davidson Heritage Classic
Price: from £17,995
Engine: 1,868cc air-cooled V-twin
Power: 93bhp@ 5,020rpm
Torque: 114 lb ft @ 3,000rpm
Colours: black, red iron denim (brown), red, silver, olive/black, grey/black, blue/black