Hot Bike - - Life -

Prior to this, my desert rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence amounted to get­ting my 1964 Avion camper and 1989 F250 diesel 4x4 stuck in front of some bug­gies in the 2017 Baja 1000 buggy class south of Ense­nada. It was fire­side on that same trip that Bill cooked up the idea of rac­ing a Har­ley in the up­com­ing NORRA. I think get­ting our vin­tage rig through a deep silt bed com­ing into camp, with a wine spritzer in one hand and two 3-year-olds in the ex­tra cab, demon­strated the kind of tenac­ity Bill was look­ing for in a team­mate, and although I’m not a Biltwell em­ployee like the other guys, I was asked if I wanted to ride, and I jumped at the chance!

Dur­ing my two days and roughly 400 off-road miles, the ter­rain in­cluded some wide-open dirt roads, lots of steep, rocky climbs and de­scents as well as deep silt beds, rocky riverbed cross­ings, and seem­ingly end­less sandy whoops. Although we only tested in a cou­ple of these con­di­tions, the setup was sur­pris­ingly easy to ride in all of them. On climbs, the Har­ley pulled like a trac­tor and never stalled. En­gine brak­ing on de­scents re­ally worked well. Our se­cret weapon, the Rek­luse clutch, kept me up­right in fran­tic silt, sand, and rocky sit­u­a­tions. Due to the low gear­ing, our top speed was only 60 mph without tuck­ing down be­hind the fair­ing, and 63 down low. Hav­ing more speed could have come in handy but might have got­ten us in trou­ble too. At the end of some very long days, the Har­ley needed lit­tle more than some ex­tra throt­tle to stand up and pull out of just about any sit­u­a­tion, which was nice be­cause when laid down, she took some coax­ing to get back on two wheels.

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