Harley Davidson Evo Softail (1985)


June 2010 - August 2011

  How I got this bike:

  Spring 2010.  This Harley was owned by John's friend Larry but it been stored for many years.  I had heard about the bike but never seen it in all the years that I'd known Larry.  (He just didn't seem the biker type or into riding it even though John and I had encouraged him to get running over the years.)

  So in May of 2010, Larry asked us to help him get the bike out of storager.   We used our excellent trailer to bring the bike to Larry's new Ballston Lake house. The bike looked shabby; leaking oil from the air cleaner housing, slightly rusty, dusty and neglected, but complete, intact and very original and with just 6k miles.  Seemed to have feeble compression when kicked through, but that turned out to be because the spark plugs were loosened to allow oil to be poured into the cylinders by Larry's son.  It had sat in unheated space with limp tires, loose seat, and general disregard all around. 


  I made a low price offer of $2,750 after checking with Scott Johnson (The Vanishing American HD expert) who confirmed our judgment that it might be worth between 3k and 6k depending on condition, so my offer seemed low but reasonable for an un-maintained bike.
 Nothing came of that at the time. But, in June I hear that Larry had fixed the dented front fender, bought a new battery, changed the oil, cleaned up the bike significantly and had registered it.  And more importantly, had actually ridden it nearly 100 miles.
  But it ran poorly and stalled all the time.  Larry rode around with starting fluid. Then he left it in John's driveway instead of riding it home.  I was there for a party and checked it out.  It did look better than it had the month before. Larry had also taken it to Broadway Choppers . They estimated $1500 worth of work might be needed. After not riding for 15 years, this just wasn't something he wanted to deal with.

  So now I had the opportunity to buy it for less that I thought it might be worth.  It was  already registered and I could just take it away and pay for it later.  Which I did. $3,500 and it was mine. Ridden, with some difficulty, the 1 mile from John's house to mine.

  I couldn't get it to idle well either and it needed too much choke to run at all, even after replacing the air filter (and oiling it).  It did start up instantly with the choke on but died the two times I rode it around the block.  Frustrating, but, realistically, I didn't have much feel for Harley quirks. 

  I brought the bike to Elmira and Scott had it running very nicely by just replacing a missing exhaust pipe gasket and adjusting the carburetor ($130). I replaced the handlebar rubber dampers and that made a big difference in the feel of the bars.

  I now had a decent running, somewhat old-school Harley with low miles.  However, this bike was a 4-speed, chain drive, with an old style carburetor (not the later CV carb), clunky starter motor, funny narrow bars and forward controls, and was as different as could be from the high performance Japanese sport bikes I had been riding for 40+ years.
  I put on 200 miles by Sept.  I rode it to work in Albany on Sept. 14th to  show it off to work friends at noontime.  They both rode it around the underground parking lot.  A fun lunch break.

Sept. 14, 2011

  Not so fun was getting rear-ended on I787 on the way home after work.  Twenty-something kid in a pickup hit me from behind in slowing traffic.  I never heard or saw it coming and got tossed down the highway sliding for about 40 feet.  State police, EMT's, traffic tied up. But I didn't get hurt other than scraped left shin and bruised buttocks.  Lucky, lucky.  The tank and mufflers were scraped on the right side and the front forks were bent back.  The rear fender was bent as was the rear sissy bar.


  The bike gets a ride back to Schenectady on a flatbed and goes back to Scott in Elmira for $4,000 worth of repairs paid for by other driver's insurance.
  I pick it up in the spring of 2011, minus the nice tank decals and rear rack, but with a fine paint job and new forks, front wheel, and rear fender/license carrier repaired.

July 2011 - Erie Boulevard Schenectady

   I put on about 1,200 miles during the next summer. A ride with Steve S to Caroga Lake, and several night rides to Saratoga.  It needed rear brake fluid (it took me about an hour to locate the reservoir between the front frame tubes). I'm getting used to the bike but also deciding it isn't a particularly enjoyable riding experience; carb spits and burps at low revs, ride is harsh and the seat isn't comfortable nor is the handlebar (too narrow and the grips too steeply angled down).  It's ok when ridden at slower speeds, but not much fun at speeds over 55  mph which is what I would like to do some of the time, and road bumps or freeway joints are definitely an unpleasant jolt at any speed.
   I list the bike on Craigslist in Aug. and  you can read what happened HERE...

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Last Edited May 27, 2013