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Riding with a new bike and a new Crew

By Wom Battle

The first day with the new Road King and I was meeting up with JP and a bunch of his friends for the maiden voyage.  A bit of an early start for winter saw us meeting up at 7.45am not too far from home and when I arrived there were about 10 bikes of all kinds lined up. An esoteric mix of Harleys', V-Stars and Sports Bikes, a couple of pillions with everyone rugged up ready to go. My son came along for the ride, keen to experience "our" shiny new Harley.

I missed the route discussion and a decision was made, in order to keep the group together, that the second rider in the group would pull over at major turns and wait until all but the rear rider passed to pull back in.  We left, and on the second corner this fell apart.  Rider no.2 waited, I passed him and I was expecting to see the last two behind shortly thereafter.  They didn't appear around the corner. A few k's on, JP and I decided to wait for a while, the others kept going, and after 5 minutes or so it became clear that the two riders weren't where they should be.  JP knew th route so we took off again and another couple of k's further on the rest of the group had stopped.  We waited again and after a phone call the lost two turned up and the ride started.

We headed out through Argy and ended up on the freeway to Beresfield where we made a right turn, left crossing the Hunter River towards Raymond Terrace.  The chill was very noticeable, particularly when we turned off the highway onto the Bucketts Way where we encountered quite thick fog.  By the time we reached Stroud for the first planned stop all hands were white and the enjoyment from the coffee was holding the warmed cup more than drinking it.

Riding with this group was vastly different to the HOG's.  It was chaotic and all over the place, both scary and fun at the same time.  Once I got used to the absolute unpredictability of my position relative to others and got comfortable with the concept that you have to hold a line navigating an intersection because of the possibility someone might pass you on the outside or the inside it didn't take me long to settle in. 

Slightly thawed the group decided to make a run for the mountain lookout about halfish way between Gloucester and Nowendoc on the Thunderbolts Way.  I was keen, although it was to be the fourth time I'd visited it, I doubt I'll ever tire of that piece of road and I was very keen to finally stop at "that wooden bridge" to take a photo or two of the pristine white Road King I was quickly becoming accustomed to. My son did have a big laugh at the fact that immediately prior to leaving Stroud two of the group were selected to lead the way because they were familiar with the route but before they had the opportunity to take the lead four of the group left. We followed the leaders that "weren't".

I had really enjoyed the differences between the new RK and my old one to that point, but the technology improvements were vastly more noticeable when we hit the winding, not so smooth, roads heading towards the mountains and the lookout. I didn't push hard, after all, I'm running the bike in, but the extra power and stiffness of the bike, along with it's seeming keenness to be chucked into a corner, meant I had absolutely no trouble navigating the twists and turns at some pace (within the speed limits of course!).  At times I was expecting sideways movements and frame flexes that just didn't come and I was smiling from ear to ear.

I finally managed to stop at "that bridge" and got the photos I was after after waiving the group past and a short time later I was off again chasing hard to catch up with them and doing so almost effortlessly :-).  JP had waited a few k's ahead, he said he'd forgotten I mentioned I was going to stop, but I know he's as much of a catchup pressure freak as me!

Going up the steep hills I was very careful not to rev the bike hard or change down to early, I'm determined to run this bike in nicely.  With JP's Heritage Softail sounding out in front of me It was often difficult to hear exactly what my bike was doing, and without the benefit of a tacho I had to back off a bit to aurally confirm my conservative rev range intentions.

The view from the lookout was as good as ever, the "facilities" as bad as ever.  It was hilarious watching and hearing the reaction the "deepest" pit toilet in the world" elicited from the female members of the group.  My remark "If you put your head in it you can hear the ocean" wasn't too well received. After 20 minutes or so it was time to head back to Gloucester.  Some of the group were going to keep going, others, including me, weren't going to miss the opportunity for lunch at Perenti.

The ride down the hill gave me the opportunity to really test out the brakes, much more grabby and sensitive than my previous machine, giving it a rev up to change down a gear sometimes gave the brake lever a slight tug which was enough to activate the brake slightly.  I'm sure I'll get used to it and it didn't cause any "moments" but I'm sure my son noticed the ride wasn't quite as smooth.

Back at Gloucester, over a couple of coffees and a decent Madras Curry those of us left reviewed the ride so far and got ready for the final leg back down the Bucketts Way to home.  Parking the bike and giving it the once over gave me some pause to reflect on how the white bike was going to show the dirt, but not enough to put me off.  It's a startling ride and I can't wait to take it out tomorrow for another run!

K's travelled 395.
Fuel: 17.32l @ $24.92


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May 2024