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It's what I was meant to be doing...

Once upon a time, men who rode Harleys were viewed as being happily disposed to violence. They were outlaws in mien, thought, and deed. They were mentally unstable and pig-stubborn in equal measure, they hugely enjoyed the company of strippers, and drank the fear of bouncers.

Back then, while anyone could buy a Harley, very few felt they were worthy of such a thing, or insane enough to inflict such a thing on themselves, and left Harleys to people like me.

It was a magical time. And like all such times, it sputtered out and has now largely disappeared. We live in a different world today.


But the hard steel icon of that magical time is still with us.


Harley-Davidson abides.


And I still hear and respond to its siren song.


Men like me always will. But there are very few men like me. I would be appalled if there were lots. And so should you be.


You see, we know what’s wrong with Harley-Davidsons.


But you, you will never ever know what’s right with them.


And that’s perfectly fine. You’re not meant to. So you never will.


Some years ago, Harley would loan me a Harley over the Christmas break for I feared none of that double-points bullshit that keeps the chicken-hearted at home during the holidays. And I still don’t. I will not permit the curs, cowards, and granny-killers of the police to dictate when and where I ride.


It’s on them to catch me. It’s on me not to be caught. Same as it ever was.


This year, Harley felt I would benefit from a Holiday Harley again, and it slid a Road King between my thighs, which was the colour of darkness and bruising. The bike, not my thighs.


There is little shiny chrome on it. There is a lot of blackness, shiny and not-so-shiny, on it. And the blue it’s painted reminds me of a pair of jeans an old girlfriend used to sew herself into to please me. The blue also reminds me of the colour my bruises were after a messy night out on the town, in the days before security camera footage could be hauled into court to assist in your guilty verdict.


So lots of great memories inform my every ride.


My timorous elder soul likes the 2023 Road King. My feelings for it are purely subjective, flavoured with biases, and extremely well-informed by several hundreds of thousands of kilometres on many of Milwaukee’s offerings.


It is fair to say I get Harleys on a level no other reviewer will ever attain. But this is not a bike review. So if you want to know or even care about specifications, Google them.


I don’t care. Not a single one of those aforementioned men who rode Harleys in the magical days cared about that shit either. We only ever cared about making them go faster, so that we could die laughing sooner. And scare the strippers on the back quicker. That was always important. If a man’s coming home covered in stripper body-glitter, there’d better be some kind of pay-off for that.


So back when I was getting the Holiday Harley in Sydney, I’d make a point of visiting old haunts. This always made me a little sad because they were either no more or so sanitised I would no longer be allowed in.


I’d often go riding with my dear old brother, Kel. Kel would inflict upon me an old Panhead he had going, or a vicious Sportster he’d resurrected, and I’d make him ride the new Harley I had. Watching his face as he tried to come to terms with the improvements Harley had made over the years was always funny.


These improvements continue. But I no longer live in Sydney. So I do other things.


Five years ago, I would have left a lot of the 2018 Road King’s undercarriage on the Putty Road just going for a quiet cruise. Two days ago, I chased a late-model Hayabusa and a Rizla-painted turboed Gixxer through the Mother on the 2023 version, and did not shame myself.


Of course, my two companions would have normally left me for dead, but they were loathe to try any harder. They fear Tasering and jail-sex. I do not.


“How are you still here?” one of them asked me when we stopped at the last traffic-management contra-flow light before the Grey Gums.


“You see any HOG bullshit sewed to my jacket?”


And let me just say that 170km/h on a Road King is seriously exciting. There’s a lot of stuff going on.


Ground clearance has been improved, and I have always preferred the 114-cube donk to the 117 for tight stuff and around town. It seems livelier earlier in the rev-range. Of course, it’s not a patch on the new 121-cube donk that was in the new CVO I rode a few weeks back. Had that been my ride, I might have tried passing the Gixxer, rather than simply keeping him in sight.


The gear-changes still sound like coffin-nails being driven into a pine-box, but sometimes important things like gear-changes need to sound final and doom-like.


But that was not what this was about, even though it was quite fun in a terrifyingly adolescent kind of way. Had the cops stopped us, they would have spent all their time brutalising the two speeding Jap-bike riders, rather than the tattooed grey-beard on the bruise-blue Harley – who had surely just been passed by these two hooligans. And that would have been a world-first.


Then there was the angst that comes with all high-performance engines.


“Where is the nearest 98-Octane?” the Gixxer rider asked me at Bulga.


“Singleton or maybe Colo Heights in the other direction.”




“Mine will run on kerosene,” I laughed. And rode off.


I will keep you all updated as my holiday progresses.

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Boris Mihailovic

Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.

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