Thursday, September 8, 2016

My Goldwing Experience

     We have been making re-curve windshields for Harley's for years now. I have a lot of miles on our Road King and am very comfortable on it. Last year, we designed and began manufacturing a re-curve shield for the Honda Goldwing. This is a venture I think none of us had any idea of what to expect. Well, it has been overwhelming! "Wingers" have been loving our shield. We named it the Taka. Taka is Japanese for Falcon, or Hawk which is the emblem on the Honda Goldwing.
     We had such a great reaction to our new Taka, but no real experience. Sure, we were allowed to test ride a local's bike with our shield on it but really had no baseline comparison to the stock. We had a sudden opportunity to buy a pristine low mileage 2001 Goldwing and jumped at the opportunity. I'll admit, it was hard to pry me away from our Road King. I love our Road King. My wife and I have put thousands of miles on that bike. I test rode the Goldwing. It had pep. I was surprised at how quick it was for a 950 - pound Tourer. But, hey I am still a Harley guy. I didn't ride the Goldwing much.


     Over time, that poor Goldwing sat in our shop, collecting dust and just looking sad. The Wingding in Billings, MT was coming up quick and I wanted to have the bike there as a demo for our booth. So, I started taking her home. I cleaned her up real well and rode her daily for several weeks. The more comfortable I was on her, the better she felt and the more I liked her. That Goldwing can do the twisties with no problem. You can really move her around pretty easily and she corners beautifully. And truly, our shield does wonders! I had ridden her before with the stock shield. I know our re-curve works from riding the Harley, but this bike has almost no wind at all! I'm not saying I am liking the Wing more than the Road King, I'm just saying it has grown on me since we bought her last year. I'm really enjoying riding her as a daily driver.
     Show time is here. We have decided to drive ourselves and our product all the way from Reno to Billings in one day. The guys here at the office thought that to be no big deal. I, on the other hand was a bit concerned doing 1000 miles in one day. We're talking 14 1/2 hour drive if you don't stop at all. You can guess you'd be taking at least 16 hours, right? It's going to be one long day for all of us.
     I had decided earlier I am riding the Goldwing, not towing it. We took off from our shop right around 7:00 am on August 29th and hit the open road.
     Not even an hour into the ride, my butt was hurting. This seat is horrible! I can't really describe what it's doing to me, but man is it becoming painful. It's kind of a "saddle" type seat and it feels like it's splitting me in two! I'm thinking I don't think I can take this for too much longer. You don't have too many positions you can sit in. You're forced to keep your feet planted in the same position. The fairing is pretty wide and this bike has tall wind deflectors on the side of the fairing as well, keeping me from sticking my legs out to stretch. So, I just deal with it. Hour after hour, I'm scooting back as much as I can, I'm leaning forward, I'm stretching my feet/ankles, doing anything I can to stay comfortable. After awhile, I've gone numb to it. It's not bothering me quite as much. Gas stops are great. Stretch those legs, walk a bit and I'm a new person. Ready to go again.

     Aside from the "butt" challenge I was having, the ride was great. This bike is so smooth. It has cruise control. I'm not use to that. It was a pretty boring drive through Northern Nevada, but not bad. I really appreciate the desert. I love living in this climate. A lot of people see boring brown flat land or hills, but there's definitely some beauty there. Mountains in the background, dark brown colored rock and cliffs, sand colored landscapes. I really like it. But, do the whole width of the state, and you'll be ready for something new.
     Something new finally came when we hit Idaho. Started seeing some green, hills and water. Very pretty! I may be a bit stiff on the bike, mostly because of the forced position and the seat, but I am so thankful I'm not sitting in a car. I've always hated road trips. They make me so tired and the drive seems to always take an eternity. Not on the bike, though. I'm enjoying every bit of this trip so far.
     As we approach 9:00 pm, I'm thinking we must be getting close. This is the time they were expecting to arrive. Not even close. We still have a good  4 or 5 hours to go. That is going to be tough.
     Now we are riding through the mountains on the border of Yellowstone park. Sure wish I could see the beauty. I see silhouettes of the trees and am catching glimpses of the stars but it's pitch black. I'm having some difficulty keeping my focus. We stop to stretch. We hear this mass amount of rushing water near us, but we can't see anything! All of sudden, one of the guys says, "Look up." Wow. I've not seen the stars like this in so long. Maybe only camping in the Sierra Mountains home. They were breathtaking. You can see everything! It was amazing. This gave us the revitalization we needed to press on. Sounds silly, I know but it was pretty exciting to see those stars.

     The last hour was tough, if not dangerous. I was having a real hard time seeing clearly. I was fighting keeping my eyes focused, but we pressed on. We finally made it around 1:45 am. It was really 12:45 to us as we had lost an hour entering mountain time zone. I can not tell you how exhausted I was. I showered and fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.
     The first thing I notice the next morning is the bike is covered, and I mean covered in bugs. From the fairing all the way up to the shield, bugs everywhere. More than I've ever seen. But, not a single bug was on my helmet and not a single bug was on my glasses. I'm telling you, this shield works! I rode a thousand miles in one day looking over a shield and wearing an open face helmet.
     Today is set up day. We made our way to the event building and started unloading. The rest of the day, we relaxed.

     Event day: I'd experienced this event last year in Huntsville, Alabama. I flew there and had our supplies shipped. When those doors opened last year, we were hit pretty hard with people almost instantly. This year was a bit different. A half hour or more goes by, and there's no one at our booth. I told Michal (company controller) how odd this was and how I'm getting a bit worried. Well, it wasn't five minutes after I said that to him that we had a crowd of 20 or more people surrounding our booth. This never stopped. The entire day was a nonstop marathon to try and keep up. Last year, I manned the customers. This year, Michal had that role as I jumped in to help installing shields.
     We had 3 of us installing shields. There were 3 bikes, or more in our bay at all times throughout the entire 4 day event. We had countless people coming up telling us how they heard about us. How, their buddy has one of our shields and swears by them. We had wive's coming up to thank us for a much better riding experience. No buffeting and now they can hear each other talk on the intercom. Michal was bombarded by people constantly with stories like this. We booked up the entire event for installing shields on the first day. We did what we could working others in that really wanted a shield but couldn't stop by the first day of the event.
     Last year, I brought plenty of shields. We did run out of the larger 24" size shield last year, but again this year was different. We ran out of 20" shields on the second day. I was mortified. It was my responsibility to determine what to bring and to make that happen. I even brought extras of the 20". So I thought. It seemed every single rider we did a shield for needed the 20" size as a proper size for them. We ran out of the 18" size shields by the third day. We had our shop over night us the 20" sizes on the first day and received them the second day. Great news on the clear 20" size shields, but they sent the wrong tinted shields. Ones we already had. Somehow they miscommunicated our request. You could imagine, it was pretty stressful.
     The event finally came to an end. During the off hours of the event, we put on a new seat. Our seat was junk. Surprisingly junk. It was a big name, very expensive seat that the previous owner had put on, but it was the worse seat I've ever sat on. I needed a new one for the ride back. We struck up a deal with Mark at the HartCo booth. What a seat it is. I sat on it and my coworkers could see the reaction in my face how "aaaaaaaahhhhh" it was to sit on it. I was excited to ride back with this baby. Highway pegs. I need those too! Got those put on and now I can stretch out my leg just under those wind deflectors. On the way out on the last day, I grabbed myself a new helmet as well. The one I was using was the previous owners. I used it because it plugs into the bike and we were able to maintain contact through the bikes CB, which was nice. The helmet seemed to fit fine on short rides, but over time really pressed against my forehead giving me an awful headache. Got myself a new modular and they installed the com in the helmet right then and there for me. Now, I'm all set.

     The ride back we had already decided to do in two days, rather than one. One was just too much and too dangerous. Great decision. It was nice to be able to see what we missed in the dark on the way in, on our way out now. Beautiful country up there. The ride back was blissful on the new seat. This seat is so comfortable, that I didn't need to move or shift once. It was great the entire time. What a difference.
     It was quite the exhausting trip to say the least. But, I already look forward to next years Wingding event, which will be in Texas. Not sure if I'll make the ride, but it is a fun event and great people. Sure hope to see some of you there next year.
     I am still a Harley lover. I am now also a Goldwing lover.

     

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