THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Part-time rebels: Rent a Harley, scare the neighbors — the new monster biketrend
There are people who spend their workdays distracted by the siren call of a flame-eating beast tamed only by a pair of leather-clad thighs. Motorcyclists for whom wind noise is a symphony, and a V-twin engine its harp.
At the site of a vacant highway, they long to smile wide and happily scrape the bugs from their teeth before thundering into the sunset like an unkempt mustang, wild and free.
As the proud former owner of a Honda scooter, I am not among them.
But for serious riders rendered hogless by children, spouses, common sense or simply the lack of $12,000 to fork over for a for big and brilliantly marketed motorcycle — there is another way. A handful of the area’s Harley dealerships rent bikes to weekend warriors with no strings attached.
“We get a lot of vacationers,” says Charles Tucker of Harley Davidson of the Woodlands.
Visitors often want to ride with their friends and family, even if they’ve left their bikes at home. Others afford themselves a weekend luxury otherwise beyond their means. Additionally, Tucker says, the shop has rented bikes for rallies, oil types in town for industry confabs and at least one funeral. Every now and again they get one back with thousands of new miles on it.
It probably helps that the miles are free. Sportsters, the smallest of the Harley line weighing in at 562 pounds, rent for flat $99 a day, while the larger bikes go for $124.95. Prices are 20 percent more expensive on weekends, although there’s a discount for full-weekend rentals.
“Obviously they need to be comfortable on a heavyweight motorcycle,” Tucker says. Safely steering a bike with more horsepower than a compact car across pavement screaming by at 75 miles an hour takes more than just cajones. Even those with the required motorcycle endorsement should take inventory of their skills if their experience is limited to in-town riding on smaller bikes.
Also required are sturdy footwear, long pants and eye protection. The dealership can provide helmets and rain gear.
Feel up to it? You have a few choices around the area. In addition to the Woodlands, part-time outlaws can rent in Pasadena, Stafford, Beaumont, or dozens of other locations around the country if you're on a trip.
I’m a financially comfortable guy who none the less drives a dented Honda Civic, buys generic corn flakes and doesn’t have cable. Even though I’ve wanted a real motorcycle for years, I just never quite bought into the romance that surrounds the Harley brand. That said, I know plenty of people who have, and they couldn’t be happier than when they are out for a ride on their distinctively American bikes.
Says longtime rider Tucker, “the difference between riding a Harley as opposed to a sport bike or some of the others is, if you chose to embrace it, it can become a lifestyle.”
If even a single weekend on the road gives folks a reason to travel and something to long for during those tedious days at the office, I say more horsepower to them.