John and Bronwen lived in Colorado Springs USA from 1991 to 1995. John bought this piece of "American Iron" to commemorate our visit there.
Colorado Springs lies on the foothills of the Rocky mountains, on the so-called "front range", 70 miles south of Denver. It has a dry, alpine desert, climate and ideal roads for motorcycling. We placed our order for a blue Sportster deluxe in March 1992 and had to wait until October for delivery. This is considered a short time to wait in American Harley Davidson dealerships!
It was worth the wait! John very soon got used to the weight of the machine; heavy compared to the lightweights he had previously owned, but a lightweight amongst Harleys. He says that he's not going back to lightweight bikes again; the heavier machines are so much more comfortable.
Of course a Harley is just a framework for customising accessories! You can see from the picture opposite that John fitted a SuperTrapp 2 into 1 exhaust, and a "Screaming Eagle" air cleaner. Both of which bumped up the power quite a bit. We also bought a "sissy bar", a chrome plated luggage grid and leather saddlebags.
Perhaps the best part of owning a Harley Davidson bike in the USA is the fun and camaraderie that the Harley Owners Group provide. We joined the Pikes Peak Chapter and were made to feel very welcome. We joined in several group rides, usually up into the mountains where the scenery is stunning. The group also organise an annual "toy run" through the city, donating soft toys to the local hospital. It was quite a thrill for us to be part of a 400 or 500 motorbike calvacade controlled by traffic cops zooming about on their Harleys.
One of the motorcycling highlights of our time in America was the 1200 mile (each way) ride from Colorado Springs to Milwaulkie for the 95th Anniversary celebration of Harley Davidson. We were just one of over 100,000 motorbikes from all over the world. The procession through town took several hours to complete and we were in the middle of it, giving "high fives" to onlookers lining the streets. The police even closed a section of the Interstate Highway for us!We brought "Charlie Harley" back to England with us in 1995, with 12,000 miles on the clock and enjoyed the fun of Harley ownership for a further five years. Pikes Peak Harley Davidson bored the engine out from 883cc to 1200cc just before we left. Unfortunately they didn't do the job properly and left the compression ratio too high. After several months of running on British unleaded fuel, and a weekend run on the Long Marston drag strip where I clocked a ¼ mile time of just under 13 seconds, the bike suffered a broken piston which also bent a couple of valves. I soon fixed that myself with replacement pistons and valves. The extra torque that the 1200cc engine provides is awesome and I really enjoyed showing off around the English villages and country lanes.
We joined the local Rolling Hills Chapter of the Harley Owners Group and had a lot of fun rides with them, including at least three long distance runs to the Isle-of-Skye. By the year 2000 the bike was now beginning to show signs of living in damp Britain instead of dry Colorado, so, after serving John faithfully for eight years and coping with the advanced rider training provided by the Birmingham Advanced Motorcyclists John finally decided to trade the Harley for the Honda Deauville. Quite a contrast!, but at least the Deauville is a Vee twin. The last ride John had on the Harley was his test run with the Institute of Advanced Motorists. (he passed!). The final mileage was in excess of 60,000 so it had, in fact, seen more service in England than in America.