The ’02 Softail Deuce was not my first motorcycle, but it was the first motorcycle I fell in love with.
I was living in Massachusetts at the time, a place that specializes in slow emasculation. That’s what the “mas” in the state name refers to. Live there long enough and you’ll understand.
To deal, I had to get out of town on what my riding buddy The Donster called “rage rides.”
They lasted about a week. I rode to Georgia. I rode to Wisconsin. I rode to Maine. I rode to West Virginia. Didn’t matter where. What mattered was getting out of Massachusetts. No better bike for a rage ride than the 5-speed 88″ Deuce. A 95″ motor would work, too, so long as it had a 5-speed.
And no windshield, please. Windshields on cruisers are fascist.
See, at 80 mph and up, a 5-speed kept you in the meat of the powerband. And the pipes loud. With my teeth clenched, my neck hardened against the wind, and my hands in a death grip on the bars, whatever was ailing me disappeared in the vibe of the motor, the roar of the pipes, and the blast of the wind.
I loved my rage rides.
I loved them even more when I started meeting up with other Deuce riders across the country for no damn reason except to check out each other’s rides and laugh. Damn, we laughed a lot. It was a time when laughter was valued more than sensitivity. People have forgotten how to laugh at themselves. And each other.
When I got home from my rides, I got to spend lots of time in the garage cleaning and caring for my Deuce, preparing it for the next ride.
What a treat that was.
Lo and behold, Covetousness crept into my little slice of heaven. The riding season in The State of Eunuch was short, and even shorter in the good riding country of Vermont and New Hampshire.
I was already using thick wind-proof fleece jacket and pants from Aerostich, plus gloves big as sleeping bags. It was not enough. So I bought a windshield to protect me against the New England November cold. That introduced me to the torture of buffeting. I tried to man up and deal, but I could not keep my eyeballs from rattling in their sockets no matter how long or hard I grit my teeth, so I bought fork-mounted wind deflectors.
The combination worked well, but it was, as someone in eMasculateachusetts would say, aesthetically inappropriate. Translation: fugly.
Now, you may not respect a Harley’s agility, comfort, or performance, but you must respect its beauty. That is non-negotiable. If you disagree, die.
Under the influence of Queen Covet, I set about looking for a bike that I could ride longer in colder weather. I ignored my instincts, told my gut to shut up, and forced myself to sell the Deuce so I could buy an ’04 Road Glide.
The Road Glide is a better bike. No doubt about it. It let me ride in colder weather and in more comfort. Unfortunately, it didn’t satisfy. I kept it about a year.
Many years later I bought another Deuce, just to relive the joy of the original, but I had changed. Motorcycling had changed.
Though I enjoyed riding it back to Colorado, Deuce 2.0 failed to satisfy. I wanted more than just a sweet engine. I wanted lean. I wanted a bike that could dance.
It’s true what they say: you can’t go home again.