Although I really haven’t made a clear decision between Harley-Davidson and Moto Guzzi, it’s feeling like it’s going to be one of the two for my next cruiser. That said, with decidedly fewer Guzzi’s out there for sale, it’s likely that my next bike will be an Hog.
So here’s the question I’ve been asking myself: If I am, in fact, going HD — what model, year, etc.? My instinct is to get something in the Dyna family. I like the idea of a basic canvas that I can customize as I see fit over the next few months. With that in mind, I figured that the newer, the better, right?
Maybe not. In 1999, Harley switched from the Evolution engine (affectionately called the “Evo,” of course) to the Twin Cam (not so affectionately called the “Twinkie”). Not terribly family with the “new” TC motor, I did a little research. What I found gave me pause.
The Good (for the Twin Cam):
- The TC is bigger — 88 cubic inches to the Evo’s 82.
- As the name makes obvious, the Twin Cam has twin cams, each with two lobes, instead of a single cam with four. I assume (and I’m no expert on this) that this should mean better valve timing.
- The TC has dual coils. The old Evo had a single coil and a wasted spark. This had the effect of unnecessary vibration, etc. (But a so-called “single-fire” dual coil ignition is readily available via the aftermarket.)
- Cam drive is attached by a chain. The Evo’s was geared, which gave the bike more accurate timing. (Does this take away, in part at least, the benefit of the twin cam design? I’m not sure.)
- Transmission casing is attached to the motor. I expect that means replacing one or the other would be far more pricey.
- Thanks to aggressive patenting, aftermarket replacements for this motor are few and far between. That, again, means greater cost for replacing or upgrading parts.
- Reliability. The TC has had a number of known problems over the years. Just google it. Endless stories. The biggest one that jumps out at me is heat/cooling issues — the design appears to be flawed from the get-go. The Evo, as I understand, was generally considered a reliable engine.
Poring over articles and message boards, I came to the conclusion that an old Evo is probably the way to go, particularly for a bike that won’t have a warranty. (Plus, I’m just into older bikes. If not for my fear of getting eaten by coyotes late at night in the middle of some desert, I’d want an old Panhead or Shovel.)
So yesterday, I made the drive down to Orange County to check out an old 1992 FXD. At least, it was advertised as a 1992 Dyna with 41,000 miles, but I arrived to find that it was a 1993 Dyna Low. This was not a bad thing, but the miles were higher than I expected. The speedometer read 46,000+.
Nonetheless, the bike looked great. It sported a Le Pera seat (which I think look decent, but aren’t terribly comfortable) and forward controls. And I mean way forward controls. I sat on the bike, only to realize that at 5’9″ (in heels, haha) I could barely reach the break and shift levers. Since I was really considering buying this girl, that didn’t stop me from taking her out on the road.
Enough for now, I’ll give you the rest of my report tomorrow.