8 months with a Renault Clio

Top Car's Wayne Batty says goodbye to his Renault Clio. It’s not a soppy farewell but the little 'automatique' did its maker proud.

Kia's trendy family pick

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post experiences the upcoming Cerato.

Harley rolls out thunder for '14

2013-10-07 08:21

ROLLING THUNDER: Harley-Davidson’s new-for-2014 Ultra Limited Touring machine. Image: DAVE FALL


Bike columnist DAVE FALL took a piece of two-wheeled history back in time on a ride from Cape Town to Hermanus - the long way round - on a Harley-Davidson Softail.


Harley-Davidson’s 2014 range of motorcycles heralds lots of changes – among them linked anti-lock brakes, part water-cooling and improved front suspension – and that’s just for starters, writes DAVE FALL.

Sportsters, Dynas, Softails, V-Rods, Touring, Custom Vehicle Operators and Trikes are all found in the celebrated Harley-Davidson range for 2014. That’s 30 derivatives, 10 of which are entirely new models from America’s largest motorcycle company.

Good heavens, even the Pope got into the swing of Harley-Davidson’s global success by celebrating 110 years of manufacture by blessing the brand – or more exactly hundreds of H-D mounted bikers – in St Peter’s Square in June 2013.


Harley-Davidson has for the past four years been paying an awful lot of attention to its customers – past, present and future – and their grumbles and criticisms - then heeding the advice through forums and dealer feedback from right around the globe, including South Africa.

Codenamed “Project Rushmore”, there’s subsequently a whole raft of new models mostly redesigned and tweaked to perfection reckons Scott Habegger, Harley-Davidson director of motorcycle planning. “We like to say that here and now we ride with our customers and that’s never been truer. We are all in this together and I think the result is some truly exceptional new motorcycles for 2014.”

Well, the good news for Wheels24 readers is that most of the new models alluded to by Habegger are available ex-stock from the nine Harley dealers across South Africa - with two more planned for Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.

Over the past weekend (Oct 5/6 2013) the “proof was to be found in the pudding” riding in Mpumalanga where some of the greatest roads this country has to offer can be sampled.


Harley-Davidson supplied the maps, the bikes and the backdrop – the rest was left to me to find out if their claims to have fundamentally improved many aspects of Harley ownership would win through.

To group and categorise, and let’s do this in four sections, let’s generalise the range under say, style, infotainment, feel and control – that’s four valid reasons for choosing one brand over another, I’d say.

There’s some real refreshing style gone into the “function and form” component: reshaped luggage and saddlebags/top boxes with one-touch locking seen throughout; sleek mudguards; better-looking cast aluminium wheels (not that there was much wrong with the 2013 range) and an intuitive new look to handlebar control switches that have tended to confuse for some years new – especially while riding in busy traffic.

Riding any bike is all about inspiring the rider to new heights. Here, H-D has significantly improved daytime LED lighting, upgrading to dual halogen, likewise spotlights; providing linked brakes – with ABS – while managing to smooth out and refine the engines significantly by way of combined air and water-cooling – especially around the cylinder heads.


Perhaps the most noticeable upgrades are in the infotainment area, called Boom! (where fitted). Car-like in approach, there’s Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, satnav, text-to-speech and even support for intercom and CB communication between rider and passenger. Not quite as intuitive as the manufacturer makes out, I’ll wager the instruction ‘infotainment’ manual is thicker than the one for the rest of the bike.

Still, with practice and the occasional help from a seven-year-old, all things can be made to work!

No bike can be deemed comfortable for a long trip unless the aerodynamics and ergonomics combine to the max by offering the best possible ride. Wind-tunnel testing the new Batwing fairing (depending on model) with split-stream venting... heating up the rider and passenger’s lower limbs is now largely eliminated, perhaps contributed a little unfairly (if you’ll excuse the pun) for living in such warm climes.

Perhaps the final word should involve the 103B/110 power trains (1690cc/1801cc) fitted to the larger bikes. Lusty, lively and, if driven sensibly, economically sound. Pulling along a bike weighing in at 350kg plus (without rider, pillion and luggage) is perhaps not really such a consideration or worry - even at today’s exorbitant fuel prices.

I’ll save the fun and challenging Tri Glide report for another day – watch this space.

• Prices of the new 2014 Harley-Davidson range start at R95 600 for the XL883N to R425 450 for the top of the range CVO Ultra Limited.

For more info visit Harley-Davidson.

Read more on:    harley-davidson  |  dave fall  |  motorcycles  |  bikes

Inside Wheels24

Take a virtual tour of the McLaren 570S in SA

Want to experience what it's like to be behind the wheel of a 419kW sports car? Take a virtual tour of the McLaren 570S in our interactive Snapchat video filmed in SA.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.