My current thinking has been running towards a BMW R1200RT, a Gold Wing, or... >gasp< an Electra-Glide.
So after signing the usual releases I lined up with the other dreamers to take our chosen mounts for a ride. A very pretty yellow and black Electra-Glide was my choice. The last time I rode a Harley was back in '06 when I took a Road Glide for a spin. I was interested to see what changes seven years had wrought, I'd been assured there were many since then.
As I inched out of my parking spot and began waiting for the signal to commence being impressed, I discovered the tranny wouldn't find neutral stopped at idle. And the tranny shifted like only a John Deere can with a loud "clonk!" at each change of gears when stopped or rolling. The shifter position was too far inboard and awkward even with my riding boots, and the at-idle engine vibration at stop lights is absurd, it was actually shaking my eyeballs.
The instruments, particularly the indicator lights for the blinkers are tiny and hard to see in bright light. The bike was very smooth once rolling but lacked the low down grunt of my '06 1600 Nomad -- I found myself having to shift down to accelerate more than one should with a "Big Twin." Rolling into a turn the bike seemed to want to rise up and tip as if the tire had a square shoulder (it didn't). The classic, trademark H-D primary cover sticks out too far and when stopped kept wanting to burn my leg so I had to position my foot on the ground further forward than I would have liked.
The bike is very pretty, H-D's level of finish, especially paint, is as good as there is anywhere, walking through the dealership browsing bikes is a delight to the eye, but if I were going to blow $25k on a new bike the Gold Wing wins hands down over the Harley in every respect but weight. The BMW R1200RT is a different critter than either bike, I last rode one in '05 and need to get astride one again in the months to come.
The full H-D "lifestyle" was on display at the dealership today with everyone striving to show their individuality by dressing alike in H-D t-shirts, black vests with HOG patches, and two days worth of beard. I wore the H-D t-shirt Jac gave me so I'd fit in half way and there'd be less chance of being waylaid into what an H-D dealer once told me was "like joining an f----- cult." . I think I shall continue to truly go my own way when it comes to my motorcycle "lifestyle."
All in all I still don't understand why people buy a Harley these days except that "It's a HARLEY, man!!" and they have a greater need to belong to something than I do. To each his own and I do believe that what people ride is a lot less important than the fact that they love to ride.
The most interesting person I talked to today was the very attractive young woman riding tailgunner for Harley on all the demo rides. She's a big time riding enthusiast, happy to talk bikes, recently rode an Aprilia Tuono and marveled at how much fun it was. She was having fun working her way through the demo fleet bikes, her regular job is selling H-D clothes for women. Her personal bike is a Honda VFR800 which she said felt slow and heavy compared to the Tuono. Ah to be young again >wink, wink, nudge, nudge< but I have riding gloves older than she is..much older.