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Harley Davidson

From Port Ghalib to Luxor on a Harley Davidson

If you haven’t found a unique Christmas or Eid Adha gift for yourself, your partner or your kids yet, then I have the right gift for you: Get a Harley Davidson Bike! You say it’s too expensive? Well, I have to correct you here. You don’t need to pay $ 800.000 like the Qatari Crown Prince did recently at a star-studded gala dinner in Doha (Qatar) for an auctioned Night Rod Special and you also do not need to pay $ 800.100 like Harley-Davidson fan Jay Leno paid for an auctioned Harley Davidson Road King on �The Tonight Show’ to raise funds in support of the Asian Tsunami disaster in 2004. The Harley-Davidson XL Sportster 883 already starts at around $ 6.695 in the USA and in Egypt you can already get one for as little as 65.000 LE (Egyptian Pound).

But are the Harley Davidson bikes convenient for driving in the Middle East in general and Egypt in specific, especially when taking into consideration the poor road condition and annoying traffic jams in most of the countries?

Well, finally after four years of trying to test a Harley Davidson on Egyptian roads I recently had the chance to test the new 2009 Touring models on an extensive round-tour from Port Ghalib at the Red Sea to the historic city of Luxor in Upper Egypt and back.

Although I spend 95 % of my time testing cars, I must admit that my hidden passion is to ride motor-cycles which I enjoy very much. In Germany I get to test a lot of BMW bikes, which actually spoil any rider on the German Autobahn or on the German country roads and which at the end made me get one for myself. In Egypt the BMW R1200 GS is also one of the, if not THE, most practical bikes for riding on Egyptian roads.
I must admit that I am a rather spoiled biker, having used mainly BMW bike in Germany. So, I was more used to German bikes and the German technology. So, would the American-Way-Of-Life bikes change my mind? And would the Harley Davidson trip change my mind about the �most practical and convenient motor-cycle for Egypt’? Well, that’s what I will find out now.
The three other Harley Davidson Street Glide test-bikes parked in front of Luxor Temple

There are five different �families’ within the Harley Davidson range: Sportster, Dyna, Softail, Touring and the VRSC. We had three different models of the Touring family to choose from, namely the Road King Classic, the Street Glide and the Ultra Classic Electra Glide.

In addition to the Touring models Harley Davidson SA also brought a Heritage Softail Classic bike to this trip, which unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to ride during this 900 km long trip.

After the short presentation at the Conference room of Palace Intercontinental Hotel Port Ghalib, there was a short introduction to the Harley Davidson bikes by Serge and Michael from Harley Davidson Middle East. Unfortunately I missed those bike introductions as I was in the rest-room in order not be the first rider to force the group for a �rest-room break’ on the road.
Group picture before leaving Port Ghalib Palace Intercontinental Hotel to Luxor: Group leader Sherif Begermi - 2nd from left- and Hany Madbouly - in the yellow safety jacket- did a great job and suffered a lot. Especially with me!

So, when I returned from the rest-room to the parking lot where all the bikes and the group were getting prepared, I just heard somebody shouting with an amazingly loud and strong voice: �TWO MINUTES LEFT’. Later on it turned out that those �minute indications’ by our only-one-of-its-kind tour-leader Sherif Begermi would always be one of the high-lights during the whole trip.

At that point I didn’t know yet that Sherif and me will have several endless discussions about engine-braking, brake-pads and the 6th gear throughout the trip.

So, I only had two minutes to get into my jacket, put on my BMW System 4 jet-helmet get acquainted to the blue Road King Classic and hit the road. But two minutes were not enough, so the whole group had to
The first model I tested during this trip: The Harley Davidson Road King Classic

wait like an additional 30 seconds or so until I was ready. Not a nice feeling when everybody is looking at you while you are looking for the start-button and trying to start your bike.

At the end I managed to start the Road King and we left Port Ghalib heading to Luxor. Now I would finally get the chance to see how much stiffer the all-new chassis for the touring bikes in Harley’s line-up would be.

Fortunately we had several service cars accompanying us, which allowed us to ride without any heavy-weight bags or pillion rider on the bikes. But that on the other hand gave me the impression that the suspension was maybe a little bit too stiff now.
The new touring frame of the 2009 Harley Davidson Touring models is welded robotically and is constructed of various investment cast, forged and stamped pieces.

Probably it wouldn’t feel that stiff when riding with some extra weight of a pillion rider or some bags.

That was also one of the main reasons why Harley Davidson decided on modifying and improving the chassis of the seven different Touring models. The Touring models now have an all-new two-piece frame which is welded together robotically. The advantage of that new chassis is a much improved handling as well as an increase in gross vehicle weight rating (up by 45 kg / 100 lbs).

Harley decided after 28 years of using the same basic frame architecture, that it was time to launch a new chassis to ensure their dominance of the touring segment in the USA and a few other parts of the world.
Apparently this was one of the biggest undertaking since the creation of this chassis platform.
The actual project dates back as far as 2002 with some preliminary research and became more serious when
New wider and stiffer swingarm that adds 0.5-inch to the wheelbase joins the new frame of the 2009 Harley Davidson Touring models.

Harley conducted face-to-face interview with Harley-owners which collectively rode millions of miles to H-D’s 100th anniversary in 2003.
Harley staff also interacted with customers at different motor-cycle shows and events, going so far as to have Harley-owners weigh their loaded touring bikes on a scale to see how much the bikes were carrying.
It then became very clear to Harley Davidson that a more robust frame was needed.
The Road King Classic offers comfy ride on smooth roads - But suspension feels a little bit stiff when road becomes bumpy - That surely helps when having a pillion rider or extra weight in the bags.

The new frame, also know as the sub-frame, is, unlike the old frame which was just a collection of hand-welded steel tubes, made from various investment cast, forged and stamped pieces. An unanticipated advantage to having the tail (sub) frame bolt on is the shrinking possibility of having a whole bike counted as a �total-loss’ by insurance companies when the bike suffers damages at one part of the frame.
Instead of 90 frame parts the new frame only counts 40 parts now. Harley engineering staff say the new frame provides increased torsional stiffness but not necessarily increased lateral rigidity.

Well, that’s what we will find out in part 2 of our test-drive.


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Readers Comments:

Lieve Stas from Genk - Beglium wrote:
Hello, I was very interested in reading the story of the tour 'from Port Ghalib to Luxor'. I also read about this in the Harley magazine 'Hog Tales'. My husband and myself are both Harley riders. He rides a Road King and I ride a Sporster Hugger. I am also an Egyptian-fan ! I have been in Egypt 5 times in the last 2 years. When I read the story of Harley's in Egypt, I was immediately interested to do such a trip too. Will this be organised in the future too ? And if so, can you give me some more information about ? Are women allowed to drive ? Because I'm not going to ride together with my husband. Thanks to send me some information. Kind regards, Lieve

Editors response:
Dear Lieve,
I am glad you liked our story about the Harley trip from Port Ghalib at the Red Sea to Luxor. We will check for you if there will be similar trips organized in the near future and get back to you soon.
And don't forget to check part 2 of the story, which will be published in a few days.

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