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One for the Road: Damsel in distress

By Shadow

Delmarva Bike Week was coming up, and I’d ordered tires and a new seat for the 240-mile ride. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot of miles, and sure, I’ve traveled a lot farther, but the rear tire on my Switchback was quite worn, and the seat I had on the bike sent me right to the chiropractor by the time I got back from Sturgis.

Both the tires and the seat were supposed to arrive by Wednesday, just in time for my early-morning departure on Thursday. Well, Wednesday came and went without either showing up. Apparently there was a UPS “delivery exception” for the tires, with a retry scheduled for Thursday, which was too late. And the seat was in transit; location unknown.

So early Thursday morning, I was studying the tread on my rear tire—or lack thereof. My ever-supportive partner Steve commented, “I’ve seen you ride on worse.” Well, that sealed the deal. I was off to Delmarva.

I’d just gotten onto the Interstate about two miles from my house when the bike’s red charging light went on. My first instinct was to ignore it, with my denial telling me that the light must have a short. But reality took hold, forcing me to turn around and head directly for my local bike shop, Black Hills Custom Parts, only about two-and-a-half miles away.

Luckily for me, the shop had opened early that morning, and when I explained the problem, Bones, the tech, immediately cleared a lift and rolled my bike on it. Some electrical diagnosis isolated the problem to the voltage regulator. I burst out, “But that’s why I bought a new bike! So I wouldn’t have these problems!” I’d had the bike for only a little over a year and it had only a little over 15,000 miles on it. This just wasn’t right.

The shop didn’t have a regulator for my bike in stock, so Jeff, the counter guy, started calling around to local Harley dealers. None of them had the part in stock, either. I called the dealership where I bought the bike, and was asked, “Oh, you didn’t get a recall notice? A bunch of regulators for the 2012s are bad.” Turned out that my lot number wasn’t included in the recall… at least, not yet. Fortunately, the part was under warranty, so at least I wouldn’t have to pay—that is, if I could find one.

My mind was working furiously, searching for options. Normally, I’d just leave the bike there, go home and ride my FXD to Delmarva, but I had a big weekend planned—one that required me to be on the Switchback. On Sunday after the rally, I was to ride to my sister’s house in Maryland, have dinner, stay overnight and early the next morning take a 40-minute ride to Zipper’s Performance in Elkhart, where a ThunderMax installation was planned. It seemed to me that if I waited for a replacement regulator to be shipped, I either had to miss the rally or postpone the install, neither of which I wanted to do. And I especially didn’t want to disappoint my sister, who apparently had made big preparations for my visit. Should I ride the Super Glide to Delmarva, come back home on Sunday and leave again at 5:00 Monday morning to get to Zipper’s by 9:00 a.m.? That scenario, of course, depended on whether a regulator showed up in time, which was looking doubtful.

We expanded our search, with Ken, the owner at Black Hills, now getting involved. Ken called New York City Harley-Davidson and found that they had the part in stock! He told Parts Manager John Maguire, “I have a good customer here that needs the regulator installed right away because she has to be in Maryland today.” Fortunately, the two shops have a solid relationship built over some years, and John told Ken to send me right over.

Fighting the traffic into New York City isn’t something I’d normally do on a Thursday morning during rush hour, but I magically made it into Long Island City, Queens, in only an hour. I rushed into the dealership where John’s twin brother Jim, also in Parts, arranged to take me in immediately. While I was waiting, I got a call that my tires and seat had come in!

I was on the road again in less than half an hour, and headed back to Black Hills—it was sort-of on the way to Maryland—got the tires mounted and slid the new seat on. I was finally ready to roll.

It was an uneventful ride down the Garden State Parkway, and I barely made the last ferry of the night. I arrived at my hotel in Ocean City, Maryland, around 8:30 p.m. Whew! What a whirlwind!

That should’ve been the end of the story, but there’s more. I didn’t have time to pick up any phone messages until late Friday night, when I heard a now-familiar voice: “Marjorie? This is John. You left your registration card on the counter. Tell me where you are and I’ll overnight it to you.” I called NYC H-D the next morning and told Jim, “You might as well send it to my house. I’ll be leaving Ocean City on Sunday.” He said, “That’s exactly what I did when I didn’t hear from you. It’ll be in your mailbox Monday.” I kept my fingers crossed that I didn’t get pulled over.

When I got home Monday night after a successful ThunderMax install, the FedEx package was waiting for me. There was my registration card with a NYC Harley-Davidson T-shirt wrapped around it—as if John and Jim hadn’t done enough for me already! Those two shops, Black Hills and NYC H-D, are the epitome of good service, going all out for a customer, moving aside other work for my emergency situation. Thanks, guys, for helping a damsel in distress.


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