Bikes we love The Journey

Street Bob Journal: Week 3

We add bits and bobs to the Street Bob

I got a lot of good advice from you guys in my previous Street Bob update, regarding plans to ride to Prague on the thing. One of the most consistent suggestions was that I add a screen; seems Harley’s on your same wavelength.


Harley had asked if I’d like any accessory bits thrown on and initially I thought I’d go for a basic luggage rack, but then spotted a tall sissy bar (£214.99) in the accessories catalog and decided that would be pretty useful as a place to strap stuff to; that’s long been the chopper rider’s travel solution. Also, I think tall sissy bars look cool. The backrest pad (£71.99) that Harley put on with it, though, I’m not sure about. I may remove that.

Meanwhile, I figured that strapping Kriega bags to a passenger seat would be about as easy as strapping them to a luggage rack, and that having the former accessory would afford an opportunity at some point for Jennosaurus to join me. The seat (£187.82) is rock hard, however, and the accompanying passenger footpegs (£139.52) are placed too close to the drivetrain housing on the left side (there’s not really anything blocking comfortable foot placement on the right side). If this were my own bike – ie, if I were the one paying for all this and not Harley – I wouldn’t have forked over the comically large amount of money required for these not terribly useful bits.

That sissy bar is a great place to hang one’s jacket.

One thing I do like is the actual leather swingarm bag that I must have asked for in one of my gin-and-tonic hazes. When I showed up to Harley’s UK distribution center, WMB, to have the aforementioned bits put on, this bag was lying out on the workbench and I exclaimed: “Oooh, wow. That’s really cool. Who’s getting this?”

The distribution center was working on a number of journo bikes at the time (Apparently John Westlake of Bike Magazine has decided to have ape hangers put on his Sport Glide; I can’t wait to see that), so I figured someone cooler and cleverer than me had put in the effort to finding it in the depths of the accessory catalog.

KEEP READING: Previous Street Bob Updates

I was delighted to discover that person was me. The bag costs £224.99 at a dealership, which feels excessive. Though, I’d have to spend some time comparison shopping for non-branded items to be sure. Made of thick, real leather, the thing I like about it is the fact those buckles are real. They’re not hiding plastic buckles, as is the case with, say, the leather panniers on Indian’s Chief Vintage. Real, metal, belt-style buckles make the bag difficult to get into in a hurry but I dig the authenticity and feel of the thing enough that it doesn’t bother me.

swingarm bag
This is a stock photo of the swingarm bag. I’m looking forward to how weathered and fucked up mine will be after five months of use in Briatin. Good luck reselling that, Harley!

I’m somewhat less enthusiastic about the three straps used to attach the bag to the bike. I don’t really trust the overly simple clasp mechanism that binds the straps. Definitely don’t put anything in here that you’re not willing to lose. Another drawback is that it doesn’t hold that much stuff. I found that a 750ml bottle of water, sandwich, bag of chips, orange, and baseball cap more or less fill it. But, hey, sometimes all you really want on a cruising-around ride is packed lunch and a hat, so this does the job.

Another thing sitting out on that workbench at WMB was a quick-release screen (£424.04). I definitely didn’t ask for this but the guys at Harley decided they have a duty of care for boneheads who want to ride 2,000 miles on a Street Bob and ordered it for me. That’s nice of them because it turns out the screen works really, really well. With it on I was able to hustle at markedly higher speeds without the feeling of losing control that comes when you’re being hit by unfettered windblast at 80 mph.

READ MORE: 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob – First Ride

But, Lord Sweet Jesus, it is ugly. My wife says she thinks it looks OK but I think it spoils the bike’s aesthetic. Thank goodness, then, that it uses the same attachment mechanism as the fairing on the Sport Glide. That means it comes off super easy and there is no mounting hardware. Harley will have a van following us en route to Prague, so I will just store the screen there and use it if harsh weather comes our way.

The Street Bob is heavy metal – literally and figuratively.

I haven’t yet decided whether I will attach it for the trip home. I probably should since the return journey will be more arduous – demanding bigger miles because I don’t have the dough to pay for hotels.

Beyond the Harley accessories, I bought a cheap Kriega harness pocket off eBay that I’ll strap to the ‘bars to hold an Anker power bank close enough to the bike’s USB port that I can run a cord to it (The Street Bob has a USB port in the headstock).

Meanwhile, I had the battery go flat on me this week. I had left the bike in the garage for just two days and when I brought it out to proudly present it to a buddy it would not start. The tiny handlebar dash would not even light up. This did nothing to change my friend’s negative opinion of Harleys. Nor did the discovery of what a pain in the ass it is to get at the battery. Connecting my trickle charger was anything but easy and makes me unhappy at the thought of trying to connect my TomTom Rider’s charging mount.

My theory on why the battery KO’d is that I was storing the bike’s key too close to the bike. I had been keeping it on a key rack that is effectively on the other side of a wall from the garage in which I keep the Street Bob. The range on the fob is such that the alarm will go off if the bike is moved when the fob is even 3 feet away (I found this out when another friend wanted to sit on the bike and I stepped back with the fob in my jacket pocket), so I wouldn’t have though the 8 feet of distance and concrete wall between where I store the bike and its key would be an issue.

But it may be that some sort of signal was reaching the bike, connecting and disconnecting with the security system over and over and over, thereby causing a battery drain. I’ve started storing the key on the other side of the house and haven’t had any battery issues since.

Can you bump start a bike that uses a keyless fob? I may find a nearby hill (not hard – I live in Wales) and try to find out.