CALIFORNIA HIGH DESERT – Do you know Herb Alpert’s THE LONELY BULL? If you don’t, click and listen. Ahhhh… the moody wail of Alpert’s trumpet. The tune has become our anthem, of sorts, and inspired the name for this 1990 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic, otherwise known as the Lonely Bull.
I’ve got to say, I did not love the Lonely Bull when Brian brought it home. It had 500 lbs of creepy junk loaded onto it, and the tank had been ruined by a bad decal with a tacky-to-the-touch clear coat. And what about the spider billet on the tank?
Brian gave the bike a stripping down and had the paint fixed, making a huge improvement. Still, I didn’t think the bike was me–although I did like the way it looked with my 40s vintage horsehide.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to get overly caught up in “my taste,” to the point of poo-pooing things I don’t find particularly cool, when really, I should have more of an open mind. Who’s to say I know what cool is?
Case in point:
BRIAN’S EVO ADDICTION
My feller has been snapping up Harley-Davidson Evo motorcycles for the last couple of years.
(For the uninitiated, Evo refers to the Evolution engine, made from 1984 to 1999/2000 when the Twin Cam replaced it. The Evolution engine is often credited with saving Harley-Davidson.)
His frenzy began with a pristine ’95 Fatboy, and even though he’d never been a Softail fan, he fell in love.
Next the Lonely Bull rolled into his life, a 1990 Heritage Softail. Then came the Tangerine Dream, an ’87 Heritage. Of course he couldn’t resist the Roadrunner, a 1993 Dyna, or the Chupacabra, a 1996 Springer. And the latest, the Moo Glide, a 1993 Heritage Nostalgia.
See? I wasn’t exaggerating.
None of the bikes appealed to me. Way too 80s/90s. My heart belongs to pre-war stuff. I do love the Springer front end, though, so when Brian brought home the (unfortunately named) Bad Boy, a slightly different Springer than the Heritage I like, I took it out for a spin and had a blast. I can honestly say, I’ve never had more fun on a motorcycle.
Considering I had so much unexpected fun on the BadBoy–and because I like a little adventure, even on something I wouldn’t have chosen–I opened my mind to…
THE SWELLEGANT EVO HOLIDAY
Speaking of nostalgia, let’s circle back around to the Lonely Bull with her magnificent mud flap, shall we? Talk about nostalgic!
As part of our vacation, we thought it might be fun to take Evos on the road: the de-uglified Lonely Bull and the Tangerine Dream, named with the help of one of Brian’s co-workers (I think they might be mocking him).
He’s done tons of his usual cleaning and refining and tinkering, but considering the two bikes are over 25 years old, and not knowing what kind of problems they might have, we made this a fairly short run, from Yucca Valley, CA, 150 miles across the Mojave Desert to Nipton, CA near the Nevada border.
At first, the Lonely Bull felt… weird…
I’m not used to floorboards or having to hold in the turn indicator and can we talk about the braking? Not at all the LRB stopping power of my Sporty.
Still, I wanted to give her a fair run.
ROY’S ON ROUTE 66
Amboy is one of our favorite Route 66 stops. In the course of a half an hour, three different motorcycle tour groups came through. They seemed particularly intrigued by the Lonely Bull, which surprised us both.The more miles we went, the more comfortable this Taurus girl became with the Lonely Bull. The bike has a different feel than anything I’ve ridden. Not particularly punchy, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s like cruising a Cadillac, plush and gentle and oh so elegant.
Around four pm, we arrived.
THE NIPTON HOTEL
The Nipton Hotel was built in 1940-ish, and while the accommodations are somewhat primitive, the place is charming as all get out. Two things to be aware of if you go, First: the cafe (and only place to eat in town) is closed Mondays, so we had to hop back on the bikes and head 20 miles to Searchlight Nevada. No biggie, just good to know. Second: the rooms don’t have private bathrooms. Two bathrooms are shared amongst guests (there are only four rooms), so hey… no problem.
After a pleasant stay and good conversations with Jim and Brenda, we headed…
Around the halfway point, I at last hit my groove with the Heritage. It no longer felt weird, it just felt fun. With one stop to adjust the idle and snap some pics…
We cruised back into Yucca Valley, Brian on the Tangerine Dream and me on the Lonely Bull, both bikes without an issue.
So what’s my final assessment of this “uncool” Softail? Well, I fell in love. Once again, Brian was right. There’s just something cool about riding an Evo.
Guess this was a nice lesson in having an open mind. Of course it doesn’t change my wanting a pre-war bike, but that’s a story for another day.
Until next time…
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