After 4500 kilometres on my Triumph Bobber, and 52,000 km on my HD Road King, I'd like to contribute my personal short & straight comparison of the two, concerning the feel of the ride; for me the most important factor of motorcycling.
They're both like chalk & cheese of course, and I've had few Triumphs and Harleys in the past so I think the best way to describe the difference from my view is;
When I sit on and ride a Triumph, it's like becoming part of a single unit; being one with the machine; all controls feel like extensions of my limbs. Tight and responsive.
On a Harley I feel like I'm driving a horse and carriage with me being pulled by the horses while sitting in the carriage.
Both are great of course, just hugely different.
Anyone care to share their experiences in this particular comparison?
Mike, I initially rejected your assessment, but upon pondering this simple distinction, I agree that this was a fairly good comparison if one were pressed to cite a single comparison.
My difficulty in coming to terms with the comparison was--and you qualified your statement by citing that the two bikes are hugely different--that the two bikes are almost too different to be compared. It's also difficult to isolate the different sensual responses received that comprises the overall 'feel' of the bikes. Bike weight, sound, putting it in gear, the take-off, power, and handling. How one is positioned in the saddle and the posture of the rest of the body. After ignoring the Harley for a month, then getting on it, the feel almost defies a comparison and requires a mile or so down the road to get re-acclimated.
I currently have an Ultra Low and Bobber, but have had a Road King, two Deluxes, Superglide, and Sportster in the past. With Triumph, I've had 2 modern Bonnevilles, 2010 Thunderbird, and a T120 way back when.
Overall, the Triumphs are refined and precise. The Harleys exudes raw power, and are rugged. Both seem to handle well in their own way. In a sense, they compliment each other, as there are times when I crave a raw feel and times when a more refined ride is in order. Not with the Bobber (since I've had it only since late July), I would get somewhat bored on the Bonnie (too smooth) and need a shaking.