January 24, 2018

Motorcycle adventures – Places to go on a Motorcycle – Motorcycling destinations – or our preferred term – The Bucket List. Call it what you will, these are places to go, people to meet and things to be getting on with. Essentially … Life is short, so ride the damn bike!

Confessions of a Born Again Biker - Eagle Rider DallasWhy fly to Dallas Texas and hire a motorcycle? Dallas wouldn’t have been the first place I would have thought to go for an American motorcycle adventure. California or Florida seemed the more natural choices. Life, however, doesn’t always work that way and I find myself outside Eagle Rider in Dallas and about the meet the manager, Kate.

Kate hasn’t worked a day for the past three and a half years since being laid off from the auto collision industry. That is a body shop, panel beaters or paint shop, depending on where you are from in the world.

None of this is because Kate isn’t gainfully employed. Quite the opposite, even on a Saturday afternoon, in the middle of January – technically the “off-season” – Kate is busy organising hires and working on the fleet of Harleys and Metric motorcycles, that they hire out from the Dallas garage.

Kate spots the quizzical look on my face and explains. “Harleys are the dominant motorcycle that we rent. It seems to be the bike most people are after, even the European visitors. The nuts and bolts on the Harley are all imperial. The Kawasakis and the BMWs all have metric nuts and bolts, hence the collective noun, Metrics.”

A wry smile crosses her face, “We did once refer to them collectively as Japanese, but Klaus, one of our regular customers from Germany, would complain and then ride off on a Harley, leaving the BMW for someone else”.

Looking around the showroom at the array of motorcycles, Harleys out number the other motorcycles 10 to 1.

Around the walls are autographed flags from around the world. “They are from customers” explains Kate. “A few years back Patrick from Sweden, brought me a flag when he collected his bike. The idea caught on, and now we have quite a collection. Canada, Japan, Brazil, the UK, France and China, to name but a few.

I proudly note that the cross of St. George is also on display. Well done someone. Kate talks me through the renting process, which will be very familiar if you have ever hired a car.

Perhaps the only difference is that Eagle Rider’s insurance is compulsory and there are no options. A $1,000 deposit is required, which can be secured on a credit card. Otherwise, it is a straightforward and simple process.

When someone is as passionate about what they do as Kate is – and hence the reason Kate doesn’t think of it as “work” –  I’m interested in what it is like to watch people ride away on her beloved motorcycles.

It is wonderful when you see the grin on people’s faces. It can be hard work when a technical hitch, delays someone’s departure. Typically they will have travelled a long way to get here, and I share their frustration when something isn’t just perfect. Yet, I can’t let a motorcycle out that isn’t serviced and up to scratch.

“Sometimes is just an unavoidable series of events, such as a dog that decided to try and bite the tyres of a bike while it was doing 30mph. Sometimes it is the silly things. One guy fell off the Harley as he parked up at the end of his hire. The fairing suffered a major crack and the pannier was damaged. With the next customer coming 24 hours later and wanting that exact bike, we turned the whole thing around with just a 2-hour delay. We have to replace the parts, some speed tape (American for duct tape it seems) and a smile, isn’t how we do business.

We wander out to the workshop where Kate shows me some of the bikes she is currently working on, and I do mean the bikes Kate is working on. In addition to her duties as franchise manager, Kate is also the number one mechanic.

I trained in auto repair, and when I was made redundant, I started looking around for a similar job when a friend mentioned Eagle Rider. I wandered in and was offered a job washing the bikes. Work is work, so I took the job. Having been around motorcycles since I was three, having helped my Dad in the garage, and having ridden one from the day I was old enough, one thing naturally led to another.

I spot a bottle marked HogWash on the bench next to one of the Harleys that is being serviced. “The real name is Hawg Wash. It smells of bananas. Weird stuff, but very good.”.  I learn something every day.

We return the subject of hiring and I ask about the common mistakes that people make and how to avoid them.

If there is one thing that people most often miss, it is towing costs. If the motorcycle breaks down or even if it has a puncture, we will fix it at our cost, even if that requires us paying a distant Harley dealer to do it. However, getting the bike to the dealer is down to the customer. The easy option is to join AAA (Triple-A) with the towing option. Much, much better value than calling a towing company. More often than not, people are sure it won’t happen to them, which I can understand. Most of the time things go without a hitch.

Having spent a highly enjoyable couple of hours with Kate discovering the world of hiring Harleys, I finally get to the elephant in the room question that started me looking in the first place and ask, why would I hire a motorcycle from Eagle Rider Dallas?

According to the song” comes the reply “we have warm winds blowing, heating blue skies and roads that go forever – that is why you want to hire from Eagle Rider Dallas”.

Sarcasm from a Texan, it has to be experienced to be fully appreciated, it must be all of those European customers. The song, by the way, is by Chris Rea, from the Road to Hell album.

Along with Sturgis in South Dakota in August, there is also the Lone Star Rally in Galveston during November. And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, there is also St Valentine’s Day Massacre Rally, South Padre Island BikeFest, Mardi Gras Fun Run, Thunder on the Colorado, and MotoGP in Austin, to name but a few”. Fair enough, that is me told.

There are few words in the English language that would clearly describe the Sturgis, or Lone Star rallies. The only one that comes readily to mind would be, bohemian. It is worth booking early if you are thinking of attending either rally as all of the bikes at Eagle Rider Dallas are normally booked for these events.

Personally, did someone mention roads that go forever?

Whereas the information on these pages is as correct as we could make it, inevitably things will change. We can’t guarantee that everything will be as we describe, but then again where would the fun be in that?