Your Bike and the Good Vibes

<img width="200" height="149" class="floatleft" src="" alt="" />Vibration can be objectively measured and analyzed with computer programs and technical equipment like oscilloscopes and such, but how does this subjectively affect us as motorcycle riders? We want a smooth ride, yet we're willing to pay money for a vibrating lounge chair or pay for a vibrating foot massage after a day walking around on a Motor Show, and clearly loving it. Proving, I suppose, that all vibration isn't bad. Thus it is with Harley-Davidson's that are powered by the inherently imbalance 45-degree V-twin engine.

Vibration comes in many forms. When I started road-testing motorcycles back in the early 80s, I rode all manner of motorcycles: European, Japanese, American and a few from behind the iron curtain – everything from 50cc singles to huge six-cylinders. Believe me, I've been vibrated every which way but loose, from a in-line four that had a high-frequency/low amplitude vibration - a tingly, buzzy, irritating feeling – turned my hands numb. Then there were Harleys with solid-mount engines like the before 2004 Sportsters and four-speed Fls that shook like a possessed demon doing a medieval exorcistic dance. But the character of those two types of engine vibrations is dramatically different.
When a Harley-Davidson sits at idle it can rattle the whole bike, which is not exactly a vibration, it is more like a shaking. Rubber-mounted engine isolation like that on most modern Harleys allow the engine to jump around of its own accord, which shakes everything form the mirrors to the rider's eyeballs. I call this shaking as opposed to vibrating. Shaking moves things in a big way, while vibration buzzes and tingles and whether or not it irritates or pleases me.

Depending on what you happen to like, vibrations could be interpreted in several ways: 'My God, it's falling apart and I am going to die,' or 'Wow, this feels cool and I want some more.' The important thing is that although I could feel vibration it doesn't really bother me.

Vibration is not necessarily something bad; it can actually be a pleasant sensation. Yes, some motorcycles have moments of shaking and vibrations, but I for one am grateful that the feeling reminds me it is a motorcycle powered by a mighty-combustion engine.
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