It was in the year 1903 William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson rolled out the very first production Harley-Davidson motorcycle which was built to be a race machine. The factory in which the Serial Number One Bike was built was a 10*15-foot wooden shed with "Harley-Davidson Motor Company" crudely written on the door. Harley-Davidson had humble beginnings but today, as it's grown well over a century old, it is one of the largest and much-adored motorcycle manufacturers in the world.
Over the years, the motorcycles have evolved into what we know them as today. Harley-Davidson India lineup has grown exponentially as well and what made the brand more approachable to a wider audience was the Street series of motorcycles – Street 750 and Street Rod. We've test ridden them and can tell you what they're like to ride. But this time, Harley-Davidson India invited us to know the machines for more than how they ride – to a service master class.
After a brief about what to expect from the day, the first task was to unbox a Street 750. Yep, it is like opening a box of candy – except it has to be inspected from every nook and cranny to make sure it is A.O.K. Once out of the box, the irregularities found with the unit are tended to, if any – followed by plugging back the main fuel line and the battery.
But this was just a fun exercise to allow us to experience how is a new motorcycle delivered to a customer. The real challenge lay ahead where we had to service a Street 750 and we'd be judged by the Pankaj Paul, Lead Trainer, Harley-Davidson University, and two other master technicians.
Sixteen journalists from across the country were put in four teams of four – Grease Monkeys, V3, Avengers, and Hairy. Yes, we all apparently get paid to be creative. Our team a.k.a the Grease Monkeys was feeling quite confident as one of us had serviced a motorcycle once before. We had this in the bag we thought. But then...
The first challenge was a quiz with service-related questions and the Avengers won it. Well, not by a mile. Anywho. Next up, actually servicing the motorcycle. Replace the engine oil – bring it up to some heat so it drains out easy, replace the air filter, lube the clutch and throttle cable, bleed the brakes, check the tyre tread depth, inspect brake callipers, tighten the belt if loose and of course, clean it spik and span. How many or how many more of such tasks have to be carried out depends upon the kilometres on the motorcycle's odo. We did ours at 24,000 km.
During the service, Pankaj and Vijay Thomas, Lead Marketing, Harley-Davidson India, provided us with trivia on cycle parts and service tasks. For example, the correct voltage on a Street 750 battery with the ignition turned off, on, engine idling, and while charging. The attention to detail is key to how good a technician you'll be. The torque value for every bolt for how much it is to be tightened is preset and has to be followed.
Harley-Davidson University's Back to School service master class gave us an insight of what goes into servicing a Street motorcycle, but more importantly, the extensive training the technicians are made to undergo to upkeep Harley's quality standards. There are hours of classroom and hands-on training involved before the technicians get their hands on a customer bike.
Harley-Davidson India also launched its #FindYourFreedom internship programme this year, for which four young riders have been selected. The programme involves riding with H.O.G communities, on-ground experience at dealerships, custom bike building, Flat Track riding, and attending Harley-Davidson University courses. Harley is doing its bit to train young riders to be better with their riding and also know their motorcycles inside and out, and of course, understand the motorcycling community.
Who won the service challenge, if you must know. The Avengers did. So, the next time your Harley-Davidson needs servicing – call the Avengers.
Or head to your nearest Harley-Davidson dealership.