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Harley-Davidson Factory tour at York, Pennsylvania

Having recently done the Harley-Davidson Factory tour at York, Pennsylvania here’s our review.

The Harley-Davidson York Operations plant offers a free guided tour of the factory floor. The tour guides are mostly ex-workers and they have good knowledge of how the production process works and what the old and new models are. Questions are definitely encouraged. Outside the plant there’s plenty of free parking. It’s also easily accessible being just off the main road.

On arrival, you’ll usually find plenty of visitors but each person registers at the reception desk for a tour time. This may be in a few minutes or, more likely, in an hour or so. This gives you chance to browse the models on display in the entrance hall. You can sit on the motorcycles as they are firmly clamped down.

harley-davidson-york-waiting-area

harley-davidson-police-motorcycle

harley-davidson-museum

harley-davidson-frame

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As you can see there are some mock-ups of assembly stages too.

What tours to do at Harley-Davidson, York

The York factory is also known as “Vehicle Operations”.  Here they put together the Softail, CVO, Touring and Trike models. If you want to be assured a place on the tour you can ring ahead and confirm they are open for that day.  Some days are non-production days too, usually when they are changing the model runs over, so if you want to go on the “Steel toe tour” then it’s important to ring ahead. The “Steel toe tour” is an additional, paid tour that takes in some of the heavier production areas of the plant. The standard free tours still go ahead though, most days.

You can tour the factory for free but it pays to get there in the morning to get the best chance of a tour.  If it’s fully booked it will be on a first-come-first-served basis.

Any children will need to be 12 or over but as long as you say they are then there’s no checking.  All visitors are required to have enclosed shoes for all tours (don’t forget this!) and the steel toecap overboots are issued to you for the paid tours.

Harley-Davidson factory tour – opening hours

The tour is available from 9:00AM to 2:00PM Monday to Friday.  In the summer it is open on Saturdays from 9:30AM to 1:30PM

Car and motorcycle parking

There’s plenty of parking available and bikes get to park close to the entrance. The car park can be as interesting as the waiting area on a good sunny day. On our tour day there were mostly Harleys in the parking lot, and a few Buells, Triumphs and Ducatis rolled in over the few hours we were there.

 

Unsurprisingly, the staff parking sported some shiny new Harleys in there. Company bikes perhaps?

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harley-davidson-factory-tour-york-staff-parking  harley-davidson-factory-tour-york-visitor-parking2

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Harley-Davidson factory paint finishes

Harley are rightfully proud of the gleaming paint finishes they achieve on their fenders and fuel tanks. The tour guides spent a long time talking about this and there were many areas in the factory dedicated to exploring further.  You are often invited to “Touch the frame” or “Feel the pinstripe before and after the lacquer coat”.

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Here’s a few shots of the areas you can compare paint finishes at different parts of the production process:

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harley-davidson-factory-tour-york-fuel-tank-finishes

Inside the Harley Davidson factory

Unfortunately, our cameras were not allowed in the factory. It is without a doubt one of the cleanest motorcycle production environments we’ve ever seen and there seems to be a pride taken in each and every section of the shop floor. There’s a large use of robots in the plant but we were pleased to see a lot of manual workers there too. There are some jobs that robots will never do efficiently, especially on the final quality inspection, so it’s good to see a compromise here.

Just before taking the tour, you sit in a mini cinema where you get to learn the history of Harley from 4-men-in-a-shed to current day global operations.  The tour guides then issue you with safety goggles and headsets so that you can hear them above the noise of the machinery. As mentioned previously, each tour guide knows their HD stuff, so all questions are answered. At the end of the factory tour you’ll end up in the ubiquitous gift shop where you can buy anything from a bottle opener to a full leather outfit.

Conclusion

I would rate this as a must-do tour if you have even a passing interest in motorcycles. If you are a fan of Harley or an afficionado of the cruiser style of motorcycle then it’s not to be missed. With free entrance you can take the family and have a few hours of fun for nothing.  Upgrade to the steel toe tour if you are a biker, you won’t regret it. With nearby Amish country at Lancaster and the Strasbourg Railway close by,  there’s even more reason to do the Harley-Davidson tour en-route to seeing the sights that Pennsylvania has to offer.

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Yamaha Y125 Moegi goes back to basics

Yamaha y125 Moegi

Yamaha has gone back to its simple racing roots with this Y125 Moegi motorcycle. For now just a concept bike, this slick little 2 wheeler is destined to become a reality. Launched at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2011, this little beauty has some super design developments and engineering solutions.

Not many will remember this, but in the Fifties the bike this concept is based on was launched. It was called the YA-1 and it was a super little 125cc 2-stroke delight. The company that launched it wasn’t by then called Yamaha, they were known as “Nippon Gakki”.

With their engineers being driven to succeed, this little 125 won a few big races and so began some strong sales. Here’s the original YA-1 in all its glory:

Yamaha YA1

The Moegi is a bit of a hybrid to me, taking design influences from both older, now ‘classic’ motorcycles, and uber-slick scooter lines too. Yamaha have made the frame from super-lightweight cast aluminum which means it weighs in at just 80kg or 176 lbs. Impressive stuff.

The engine is an air-cooled, 4-stroke 125cc lump that integrates an aluminum die-cast cylinder which no other motorcycle has. Estimated top speed is around 50mph but fuel economy is said to be over 180mpg. I’d be surprised if that was the case but never say never….

Verdict:
I like this bike’s style and would love to see it on the streets. What do you think?

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How to restore faded plastic panels, motorcycle or car

This article details how to restore faded plastic panels on your motorcycle or car back to their former glory. I had this issue some time back with a dirtbike and all of the bright red sidepanels and mudguards (fenders) had gone to a very feminine pink! Sun exposure usually does this and fades the panels over time.

Please note, this method requires the careful use of a sharp blade. It’s a technique that will work but requires a bit of dexterity. Practice on old panels first if you really want the best results.

OK, so let’s see what we need for this:

  • A Stanley knife blade, brand new, also known as a box cutter.
  • (OPTIONAL) Some 1200 grit ‘Wet or Dry’ sandpaper with water.
  • A clean rag, lint free.
  • A tin of alcohol.
  • A hot air gun.

The basic method is to remove the top layer to get down to the fresh plastic below by scraping over the whole area until the colour is uniform and as original. Hold the blade at 45 degrees to avoid ‘digging in’. Once finished, you’ll find a few lines created by your scraping, so you’ll need to scrape in the opposite direction and at 90 degrees to make smooth.

Optionally, we can now use some fine grade ‘Wet or Dry’ paper with some water to go over the whole panel. Use a minimum of 1200 grit as this will not leave scratch marks. This stage is not always required but may improve the final finish. Dry off the panel before moving to the next stage.

Using a clean rag, add some alcohol to it and wipe over the panel. What we are doing here is removing the impurities before we melt the top layer of plastic. Impurities can cause lumps, cracks or blisters and this stage avoids that.

Now we move on to the hot air gun. These are very common in hardware stores or online and can be picked up very cheaply, there are some links below.  Use the hot air gun and heat the panel until you start to see some reflections appearing. Don’t overdo this as you might deform the panel. Keep the hot air gun moving so you don’t concentrate the heat in any particular area.

As you can see from the video below, we now have a new-looking shine on our panel. By practising this method, you can save lots of money and restore even the most worn-looking panels.

 

 

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Electric Harley Davidson – I kid you not!

electric harley davidson motorcycle

Called “Project LiveWire”, this is Harley’s first attempt at selling electric motorcycles. Interesting to see they included an ‘engineered sound’ because they thought it needed something. Not the thump of a big v-twin as you might expect, but instead what seems like some sort of pseudo-electric whine.

0-60mph times of 4 seconds and 90 MPH have been reported from this fully electric bike, so it is perfectly pitched in the performance stakes with similar petrol-driven motorcycles.

Whether you like the idea or not, you have to applaud Harley’s attempt at breaking tradition as well as pushing the boundaries and getting something out there for people to comment on. We remain unconvinced by the styling though and think that Harley need to step this side up a bit to compete with other electric brands currently available if they are to remain at the top of their game. With a huge slab-sided profile and what looks like a cheap aftermarket tablet stuck to the handlebars, they should draw inspiration from some of the custom builders out there and make this design flow a lot better.

What do you think?