A Guy's Journey to His First Harley-Davidson

A testament to Harley's family mentality

James Burkett has been a family friend for as long as I can remember. He is the kind of guy that would do anything for his family and friends. James is the reason I got into motorcycling actually. I believe when I was either 12 or 13 James took me out to the desert to ride his quads with some other guys. I then proceeded to run that bitch into a barbed wire fence…. Dumbass!

After Jon rolled James' Quad
After Jon rolled James' QuadCruiser

He didn’t even care that I shredded his quad, at least he didn’t let on that he cared, he just checked me over, rigged the bike to keep running and off we went. Couple years down the road, James took me to get my own quad followed by another quad later on and ultimately my first two wheeled bike, my Yamaha YZ 125. Somewhere in between those bikes I actually rode his quad again on a trip and proceeded to roll that sum’ bitch knocking my ass unconscious and completely wrecking his quad, yet again. And once again he brushed it off and didn’t kick my ass for wrecking his same bike twice.

Over the years he helped me with all of my projects. Truck upgrades, bike upgrades, everything. Believe it or not I was pretty damn useless back then, I could barley turn a wrench. James was always there to help me out. Skip ahead of the story a few years, we all ride on the street now, I am a certified Harley-Davidson Technician and one of my oldest friends in the world has just gotten himself a new Harley Breakout. Finally over a decade later I can start repaying him for all the help he has given to my family and me. We are going to make his new baby his dream bike and I for one cannot wait to start giving back to the guy who I would not be where I am now without. Thank you for all that you have done for me bud, I wouldn’t be here without you. This is James’ story of how he came to get his first Harley and what the road that led him there looked like.

My Harley Experience, by James Burkett

As far back as I can remember I’ve been drawn to motorcycles. It didn’t matter what the bike was designed to do or where it was ridden, I just knew I needed one. As a child I started with a mini bike, then moved on to dirt bikes. It wasn’t till I was in my twenties when I made the jump from dirt to street and pulled the trigger on a Buell Lightning. The Buell was a blast to ride and amazing to look at, with its deep blue wheels and translucent air box trimmed in a black frame. The bike drew lots of attention from people passing by. I was riding with a crowd of sport bikes so I made the switch from the Buell to a Honda. The Honda was fun and fast but lacked the punchy torch and sound produced by the Buell’s V-Twin. My riding buddies soon moved on or sold their bikes so without buddies to ride with I ended up selling my Honda, thinking maybe someday I’ll buy a bike again. Well long story short, that “someday” came much sooner than I anticipated. Within 6 months of selling the Honda I was browsing the web looking at motorcycle sites when I came across the HD Breakout. This bike looked amazing! I didn’t know anything about it. Heck, I wasn’t even looking at any particular manufacturer. I was just looking at what was new in the world of cruisers.

James' first bike for street, the Buell Lightning
James' first bike for street, the Buell LightningCrusier

My need to know more about the model and brand became an obsession; it gradually consumed me. I spent hours learning everything I could about the HD Breakout; the differences between Softail and Hardtail; the advantages and disadvantages between the models. I studied every review video I could find on the web. I read every article and opinion I could find written about the HD Breakout. As I was doing my research I knew the annual motorcycle show at the Long Beach Convention Center was fast approaching. I also knew that this would be a good chance to see every make and model in the same class of bike as the HD Breakout.

As you may already know, the motorcycle show is a 3-day event. An event that lets you sit, stand and ride just about any bike displayed. It was there that I knew I wanted to be part of the Harley Family. I looked at every model cruiser in the same class as the HD Breakout. I spoke with the vendors about their respective models. They all had good things to say but none of the dealers other than Harley encouraged me to come back Sunday to test ride a bike. The Harley employees working the show were amazing. My wife and I went back early Sunday morning and went straight to the test riding area. I was so excited, we arrived an hour before rides started. As we waited I walked around looking at every bike Harley had to offer. The Harley staff was so friendly and genuinely excited for me to test ride a bike. As they were detailing the bikes in preparation for the day, they took the time to give me opinions of their favorites and encouraged me to ride everything they had to offer. I rode the HD Breakout and loved it. Because the staff was so encouraging, I test rode a Softail Slim S and a Street Bob as well. I was grateful for their push, because riding other bikes was so enjoyable, and further solidified my decision to buy a Breakout. Since the show I’ve shared this with family and friends, encouraging them to do the same next year. I even sent an email to Harley’s corporate office thanking them and providing names of the staff who made the event so awesome! I’ve never before gone out of my way to contact a company to provide comments, but I’ve also never had such a great experience all around retail or vendor event.

James with his new toy, all smiles!
James with his new toy, all smiles!Cruiser

Less than a month later I found myself sitting in the finance office of Huntington Beach Harley Davidson. I can’t say enough about this dealership. Not only did they make me an amazing offer but they truly made me feel like I was not just buying an awesome cruiser, but joining a family that was excited to welcome me in. When I bought my Honda the sales manager said “don’t get hit pulling out of the drive”, but at HB Harley they had everyone in the dealership thank me, shake my hand and played walkout music to a song of my choice throughout the dealership. I love my new Harley. This is the first of many. There are no longer any other bikes for me.

One of the many trips to Pismo Beach we all went on. Best times ever
One of the many trips to Pismo Beach we all went on. Best times everCrusier
James on his Kawasaki getting huge air in Pismo
James on his Kawasaki getting huge air in PismoCruiser
James, Jon and Jon's pops in James'  '89 Jeep
James, Jon and Jon's pops in James '89 JeepCruiser
A portion of the damage... sorry James
A portion of the damage... sorry JamesCruiser