about a fat boy (no, i don't mean me.)

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this past saturday sue texted me about going to the art car parade. but when she texted to say they were leaving, i had just ordered some food at einstein bagels. so i texted back and said i wasn't going to be able to make it. (i'm not sure my leg would have been happy about standing in the heat for several hours either.)

i decided to use my now open day to drop by a victory dealership to see their line of bikes in person. i wasn't immediately wowed by any one in particular, but as i sat on a few and starting looking them over, i began to think perhaps victory was the brand for me. it's american-made, has high customer satisfaction ratings, and seems to be developing a real bike culture around the brand (like harley has enjoyed for a long time). it's like some of the good aspects of harley culture, but more unique because it's way less common. i finally decided a vegas low would be best. they also had a few 2008 models left, so he could drop the price some more on them. but the dealership only had bright colors (blue, red, white). he said they made a black, but they didn't have one to show me. then he said another of their shops had one, but he wanted me to buy from him of course, so he said he'd tell me where it was so i could go look at it -- but i had to buy it from him. he also said the bike was $1000 off (msrp: $16,500), plus he could probably get another $1k off. he told me to call and let him know after i looked at the bike.

i left and drove over to the other shop. i was helped by a cool saleswoman... but the important part is that they had the bike and it had $14,300 on it. so without any negotiating, it was already $200 below the other salesman's offer. but i didn't talk price, except to get an out the door price. a little over $16k. she gave me her card and told me to call and let her know what i wanted to do.

then i started thinking: originally my plan was to not spend over $16k on the new bike -- i had $6800 in insurance pay-out on my old bike, so i'd drop a new $10k on the new bike. get something nicer, but still stay economical. but then i thought...as long as i was already at $16k for a victory, perhaps i should go check out harley again. i knew some of them i'd been looking at were $12k or $15k msrp. and while victory bikes had a lot of nice features, they just didn't "do it" for me (in the heart and gut, i guess) liked i'd hoped a bike that much more than my (totaled) honda vtx1300c would do.

by this time it was later in the day, but i looked online and saw that the republic harley dealership down 59 in stafford is open later, so i drove over and looked around. (the only other two close-ish ones are stubb's -- which i'd been to already -- and mancuso, which i'd heard bad things about. not that everyone glowed about republic, but what can you do?)

so i drove down to republic and talked for some time with a sales guy, who was also an a&m grad. i had looked at the street bob ($12k start) and fat bob ($15k start), but once i had punched the $16k barrier with the victory vegas low it opened up the fat boy ($16k start). he convinced me to let him run numbers, so i picked some accessories i'd like. i told them i had a great rate through my credit union and was pre-approved, but he got me to run my stuff through harley finance. they couldn't meet the rate, but they did something to drop the rate a point, so it got pretty close. unfortunately, the out the door total they gave me was around $24k and i just wasn't going to do that. they kept trying to sell me on it, and we played with several variations of swapping out the parts i wanted on it, but i backed out every time. they also didn't have the color i wanted available, but they had the skins/tins/body parts i wanted and could swap them out. i eventually left, and the salesman said he'd call and let me know if they found what i wanted and find out about any break they might be able to give me.

sunday all the bike shops were closed, so it gave me some tme to think. i went to crescent city beignets with the potts, then i went with them to some thrift store (value village?) way over on the east side of town. regrettably, i didn't find anything i was excited about.

monday after work i decided to drop by stubb's harley on telephone again. (i'd been there about a week before.) the salesman i'd talked to didn't appear to be around, so i talked to another one. i was hoping to get some kind of quote from him, but he didn't really seem interested. he said they, like pretty much all local harley shops, get msrp for their bikes. but that's also because of the economy, as 1 or 2 years ago they were getting $1k to $2k over msrp. he was nice enough talking to me about parts and options and all sorts of things, but he seemed like his sales technique was auto-pilot -- i.e., sit back and do nothing and let the sale sell itself. unfortunately, auto-pilot doesn't work as well on selling as it does with controlling planes in flight. the previous salesman seemed about the same, so maybe that's that store's culture. or maybe they thought i wasn't serious. or maybe they are only looking for rich people that will walk in and write checks for bikes with thousands (or tens of thousands, even) in add-ons without questioning any prices for anything. (the first salesman had several of those stories to tell me about. maybe he was telling me something.)

the salesman from republic called me monday and tuesday, and at some point i told him i was hoping to keep my financed amount below $300/mo, which would put me at $22,700. i was pretty quickly annoyed i'd given that info but it was too late. so i set up an appointment to meet with them wednesday afternoon.

wednesday i was hoping to leave work early and drop by mancuso, just to see if i could get a quote from them, but it didn't work out. so that afternoon i went down to republic. originally the salesman had said the bike i wanted was shipping to them, but then it wasn't but they could swap skins with the black denim bike in the showroom. when i sat down with my salesman and another guy, they gave me new quote: they had the msrp price for the black denim paint job ($16,344, which is $344 more than the vivid black...so i was paying for the swap-out), ~$600 freight, ~$600 build, ~$700 set-up i think, plus $2100 in labor on the $2100 in parts (but..but..it was with 10% off on parts (not labor). wow, ~$200 whole dollars!). it came to around $23,700 i think, which put me at $320/mo. i hate negotiating, but i was being forced into it. i'm sure they became annoyed with me, because i can sit silent for hours when i'm considering something big. and i sat for long stretches without giving any indication. eventually i said i wanted everything on it for $22k. he took it back and came back with...$23k and a $250 gift card. (so $22,750 for what i wanted, plus $250 for them that i would have to spend at the store). after another very extended stretch, i said $22k and a $700 gift card -- which with whatever their profit margin is in their parts and labor should net them another few hundred dollars profit. he took that back and came back with $22,500 and a $250 gift card. that got me to $22,250, plus $250 for them i had to spend at the store. i sat for a long time again...a really long time...because i really was close to walking. they claimed that was the final offer, and both said it was a good deal. (how can you trust a salesman selling you something though? answer: you can't.) i finally said i'd do it for $22,500 and a $350 gift card. (so i pushed for $100 more in store credit instead of just into the bike.) he took it back. as he was gone, my salesman said "i thought you said you didn't like negotiating." i told him i didn't, but i was having to do it. then the other guy came back and said we had a deal.

so yes, i bought a 2009 harley-davidson fat boy in vivid black, chromed rims, security addition, with these custom parts: brawler seat and pillion, vance and hines staggered big shot pipes, and street slammer t-bar with integrated risers (plus chrome levers, chrome and rubber hand grips, and braided cables). it's kind of funny though, as today when i was thinking about it i realized i actually made the fatboy look a lot more like my vtx1300c than it did originally. (my old bike had a narrower seat like the one i added, plus it had drag bars with integrated risers, and was black.) however, compared to my vtx, the fat boy has: bigger, more classic cruiser fenders; fatter tires, wider front tire; a fatter front fork with more chrome around the headlight; and billeted big disc rims.

in the end, it's the classic cruiser design that was in my mind that just looked...right, but victory and honda didn't seem to match. and i also learned while purchasing it that it was made famous by arnold schwarzeneggar because it's the bike he rode in terminator. who knew? (maybe my dressing as the terminator (pic) for chris and mary's 2007 halloween party was foreshadowing.)

because of the work they have to do with the skins/tins/body parts and custom parts, i probably won't be able to get my new bike until saturday, or maybe monday or tuesday.

so i guess soon i'll see if a harley is worth the price they collect. (considering i could have gotten a japanese knock-off version for around half the price.) i'm thinking the bike better magically win friends, influence people, and get me dates -- or make me not care about any of that. (but without turning me into one of those harley elitist jerks. 'cause that's not magical at all.)

stay tuned for my next entry, where i plan on talking about my perception of the harley store experience. (as a teaser, let me tell you it was not really what was in my mind when i thought about the harley name and image.) and as a special bonus: a story about a prick in a brand new black audi tt that almost ruined both of our days on thursday morning.

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You did it!!!!!!!!!! I'm glad you got what you really wanted, but of course (sigh) not about you riding again! Your guardian angel will have to put on the armour again and be ready.
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