Savannah Harley Davidson: Get The Ride of Your Life
Author: Blanche T. Sullivan
It was 1903 when 21-year-old William S. Harley and 20-year-old Arthur Davidson put their industrious heads and hands together to create the first production Harley-Davidson motorcycle, based on Harley’s blueprint, and make it available to the public. Working from a rustic 10 × 15-foot wooden shed, the first Harley-Davidson Motor Company ‘headquarters,’ the adventurous duo set out to produce a racing vehicle and wound up introducing one of the most legendary companies and products ever established.
More than a century later, the Harley-Davidson brand is irrefutably recognized and respected the world over. Those who ride Harleys are as diverse as the company’s encyclopedia-sized catalogs, but undeniably united by a common bond—an intense passion for the Harley-Davidson legend and lifestyle.
So what is it about riding a motorcycle, specifically a Harley, that attracts so many diehard devotees, that beckons like an entrancing siren? Survey a few dozen Harley owners and riders, from South Carolina to South Dakota, and you will likely elicit slightly varied, yet distinctly similar and energetic responses regarding four things: fun, friendship, freedom and giving back to the community.
According to Blufftonian, Kim Flenard, “Riding and owning a Harley is truly a life-changing experience.” She should know. In addition to being a long-time motorcycle enthusiast, Flenard is also the long-time assistant manager at the Savannah Harley-Davidson dealership, owned by Chris Clark and Rick Buckley, and believes she has the best job in the world. “What’s really cool is working in a place where your job is also your hobby,” she said.
Flenard has been riding for 12 years and with Savannah Harley-Davidson for nearly 14 of the dealership’s 15 years. Having worked in retail with women’s clothing for most of her life and possessing a love for motorcycles made handling motor clothes, her first assignment with the dealership, a natural fit.
But even early on, Flenard knew that the draw to motorcycles, especially Harleys, went well beyond cool bikes and hot leathers. “It’s more than just great products. It’s an amazing lifestyle. You’re like a different person. You can be a professional during the day and then, for lack of a better expression, be a badass!” she explained with a grin.
This is particularly impressive coming from a woman whose first long distance ride was as a passenger for a 1,200-mile trek to Milwaukee, Harley-Davidson’s birthplace and museum location (opened in 2008), in a major downpour.
Of course, as Savannah Harley-Davidson sales manager, John Swartz, can attest, the 28,000-square-foot dealership does offer an extensive selection of incredible products and services for motorcycle enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels. In addition to housing more than 100 bikes and eclectic merchandise, including safety equipment, Harley-themed home décor and pet-friendly apparel, the dealership offers bike rentals, special events and a service and customization department with highly trained experts—they even have “chrome consultants” and use ergonomics to better fit a bike to its particular rider.
Travelers can take advantage of their fly-and-ride program—the dealership will pick them up at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, bring them to the dealership to collect their motorcycle rental and can even stow some of their luggage.
Swartz has been riding motorcycles for decades, Harleys for the past 15 years, and, like Flenard, believes that the dealership’s exceptional, consistent staff and customer service complement Harley’s world-class products and underscore the company’s mission, which is “to further the Harley-Davidson ownership experience for our customers by consistently meeting or exceeding their expectations.”
Said Flenard, “We’ve been offering a Ride Rewards Program for about five years now. For every dollar customers spend, they get a point. That promotes customer loyalty and we reward them for that loyalty.”
Swartz added that Savannah Harley-Davidson is much more than just a store to buy merchandise and utilize service; it is also an inviting gathering place. “A Harley shop is different than a car dealership,” he said. “People enjoy coming here to hang out and socialize. The coffee pot is always on. You can come here and be with your friends, feel like family. People buy a motorcycle and they’re in here all the time.”
Both Flenard and Swartz are especially proud of the emphasis on safety and training, as well as strong sense of charity prevalent within both their organization and the biker community in general.
Said Flenard, “John [Swartz] is always doing safety seminars, and just about every week you can find some kind of charity event or ride taking place. It’s really amazing.”
“The ladies segment [in terms of sales] is not the largest, but it is the fastest growing, added Swartz. “Many people dream of owning a Harley. Harley-Davidson is the number one thing people tattoo on their bodies.”
Savannah Harley-Davidson can fit you with a badass bike of your own and help you realize your Harley dream. Don’t miss Customer Appreciation Day, September 26, 2009. For more information, call (912) 925-0005 or visit www.savannahhd.com.
Meet Some Local Harley Riders
Travus & Laurie Towler (husband & wife)
Her Ride: Lowered 2000 Harley Road King Classic with 95-inch big bore motor.
His Ride: 2008 Harley Road King Classis with 96-inch motor and 18-inch apehanger handlebars. Both have “true dual” exhausts with fishtail pipes.
Riding Hours Logged: Travus has been riding for 31 of his 36 years. Began with dirt bikes. Laurie has been riding for about 15 years.
Reason to Ride: Both love the FREEDOM it affords.
Best Trip: Their honeymoon in Waimea Canyon in Kauai, the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Hawaii. Laurie recalls “…amazing waterfalls, hairpin turns and switchbacks so sharp that Travus swears he could see his own taillights. We rode up so high that we were in the clouds and couldn’t see anything from one of the highest lookouts! Of course, seeing as how Kauai is one of the rainiest spots in the U.S. with over 400 inches of rain yearly, we got soaked going out and coming in! Small price to pay for such an amazing ride.”
John Swartz (Sales Manager, Savannah Harley Davidson)
His Ride: 2000 Harley FXR4—one of only 450 built
Riding Hours Logged: Riding since 1965.
Riding Mantra: Safety first. John hosts safety seminars for everyone, from moms to military, and the dealership offers helmets, rain gear, critical safety tips and more.
Patty Pearson (John’s girlfriend)
Her Ride: 2000 Harley FXR4 (John’s bike)
Reason to Ride: She and her friend of 30+ years took up motorcycle riding as mid-life crisis present to themselves and have been riding for a few years. Fun, stress-relieving activity. Wants people to know how much riders do for charity, helping local people in need.
Why Harley? “It’s a legend! A Harley has that unique sound…just gets your heart pumping when it goes by!”
Dr. Jerilyn Logsdon
Her Ride: 2003 Harley Ultra-Classic Anniversary Edition 1450 cc bike with outrigger kit for stability. Also has cruise control, a CB, a CD player, with speakers or helmet/headset option, etc.—the ultimate convertible!
Best Trip: Traveling coast-to-coast, from South Carolina to Northern California, with a tequila run into Mexico before heading back to SC. Took in sights of The Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Petrified Forrest, Yosemite National Park, and host of hot springs for soaking, along the way. Spent a few nights camping and enjoyed some great hotels. Ran alongside a herd of wild horses running next to her in the high desert. “It was a once in a lifetime, unbelievable experience.”
Dream Trip: Sail down to Caribbean on boat large enough to transport her Harley and then continue around the world.
Kim Flenard (Asst. Gen. Mgr., Savannah Harley Davidson)
Her Ride: 2002 Electra-Glide (‘adopted’ from her husband)
Riding Hours Logged: 12 years
Reason to Ride: From freedom & fun to the smell & sound, she loves it all!
Trip She’d Most Like to Make: Iconic Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota
Jeff Flenard (Kim’s husband)
His Ride: 1979 80-cubic-inch Shovelhead
Riding Hours Logged: A lot! Riding since he was 10. Built his first bike, a Honda 90cc.
Reason to Ride: “When you ride, it makes everything else not so important.” Enjoys the camaraderie.
Trip He’d Most Like to Make: Sturgis
Stefan Patrick (Owner of Beach Break Bar & Grill, popular rider hangout)
His Ride(s): ’84 Shovelhead, 2002 Road Glide & Rigid Ironhead
Riding Hours Logged: Dirt bikes since childhood, bought first Harley (Rigid Ironhead) in ’83. Keeps rebuilding the Ironhead using the bike’s original motor.
Memorable Ride: Rode from upstate NY, through the mountains, to Key West. Says early bikes were not as reliable then and he broke down everywhere, but met lots of nice people and had a great adventure.