Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

International Hawaii by Indian

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by darrenwilliam79, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. Hi all, just thought I'd put some thoughts of my recent Hawaiian motorcycling experience into text. First time attempting to write anything since school days but here goes!

    “Worlds cruisiest Indian”

    Mine is an often told, yet always pathetic story of a maturing motorcyclist. Over the years, the pressures of work, a mortgage, a wife and a young family have seen my annual 2 wheeled road mileage (kilometreage???) on my GSXR1000 reduce from a respectable 10,000 k’s a year to more like 1000. Heck I probably rack up more distance on my 4 or 5 track days I do per year. So the chance to hit the road during a week long holiday to Hawaii without my 3 & 2 year old kids in tow, was one too good to pass up.We arrived in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, after our 10 hour flight from Melbourne. The half hour taxi ride from the airport to Waikiki revealed some surprises about the local biking scene. A rider on an R1 cruised past us on the freeway with nothing on his head bar a pair of sunnies and a backwards baseball cap. “There are no helmet laws in Hawaii” revealed our cab driver. It appeared my ‘All The Gear, All The Time’ mantra from back home was going to be a challenge here.

    After checking in to our Waikiki hotel, we excitedly set about exploring our surrounds. I was delighted to find a hire business smack bang next to our hotel, hocking a range of 2 and 4 wheeled vehicles.Their range of bikes was wide, from 50cc mopeds, Vespas, roadbikes such as a BMW R800 GT or a Kwaka Ninja 650, to some supersports ZX6Rs. But the bulk of their bikes were cruisers. Plenty of Milwaukee iron including Sportsters, Dyna Glides, Fat Boys, Road Kings, and some heavily modified (and very loud!) S&S 106 Customs. However there was one bike that stood out to me, and if I was going to experience my first cruiser after a strict diet of superbikes, it would have to be astride this. The brand new black Indian Chief Classic. Even to my Sportsbike-mad eyes, the Indian looks amazing from every angle. I get the nod of approval from my Wife and it’s decided, the next sunny morning we will take the Indian for a day ride around the island.

    A couple of days later and we are greeted by a glorious, sunny January morning. Today is the day! We head down at 8am to pickup our ride. I part with what I consider a very reasonable $179USD for the day aboard, and we are ready to go. We decide not to take advantage of the lack of helmet laws and borrow a couple of open face lids. As I start the enourmous 111 cubic inch (1811cc) V-twin, I’m immediately surprised by the lack of vibration, which belies the accompanying deep, throbbing exhaust note.Also apparent is the contrast between the way the bike looks and the features onboard. With its trademark valanced front and rear fenders covering most of its white walled tyres, you could be forgiven for mistaking this for a 1940s Indian at a quick glance. Features such as cruise control, ABS, digital comprehensive trip computer, tacometer, ambient temperature, gear indicator, 6 speed box, and clever proximity ‘smart key’ which you can leave in your pocket as you thumb the start button, all let you know that you are aboard a cutting edge 2014 cruiser.

    Also immediately apparent is that the riding position is completely foreign to me. I can’t believe how far forward my feet are. If it wasn’t for my wife sitting behind me I’d be tempted to use the pillion pegs for myself! The weight of it is also very noticeable to me. A dry weight of 354kgs is more than double my Gixxer. The combination of the bikes weight and foot position make it feel rather cumbersome for a cruiser virgin like me at walking pace. My first wrong turn for the morning resulted in the first of several attempted feet up U-turns, all of which ended up as feet dragging 3-point turns. As we head east out of the traffic snarls of Waikiki, the roads clear and we pick up some moderate pace. All that weight seems to melt away and it feels much more comfortable, and appropriately, Cruisey. We ride along Oahu’s southernmost point of Diamond Head and then eastward onto the Kalanianaole Highway. Soon we make our first sightseeing stop at Hanauma Bay, a popular snorkelling spot. Although we have our swimming gear in a backpack, we’re having far too much fun to contemplate stopping for too long. We take a few photos then head back to the bike.Standing alongside the Indian is the first of what would be many admirers for the day. Greg, a retiree from Minnesota, himself wearing an Indian Cap, was standing alongside. “I’ve got one of these back home” he says “but it’s about 5 degrees (that’s -15 Celsius) at my house with a metre of snow”.After our brief chat we head back on the highway. I’m surprised to notice that the roads are somewhat more potholed and patched up than our own much maligned roads. I also quickly notice the locals lack of adherence to speed limits. The highest posted limit I saw along any of the coastal roads was 45mph. Sit at this speed however, and you will find all manner of cars, motorcycles, trucks and even the odd school bus sailing past you. 10-15mph above the limit is the norm, such is the Hawaiian police forces laid back, and dare I say, common sense enforcement of road rules. It’s not lost on me that 15mph over, equates to 24kmhover, which verges a 1 month loss of license in Victoria. Anyway I’m enjoying taking in the spectacular sights and going with the flow, without paying constant attention to my exact speed. Many of the 45mph signs have another sign directly below saying 40mph minimum! It all seems to work well.I also pick up on the locals way of acknowledging other oncoming riders out on the road, their version of the nod if you will. Riding on the right side of the road frees up your left hand for gesturing. It’s not the simple wave I experienced in mainland America either. In Hawaii it’s the thumb and pinkie out,Hang Loose or Shaka sign gesture with the left arm hung out low along side your bike.

    Along this south-east corner of Oahu there are some nice stretches of road cut into the coastal volcanic rock. Chances to wind on the throttle are limited though by the tourist traffic and buses checking out the many sightseeing spots in this part of the island. We cruise on to the Halona Cove and Blowhole. We stop briefly and again return to the bike being surrounded by fans. This time it is a heap of Japanese tourists keen to get a photo with it. They ask questions in broken English. “What bike this”? “Can I hear it”? “Where you get it”?A Japanese lady who appears to be around 70 gestures that she would like to sit on it. I’m happy to oblige and take a photo for her. I also notice that there is 10 or more Harley’s parked a few metres away, all being totally ignored with the Indian alongside. I can only imagine a Honda Rune possibly pulling this sort of wide ranging attention.

    We continue up the east coast another 6 miles past the Waimanalo Beach Lookout and then pull in at the last of the major tourist stops, the Makapu’U Beach lookout. We take in the great views overlooking Rabbit Island and contemplate the rather dangerous walk down to the tidal pools below. Once again we decide to keep on riding. We head back to the bike, field a few questions from yet another captive audience, including 2 of the local constabulary, and hit the road again. We now are heading north-west along the Kalanianaole Highway and I’m really starting to get the hang of riding the Chief Classic. It’s got a real sweet spot in the rev range between 2000 and 2500rpm, although happy to pull cleanly from as low as 1000rpm. Its all about riding that torque, and I never felt the need to nudge towards the 5500rpm redline.

    We take a brief deviation inland along the Pali Highway to experience the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. This trip takes us through the Pali tunnels, which go under the Ko’olau Mountains. I of course took the opportunity to blip the throttle and hear that 111c.i.Thunderstroke engines sound thunder off the walls. On the return from the lookout I briefly ride on the wrong side of the road for the only time that day. Fortunately I realise my mistake before seeing any shocked oncoming cars seeing the bright, shiny, chromed headlight of the Indian coming straight at them. A second passage back through the Pali tunnels and once again I’m blipping the throttle and grinning like an idiot. We make it back to the east coast at Kaneohe and continue making way to the north now on the Kamehameha Highway. This beaut stretch of road sticks almost exclusively to the water, often with not even a steel armco separating you from the blue water of the Pacific Ocean. 30 miles along this coast and we reach the northern tip of Oahu, Kahuku Point. We make a brief stop to stretch our legs, and once again admire the Indian. The finish on it is top notch. There is acres of chrome on it, and the Indian logo is proudly displayed pretty much everywhere you look. Those fenders are unmistakable, but it’s that huge chromed engine and transmission that dominates the look and draws your eye. Other nice touches such as the glass and chrome front fender ornament and the twin fuel tank filler caps (only the right one is functional, the left one is a dummy) take inspiration from the 1930’s and 40’s Indians.

    After rounding Kahuku Point we are now on Oahu’s North Shore, famous for its big surf. This area is also known for its fresh shrimp farming and restaurants. Many of these roadside restaurants are as simple as a caravan with some picnic tables alongside with a tarp over them for shelter. We pass many such setups before finally stopping in the fishing town of Hale’iwa for a late lunch.I am served the most delicious Coconut Shrimp meal I have ever tasted at a restaurant called ‘Hale’iwa Joes’, which backs onto the marina and offers a nice view of the fishing boats and yachts.With satisfied taste buds and full stomachs we remount and continue east towards Ka’ena Point. The fickle January Hawaii weather however, is looking ominous. Some dark clouds and large rain drops have us reconsidering our original plan of doing a whole lap of Oahu. With no wet weather gear we decide to make a hasty U-turn, sorry, feet dragging 3 point turn, and head back towards Hale’iwa. We hop on the Kaukonahua Highway, a road that takes us south-east through the centre of the island, between the Ko’olau mountains to the east and the Wai’anae Range to the West. We see 55mph speed limits for much of the return journey, and even with damp roads and on and off showers, feel comfortable sitting on 60mph. This speed has the engine purring along at 2250rpm in 6th gear, right in the middle of that sweet-spot in the rev range. As I soak in the last 40 minutes of open road riding before we hit the dense traffic of Honolulu, I can’t help but congratulate myself for my choice of ride. A sportsbike makes little sense on Hawaiian roads, especially 2-up. The combination of low speed limits, tourist traffic, spectacular scenery, and average road surfacing make it ideal for Cruisers. I can’t think of any better to be aboard than an Indian Chief Classic.

    Getting around Oahu

    Oahu has a coastline of just 365Km, making an entire lap a comfortable day trip. Or if you feel like taking it a bit easier and taking in the sights for longer, you can do the east or west coast and return via the Kaukonahua Highway as I did. The East coast is considered more picturesque, and many locals also say it is safer than the west coast.

    Bike Hire

    Chase Hawaii Rentals are one of many hire Businesses in Waikiki. 50cc mopeds start at $40USD per day. A Suzuki SV650 will set you back $69USD. Harleys range from $99-$189USD. The Indian featured is $179 for the day. All prices include insurance and are unlimited kilometres. Loan Helmets are available. See www.chasehawaiirentals.com

    image. image. image. image. image. image.

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. Nice write-up.
    I did pretty much the same trip 3 years ago but driving a rental Plymouth Prowler. The drive and the various stops made for a great day out, even with the fickle weather.
  3. Yeah We hired a yellow Camaro ss Convertible and did the same route a few days later. Even the wife thought it was more fun on the Indian though!
  4. Fantastic write up

    Did a very similar route in 2006 and we hired Harley Fatboys, I had never riden a Harley or a Cruiser before and the whole Paddle Board Shift thing was very difficult to get use too, was missing gears all over the place.
    But man what a place to ride, it was brilliant.

    Most confronting thing was I hit a Coconut in the middle of the road and almost came off!
  5. Got to agree awesome looking bike
  6. Haha @ hitting a coconut! Yeah fortunately the Indian Had your regular gear lever
  7. Top story, well done.

    Love Hawai'i, we go every year for the Vans Triple Crown.

    I am a little surprised how many sports bikes are around, plenty of those crazy Hayabusas and ZZR-14s with lo-o-o-ong swingarms.

    The west coast is fine, nothing more to worry about than you would in a major Australian city. It might help that my wife looks like a local though.....

    Reckon I'll be hiring a Chief next time.
  8. Yeah just a nice local guy we became friendly with was telling us the west coast was the poor side of the island with lots of gangs and stuff. I was still keen to do the whole lap though until the weather turned to crap
  9. Great write up @darrenwilliam79@darrenwilliam79. My wife and i opted for Big Island. Next time we want to do a lap. Doubt that I'll be able to do it in the same style as you as my wife does not want to go near bikes. Great photos too!
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Yeah, we've been warned by the locals to stay away from Waianae as well, they don't like haoles. But, we had no hassles at all.
  11. There's plenty of other nice 4 wheeled rides to hire for half what you'd pay here to keep the wife happy
    image. image.
  12. How did u like the big island? This was my first time to Hawaii so I was happy to just do the regular ol tourist holiday on Oahu, with nothing too intrepid. I'm keen to explore further though next time
  13. Big Island is great, especially if you are a nature lover. The Hilo side is wetter but less developed and closer to the active Volcanoes. The Kona side has all the big resorts and less rain.

    A lap of the island is a full day if you also want to stop and look at a few things. When I did my lap there were a lot of cruiser bike out including one group who were with an unfortunate fellow who'd come off.

    There is also the saddle road that runs between Hilo and Waimea, past Mauna Kea which is fun. I recommend doing the sunset and stargazing tour on Mauna Kea one night.

    I did 12 days, split 7 on Hawaii and 5 on Oahu. I wish I'd spent more time on Big Island and would have been happy to sacrifice a day or two Oahu. If shopping is your thing, go to Oahu. If Volcanoes and nature are your thing, go Big Island. If you want to lay on the beach, got to Maui.
  14. Hi @darrenwilliam79@darrenwilliam79, we flew in and out on the same day, like a Melbourne -Launceston flight, so others would have seen much more. Fascinating place but we had to leave as the sun was setting and could not see the red glow in the caldera. Some photos. In the collapsed lava tube waterfall photo, there is a guy on top (hard to see), but gives a sense of scale. The place is cold up higher, and the lava fields are immense. a place of contrast that we could only glimpse. "Vast and mysterious " is how I would describe it. Worth a visit for its natural beauty.
    IMG_3494 - Copy.JPG
    IMG_3574 - Copy.JPG
    IMG_3601 - Copy.JPG
    IMG_3619 - Copy.JPG