York Daily Record/Sunday News
One by one, they introduced themselves to Robert and Susan Shingler.
One installed the left side footpads.
Another put on the fenders.
The Summerville, S.C., couple gazed at what stood before them – a cafeteria packed with second-shift employees who manufactured their 2013 Road Glide Ultra.
It’s a privilege not afforded to the average Harley-Davidson owner.
Then again, this wasn’t the average Harley-Davidson bike.
“This bike was a collector’s item before it even hit the road,” said Robert Shingler, a 44-year-old police officer who, unbeknownst to him, purchased the 4 millionth motorcycle manufactured at the company’s Springettsbury Township operations.
The Milwaukee-based company flew the couple to York on Monday to tour the plant, meet its workers and watch a video documenting the bike’s Oct. 16 “birth” – as it’s called at the site.
The motorcycle, which retails for more than $20,000, is a milestone for the company, which – as evidenced in recent earnings reports – is beginning to see the fruits of an organization-wide restructuring that began in 2009.
The first bike rolled off the line at the factory in 1973. About 20 years later, the millionth bike was recorded, spokeswoman Bernadette Lauer said.
“We wanted to get this bike ridden,” plant General Manager Ed Magee told the gathering of workers. “We didn’t want it sitting in the back of somebody’s shop.”
And that isn’t likely to happen, according to the Shinglers – a couple of avid riders who have owned five other Harley-Davidsons, ranging from a 2006 Street Glide to a 2010 Ultra Limited.
During the summer, they attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which draws hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts annually to South Dakota.
That’s when they got the itch to buy a new ride. They signed the paperwork in November at a dealership in Leesburg, Fla., when they spotted a motorcycle painted in Midnight Pearl. The blackish coat blends into the night but shimmers in the sun.
“They were told it was a special bike,” Lauer said. “Short of that, they had no idea.”
The couple found out how special it was when they went to pick up the bike. There was media and a celebration in their honor.
So far, they’ve only driven it 170 miles, Lauer said.
But that’s likely to change soon.
The couple plan to ride the bike to Panama City on May 1 and to Harley-Davidson’s 110th anniversary celebration in Milwaukee from Aug. 29 through Sept. 1.
“This was amazing. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime shot,” Robert Shingler said. “I want to put some miles on this bike.”