Harley's Topper Tackles Death Valley
Death Valley... definitely not on the top ten places to ride for many motorcyclists. Located in the Mojave Desert in Eastern California, Death Valley has the highest reported air temperature on earth, reaching a world record of 134 degrees back in 1913. While that's warmer than usual, the average temperature for July is still a sweltering 116 degrees. Luckily it's a dry heat, since the average rain fall is less than 2.5 inches per year. If that wasn't enough, Death Valley also has elevations on both ends of the spectrum It's lowest point is 282 feet below sea level which is separated from it's highest point (14,505 feet) by just 84 miles. Even with all those obstacles or perhaps because of them, Ross Wooten, a Harley dealer from Bakersfield, thought that Death Valley would make a great place to test Harley's new scooter, the Topper.
Now, Wooten wasn't going to be caught riding a Topper, even in a place as desolate as Death Valley, so he enlisted Jerry Standefer to actually ride the scooter on the 600 mile trek through the desert. Ross was a good sport though and decided to come along in case Standefer ran into any trouble, but he rode a panhead. Probably just so he would have room for extra tools and what not...
According to Wooten, they made the entire two-day trip "without making a single adjustment or touching a wrench to it." The only preparation for the ride was a quick check of the carb and the spark plug and they headed for the desert. The terrain they covered was pretty demanding, ranging from the hot sands of the Mojave, to rocky roads at high elevations. Somehow the Topper even made the 8,200 foot climb up Mount Whitney and still had plenty of power left to cruise back to Bakersfield at 45 miles per hour.
Once they arrived back at the dealership, Wooten stated that "the Topper only required 5 minutes of wiping with a rag before putting it back on display." I hope he at least knocked a little off the price after two days of desert riding in 120 degree heat!