i always used to think that harley was the coolest bike ever made. then when i started hanging out on bike sites and boards, i got the real scoop on harleys. that is why i bought a honda. a great looking bike, performs well, reliable as anything, all minus the vaseline tax. that was my whole point with the empeg (which i do think was worth the money but that is a different story) vs the homebuilt player.
i still would like to own a harley someday though. however, i now realize that harley is a cool bike, but there are many others that are worth riding. before i started riding, i had the impression that harley was all that was worth riding. now i know that while i still like harleys, there is a plethora of other great bikes out there that are just as good or many times better than a hog.
i do think you are right that alot (predominantly the newer owners) of harley riders are into it for the image. i guess i had that fixation before i started riding, but now i realize just how much fun it is no matter what you are riding. my wife and i were looking at a year old sportster for ~ $8900. i am soooo happy we went with the honda instead.
thanks for your insight. it is always great to hear from other riders.