Bike Week Part II-Victory Is Ours!

In my last post, I mentioned that Main Street during Bike Week or Biketoberfest is an event that must be enjoyed at least once in life. Where else might you see a tubby and smiling Captain America--- mask, cape and all--- pull up on his equally decked-out Boss Hoss, read t-shirt sogans so gross you fear blindness or see a crusty old dude wandering the street wearing a handmade cardboard sign saying "Will Work for Sex or Filet Mignon"? Alas, the wonders and delights of Main Street are but one reason Daytona during a motorcycle event is so special.

Equally as enticing is the fact that during most Bike Weeks, Triumph, Harley Davidson, Victory, Boss Hoss, Yamaha, Can-Am, Suzuki, and Kawasaki spend millions to set up lavish tents and trailers and allow anyone with a motorcycle endorsement to ride anything they would like...for free, mostly. (Boss Hoss is the exception, but with gas nearing $4 a gallon, paying $10 to ride a big 13mpg V-8 Hoss is still a bargain.)

To anyone who loves motorcycles, this group dealer demonstration ride set-up is just one step removed from heaven. Once upon a time Moto Guzzi, Buell, and BMW also participated...but the cost of the event became daunting or the brand went away. Ducati also used to come, but never let you ride. Of all the major players, only Honda refuses to allow riding, claiming the liability is just too great. Oddly, Suzuki and the others do not seem to agree. In fact, one wag at Kawasaki told me several years ago that not being at the show does their reputation harm. It seems people are far too quick to jump to the conclusion that the brand is in trouble if it is not represented at Bike Week.

At 8:30ish each morning, the manufacturers start taking names for the days' rides. Plan well and get a bit lucky, and you can go from ride to ride for most of the day. Since Steve and I have ridden most of what is available, we now tend to be more choosy, and so today, started at Victory to ride the as-yet unobtainable High Ball, which comes standard with 6-speed overdrive, 97 horsepower 106 Freedom V-Twin, 16-inch laced wheels, and best of all, ape hangars.

The 2012 High Ball, due out in April, just LOOKS cool, and it drives cool, too. I have never ridden with ape hangars before and wondered what the higher handlebars would do to the bike's handling. I've seen riders with high bars struggle with corners and tight spaces before, but Victory has this bike dialed in. My demo bike, outfitted with aftermarket pipes handled like a charm, cornered well, stopped on a dime, had power to spare and was ten tons of fun. I can always tell which bike I really love by the size of the smile plastered on my face when I return from the ride and this smile was larger than Boss Hoss' Bike Week gasoline bill.

I had high hopes, then, for the test ride of the new Triumph GS clone, the 800XC. The first thing we discovered is the price spotted on-line was low, and the new bike will be much closer in price to the BMW F800 than expected. Stay tuned for more!

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