Tag Archives: coolcycledude

I sure hope they don’t f**k this up.

Polaris motorcycle sales of Victories and Indians took a backward slide after the introduction of Harley-Davidson’s brand-new 2014 motorcycles. According to Forbes magazine, Polaris’s motorcycle sales took a 7% slide. Ouch! This is probably not what the Board of Directors at Polaris were expecting. According to what I read in the Wall Street Journal, one of the board members told the CEO of Polaris industries “you better not f**k this up.” I wonder where a slide in sales falls with relationship to f**king this up.

The CEO of Polaris industries said ”that the introduction of the Indian motorcycles is like having a baby you have to nurture it and help it grow for the future.” I got a feeling he’s going to be breast-feeding that “baby” for a long time. I’ve ridden all three Indian models several times and they are very nice motorcycles. I believe they‘re a really competitive products in a very crowded market segment. So, I’m thinking something biblical is going to need to happen to increase Indian motorcycle sales.

To make things worse I had to drive to Indiana and Wisconsin to demo the Indian motorcycles. Not a single Indian dealer in the state of Illinois. Indian has deal on their website that they’ll pay for an airline ticket to get to a dealer. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this? I believe I mentioned this previously in another blog, I’m somewhat confused why Polaris did not put a strong dealer network in place before they released the Indian motorcycles.

I spoke with one of the Victory dealers that is near me. With a big frown on his face he tells me “Polaris wants him to double the floor space that he currently has in order to sell Indian motorcycles.” Then a smile appears on his face while he’s looking around his store and he tells me “if I double the space, I could turn this into a pretty nice restaurant.” Okay, I guess selling motorcycles must not be the greatest gig in the universe.

Harley-Davidson on the other hand has pumped out 71,000 new motorcycles since the introduction of the Project Rushmore in August of 2013. These sold units correlate in to a 9% increase in sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I guess the Project Rushmore was the ticket to sell motorcycles. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “Coolcycledude get off your Harley-Davidson soapbox.”

First off I don’t own a soapbox, second I think I would buy an Indian motorcycle if I didn’t have to travel to another state and the wife lets me. I’m just concerned that the Three Stooges are in charge of the destiny of what I consider some really cool motorcycles. I sure hope they don’t f**k this up.

 

2014 Yamaha Bolt Demo Ride

I sorry! But, I have to start with the name of this motorcycle. Bolt? Really! That’s the best name Yamaha could come up with? I might name my dog “Bolt”, you know what that shit isn’t happen either. Bolt quit drinking out of the toilet! Bolt quit humping the other dog! Bolt quit tearing up the backyard! Bolt is that one of the wife’s shoes in your mouth? Good doggie, Bolt.

I think I know how this happened. One of dudes or dudettes in a marketing meeting at Yamaha’s think tank in California says “Hey I’ve got to BOLT, I’ve got a yoga class in a few minutes.” The other dudes or dudettes in the meeting looking at each other wide eyed and yell out “Cool! Way Cool! Bolt it is, let’s go surfing.” So they pass it up to Yamaha’s lawyers, where there’s a big sigh of relief. The one lawyer says to the other “I thought they would end up calling it Sportster 2.” The other lawyer responds back” Nope, were cool.”

Okay, enough of the unfounded chit -chat above. First and foremost, the Bolt is a very nice entry level small cruiser motorcycle. It has an air-cooled V-Twin engine. The displacement is just a little south of 1000 cc or around 58 cubic inches.  I’m pretty sure Yamaha was also going for the bobber look too. Also, it’s got a slick five speed gearbox. The gearbox is nicely matched with the power curve of the engine.

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The V-twin engine is the most important component of any cruiser motorcycle. Yamaha knows that so they bolted one in the Bolt. I’m so funny “bolted one in the Bolt.” The V-twin engine used to power the bolt isn’t brand new either.  It’s also being used in the V Star 950 Tourer and the V Star 950 models.  The V Star engines are all chromed up and the Bolt’s engine is blacked out. I’m going to guess that most of the other specifications are the same.

The engine has four valves per cylinder with some type of specially designed cylinder head to increase available power. Adjustments to the maps used to control fuel delivery and ignition have been modified to make the engine produce more torque at lower RPMs. Cruiser riders love that torque stuff. There’s also a different style air-box to facilitate keeping the engine fully aspirated.

Of course the engine is fuel injected. No traction control or that other fancy stuff on this baby. The motorcycle weighs in at 540 pounds excluding fluids. This probably would make it easier to handle for someone who is just learning how to ride a motorcycle. The seat height is somewhere around 27 inches which is right in the ballpark for a cruiser motorcycle.

I’m not completely sure, but I think you could get one of these babies out the door for around $9,000.00. Nine grand out-the-door, very nice deal! It appears that is a whole lot stuff that you can purchase to make Bolt to your liking. Yamaha is taking a page of Harley Davidson’s playbook with all of the customizing parts.

The Bolt is Yamaha’s tool to try to take away market share from Harley Davidson. I’m going to guess the main focus is to slow down Harley Davidson’s Sportster 883 production line. This is definitely going to be a tough road to travel. Harley-Davidson has a well-oiled marketing machine and a very loyal customer base buying their products.

But this is a pretty good strategy for Yamaha to use. Use some of the parts that are already in play in their other motorcycles. No sense making everything from scratch that usually costs a lot of money. Make less money on their entry-level vehicles to get the framework for a loyal customer base. Pick up the money on the backend through all the gizmos used to customize the motorcycle. Hopefully Yamaha can get the Bolt users to upgrade to the larger cruisers in Yamaha’s lineup. Either way, I guess it’s a crapshoot.

Riding the Bolt was a pretty good experience except I felt cramped on the motorcycle. I may be used to larger motorcycles. It’s been a long time that I’ve been on a motorcycle under or around 1000 cc. About a year ago I rode Harley-Davidson’s Sportster 883 and I got the same vibe. The Bolt had plenty of power for acceleration during my demo ride. I did a few 0 to 60 miles an hour in my demo videos just to see what the motorcycle would do. During my little drag race sessions the transmission worked like a charm never missed a shift. Also when I came to a stop I had no problems finding neutral.

The wheelbase is approximately 61 inches which was probably a major factor in how stable the motorcycle was at 65 miles an hour. Yamaha is indicating on their spec sheet that the motorcycle gets approximately 51 miles per gallon. This is probably a good asset for the motorcycle because of the current price of fuel. The rear tail light is filled with LEDs and I still have made my mind up whether it belongs on the motorcycle or not. I guess that’s a decision a potential buyer would make.

There was no extensive vibration or heat migration to me during the demo rides.  Although, my hands did fall asleep on several occasions due to what I considered abnormal vibration in the handlebars. This problem can be easily rectified with several different approaches. I believe Yamaha spent a lot of time making this motorcycle compact and centering the mass so the engine is right between your legs closer than what I’ve experienced on other motorcycles.

The seat which is stock was definitely not designed to be comfortable for me. So if I owned this motorcycle, the first thing I would throw in the trash would be the seat. Also I would definitely invest in forward controls and possibly higher handlebars. The brakes worked fine with no ABS and only one disk in the front. I felt the speedometer was hard to read because of the smoked lens. I definitely wish the speedometer would have incorporated some type of tachometer.

All in all, I thought this was a quality product for someone who wants an entry-level motorcycle in the cruiser segment. This was definitely not a motorcycle for me, but I really see it making an impact on a younger person who is looking to create a motorcycle of his liking.

2013 Victory Boardwalk

I got a chance to ride the Victory’s 2013 Boardwalk motorcycle. First things first I have a “Harley-Davidson Brain” but you can’t beat the quality of Victory motorcycles. So I am a fan of most of the Victory motorcycles that are manufactured. I have said this many times if they didn’t make Harley-Davidson motorcycles my ass would be sitting on a Victory motorcycle. I think that the Freedom 106 engine is pretty much bulletproof. But I do have some reservations about their big touring motorcycle. I think I’ll stop here.

Okay, not a big fan of a solid white paint job on a motorcycle. I’m sure the color is not called white it’s probably got some weird name like “Desert White” or “Midnight White.” It sure looked like regular old white to me. I have a Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe with a white and dark blue paint job, although I have on several occasions thought about the logic behind the paint scheme for this motorcycle. Oh, now I remember, I like to wash it a lot.

So it’s not that I don’t like white, it’s I just don’t see an application for solid white paint on a motorcycle. Maybe, the paint was on sale from the manufacturer. From a psychology point of view, the color white projects purity, cleanliness, and neutrality. Are these the traits you want your motorcycle to project?  I didn’t think so!

Nice powerful engine on this motorcycle. The Boardwalk is equipped with Victory’s Freedom 106 engine.  I don’t know much about the Polaris Corporation, but I do know that when they put together an engine, you can’t beat it. The 106 is a 50 degree V-twin with four valves per cylinder. So it’s not going to have any problems breathing. The engine has a wet sump configuration.  Not a big fan of a wet sump without water cooled cylinders. But the upside is this baby holds 5 quarts of oil. That should be enough so the oil can do its primary job. Plus there’s a big oil cooler in the front of the engine near the bottom of the frame. Engine cooling relies on air and oil. A very nice six speed gearbox is incorporated into the engine to make use of the available torque.

Like the adjustable brake lever on the throttle side of the handle bars. Not something that you readily see on cruiser motorcycles. Really a nice touch if you’re one of those people who makes use of the adjustment on the levers. Otherwise, pretty much the same old standard controls on the handlebars. The mirrors are placed nicely and provide a good size picture of what’s going on behind you.

During my demo ride I did encounter some sort of weird feedback on the clutch lever when the motorcycle is in the fifth or sixth gears. During the last bit travel on the clutch lever it would bounce in your hand. I’m pretty sure that that’s not a manufacturer’s defect, probably some sort of a wear problem due to the beatings these demo bikes take.

This motorcycle has tons of chrome. The lower casings on the engine and the frame are not chrome, but pretty much everything else is. I don’t know if I like the Art Deco style turn signals. I prefer a larger turn signal that would leave a larger impression in someone’s brain so they don’t run me over. The handlebars seemed very comfortable to me. I heard other people at the demo ride complaining about them. Victory refers to them as ”beach bars” referencing a trend in older motorcycles.

All of the tactical information such as speed, rpm, gear position and all the other stuff that I can’t remember right now are displayed on the unit. Yep, this is what’s called “real-time” writing. All of this info is being displayed on a single gauge mounted near the center of the handlebars. In the beginning I wasn’t feeling this display set up. But the information is delivered in a format which has grown on me, so I guess I’m feeling it now.

This motorcycle gets up and goes! That’s really the best way to describe it. I think the maximum horsepower and torque occur somewhere around 3200 RPMs. The motorcycle’s gravitational pull on the earth is right around 700 pounds with all the necessary fluids to operate it. So that’s pretty much in the ballpark of its competitors. I’m not completely sure since I don’t have any factual or hard data, but I think it can out run the majority of its competitors.

My favorite personality trait of this motorcycle is the chromed laced wheels. I’m starting to see a trend which causes me a lot of pain. Manufacturers are moving more and more towards either casted or machined rims. Call me old-fashioned, out of date and one foot in the grave, but I like those chrome laced wheels. I feel that the laced wheels are part of the DNA of a true cruiser motorcycle.

If you’re interested in purchasing a cruiser motorcycle I definitely would stop off at a Victory dealer and ask for a test ride. With that said I would also check out the Harley-Davidson, Honda, Triumph, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Indian, BMW, Ducati and Moto Guzzi dealers. It’s important to find out what really moves as opposed to what you have been programmed to think will move you.

 

 

Victory for Polaris!

I got a chance to ride Victory’s 8-Ball motorcycle. I was pretty surprised on the overall experience. A matter of fact, I was really surprised. As soon as I hit the start button I knew this motorcycle was for real. I had my doubts that Polaris glued some motorcycle together as fast as they could to try to give Harley-Davidson a run for their money. But it would seem a lot of thought went into building this motorcycle.

I do have one concern and that is the name of the motorcycle. Always thought ”8-Ball” referred to some sort of leisure drug. I myself did not participate in leisure drugs as a wee lad, but I did consume plenty of alcohol to make up the difference. So I would have a better understanding of the term “8-Ball” I fired up Google and found this urban dictionary site. Typed in ”8-Ball” and whammo! I got these two definitions. One eighth of an ounce of cocaine or an Old English 800 malt liquor. Not a single reference to anything to do with motorcycle.

Well I have never attended a school for marketing and I probably would never be hired to market a product. That’s assuming that the company is interested in selling the product. So in reality my opinion means exactly zero. So I’m going to assume that Polaris spent a lot of money determining that ”8-Ball” was a good name for a motorcycle.

Enough talk about marketing a product. I think the major focus or probably were the most R&D was spent was in the engine. This baby has a 50° V twin with four valves per cylinder. Lighter springs, smaller valves, it’s all about moving air through the engine. The brochure says that the engine produces 97 HP at 113 foot-pounds of torque. I could’ve gone on the Internet and did a little research but my wife is continually telling me I have trust issues so I’m going to go with what’s in the brochure.

During my ride I decided to see if this power was actually available. And I can say it definitely was available. So much so that I broke the rear wheel loose on three occasions during my ride. So I decided to quit testing my available power theory before I crashed this motorcycle. Also there was no delay or notification that the power was going to be delivered to the rear wheel. It just happened and you better be ready for it. Not that it was uncontrollable but it definitely was a surprise.

I do have one complaint about the engine and it’s the noise the valve train made. The engine has a single overhead cam that is driven by a chain, no pushrods moving the valves. This may be nitpicking and I’m sure I’m going to catch hell for saying this but I heard a distinct whining from the top of the engine. A matter of fact it reminded me a lot of my 2002 Suzuki 750 GSXR motorcycle. Now this whining wasn’t so deafening that it destroyed the whole experience but it was unexpected for of the twin.

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I own a 2005 Honda VTX 1800 with a very similar valve train system. The only real difference is that the Honda has three valves per cylinder and the Victory has four. The Honda doesn’t produce a whining sound probably because of extra mass of the cylinders because they’re water-cooled. Either way the whining wasn’t the end of the world just seemed a little weird for a V twin.

The victory engine which is called “Freedom 106” is air and oil cooled. I don’t know this for a fact but I’m pretty sure that oil is being sprayed inside of the engine and use as a cooling medium. One thing I’m a little bit leery of is air cooled engines that are wet sump. The oil comes in contact with the majority of the hot surfaces and is always pulling heat away. Getting this hot oil out of the engine seems like a top priority to me. But I’m pretty sure that the engine has been tested over and over again for reliability. Also it holds I believe 5 quarts of oil and it has an oil cooler.

Riding this motorcycle was a lot of fun it was very comfortable all the controls were well positioned and accessible. The seat was about a 25 inches off the ground which is probably good for somebody with short legs. The speedometer had an analog display for speed. Also there was a small rectangle digital display that indicated RPM and gear position. There’s whole bunch of warning indicators on the inner circle of the speedometer. Speedometer looked pretty good on the bike and easy to view while you’re riding the motorcycle.

Plenty of usable power through all six speeds of the transmission. Transmission shifted like a charm neutral was always easy to find. I know sometimes when I get on a new motorcycle I have to play “find neutral”, of course this could also be a lack of foot eye coordination on my part. The motorcycle was very stable at approximately 65 MPH and easy to push through the corners at a relatively high speed. Both the front in the rear brakes responded very well during usage.

Okay, the only complaint I have about this motorcycle is that my hands went numb. Now this hasn’t happened in a long time to me. I could attribute this to a poor circulatory system, but my hands have not fallen asleep on any other motorcycle that I’ve ridden lately. So I’m going with it’s not me. This is usually easily corrected by either changing the position of the handlebars or putting some material in the handlebars to dampen the effects of the vibration.

Well I guess I would call this a “Victory for Polaris.” This baby ain’t too shabby. I’m pretty sure shabby is not a technical term.

 

 

2013 Harley Davidson VRod Demo Ride

I got the chance to go to a Harley-Davidson demo ride at Chi-Town Harley-Davidson in Tinley Park Illinois. (About 50 miles from the Lilac Vilage, what can I say, I love riding other peoples motorcycles.) It was during the summer, yeah I know, I’m on top of things. It was a beautiful day, a little bit on the warm side. But otherwise, it was a really beautiful day. One of the motorcycles I got to ride was the 10th anniversary edition of the VRod. Talk about a motorcycle that was loaded with chrome and a lot of shiny stuff, this baby just about blinded me. I really thought about getting one of these and bring it home but I knew this would be the motorcycle that would end my marriage. I’ve got four motorcycles already, I really don’t have a good argument for a fifth motorcycle yet. If you do, please email it to me. I know all you guys out there run your homes and you should probably keep telling yourself that too. Because living in an imaginary-land is a lot better than living in reality-land.

The first thing I noticed about the motorcycle is that it reminded me of a piece of art. I’m talking about hanging on the wall art. Even though I’ve taken very few art classes I know a piece of art when I see it. Looking at the way all of the parts fit together and the way they were installed on this motorcycle just gave it an unbelievable look. After thinking about it, kind of reminds me of a Rolex watch. Even though I’ve never owned a Rolex watch, I’ve seen enough of them in magazines ads. A Rolex watch was the first thing that came to my mind while I was looking at the VRod. I can’t figure out why I made the correlation between a Rolex watch and the Harley-Davidson V Rod. It just happened!

This is the second time I’ve ridden the V Rod. The first time I rode it I didn’t like it. The second time I rode it I sort of fell in love with it. This is probably going to sounds odd but the seat, yes the seat, was a big factor for me. I guess it’s kind of funny how my rear end pretty much dictates whether or not I like a motorcycle. I’m pretty sure this thought process is age related.

It has been said that the brain is the biggest sex organ. So with that said, I guess my ass is the biggest motorcycle loving organ. I can’t believe I just wrote “motorcycle loving organ.” Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about either. I’m sure at one time or another you have sat on a motorcycle and thought to yourself “this seat blows.” How was the “Dip-Shit” who designed this thing? Personal note, that was a first for me, I put “Dip-Shit” in a complete sentence. It is a very vulgar phrase, but it has impact.

The seat on the other models had a piece that protruded from the rear of the seat that pressed on my lower back. This piece made it really uncomfortable for me to ride the VRod. Now that I think about it why would you want to put something on the back of the seat that hits you when you accelerate? What were they thinking at the Harley factory when they put the seat on? You know, they’re doing wacky weed.

Okay it was time to bring this baby to life. The switch to turn it on is not on the center of the tank like the other Harleys, but on the side. So I reached over turned the switch and then turned the key. Hit the start button and it came to life. But it was not what I had expected or remembered, I detected very little vibration. Was the engine running? I looked at the tachometer, yes this motorcycle has a tachometer. The needle was hovering right around 1000 RPM. I turned the throttle expecting some form of increased vibration, or noise of some type. Nothing! I leaned over the right side of the motorcycle tank and turned the throttle again and I was hoping to hear some internal engine noises such as the valve train lash, gears clicking away, clutch chatter or anything. All I heard was the rumble from the exhaust system. I guess it sounds like a Rolex watch too!

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you know that I have a thing for analog gauges. I don’t know if a “thing” describes my relationship with analog gauges or clocks as they are called in the UK. I’m still fishing for that UK audience. I don’t know about you but when I see digital gauges it reminds me of the cheapest Timex watch that you can buy at Walmart. It just looks like crap to me. I seem to have some sort of watched thing going on here. I really think that analog gauges give a motorcycle class.

Then there was a call from the guy running these rides that he needed to talk to us. He barks “front and center!” What the hell, am I in the USMC again? I turned off the engine walked over to hear his presentation. This was probably one of the weirdest presentations I have ever heard in my life. The guy that was running the demo rides turned to the other guy next him and said and I quote “don’t do like this asshole did and crash the motorcycle you’re riding.” I guess there’s something to be said about going right to the point of an idea or concept. Also, after hearing this speech you now have some incentive not to crash the motorcycle you’re riding. You sure as hell don’t want to be labeled as the other asshole during the next presentation. That was pretty much it, went back to our motorcycles started them up and waited for the signal to go.

Pulled in the clutch, knocked into gear with my foot, let the clutch out and turned the throttle and off I went. The steering was a little weird at low speed which probably was from the rake of the forks. Somewhat touchy and I was constantly correcting the steering. But once I got this baby rolling the problem went away.

As always I would like to thank you for reading my blog. It means a lot to me and my dogs. My dogs continually tell me that I have a career in writing a blog. I guess that’s much better than them telling me who to kill. (Now go look at the videos!) Hurry before my dogs change their minds.