Category Archives: Polaris
News that Polaris Industries is shutting down the manufacture of its Victory motorcycles is roiling the small but loyal group of Victory owners across the U.S. Yet, in a way, it comes as no surprise. It’s hard to find a Victory dealer when you’re out on the road. Polaris never really made owning a Victory a cult thing.
I have spent many hours in motorcycle dealerships, selling and signing my books. What impressed me most was the way Harley-Davidson not only enforces its brand, but encourages it. Walk into a Victory dealer, and you may encounter a jacket or two, some motor oil and some T-shirts. The motorcycles may share space with ATVs, snowmobiles or other motorcycle brands. Walk into a Harley dealer, and it’s all Harley. H-D clothing, motor oil, bar stools, drinkware — that Harley-Davidson shield is on everything! If there is a competing bike brand on the showroom floor, it’s probably been traded in for a Harley.
Two summers ago, we attended the national rally of the Victory Motorcycle Club in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Our Victory, a 2002 Deluxe Touring Cruiser, was easily the oldest of the thousands of bikes parked at the hotel. There was a distinct “underdog” camaraderie among the riders. We all knew Victory motorcycles were good. But, like car-rental firm Avis used to say in its advertising, there was also a feeling of “We Try Harder.” We all wondered what Polaris’ acquisition of the Indian brand would mean.
And now we know. Indian will once again go head-to-head with Polaris, and Victory will be no more. Indian will still have long way to go to take market share from H-D. Even if the Victory dealerships are replaced with Indian dealerships, they will still be too few and far between. Which is why we traded our Victory last summer for a Harley Road King. Harley dealers are much easier to find when you’re a long way from home.
We said goodbye to our 2002 Victory Deluxe Touring Cruiser this past weekend. “Champ” (named for his champagne-and-cream paint job) had taken us 48,000 miles since we picked him up second-hand in 2007. He went to the Grand Canyon via Route 66, climbed Colorado’s “Million Dollar Highway”, visited all four corners of the state of Minnesota, drove around Lake Superior, followed the Mississippi River from its source in northern Minnesota to New Orleans, and took us safely through the Black Hills. He also served as a weekday mule, transporting my husband to and from work.
It was sad to see him go, but he was an orphan. Polaris made that particular style only one year. Parts were had to find. At 52,000 miles, he had given good service.
We went down to Harley-Davidson of Winona last Saturday to take part in a pre-Sturgis bash and promote my books. (The photo of Champ, by the way, is on the cover of my new book, Ride the Black Hills.) We took the opportunity to test-drive a couple of Harleys and wound up trading Champ for a 2016 Road King.
The ride home from Winona on Hwy. 61 was highly enjoyable. The weather was beautiful and the Road King handled the curves so smoothly! We’re heading out soon for Glacier National Park. It will be fun to discover how the “new kid” handles the mountains.
Back in 1963, Honda Motorcycles ran an advertising campaign that proclaimed, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” I’d like to amend that to “You meet the nicest people on a motorcycle.” Period. It doesn’t matter the make or the model, bikers are some of the nicest people I’ve run across in a long time.
I stopped out at Indian Motorcycles in St. Paul today and dropped off some copies of Ride Minnesota. Although owner Art Welch wasn’t interested stocking the book, he has graciously allowed me to snag a little counter space in his beautiful store. Can you believe it, almost every motorcycle on his show floor has been sold? There’s a lot of pent-up demand for Indians (Polaris has done a good job of marketing them). I hope the long winter and pent-up feelings extend into book sales, too.
I also stopped next door at St. Paul Harley Davidson. The folks there haven’t yet decided whether or not they’ll take the book, but John in the parts department invited me to a seminar on motorcycle touring that he’s giving in April. I’m already booked that day, but I appreciate invitation and the enthusiasm. In fact, so many people involved in motorcycling have been so helpful and encouraging.
I saw some bikers on the road today, and there were quite a number of folks buying parts and new batteries for their bikes to get ready for riding season. The temperature hovered around 45 degrees, but the weather was an ever-changing mixture of sleet, snow, sunshine. It’s the annual wresting match between spring and winter in Minnesota. Still, it won’t be long until the rumble of a well-tuned motorcycle is heard again.
The headline in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune says it all: “Indian Motorcycle shifts into overdrive as spring nears.” Polaris isn’t the only one shifting gears. As Minnesota weather continues to stay in the deep freeze, there are signs of spring in the motorcycle world.
I’m getting more and more emails for motorcycle gear. And last week, the editor Thunder Press called to ask for a high-resolution photo of the cover of Ride Minnesota. He’s publishing a review in the March issue. The tabloid reaches around 70,000 Harley Davidson owners, so I’m looking for a boost in sales.
A couple of weeks ago, Ralph and I attended the International Motorcycle Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. While Ralph sniffed around the new motorcycles, particularly the Indians and the Victories, I handed out book marks with a photo of the book cover on it and the words, “Available from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.” I’ve seen a slight uptick in sales on Amazon since then.
It’s time for me to shift into gear, too, and start promoting spring sales of Ride Minnesota. And to start writing another book, about our Lake Superior Circle Tour.
Last December, RoadRUNNER magazine published my article, “The Other Grand Canyon,” a story about a ride Ralph and I took through Palo Duro Canyon in Texas. The editor asked me if I had any photos of our motorcycle at the canyon, and I had to tell her no. Until that time, it had never dawned on me that to most readers of motorcycle publications, the trip is about the bike as much as it is the scenery. I am after all, just a tourist riding on the back. I tried to keep that in mind as I worked on my forthcoming book, Ride Minnesota, looking for exciting backgrounds for “heroic” shots of the bike.
Here are the details on our bike: It’s a 1508cc 2002 champagne-and-cream Victory Deluxe Touring Cruiser. Rlaph added true dual ceramic-coated pipes because, he says, he gets better performance and gas mileage. (It made the bike a lot noisier!)
We purchased the motorcycle secondhand from a guy who said it had been made for one of the executives at Polaris. It had just 3,000 miles on it. Since then, it’s been to the Grand Canyon and back and all over Minnesota, and the total is now several thousand miles north of 30,000.
One of the cool places we found was the Gold Mine Bridge near Redwood Falls. It’s one of the few wooden bridges left in Minnesota.