There are a lot of reasons that we moto journos get into this gig. It goes without saying that we all share a passion for the sport of motorcycling, but it’s about more than just the opportunity to ride and test motorcycles and gear for a living, see things that we might not otherwise see, enjoy memorable experiences and then tell stories about them. It’s also about meeting great people from all walks of life who share our passion for this amazing sport.

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That’s probably the best way to describe our recent whirlwind Motorcycle.com American Iron Tour, where Motorcycle.com Group’s Editorial Director Sean Alexander, MOs Senior Editor John Burns and I got to embark on an epic three-leg, 1000-mile trek through Middle America on three classic American cruisers. We enjoyed some great roads, sampled a variety of grub from Chicago-style Pizza to terrible BBQ, to German Hofbrau and Mickey Dee’s, and we met some really, really interesting people who share our passion for motorcycling.

Our 1000-mile journey got underway in earnest after we visited Victory/Indian dealer American Heritage Motorcycles and then Harley-Davidson of Chicago to collect our mounts for the trip. A big thanks goes to the crews at both dealerships for their assistance.

Our 1000-mile journey got underway in earnest after we visited Victory/Indian dealer American Heritage Motorcycles and then Harley-Davidson of Chicago to collect our mounts for the trip. A big thanks goes to the crews at both dealerships for their assistance.

The whole thing got started with a rather unusual invitation from some folks who are in quite a different industry than ours, firearms manufacturer Springfield Armory of Geneseo, Illinois. Apparently the guys at Springfield are big motorcycle fans, and they like what we do here at MO. One thing led to another, and we were soon on our way out to Geneseo to meet with them.

We certainly appreciate Springfield’s attention, but at the same time we’re well aware that MO is first and foremost, a motorcycle website. Still, the lure of getting in some great riding in the Midwest proved to be too strong to resist, so we contacted the two leading American motorcycle manufacturers, Polaris and Harley-Davidson, who provided us with three prime examples of their classic American cruisers, the Victory Gunner, the Harley Road King and the Indian Springfield. Too efficient for our own good, we decided to make these steeds the subject of an upcoming three-bike comparison test while we were at it.

Instant road trip, baby!

The fact that half the State of Illinois was undergoing road construction put us well behind schedule as we headed toward our first meeting with folks at Springfield Armory in Geneseo, Illinois, so we were more than happy to hop off the Interstate and cruise some good old American gravel back-country roads.

The fact that half the State of Illinois was undergoing road construction put us well behind schedule as we headed toward our first meeting with folks at Springfield Armory in Geneseo, Illinois, so we were more than happy to hop off the Interstate and cruise some good old American gravel back-country roads.

On top of that, someone whipped out a map and realized how (semi) close both the Polaris/Victory/Indian and the Harley-Davidson engine assembly plants were, and if we were going to get a glimpse at Springfield Armory’s manufacturing operation, why not have a look at what goes into building the engines that power our trio of heavyweight haulers? Would they even have anything in common?

They did have a lot in common, but exactly how they did wasn’t at all what we expected.

So, after Burns, Alexander and I stepped off the plane in Chicago, collected our rides from the local Polaris dealer at American Heritage Motorcycles and from Chicago Harley-Davidson, we hit the road. It only made sense – both historically as well as geographically – that the first stop on our ride would be a couple hundred miles west at the Springfield Armory plant.

Let the meeting of cool people begin! One of our favorite stops came early in the tour when we met the folks at Springfield Armory to blast some cardboard and steel with the majority of Springfield’s current product line.

Let the meeting of cool people begin! One of our favorite stops came early in the tour when we met the folks at Springfield Armory to blast some cardboard and steel with the majority of Springfield’s current product line.

Springfield Armory was the first of these three iconic American companies to exist, long before the internal-combustion engine. Commissioned in 1777 by none other than George Washington and located in the town of Springfield, Massachusetts, it quickly became the epicenter of firearms manufacturing in America and recognized as a world leader in the industry. After the U.S. government closed the original Springfield Armory down in 1968, the Springfield Armory name returned to prominence kind of by accident. In 1974, an Illinois-based military surplus dealer named Robert Reese and his son, Denny, drove to Texas to collect on a debt owed by a creditor who also happened to own the Springfield Armory name and its remaining parts and machinery.

“I was 19 at the time,” Denny Reese said. “We went down to collect an unpaid bill and wound up coming back with two semi-truck loads of office equipment and machinery, and the Springfield Armory name. When we came across two shoeboxes full of inquiries about where to purchase the M1-A rifle, we said, ‘Wow, let’s give this a try.’ That’s how it started. We didn’t have any firearms production experience at that time, however that was all about to change.”

We appreciate CEOs who are willing to go out of their way to network with common folk. Motorcycle nut and Springfield Armory CEO, Denny Reese, an ISDT gold medalist, spent half a day at the range with us and the next one guiding us on a tour of the Springfield Armory facility.

We appreciate CEOs who are willing to go out of their way to network with common folk. Motorcycle nut and Springfield Armory CEO, Denny Reese, an ISDT gold medalist, spent half a day at the range with us and the next one guiding us on a tour of the Springfield Armory facility.

The new company, Springfield Armory, Inc., would begin operations in the tiny hamlet of Geneseo, Illinois, where it has been in continuous operation since 1974.

“Geneseo is like Mayberry,” Denny Reese joked. “You wonder if you’re going to see Barney Fife walking around. We have the ice cream socials on Tuesday nights. Bands play. It’s beautiful stuff. It’s a great place to raise a family.”

Robert Reese financed the Springfield Armory business in the hope that his sons, Denny and Tom, would take it over at some point, but first there was the matter of curing them of an addiction of theirs: motorcycles. Denny’s first real dirtbike was a 1967 Sachs 125, and Tom’s was a Hodaka Super Rat. The Reese boys fell in love with riding, and as their skills progressed they began competing in the American qualifier series for the International Six Days Trial, or ISDT, which is known as the ISDE today.

In fact, Denny was good enough that he made the cut. A factory Penton man at the beginning of his competitive riding career, he later received factory support from Yamaha. He competed in three consecutive ISDTs from 1977-79, winning a gold medal in Värnamo, Sweden, in 1978, and earned a silver medal in Neunkirchen, West Germany, in 1979. All the while, the Reese boys were involved in running the family’s new venture.

“It was an interesting time,” Reese, now 61, recalled. “I’ll never forget when Dad sat us down and told us, ‘You guys need to decide whether you are going to run a gun company or whether you are going to go pro.’ So we toned down the motorcycle thing a little bit, but our priority had two wheels back then.”

Team Springfield’s Rob Leatham is a multi-time national and world championship-winning shooter who also happens to be a former club- and professional-level road racer. The fun-loving Arizonan was serious as a heart attack when it came time to display his talent with a handgun.

Team Springfield’s Rob Leatham is a multi-time national and world championship-winning shooter who also happens to be a former club- and professional-level road racer. The fun-loving Arizonan was serious as a heart attack when it came time to display his talent with a handgun.

Later, when Springfield ventured into the business of supporting competitive shooters in the 1980s, it formed its Team Springfield support program in similar fashion to a motorcycle racing team. Wouldn’t you know it, the first guy they signed just happened to be a former club- and national-level road racer named Rob Leatham. Now 55, Leatham is a decorated professional shooter with more than 50 national and world championship shooting titles on his resume.

But he’s also a hell of a jokester who is proud to spin tales about how his greatest roadracing memory was being knocked off the track by former AMA Superbike Champion Thomas Stevens at Willow Springs, and Leatham may also have the dubious distinction of being the only professional shooter ever to be stung on the head of his penis by a scorpion while competing at a shooting match – nobody, it seems, keeps accurate records. Leatham had us in stitches as he shared how he ran to one of the medics and told them what happened – and where it happened.

“The guy just looked at me and said, ‘Well, I guess you’re going to die.’” (laughs)

Leatham recalled that he didn’t even know he and the Reese family shared a love of motorcycles until he joined Springfield Armory’s shooting team.

Leatham watches as MO Editorial Director Sean Alexander draws a bead with one of Springfield’s SOCOM-16 CQB rifles. The two are kindred spirits, and though they had never met before this day, the rest of us began to wonder if they had been separated at birth – they’re both just that goofy.

Leatham watches as MO Editorial Director Sean Alexander draws a bead with one of Springfield’s SOCOM-16 CQB rifles. The two are kindred spirits, and though they had never met before this day, the rest of us began to wonder if they had been separated at birth – they’re both just that goofy.

“It was like, ‘Oh, you’re into bikes? I’m into bikes,’ and we really hit it off,” he said. “I’ve been with them ever since, and they’re more like family to me. They’re like my brothers. I’ve probably put more laps around their family farm on a dirtbike than anyone not named Reese.”

And that’s what our round table in the Springfield Armory boardroom felt like: a motorcycling family chat. The most boisterous moment in the conversation wasn’t about firearms or what models Springfield produces. It was whether Valentino Rossi should have been penalized after tangling with Marc Marquez at the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix.

The author squeezes off a few rounds with his own Springfield FBI Custom model 1911. We thought it would be neat to bring the .45 back to its birthplace, but that was before we actually had to go through the hassle of properly checking it in at the airport!

The author squeezes off a few rounds with his own Springfield FBI Custom model 1911. We thought it would be neat to bring the .45 back to its birthplace, but that was before we actually had to go through the hassle of properly checking it in at the airport!

Perhaps Leatham summed up the common ground between the motorcycle and shooting disciplines best when he said, “It’s about freedom. You’re controlling a certain level of power that a lot of people don’t have the desire or the skill to [control]. It takes the same hand-to-eye coordination and dexterity.”

“And you have to have respect for both,” Reese added.

MO’s beloved savant, John Burns fondles one of Springfield’s walnut-stocked M1-A rifles, prior to drawing a bead on a 100-yard target. It was no problem for the eagle-eyed graybeard.

MO’s beloved savant, John Burns fondles one of Springfield’s walnut-stocked M1-A rifles, prior to drawing a bead on a 100-yard target. It was no problem for the eagle-eyed graybeard.

When the Springfield Armory guys offered to take us to the local range to sample some of its products, of course we jumped at the chance. Alexander and I are avid shooters. Burns? Not so much, but even he appreciates the legend of the Springfield M1 Garand, a rifle once proclaimed by none other than General George S. Patton as “the greatest weapon ever made.” Pardon the pun, but we had an absolute blast hanging out with the Springfield crew, trying out everything from their various M1 rifle variants, to their extremely popular modern XD line of pistols and Springfield’s complete line of 1911-based pistols.

Since it maintains such a high profile within its own industry, it’s surprising to learn that Springfield Armory accomplishes so much with just 260 employees working in its Geneseo facility. The company headquarters includes a 160,000 square-foot main plant with an additional 40,000 square feet off site, and another 10,000 square-foot building is currently in the works.

The factory tour portion of our week began at Springfield Armory in Geneseo, Illinois. The pistol parts shown here await meticulous hand-fit construction by the expert craftsmen in the Springfield Custom shop. To make a moto analogy, these are the true “works machines” of the company line.

The factory tour portion of our week began at Springfield Armory in Geneseo, Illinois. The pistol parts shown here await meticulous hand-fit construction by the expert craftsmen in the Springfield Custom shop. To make a moto analogy, these are the true “works machines” of the company line.

A firearms enthusiast himself, Ol’ George Washington would probably be proud to see the brand that he effectively started still doing well today, and we’re betting he would have really dug the motorcycle boom in America, which began not only in the very same town where the original Springfield Armory was located but literally just one mile away from it. That’s where the Indian Motocycle Company was officially born in January of 1901, two years before Harley-Davidson got its start. Of course, Indian’s history, including its demise in 1953, is well known, while Harley has rolled along without interruption for 113 years.

It’s kind of funny that, with Polaris’ takeover of the Indian brand, Indian and Springfield Armory are once again in close proximity, and that’s where we headed next.

Many of Springfield Armory’s employees are avid motorcyclists, and Reese even allowed some of them to play hookie from work and accompany him as he escorted us for over an hour, before stopping and buying us all lunch on our ride away from Geneseo.

Many of Springfield Armory’s employees are avid motorcyclists, and Reese even allowed some of them to play hookie from work and accompany him as he escorted us for over an hour, before stopping and buying us all lunch on our ride away from Geneseo.

Pointing our machines north along the Mississippi River route toward Osceola, Wisconsin, to tour the Polaris, Victory and Indian engine assembly plant, we enjoyed an epic ride through the lush green cornfields and timberlands that dot the river. The meandering two-lane roads make for perfect cruiser country, and there are a number of small towns that dot the route. Our plan was to make a quick stop in one of them, a place called Savanna, but things don’t always go to plan.

So we were parked on Savanna’s bucolic main drag to gather a couple photos and some video footage when this pony-tailed graybeard walked up to us from out of nowhere and asked, “Hey, do you guys have a minute to take a look at something?” Since he didn’t do anything weird like unzip his pants, we figured it was probably okay to follow him, and we’re sure glad we did! He led us into his local drinking establishment, the Iron Horse Social Club wherein we feasted our eyes on an amazing collection of pre- and post-war motorcycles – must’ve been 40 of ’em. Ancient Indians, Harleys, Crockers, board-trackers, speedway bikes, hill-climbers.

One of the surprise highlights of the trip came when we visited the Iron Horse Social Club in Savanna, Illinois. In addition to being a local watering hole, the Main Street location boasts a treasure trove of antique motorcycles. This is just a small portion of the dozens of machines on display.

One of the surprise highlights of the trip came when we visited the Iron Horse Social Club in Savanna, Illinois. In addition to being a local watering hole, the Main Street location boasts a treasure trove of antique motorcycles. This is just a small portion of the dozens of machines on display.

It was truly a sight to behold, and the upstairs area was even more of a trip. It contains a complete chapel that is rented out for weddings and other events. And it’s the only chapel we’ve ever seen where the good Lord himself co-headlines with antique motorcycles. If you’re ever in Savanna, the Iron Horse Social Club is definitely worth a visit.

A little farther up the road is the town of Galena, Illinois, where history buff Burns made sure to guide us past the home of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States. We would’ve loved to look around some more, but we had already fallen way behind schedule by then. We rode on past sunset and into the early morning hours, by the time we made it to our hotel in Osceola we were pretty well spent. It was worth the extra time in the saddle, because we awoke the next morning just a few minutes away from the Polaris engine assembly plant.

We also passed by a historic monument in Galena, Illinois. This flag-toting brick home is the crib of none other than Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States.

We also passed by a historic monument in Galena, Illinois. This flag-toting brick home is the crib of none other than Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States.

Polaris deserves a lot of credit for being the right company to rescue Indian, a brand which had been pretty well dragged through the mud during several failed revival attempts since the original Springfield-based Indian took a dirt nap almost six decades ago. In its most recent incarnation, under the control of British equity firm Stellican Limited, Indian was barely idling along when Polaris came calling.

Polaris was already enjoying success with its Victory line of contemporary American cruisers, but it saw the potential in a real Indian revival, one that would respect the brand’s rich legacy while moving it into the 21st century via modernized engineering and manufacturing. Polaris kept the Indian name rolling at first by building the last of the Stellican-era Chiefs so as not to interrupt production again, but an all-new Chief, featuring the Polaris-designed Thunderstroke 111, debuted in 2014. It was followed by the sporty, liquid-cooled, DOHC Scout in 2015.

Polaris Industries’ Plant Manager Jesse Barthel (middle) took us on an extensive tour of Polaris’ Osceola Engine Assembly Plant, introducing us to a lot of neat folks inside the place, like Phil Wallander (plaid shirt), who built the very first Indian engine after Polaris bought the brand in 2009.

Polaris Industries’ Plant Manager Jesse Barthel (middle) took us on an extensive tour of Polaris’ Osceola Engine Assembly Plant, introducing us to a lot of neat folks inside the place, like Phil Wallander (plaid shirt), who built the very first Indian engine after Polaris bought the brand in 2009.

Thus, like Springfield Armory, Indian is reborn, and has been experiencing sales growth ever since. With the splash that the new Indians have already made and Polaris’ clear commitment to keep developing the brand, it’s no stretch to imagine that Indian’s best days lie ahead.

Set on 36 acres, Polaris’ Osceola facility is a lot larger than Springfield Armory’s, boasting two assembly plants that cover 327,000 square feet. The plants maintain five full-time assembly lines for snowmobile, ATV, UTV, and motorcycle engine production. Two of those lines are dedicated to Victory’s Freedom 106/6 and Indian’s Thunderstroke 111 V-Twin powertrains, according to Jesse Barthel, Polaris’ Plant Director at Osceola. Barthel, who served as our escort through the plant, estimates that those two lines deliver about 200 engines per day.

“We do a little bit of everything here,” Barthel said. “We do ATV engines, snow engines and side by sides, as well as the engines for Victory and Indian. We can install a line in the plant pretty quickly. Most of the work comes in the design and planning phases. We recently brought a new line to life in here, from bare floor to the first engine coming down the line, in a week.”

Rosie the Riveter lives! And she has a robotic assistant, the yellow “Smart Cart” system that follows a track on the floor, delivering the engines to the stations along the assembly line.

Rosie the Riveter lives! And she has a robotic assistant, the yellow “Smart Cart” system that follows a track on the floor, delivering the engines to the stations along the assembly line.

The Indian Thunderstroke 111 has the newest line in the facility. No longer assembled along a standard conveyor belt system, Indian engines are now assembled using an automated “Smart Cart” system that follows a track on the floor. All of each engine’s components are contained in a small trailer that rolls along behind the automated cart, leaving the floor clear of shelving, parts boxes and other debris. The system improves efficiency by eliminating the downtime that would normally be required to restock parts at the various stations on a more traditional assembly line.

Besides showing us the assembly-line operations, Barthel was happy to introduce us to several really interesting Polaris employees. One of them was Phil Wallander, Polaris’ Advanced Manufacturing Engineer, who has been with the company for years and was among the very first Polaris employees to become involved with the Indian brand; Wallander even built the very first Indian engine under Polaris ownership.

“The Indian takes a little longer to build because it has a little more stuff going into it,” Wallander said when asked to compare Polaris’ two big V-Twins. “I’m not sure what the exact labor standards are between the two, but part of that is because we have been building the Victory Freedom engine for years, and as a product matures, so does the supply base, it assembles with less issues. The Indian [Thunderstroke] 111 is still pretty new to us yet.”

Another was Steve Marty, who oversees both V-Twin assembly lines. Marty also served as a test rider for Victory during the early years of that project.

“My job was to put on 500 miles a day in all sorts of weather,” Marty said. “Sometimes it would be so cold that I would have to stick my hands down in-between the V just to keep them warm. When we first began testing the Cross Roads, they didn’t have cruise control. We were somewhere in South Dakota, and we went to Menards so that we could buy zip-ties to hold the throttle because it was so cold, but when we got back into Wyoming and Minnesota, it was 96 degrees.”

After spending an enjoyable day with the Polaris folks, we then headed southeast toward Milwaukee for our final stop, Harley-Davidson’s Menomonee Falls Powertrain Operations Center. Harley-Davidson has continued to define the American cruiser for 113 years. With its roots still firmly planted in Milwaukee, the company has remained true to its traditions, producing a comprehensive line of cruisers rooted in two basic models, the FL and the Sportster. The marriage of these two models in 1971 formed the Superglide, which then formed the FX family.

Due to ongoing renovations, we weren’t allowed to get inside Harley-Davidson’s Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, powertrain operations plant, but we did get to spend a short time chatting with the facility’s main man, Randy Christianson. A lifelong fan of the brand, Christianson says he bought his first Harley-Davidson when he was around 7 years old, and it is still in his motorcycle collection today.

Due to ongoing renovations, we weren’t allowed to get inside Harley-Davidson’s Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, powertrain operations plant, but we did get to spend a short time chatting with the facility’s main man, Randy Christianson. A lifelong fan of the brand, Christianson says he bought his first Harley-Davidson when he was around 7 years old, and it is still in his motorcycle collection today.

Today, Harley-Davidson continues to respect its century-long tradition through its FL, Sportster, Softail, and Dyna families while also moving in a more contemporary direction with its V-Rod and Street models. And with its recent announcement of plans to produce electric models such as its new LiveWire by 2021, the company is also turning an eye toward the future.

Harley is still the big kid on the cruiser block. The sprawling Menomonee Falls plant boasts 912,000 square-feet, employs over 1000 people, and produces 264,000 engines per year, making up 90% of Harley’s total engine output. It’s also one of several Harley facilities located in Wisconsin and throughout the country. These include the company headquarters and Product Development Center in Milwaukee, the paint facility in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, and final assembly plants in York, Pennsylvania, and Kansas City.

After our brief visit at the Menomonee Falls engine plant, we had just enough time to ride into downtown Milwaukee to see the Harley-Davidson Museum, a must-visit site if you appreciate meticulously restored motorcycles and want a mega-dose of Harley history.

After our brief visit at the Menomonee Falls engine plant, we had just enough time to ride into downtown Milwaukee to see the Harley-Davidson Museum, a must-visit site if you appreciate meticulously restored motorcycles and want a mega-dose of Harley history.

Unfortunately, an actual plant tour was not possible at Menomonee Falls, as Harley was in the midst of renovating the facility, but we did get to speak with the site’s Manager of Powertrain Operations, Randy Christianson, who gave us the lowdown on Harley’s engine manufacturing.

“This plant was built by Briggs & Stratton in 1979,” Christianson said. “Harley-Davidson purchased the plant in 1996, and by 2010 all of our powertrain manufacturing was consolidated under one roof. By 2012, we had doubled our production with even less staff than we had when we opened it.”

Christianson doesn’t just work for Harley-Davidson, he’s also a diehard fan of the brand. His very first motorcycle, purchased when he was just 7 years old, was a Harley-Davidson 125. He counts the 1979 Low Rider in his current collection as one of his prized possessions.

“For me, motorcycling is not just a sport, it’s part of primary transportation,” says Christianson. “We pick the kids up from soccer on a motorcycle. They ride on the front, or if they are old enough, they ride on the back. My father worked for Harley, and my brother works at the Tomahawk facility. This is part of what we do as Christiansons.”

Few eras in racing fascinate us more than the harrowing boardtrack era of the early 1900s. Think of it as the MotoGP of its time, only on high-banked wooden ovals instead of road courses. The competing factories pulled out all the stops in an effort to beat each other, and Harley’s 8-valve racers were created to dominate the scene. They did. The Harley-Davidson museum has several examples of the fast and spindly machines on display.

Few eras in racing fascinate us more than the harrowing boardtrack era of the early 1900s. Think of it as the MotoGP of its time, only on high-banked wooden ovals instead of road courses. The competing factories pulled out all the stops in an effort to beat each other, and Harley’s 8-valve racers were created to dominate the scene. They did. The Harley-Davidson museum has several examples of the fast and spindly machines on display.

After our brief visit at the Menomonee Falls facility, the last stop was at the Harley-Davidson Museum in downtown Milwaukee. Open 363 days a year, the beautiful building is a time capsule for the brand, housing Harley-Davidson’s archived history in the form of landmark models and memorabilia collected during its 113-year history. It’s all in there, from the earliest known Harley-Davidson still in existence, a 1905 Single, to the earliest V-Twins, Harley war models, racers, and street machines that celebrate every milestone Harley-Davidson has achieved along the way. It’s a true must-see for anyone interested in the brand.

Harley Davidson’s legendary WLA is the iconic mount ridden all over Europe by American G.I.s during WWII and in countless movies to follow. Funny, we can’t seem to find the Thompson submachine gun or its scabbard in any of today’s Harley-Davidson accessory catalogs.

Harley Davidson’s legendary WLA is the iconic mount ridden all over Europe by American G.I.s during WWII and in countless movies to follow. Funny, we can’t seem to find the Thompson submachine gun or its scabbard in any of today’s Harley-Davidson accessory catalogs.

Our whirlwind American Iron Tour was a big hit in more ways than one. We got to meet new people who come from different backgrounds but who all share our passion for motorcycles. We saw that in some parts of the country American manufacturing is still alive and well. We also logged a lot of miles on some great bikes, and some of our crew got to see and experience things they had never seen before. It was a true bonding experience that was positive on all fronts. Hell, when a diehard racer like Alexander can grumble about the possibility of actually owning a cruiser, you know that something cool had to be happening!

But then again, maybe that’s not too much of a surprise. Affording the opportunity to see new places in a different way and meet new people is one of the things that motorcycles do best.

  • John B.

    Great article Scott!! It sounds like an amazing trip.

    John Burns, while visiting a firearms manufacturer, participated in a boisterous discussion about last year’s Rossi-Marquez debacle? Please confirm JB was not harmed in the making of this article.

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      Fortunately, John Burns was fatally wounded during the terse exchange. The best thing about it is that it took JB six agonizing days to fully succumb to his injuries and now the rest of us are finally at peace.

      • John B.

        Now that made me laugh!

      • Starmag

        RIP Road Dog Rangler

      • john burns

        I think everybody was on my side, i.e., Marquez was totally at fault and should be banned from MotoGP for one season, but I know better than to express my complete opinion in a roomful of heavily armed gun nuts. I also didn’t bring up reinstating the assault weapons ban.

        • John B.

          I finished watching Breaking Bad’s series finale just before I read this article, and was preoccupied with setups. To lure John Burns into a room filled with heavily armed gun/motorcycle enthusiasts, and then say something like, “Can you believe what Rossi did to Marquez last year?” struck me as an ingenious and comical setup. I suppose JB wouldn’t have lived into late middle-age if he couldn’t gauge an audience.

        • schizuki

          Hey, Burnsie, one of these guns was legal under the AWB, the other wasn’t. Can ya tell the difference?

          • freddie jacks

            one has a tip and one doesn’t.

  • schizuki

    I’ve got a Sportster and a Springfield 1911 pistol. Two American icons.

    Cool article.

    • Jim Greer

      Me too.

  • Starmag

    Not ready to herd pachyderms myself yet, but all of these are pretty, especially the Indian for me. I have a bias because my dad owned a ’48 Chief and a ’40 4 cylinder, both of which I used to ride.

    I’m one of the many who bought a XD45. These people know their trade well.

    You guys get to have all the fun.

  • Max Wellian

    Shame Vic killed the Cross Roads. The Gunner is pretty outclassed here. The Cross Roads was a superior bike to either of its competitors and cost a hell of a lot less.

    • Kevin Duke

      It was consumers who killed the Cross Roads. Vic had it in the lineup for years, but everyone chose the Cross Country. Can’t blame Vic for not building a bike riders didn’t buy.

      • Max Wellian

        I don’t know if I buy that. Like the Road King, they never put as many on the floor. Surely better margins in selling the bikes with the radios and batwing baggers were very trendy there for a bit. Never saw many XRs hanging around on showroom floors though. They were also well represented in forums.
        Vic cut a whole lot of bikes just before the Indians arrived. Cut all the demo bike adverts, and the Full Metal Jacket DI campaign. I thought for sure they were gonna milk the high margin, best sellers until the business finally withered away, like a proper venture capitalist, allowing them to shift their funds/focus to the Indians.
        Now I see a lot of Vics sitting around showrooms collecting dust. They’ll probably get rid of them this winter when they mark them down 20%…again.

        • Auphliam

          I think the CR was the victim of some bad market timing. Like you said, they didn’t put many on showroom floors, but that was because everybody and their brother was drinking the Bagger Craze koolaid at the time. Victory was pushing as many Cross Countries as they could.
          They built the bike for (I think) 4 or 5 model years, and in that time I saw one at a dealership and it had a SOLD card hanging on the bars. I eventually purchased a CCT in 2012. If a CR had been available, I would probably own one today.

        • Kevin Duke

          Why wouldn’t CRs have been placed on showroom floors if there was actual interest in them? Victory would be thrilled to sell even 100 extra bikes if there were riders for those seats.

          • Max Wellian

            a) Indian

            b) Why sell a bike for $15k when you can screw on a plastic fairing with a radio and sell it for $22k?

            c) I don’t know what the hell Polaris mgmt was thinking. Well, actually I do, but I think it’s fairly goofy. Corporate execs are nutz over branding. They were betting that all the money they spent creating the Vic brand would quickly be trumped by reviving the Indian name.

            When the Indians first came out, I rode my XR 250 miles to the nearest dealer doing their commencement demo day. I felt great when I arrived. Hopped on a Vintage. First thing I noticed was that it steered much heavier and clumsier at low speed. By the end of the 10 mile or so ride, my butt was beginning to develop hot spots from the seat. My right leg was on fire from the heat being thrown off that thing.
            What I also noticed was that as a nod to the Harley folks, they chromed a lot of various do-dads, put real leather on it that was already weathered and looking terrible after just a few hundred miles of demo life, traded top end power for more punch outta the gate, and sounded like a Harley.
            Having said all that, it still felt a lot like a Victory, just one that wasn’t designed as well.
            After that little experience, I was thrilled to get off that Indian and get back on my XR for the 250 mile ride home ASAP. The corporate execs can keep their branding. After I buried my XR in a deer at 60 mph, I mourned it and went back to sport tourers…

  • Eric Ahlberg

    I was just at that Victory dealer last Friday and I saw the Gunner used for this video sitting outside waiting to be shipped out. He wouldn’t let me ride that one but looked pretty cool with the bags on it. Had fun test riding another Gunner and I am sure it was a blast for this trip.

  • james cadros

    Ducati Panigale 2015

    13,000 miles
    Full service History
    Tail Tidy with flush led indicators
    Front mirror blanks with led indictors
    180 degree panoramic rear camera
    K&N Air filter
    Termignoni exhaust and remap by Ducati
    New rear Tyre
    All original parts to come with bike

    The photos do not do the bike justice and highly recommend viewing to see its true beauty, two keys. The bike is HPI clear
    contact us on whattspp..+79267453283 or email (jamescadrosATgmailDOTcom)

  • james cadros

    we sell jet ski and motocycles now in promotion prices,we have motobikes such as Ducati,Kawasaki,Yamaha etc.contact us on whattspp….plus7nine2six7four5three2eight3.

    • DickRuble

      Has anybody told you to go f*$k yourself somewhere else, lately?

  • DickRuble

    Reading the news this morning I came across this great example of what it means to have freedom and exercise it. Here is a brave guy, exercising his right to open carry a rifle in Dallas, TX, while marching against police brutality. Then, shots ring out.. What does our brave patriot do?.. You watch.. it’s further down the page. The patriot in case was the first suspect interviewed (and then released) in the Dallas shooting.

    http://heavy.com/news/2016/07/micah-xavier-x-johnson-dallas-police-shooting-sniper-gunman-shooter-suspect-name-identified-photos-facebook-video/

    Certainly, things would have been very different had the MO platoon showed up with their artillery to protect police and citizenry. Don’t fear, TX has John B.