West Coast Trippin'

I finally found time to get away from the East Coast, travel to La La Land and visit Motorcycle.com. This was my first chance to actually experience the diversity of Southern California, and what an experience it turned out to be!

Upon arrival, the MOFOs were nice enough to set us up with a beautiful Victory Custom Classic, and offered to let me take it around SoCal on an extended tour to places unknown, at least to me. Being a Harley man, this cruiser was right up my alley. The Victory was a lot bigger (94 inches long), and heavier (634 lbs) than my own Sportster, so I spent the first day bitchin' about handling and lugging the beast around. The funny thing was the more I rode it, the more it grew on me. My lovely riding partner enjoyed the bike right from the get go, as she's used to riding on my admittedly not-very-comfortable custom seat.

Victory's oil/air cooled 50-degree Freedom™ V-twin engine was more than adequate for a big cruiser. The 92inch (1507cc) engine came equipped with fuel injection, and overhead cams. First gripe: The cams make a lot of noise. They whine something fierce. Drives a man nuts. Of course this can be easily fixed by replacing the slash-cut dual exhaust with a set of drag pipes. You won't hear the whinin' -- or anything else for that matter! The five-speed constant mesh transmission shifted smoothly, and the heel/toe shifter is comfortably positioned. I had no trouble at all feathering the clutch, even when barely rolling in the unavoidable LA traffic jams. The bike also balances well with two riders on.

A fine-looking ride -- and it rides pretty fine too! The oil/air cooled 50-degree Freedom™ V-twin engine was more than adequate for a big cruiser.
The stylin' paint scheme adds a flavor not seen on many big twin cruisers.
Smooth ride in the straights, in the twisties, even in unstable conditions...
A winery tour is one of the finest things in life - doing it in California is much more sweet.
Until... Ah damn, so much for that fine wine-tasting tour. Thankfully no one was hurt in bringing the beast to the shoulder.
Ol' Morty to the rescue.
From one big cruiser to the next, in an instant, travelling light is nothing but a joke. Good thing we've got some wine!
I understand that the 2004s will be getting a new braking system. Why, I don't know. The 300mm Brembo brakes with floating rotors that were on the '03 were great. I think that's going to be a push.

I'm one of those vertically challenged individuals, so I have to worry about seat height. With 28.3 inch seat height, and 5.5 inch ground clearance, I could just barely sit flat-footed. Wasn't that bad. I could live with it. Most people would have no problem at all.

One of the complaints I had with the Victory was a problem that I would have had with a lot of other bikes. Would it be so hard to put self-canceling directional lights on all motorcycles? Man, what a pain. At least put idiot lights on the speedo because in the daytime you can't see if the darn things are off or on. At least the bike looks cool if you're riding straight down the road with your blinker on -- I quickly lost track of how many people told "nice looking bike" the week we were on it.

Now for some real-life experiences riding the Victory in Southern California. The second day there we rode the Pacific Coast Highway all day. I have to say, that was one of the most beautiful rides I have ever been on. I couldn't get enough of it. So much so that on the third day we happily headed back on to PCH -- EBass was kind enough to lead us on a "three-day cruise" to wine country. The coastal scenery was breathtaking, and the mountain vistas were amazing. Once in wine country it was time for winding roads and wine tasting. Sip a little wine, enjoy the view, and listen to the grapes grow. Don't wake me up, I'm likin' this dream. We continued this decadent behavior for another day and a half until it was time to head back to LA.

Okay, who pinched me? Who woke me up? This is where the "Three-day cruise" really gets interesting. Coming down the hills toward Santa Barbara the Victory started getting nervous around the curves. Next thing I know the bike starts shaking and I just make it around the last curve. I pulled over and lo and behold I got a freakin' flat. I'll tell you what, it took me about a mile around a few curves to slow down and brake to a stop. The Victory handled it great! Not to worry though, I knew that Eric would have everything under control.

Never mind the fact that we were on the side of the mountain, in the middle of nowhere. Vultures are circling. They may have been turkey vultures, but they're still vultures. Coyotes are howling -- okay, so it was the wind howling -- but you get the idea: Stuck in the middle of nowhere with a big hole in a 630+ pound bike means someone is going to be sitting for a long time. So we decide to send Eric to the side of the road to flag someone down, and almost immediately a large van pulls over. You'll never guess what the occupants of the van were. That's right, FEMBOTS. Wait a minute, that's Eric's trip. The actual occupants of the van were the Swedish Bikini Team. Nope, that's not exactly true either. What really happened was, we called AAA, and good old Morty pulled up in the rescue wagon. Hey, what do you expect, waiting in the blazing sun for an hour and a half, the conversation can get a little freaky.

Anyway, good old Morty drove us to a dealership, which ws -- of course -- closed, and we left the bike in the lot. Now we have everything we brought with us for three days stuffed in Eric's zipped up leather jacket, and a couple of soon-to-be ripped hotel trash bags. Morty was nice enough to take us to the nearest motel, which was -- of course -- full. Five bucks later we get him to take us to another motel. Surprise, Surprise, this one is full too. Don't forget all of this time my riding partner Joan and I are holding our "luggage" in our arms. We look like pathetic homeless biker trash. Meanwhile Mabel, the lady at the front desk of the second hotel, was nice enough to call around and finally found us a room in the Ramada Inn. The problem was that it was halfway across town and we've got three people, our "luggage", and only one motorcycle -- Eric's Triumph. What a dilemma. This is where "Bernie" the bus driver comes in -- I can't recall his real name. I know, a good reporter remembers names or writes them down, but it's more fun making them up.

Bernie needs a room too. So Mabel sets him up in a room at the Ramada. Bernie takes one look at us and bolts. Just kidding. Actually he offers us a ride to the hotel. He says he's got an empty bus around the corner that was sideswiped three times by a drunk who proceeded to weave 90 degrees, over an embankment, and get out running. Sounds like we are not the only one's having "one of those days". When we get to the bus, it turns out to be one of those big cross-country buses. Bernie walks up to the side and opens the huge double luggage compartments, and asks us if we want to put our stuff in. That was it. We both cracked up. Ah, Bernie buddy, I don't think so. The funniest part was he was dead serious. You could have put two Volkswagens in there. We helped him back the bus into the Ramada, got checked in, and drank the bottle of wine I had saved. Thank goodness for that!

The following day, we pulled a 6D penny nail from the rear tire of the Victory, had the tire repaired and limped back home via LA's hot, winding, expansive freeway system. EBass lives for epic biker adventures, and true to form, our trip was an experience, and I would personally like to thank everyone who helped us out. I'd like to, if only I could remember their names!

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