As we approach the end of 2017, it’s a good time to look back at the year in motorcycling to see what has happened. Sometimes the year is so hectic that we lose track – and that certainly describes 2017 for me.
Harley-Davidson made some major moves this year, eliminating two chassis and remaking one of its most popular categories. Both the Dyna and V-Rod lineups came to an end in 2017. The Dyna family was in the lineup continuously since 1991, while V-Rod debuted in 2002. The Motor Company redesigned the Softail lineup with an all-new chassis and engine choices, delivering sportier options with improved handling and performance. The new Softail models should inspire some owners to replace their Dyna and V-Rod models, and may attract new buyers as well.
The American International Motorcycle Expo (AIM) relocated from Orlando, Florida to Columbus, Ohio, a move that made total sense for the six-year old event that bridges both dealer and consumer motorcycle products. Forty-one percent of powersports dealerships in the United States are with 500 miles of Columbus, and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is headquartered in nearby Pickerington. That said, the 2018 event will be held in Las Vegas before returning to Columbus for 2019.
Speaking of the AMA, six new members were inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame this year: Donnie Emler Sr.; Eddie Lojak Sr.; Bob Moore; Peter Starr; John Ulrich; and Bill Werner, who was designated as an AMA Legend. The induction ceremony was held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on September 22. The array of motorcycling greats and previous Hall of Fame inductees who attended the ceremony was incredible.
Polaris Industries announced that 2017 will be the final model year for Victory Motorcycles, which had been produced in Spirt Lake, Iowa since 1998. Polaris will focus on the Indian Motorcycle brand, which it also owns. An attempt to position Victory as Polaris’ “muscle bike” brand and Indian as its heritage brand did not deliver sufficient results to justify maintaining Victory, while the potential upside of Indian remains promising.
Bonnier Group, the magazine publishing company with several motorcycle titles under its umbrella, relaunched Motorcyclist magazine with a classy redesign. When Bonnier bought the title a few years ago, subscribers were left to wonder how it differed from its direct competitor, Cycle World – another Bonnier title. Now, with a new focus on design, touring and motorcycling experiences, Motorcyclist has carved out its own unique space. Additional Bonnier motorcycle magazine titles include Baggers, Dirt Rider, Hot Bike, and Sport Rider – all of which appear to be safe for now, but in the ever-changing landscape of publishing, who knows?
On a personal note, my year in motorcycling changed very radically. My wife and I sold our house in Southern California, and we bought a home in Canton, Michigan. Motorcycling is a big part of my life, and this move means that I’ll lose several months of local riding each year. Part of the plan on our move was to sell Manny, my 1993 Harley-Davidson Sportster and to buy a new bike in Michigan. I went back and forth with myself about it (my wife wisely remained neutral), and finally decided to keep Manny. He made the move with a vehicle transport company, and I’m happy to say, he’s comfortably ensconced in my new garage. I’m going to winterize him so that he’ll be ready to ride when springtime comes to Michigan.
In the meantime, I need to plan a motorcycle trip or two in a warm climate this winter. I’ll fly to a southern location, rent a motorcycle and plan a route that includes Best Western® Hotels & Resorts.
Where should I go first?