Big Bagger Showdown

2011 Victory Vision and Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra
2011 Victory Vision and Harley-Davidson Road Glide UltraPhoto Credit: Motorcycle USA, Ray Gauger

Motorcycle USA has published their head-to-head comparison of the Victory Vision and the Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra.

Visually, these could not–except for size–be two more different-looking motorcycles. The Road Glide is a blast from the past, showing of the signature Harley-Davidson style that has been little changed since the 1960’s. Some say that’s a bad thing, demonstrating a lack of willingness to push their designs forward from Peter Fonda’s Captain America hippie-era. The Victory Vision, on the other hands, looks as if it comes to us from 40 years in the future, rather than 40 years in the past. Some say that’s a bad thing, too, making the Victory an exceptionally execrable example of Arlen Ness-iness gone wild.

Underneath the looks, however, both of these bikes are designed to do one thing and do it well: eat up the day by effortlessly cruising the highway.

Both bikes have their admirers and detractors, of course, but what’s surprising in the MotoUSA test is that they both do it equally well.  It seems that which bike to prefer really comes down to a matter of taste.  their that closely matched.

Personally, if the day ever comes when I want to dip my toes in the cruiser well, the Road Glide will be my bike of choice.

Sadly, though, if I got rid of my FJR, my inner hooligan would incline me to look for something a little…faster. For instance, I certainly intend to personally test the new BMW K1600GT when it becomes available.

The “Other American Motorcycle Company” is doing well

Polaris has released their 4th quarter numbers, and It looks like it’s champagne time at their headquarters. Unlike Harley-Davidson, which reported yet another loss in the 4th quarter, Polaris has moved firmly into the black.

Net income for the fourth quarter 2010 was a record $54.5 million, an increase of 24 percent over the same period in 2009. Record sales of $618.4 million for the fourth quarter 2010 increased 31 percent over 2009 fourth quarter sales of $471.8 million.

For the full year ended December 31, 2010, Polaris reported record net income of $147.1 million, or a record $4.28 per diluted share, compared to $101.0 million, or $3.05 per diluted share for the year ended December 31, 2009. This represents a 40 percent increase on a per diluted share basis and a 46 percent increase in net income.

Polaris, of course, makes much more than motorcycles, but Victory certainly did its part in 2010, moving 81,624 motorcycles compared to 52,811 in 2009. That’s a 55% increase in sales, and was the largest sales increase of any of Polaris’ product lines.

Congratulations to Victory, and Polaris, who are showing real strength when most other manufacturers are still scrambling to cut losses.